By A. Samshath
We often hear that Allah (swt) is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, Most Beneficent, All Encompassing, The best Provider, etc. We also know that these are some of the attributes of Allah (swt) and they’re called asmaa’ul husna (the beautiful names).
Somehow, we only learn all these as textual facts; some of us memorize the names because of the rewards attached, but most of us don’t contemplate each name or attribute of Allah (swt). Contemplating and remembering those attributes at appropriate times in our day-to-day life will bring us closer to Allah (swt). Besides, we will begin to realize the unending love, care, compassion, and concern of our creator towards His creations.
We human beings commit many sins, both knowingly and unknowingly. Sometimes when we realize we’ve sinned we ask for forgiveness of Allah (swt). At other times we’re very cool, and we even forget the fact that we’ve committed a sin. But remember, all our deeds, good or bad, are being recorded. Nothing goes unnoticed or forgotten.
Do we realize the gravity of this? Just imagine, on the Day of Judgment, standing in front of all our sins, accumulated as a mountain! Can we do anything to destroy that mountain? Nothing, nothing at all!
Purpose of Death and Life
Allah (swt) says in Suratul Mulk, [He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving. [Quran, 67:2]
Subhanallah! He’s saying this about the quality of our deeds and not our quantity, beauty, wealth, or any other achievement in this life! So, let’s make the most of this life by doing the best deeds.
Antidotes for Sin
The Most Merciful has given us antidotes to purify ourselves from the evil of our own deeds. The reward for one of the five pillars of Islam, The Hajj pilgrimage to Makka, if performed in the prescribed manner, is His forgiveness.
It’s narrated in a saheeh report that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: An accepted pilgrimage brings no less a reward than Paradise. And he said: Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any obscenity or commit any evil will go back (free of) sin as on the day his mother bore him.
And it was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (ra) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The pilgrims performing Hajj and ‘Umrah are the guests of Allah; if they call upon Him He will answer them, and if they ask Him for forgiveness He will forgive them.” [Narrated by al-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah]
The First Ten Days of Zul Hijjah
Those not performing Hajj can also benefit a lot from the month of Zul Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic calendar. So sacred and priceless a time of tremendous virtues and blessings are the first ten days of Zul Hijjah that Allah (swt) says in the Quran: By the dawn; by the ten nights” [al-Fajr 89:1-2].
Imaam Ibn Qayyim (rahimahullah) (d. 751H) said: Indeed, its days are the most excellent of all the days with Allah. It has been confirmed in Saheeh al-Bukharee from Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “No deeds are more virtuous than deeds on these days.” The companions asked: “Not even Jihad (fighting in Allah’s Cause)?” He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) replied: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out risking himself and his wealth for the sake of Allah, and does not come back with anything.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee vol: 2, no: 457]
Recommended Acts of Worship During the First Ten Days of Zul Hijjah
- Fast the Day of Arafa. The Yawm al Arafa, ninth day of Zul Hijjah, holds great importance in Islam since this is the day when Allah completed his revelation to His Messenger (sallahu alaihe wa-sallam). It is reported in the Saheehayn (i.e. Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim), from Umar Ibn al-Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) that a Jewish man said to him: “O Ameer al-Mumineen (O head of the Muslims)! There is a verse in the Qur’aan, which if was revealed on us, the Jews, we would have taken that day as an Eid (festival).” Umar asked: “Which verse?” He said: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Soorah al-Maidah (5): 3] It is particularly encouraged to fast on the day of Arafa, when the pilgrims gather in the plain of Arafa. The Prophet (pbuh) used to fast on this day (al Nasai and Abu Dawud). Fasting on this day will expiate a Muslim’s sins for two years. Abu Hafsah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet (pbuh), said: Fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah absolves the sins for two years: the previous year and the coming year, and fasting on ‘Ashura, (the tenth day of Muharram) atones for the sins of previous years. [Reported by all except al-Bukhari and at-Tirmidhi]. Look at the generosity and magnanimity of our creator! Just for fasting for 12 -14 hrs, He’s rewarding us with forgiveness for two years! Also, He’s rewarding us in advance, by forgiving the sins of the coming year!
- Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah (swt): The verbal remembrance of Allah is another rewarding act during the first ten days of Zul Hijjah. The Prophet (pbuh) encouraged Muslims to recite a lot of Tasbeeh (Subhan-Allaah), Tahmeed (Al-hamdu Lillaah) and Takbeer (Allahu akbar) during this time. The Takbeer may include the words Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, la ilaha ill-Allah; wa Allahu akbar wa Lillahil-hamd (Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah; Allah is Most Great and to Allah be praise). Men are encouraged to recite these phrases out loud and women quietly. Ibn Umar and Abu Hurayrah, two of the Prophet’s companions, used to go out in the market place during the first ten days of Zul-Hijjah, reciting Takbeer, and the people would recite Takbeer individually when they heard them.
- Sacrifice: One of the good deeds that will bring a person closer to Allah during these ten days is offering a sacrifice.
- Good deeds: Generally, all good deeds are rewarded highly during these blessed days, especially Nafil salah, reciting the Quran, making a lot of dua (supplication), sincere repentance, asking Allah (swt) for forgiveness, asking Allah (swt) to save us from committing sins, forgiving others, giving in charity, doing dawah, and being good to the slaves of Allah (swt).
Praise and thanks to Allah (swt) who has granted us these special days. May Allah (swt) help us to get the most out of these blessed days and may Allah (swt) accept our good deeds and repentance. Ameen.