The Holy Month of Hajj: Pilgrimage to the Lord of Power

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah, than these ten days.  One fast during these ten days is equal to the fasting of one complete year, and the worship of one night during this period is equal to the worship in the Laylat al-Qadr.”  This hadits was recorded by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.).  The following on the days of virtue and righteous deeds are taken from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani's (q.s.), Ghunya ath-Thalibin.  The practices are those of the Naqshbandi Haqqani as taught to us by Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim al-Haqqani (q.s.).

Praise be to Allah who has created time and made some times better than others.  Some months and days and nights are better than others, when rewards are Multiplied many times, as a Mercy towards His servants.  This encourages them to do more righteous deeds and makes them more eager to worship Him, so that the Muslim renews his efforts to gain a greater share of reward, and to prepare himself for death in readiness for the Day of Judgement.

This season of worship brings many benefits, such as the opportunity to correct one’s faults and make up for any shortcomings or anything that one might have missed.  Every one of these special occasions involves some kind of worship through which the servants may draw closer to Allah (s.w.t.), and some kind of blessing through which Allah (s.w.t.) Bestows His Favour and Mercy upon whomsoever He Wills.  The happy person is the one who makes the most of these special months, days and hours.  He draws nearer to his Lord during these times through acts of worship.  He will most likely be touched by the Blessing of Allah (s.w.t.) and will feel the joy of knowing that he is safe from the flames of Hell.

Allah (s.w.t.) has Preferred these 10 days over all the other days of the year.  ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more Beloved to Allah than these ten days.”

The people asked, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?”

He replied, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.”

Allah (s.w.t.) Swears an oath by them, and swearing an oath by something is indicative of its importance and great benefit.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says in the Qur’an:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
By the Break of Day.  By the Nights twice five (Surah al-Fajr:1-2)

This refers to the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) commanded us to recite a lot of tasbih, tahmid and takbir during this time.  ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “There are no days greater in the Sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more Beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal of tahlil, takbir and tahmid.”

These ten days include Yawm al-‘Arafah, 9th Dzu al-Hijjah, on which Allah (s.w.t.) Perfected His Religion.  Fasting on this day will remove the sins of two years.  These days also include Yawm an-Nahr, the Day of Sacrifice, 10th Dzu al-Hijjah, the greatest day of the entire year and the greatest day of Hajj, which combines acts of worship in a way unlike any other day.

Among the good deeds, which the Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah is fasting.  Fasting the first nine days, especially on the 9th of Dzu al-Hijjah, Yawm al-‘Arafah.  The mother of the believers, Hafswah (r.a.) reported that Rasulullah (s.a.w.) used to fast the first nine days of Dzu al-Hijjah.  For those not performing hajj, it is desirable to fast on this day according to their own lunar calendar dates of their own country.  According to a hadits, the fast of this day becomes a cause, hopefully so, of forgiveness for sins committed for two years, the year before, and the year after.  When the Prophet (s.a.w.) was asked regarding the fast on the day of ‘Arafah, he replied, “The fast on this day washes past years sins, as well as the remaining years.”

Another deed is dzikr.  It is sunnah to say takbir, “Allahu Akbar”; tahmid, “al-Hamdulillah”; tahlil, “Laa ilaha illa Allah”; and tasbih, “subhanallah” during the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah, and to say it loudly in the mosque, the home, the street and every place where it is permitted to remember Allah (s.w.t.) and mention His Name out loud, as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the Greatness of Allah (s.w.t.).  Men should recite these phrases out loud, and women should recite them quietly.  Rasulullah (s.a.w.) said, “The best form of ‘ibadah is to recite the Qur'an.”

One of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days is to perform hajj to the Sacred House of Allah (s.w.t.).  The one whom Allah (s.w.t.) Helps to go on hajj to His House and to perform all the rituals properly is included in the words of the Prophet (s.a.w.): “An accepted hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.”

Doing more good deeds in general is recommended because good deeds are Beloved by Allah (s.w.t.) and will bring a great Reward from Him.  Whoever is not able to go to hajj should occupy himself at this blessed time by worshipping Allah (s.w.t.), swalah, reading Qur’an, remembering Allah (s.w.t.), making du’a, giving charity, honouring his parents, upholding the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and other good deeds and acts of worship.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.”

Those who have enough wealth to pay zakat must offer the sacrifice for Allah (s.w.t.).  It is wajib in the Maliki, Hanbali and Hanafi madzahib.  It is a very strong sunnah in the Shafi’i madzhab.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever has the means to perform a sacrifice, but did not, let him not approach my mosque.”

For the qurban, one must choose a high-quality animal, fatten it and spend money on it for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.).  It is the tradition of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) and a strongly recommended sunnah.  A lamb, sheep, goat , cow, buffalo, or camel can be offered as the sacrifice.  There are seven shares in a cow, buffalo and camel.  The sacrifice should be accomplished by slaughtering the animal after Swalah al-‘Iyd.  The sacrifice, also called ‘udhiyah or qurbani lasts for four days from 10th Dzu al-Hijjah until the sunset of 13th Dzu al-Hijjah.  The meat should be divided into three shares: one for the family, the second for relatives and friend and the third share is for the poor and the needy.  Or all of the meat can be given to the needy, if that is needed in the area you are doing the sacrifice.

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “On the 10th of Dzu al-Hijjah, there is no better act in the view of Allah than shedding the blood (of slaughtered animals).  And verily sacrifice earns the Approbation of Allah even before the drop of blood (of the slaughtered animal) falls on the ground.  Hence you should offer it in good spirit.  For every hair of the sacrificial animal, there is a blessing.”

What must the Muslim avoid during these ten days if he wants to offer a sacrifice?  The sunnah indicates that the one who wants to offer a sacrifice must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “When you see the new moon of Dzu al-Hijjah, if any one of you wants to offer a sacrifice, then he should stop cutting his hair and nails until he has offered his sacrifice.”  Whoever needs to remove some hair, nails and so forth because it is harming him, such as having a broken nail or a wound in a site where there is hair, should do so, and there is nothing wrong with that.  There is nothing wrong with men or women washing their heads during the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) only forbade cutting the hair, not washing it.

The wisdom behind this prohibition of the one who wants to offer a sacrifice from cutting his hair and so forth, is so that he may resemble those in ihram in some aspect of the rituals performed, and so that he may draw closer to Allah (s.w.t.) by offering the sacrifice.  If a person has cut his hair or nails during the first ten days of Dzu al-Hijjah because he was not planning to offer a sacrifice, then he decides later, during the ten days, to offer a sacrifice, then he must refrain from cutting his hair and nails from the moment the makes this decision.  This prohibition appears to apply only to the one who is offering the sacrifice, not to his wife and children, unless any of them is offering a sacrifice in his or her own right, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to sacrificed “on behalf of the family of Muhammad,” but there are no reports that say he forbade them to cut their hair or nails at that time.

One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah (s.w.t.) and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin.  Repentance means coming back to Allah (s.w.t.) and foregoing all the deeds, open and secret, that He Dislikes, out of regret for what has passed, giving it up immediately and being determined never to return to it, but to adhere firmly to the Truth by doing what Allah (s.w.t.) Loves. If a Muslim commits a sin, he must hasten to repent at once, without delay, firstly because he does not know when he will die, and secondly because one evil deed leads to another.  Repentance at special times is very important because in most cases people's thought turn towards worship at these times, and they are keen to do good, which leads to them recognising their sins and feeling regret for the past.

Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

But any that (in this life) had repented, believed, and worked righteousness, will have hopes to be among those who achieve salvation. (Surah al-Qaswasw:67)

The 9th day of Dzu al-Hijjah is called Yawm al-‘Arafah.  This is the date when the hujjaj, pilgrims, assemble on the plain of 'Arafat, six miles away from Makkah al-Mukarramah, where they perform the most essential part of the prescribed duties of hajj, namely, the wuquf, the vigil of ‘Arafat.

Beginning from fajr of the 9th Dzu al-Hijjah up to the ‘aswr prayer of the 13th, it is obligatory on each Muslim to recite the takbir of tashriq after every fardh prayer in the following words: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaha illa Allahu, wa Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa li Allah al-hamd.”  Whether one is performing swalah with jama’ah or individually makes no difference, one should recite the takbir.  However, male Muslims should recite it in a loud voice, while females should recite it in a low voice.

As for the practices of the Day of ‘Arafah for those at ‘Arafat, for those going to hajj, they need not fast on that day as they have many obligations to fulfill.  They must not smoke.  They must not engage in frivolous talk, haggling, quarreling, arguing or wrangling.  They are to make fervent supplications, whilst pleading and weeping, seeking His Favours and Bounties.  If they do all these, they will emerge clean.  If not, they will emerge as dirty as they entered ‘Arafah.

Regarding the practices of the Day of ‘Arafah for those not Performing hajj, they are to fast.  Fasting means that our tongues, our eyes, and all our organs must fast too, especially our hearts.  Fasting on this day removes the sin of the previous year, and of the year to come.

The muridun of the Naqhsbandi and those inclined are to recite Surah al-Ikhlasw 1,000 times.  This begins after fajr and is to be completed before maghrib.  Shaykh ‘Abdullah ad-Daghistani (q.s.) used to recite this:

100 x Laa ilaha illaa Allahu Wahdahu laa shariika lahu.  Lahu al-Mulku wa lahu al-Hamd Yuhyii wa Yumiitu wa Huwa ‘alaa kulli shay’in Qadiir

100 x Subhaan Allah, wa al-Hamdu Lillah, wa laa Ilaha illa Allahu, wa Allahu Akbar, wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billah al-‘Aliyyi al ‘Azhiim

He would then follow up with istighfar ten times, and swalawat a thousand times.

We are also to du’a for the ummah and for our beloved shuyukh.  Shaykh Nazhim (q.s.) said, “Pray for me that I am not placed in a position to be in need of anyone, pray that I am not confined to my bed, pray that I am not humiliated amongst people, pray that the love of Islam is always in our hearts, and that we are under the banner of Islam, here and hereafter.”  We are also to perform swalah al-khuswama’, preferably, between zhuhr and ‘aswr.  The method of its performance is given in a separate post.

There is a supplication on the night of ‘Iyd al-AdhhaFor the night preceding ‘Iyd al-Adhha, 10th Dzu al-Hijjah, it was the practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.) not to sleep in the night preceding the day of ‘Iyd al-Adhha.  Allah (s.w.t.) Grants all supplications in this night.  Therefore, it is desirable to perform as much supplications and worship in this night.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two ‘Iydayn expecting Rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die.”  This is recorded by Imam ibn Majah (r.a.).


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