Things to do in the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah

  1. Hajj and Umrah:

The best thing that one can do during the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah is performing a Hajj or Umrah. As per the Islamic doctrine, Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is also said, “An approved Hajj fetches no less remuneration than Paradise.”

  1. Keep Fast on the 9 Days of Dhul Hijjah particularly on Holiest days in Islam, Day of Arafah:

Fasting is a process that cleans your soul and makes you ready for Taqwa. There are three levels of Fasting that are abstention from drink and food, abstention from sins, and abstention from bad thoughts. Among these three levels, the first level is physical whereas the rest two levels require a deeper conscience. Keeping fast on the 9 Days of Dhul Hijjah mainly on Day of Arafah grants you an immense blessing.

  1. Give Zakat:

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), always gives great importance to the Zakat that is charity done with good intention. In Islam, charity is considered the third pillar. This charity will not only assists the affluent people to attain Taqwa but also helps the poor one to secure their daily needs. Charity is a selfless work; it allows a man to become selfless and follow the path of Allah.

  1. Do Dhikr (Takbeer, Tahleel, and Tahmeed):

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallahu Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahil Hamd.

 “Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest. There is no deity besides Allah and Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest and all praises are for Allah only.”

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), recommends humankind to recite Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), Tahleel (Laa ilaaha illa Allah), Tahmeed (Alhamdu Lillaah) and Tasbeeh (Subhan Allah) on the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah. These four recitations all together called as Dhikr. Every Muslim should perform this Dhikr abundantly in streets, homes, mosques or any other place where it is allowed to remember and glorify Allah (SWT).

  1. An Animal Qurbani and Distribute the Meat:

 Performing a Qurbani of cattle is the ‘Sunnah’ as per the Islamic tradition it comes from the ages of Prophet Ibrahim peace be upon him (PBUH). This Qurbani is the way to get closer with Almighty Allah; it is an opportunity to show our devotion towards him. In Islam, it is mandatory for every capable Muslim to offer a Qurbani on the 10th, 11th and 12th days of Dhul Hijjah.

 “It is not their meat, nor their blood, that reaches Allah; it is their piety that reaches Allah.”

[Surah Al-Haj:37]

 

Why is hajj performed once in a lifetime?

Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam as prescribed by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH) in the Holy Quran. The literal meaning of Hajj is to intend to journey. It is symbolised as the journey to the hereafter. Islamic tradition believes the life on earth is just a trial if you perform well in this trial; you are allowed to enjoy eternal bliss in the hereafter. Hajj will help you to secure a place in the hereafter as it clears all the previous sin. It is said that “to err is human to forgive is divine”; this same idea is reflected in Hajj rituals.

The Hardship

Life happens when you step out of your comfort zone. Similarly, performing Hajj is also stepping out of one’s comfort zone. It means being venerable and open up your soul and seeking forgiveness. Setting out for a journey to a foreign land leaving everything behind just taking the name of Allah requires great strength. In the previous era, it takes lots of hardship to reach Makkah as at that time there was no aeroplane or other modern communication.

The scenario changed, but the hardship associated with Hajj remains the same. In contemporary time, the main hardship is managing the huge number of people that gathered in Makkah. Each year nearly 2 million people attain Hajj. The traffic, necessary amenity and extreme weather condition make it more difficult.

Under these circumstances remaining calm, focussing on Allah, sharing the same amenities, staying together in harmony with complete strangers, living under hardship requires lots of stamina, self-control, courage and piety. However, people do this for the sake of Allah; they do this as Allah asks them to do so once in a lifetime.

Born as pure

Hajj offers the opportunity for spiritual rebirth for every Muslims by developing an intimate relationship with Allah as well as satisfying the fifth pillars of Islam. The international Islamic community is also amalgamated through compliance to the communal worship and will of Almighty Allah.

As per Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), person who execute the rituals of Hajj with all rules fulfilled such as no sexual relations with spouse, no sin, no unjust disputes, then the person returns from Hajj as pure and free from all sins just as on the day on which the person takes birth. This fact is also the reason behind the obligation of hajj once in a lifetime. It is said if an eraser effectively rubs out all the sins, then it is not necessary to do it several times.

What has Hajj taught us about life?

Life is a journey. You can only enjoy this if you are more focused on the journey than the destination. Life can also be compared with a game that has no quit or pause button. However, merciful Allah has sent Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH) with the manual of the game of life. Allah appoints him to share His view regarding life with His beloved creation. Allah gives us Hajj that teaches so many things to make the journey of life worthy. We need it for both materials as well as spiritual purpose. In the following portion, different teaching on both is given below.

Teachings for the Material world:

Though Allah said that the time on this earth is just a trial, the actual life we all get at hereafter, still this life is a real one. This life is our only chance to prove our virtue that we are worthy to claim the heaven. In accordance with its meaning ‘intend to journey’; Hajj teaches human to set out of their comfort zone and embrace the unknown world. After successfully accomplishing Hajj, one has increased endurance. They know the value of things that they would take for granted otherwise. Things that are ‘halal’ at other times are ‘haram’ during Hajj (Nikah, shaving head, sexual act, cutting nails, covering heads etc). This fact makes humankind watch their movement and help them to be conscious of every action.

Teachings for the Spiritual world:

Hajj is a remembrance that allows humankind to stay in the path commanded by Allah. It also acts as a shield that protects the person, who performs it with all due respect, from hellfire. While performing Hajj, a pilgrim must put on irham. The irham makes them remember the Kafan. Death is the ultimate destiny of present life. It comes in a coextending distance from the time of birth. We all have limited time on this earth. Within this time, we need to secure our place in the hereafter by doing more good deeds. This constant remembrance of death helps a person to watch their action while giving up disobedience and sin.

Day of Arafah

Arafah

Arafah is a short mountain located 22 km east to Makkah at the plain of Arafah in Saudi Arabia. It is approximately 70 meters high. Muslims also call this mountain as the ‘Mountain of peace’. Hajj is necessary the sacred journey for every financially, physically and psychologically capable Muslim. Hajj is a five days long ritual occurred in between the 8th to 12th day of the last month of Islamic calender Dhu al-Hijjah. Among these five days, the 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah is treated as “Day of Arafah”.

Rituals on the Day of Arafah

Hajj is a remarkable experience that has the power to change one’s life forever. It is considered the moment of forgiveness and repentance. On the ninth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, all pilgrims gather at the plain of Arafah for Waquf. Waquf starts on Zawal that is the declining of Sun and ends on sunset. During this time all the pilgrims spend their time by uttering Talbiyah and praying, seeking forgiveness, repenting on their sin and offering Darud Sharif. They also do a collective Zuhr and Asr prayer in Masjid-e-Namrah or in the plain of Arafah.

Those who are not performing their hajj also celebrated “Day of Arafah” by keeping fast. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH) says “It expiates for the past year and coming year.” [Sahih Muslim, 1162]. Hence, it is highly recommended to keep fast on “Day of Arafah”. This will help them in total submission towards Allah’s will.

The Believes behind the Rituals on the Day of Arafah   

Arafah is the place where Adam and Eve meet after they were banished from the heaven. It is also believed that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH) has delivered the last instructive speech to the humankind on the Mountain of Arafah. He, peace be upon him (PBUH) on his last sermon focuses on reforming the economic, social, political, and religious essentials of society. He, peace be upon him (PBUH)  instructed man to stand up for each other without discriminating against each other on the basis of caste, creed, gender language and nationality.

It is also believed that Day of Arafah among other Hajj rituals is a rehearsal of the judgement day. Furthermore, it is also the place where the final judgement will be delivered to the humankind. The Ihram that a Muslim has to put before performing Hajj signifies Kafan. It reminds them of the death and departing from all their material belongings. It is also the place, where we humans have taken an oath before birth to obey only Allah as our one God.

“Allah took the covenant from the loins of Adam in Na’maan, i.e., Arafah. He brought forth from his loins all his offspring and spread them before Him, then He addressed them, and said: ‘Am I not your Lord? They said, ‘Yes, we testify,’ let you should say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Verily, we have been unaware of this.’ Or lest you should say: ‘It was only our fathers aforetime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were  descendants after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practised Al-Baatil?’ [al-A’raaf 7:172-173].”

Why is Hajj an obligatory duty and when is it performed?

 

عَنِ غَنِيٌّ اللَّهَ فَإِنَّ كَفَرَ سَبِيلًاوَمَن إِلَيْهِ اسْتَطَاعَ مَنِ الْبَيْتِ حِجُّ النَّاسِ عَلَى وَلِلَّهِ الْعَالَمِين

“And Pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) everyone who is able to undertake the journey to it; and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is Self-sufficient, above any need of the worlds.”

(Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse # 97)

Why is Hajj an obligatory duty?

Allah has created humankind to worship Him. However, the human becomes entangled with mundane life and forget about Him. Merciful Allah thus presents Hajj an obligatory duty that is a unique blend of prayers, zakat and fasting. Hajj gives us the opportunity to surrender ourselves to the glory of Allah and seek forgiveness. All that Allah asks for is to be mindful towards Him and submit.

Materialistic thoughts are not able to provide the peace of mind that all men are looking for ages. Duties, stress, hectic work pressure and other tension pull you away from your true nature that is to be close to Allah. Hajj allows a man to forget about everything, get detached from rest of the world, submerged in the thoughts of Allah, and find the peace in His arms.

Allah makes Hajj an obligatory duty, done once in a lifetime, to all the Muslim people who are sound mentally,  physically and financially. Every Muslim also needs to ensure that they are fulfilled all their worldly responsibility before that.

When is it performed?

As per Islamic calendar, capable Muslims are required to travel to Makkah with an intention to perform Hajj. Each year Hajj starts on the 8th day of the lunar month, Dhu al-Hijjah. Hajj is a five-day-long process that lies between the 8-12th days of the lunar month. The solar calendar (Gregorian calendar) precedes the lunar calendar (Islamic calendar) by around ten days every year. Due to this reason, hajj falls 10-11 days earlier than its previous year dates in the Gregorian calendar.

Hajj an obligatory duty includes many rituals such as wearing Irham, staying and offering prayer in Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah, performing Ramy (throwing seven pebbles) at ‘Jamarat-al-Ula’, ‘Jamarat-al-Wusta’ and ‘Jamarat-al-Aqaba’ and sacrificing the animal in the name of Allah. They also need to perform Tawaaf (seven times anti clock circumambulations around the Kaaba; Starting from the Hajar-al-Aswad), drinking water from Zamzam well, Sa’y (to and fro walking between As-Safaa and Al-Marwah seven times) and performing Qasar or Halaq (a ritual of cutting hair either entirely or trimming it equal to a length of a fingertip).