“There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” [Sahih]
These first ten blessed days of Dhul-Hijjah are coming to a close, with Eid al-Adha fast approaching! Over the last few days many of us will have tried to fast and hopefully increase our worship in some little way. If not fasting then maybe cutting back and trying to eat just one morsel less. Whatever good you were able to do may Allah reward you for it; no matter how small.
The most virtuous of the 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah is just on the horizon, the day of Arafah! When asked about fasting on the day of Arafah the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
"It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year and (an expiation for the sins of) the coming year" [Sahih].
Arafah is considered to be the main day of Hajj, when those performing Hajj will gather to make dua, beseeching Allah for His mercy, His guidance and His forgiveness. We may not be with the hujjaj (Hajj pilgrims) on Mount Arafah this year but there are a multitude of ways we can still benefit from this day wherever we may be.
“There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel (la illaha il Allah), tasbeeh (subhanallah), takbeer (Allahu akbar) and tahmeed (Alhumdulillah) during them.” [Sahih]
Apart from fasting, one of the most important things we can do for our souls is to increase in dhikr. Reciting litanies, trying to remember Allah throughout our day, and focusing our actions on trying to please him.
"إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ"
“The most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.” — Qur’an 49:13
" وَٱللَّهُ وَلِىُّ ٱلْمُتَّقِينَ"
“And Allah is the Guarding Friend of the mindful.” — Qur’an 45:19
Prayer & Dua
We should remember that prayer and mindfulness of Allah aren't passive acts. They’re a conversation, intimate and dynamic. We should tell Allah what we’re feeling, asking him to ennoble and enable our good thoughts — while also asking him to forgive and protect us from any bad deeds.
The Prophet (ﷺ) told us: "There is no day when God sets free more servants from the fire than the Day of Arafah. He draws near, then praises them to the angels, saying: "What do these people desire?""
Allah tells us that the Day of Arafah is a day of both forgiveness and granting people what they desire. We should make dua for the things we want, not just for ourselves but for others. While also seeking repentance for any transgressions in the past. What we’re praying for is never too small or insignificant. It is never the case that we should be embarrassed to ask of Allah.
" وَعِندَهُۥ مَفَاتِحُ ٱلْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَآ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِى ٱلْبَرِّ وَٱلْبَحْرِ ۚ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍ فِى ظُلُمَـٰتِ ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَا رَطْبٍ وَلَا يَابِسٍ إِلَّا فِى كِتَـٰبٍ مُّبِينٍ"
"With Him are the keys of the unseen—no one knows them except Him. And He knows what is in the land and sea. Not even a leaf falls without His knowledge, nor a grain in the darkness of the earth or anything—green or dry—but is ˹written˺ in a perfect Record." — Qur’an 6:59
Just as Allah cares for every small seed or grain in the darkness, He nurtures it, He helps it to grow and spring forth; likewise He cares for all of us.
Anything we’ve been praying for, forgiveness, healing, success, closure, tranquility. He cares about us. He created us from a small clot of cells, and nurtured and protected us throughout our lives. He knows what’s in our hearts, He knows us intimately, He knows what we want to ask before we even ask it, we need only ask.
What is best will reach you
"ٱقْرَأْ بِٱسْمِ رَبِّكَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ
خَلَقَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ
ٱقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ ٱلْأَكْرَمُ
ٱلَّذِى عَلَّمَ بِٱلْقَلَمِ
عَلَّمَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ
كَلَّآ إِنَّ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ لَيَطْغَىٰٓ
أَن رَّءَاهُ ٱسْتَغْنَىٰٓ
إِنَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ ٱلرُّجْعَىٰٓ"
"Read, ˹O Prophet,˺ in the Name of your Lord Who created humans from a clinging clot.
Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who taught by the pen -- taught humanity what they knew not.
Most certainly, one exceeds all bounds once they think they are self-sufficient.
˹But˺ surely to your Lord is the return ˹of all˺."
Allah already knows what we want, and what we need. They might not be the same thing but it is the process of humbling ourselves that is important. To admit that things in this world are outside of our control and we need to ask him for help if we want to receive.
To believe that we are self-sufficient and that we are the ones effecting change and bringing about goodness is incorrect, we simply take the means Allah has provided us and do our best. The outcomes are up to Him.
How often do we see that we try really hard in an endeavour, only that it doesn’t work out, despite us being confident it would. Conversely, don’t we see that sometimes we try hard and sincerely to make something work, even though it seems unlikely, through his blessings Allah makes things work out, perhaps even wildly better than we had expected! This is all from the blessings and the guidance of Allah.
"Know that if the whole world were to gather together in order to help you, they would not be able to help you except if God had written so. And if the whole world were to gather together in order to harm you, they would not harm you except if God had written so.” — Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)
This is the power of dua. We need only to make dua for what is best, praying for what we want, and for guidance to what is best. After that we put in our best efforts, sincerely working towards it and praying for the best outcome; whatever it may be. Whatever draws us closer to Him is what is best for us.
If Allah were to grant us everything we wanted, it wouldn’t decrease Him at all. He could grant us all of our desires immediately. But sometimes from his mercy He withholds things from us as He knows they’re not good for us, or that they would be better for us at a later time. These events are always good for us and often they are a source of building patience and personal growth.
"وَٱصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ فَإِنَّكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا ۖ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ حِينَ تَقُومُ"
"So be patient with your Lord’s decree, for you are truly under Our ˹watchful˺ Eyes. And glorify the praises of your Lord when you rise." — Qur’an 52:48