Its coming my brothers … its finally coming. Its coming to your home. This Sunday.
No, not the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy. Sunday is special because of 2 special events – both far more memorable and meaningful in the scheme of things.
The first significant event is that this Sunday 11th July is a sad reminder of an incident we should keep fresh in our minds. It is Srebrenica Memorial Day – an annual reminder of Srebrenica genocide – large scale killing with an intent to wipe out the Bosnian Muslim population by the Serb militia.
In July 1995 in Srebrenica, Bosnian Serb militia lined up and killed over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. They then buried their bodies in mass graves and forcibly deported women and children. This act of genocide shocked the world.
And we have important lessons to learn about this in a time when distance through digital or broadcast media makes us desensitized, whether shooting at someone on Call of Duty or from the comfort of a machine like in World of Tanks. Sadly, hate generates more clicks than love and everyones grasping for attention when we lose the essence of human relationships. Some of these lessons are related to:
- Hatred and intolerance: It makes no sense to hate someone for their place of birth or ethnicity, whether in another country or a different postcode. Nobody got to choose where they would be born and who their parents and people were. Every person is from the creation of Allah(SWT) and the family of Adam(AS).
- Loyalty and allegiance should be for the greatest ideals, not personalities or heritage. We are united with the Bosnian Muslims by the bond of our collective submission to Allah(SWT). Respect your brothers in faith and build a relationship with transcends the colour of your skin, neighbourhood or school you attended. It was Shaytan who was the first to claim to be better than another based on prejudice saying I am better than Adam because I was created from fire, not mere clay. Splitting the hearts on false bases like these numbs your moral compass – we are all equal before our Creator and only excel based on our levels of submission to Him(SWT).
- Allah(SWT) calls us to justice – we hear it every jumuah – InnAllaha ya’mura bil ‘adl – Indeed Allah(SWT) commands you all to justice, and in Surah al Mai’dah“O you who believe! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all fairness; and never let the hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of swerving from justice. Be just! This is the closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.” [5:8]
- If there is some ill-feeling or grievance, strive to control your emotions. I was speaking to the local Muslim hockey team this week and its amazing to see the level of control between the players – no swearing, violence or bad sportsmanship is entertained despite the fact they are wielding hockey sticks – a weapon of choice for some. Forgive others as quickly as you expect Allah(SWT) to forgive you.
- Remain vigilant and stand firm against those who would divide communities. Defend the rights of others if you see them being violated. As Muslims, our position of responsibility in this world is to seek to unite people, not divide ourselves. And the way is through forgiving others rather than bearing grudges.
The second significant event taking place this Sunday is the peak of the whole year.
Allah is al-Hakeem, the possessor of perfect wisdom, He chooses places, times, and people in His perfect wisdom. He has chosen Friday as the best day of the week, and Ramadan as the best month, and Laylalatul Qadr as the best night. But what are the best days?
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) says: “By the dawn, and by the 10 nights,” [Qur’an, 89:1-2]. Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn al-Zubayr, Mujahid and others of the earlier and later generations said that this refers to the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. The 1st of Dhul hijjah is expected to be this Sunday 11th July in 2021, leading up to the day of Arafah on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, and then the magnificent day of Hajj on 10th Dhul Hijjah.
Allah has preferred the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah over all other days of the year. Ibn ‘Abbas narrated that the Prophet [pbuh] 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 said, ‘Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out for Jihad, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause of Allah, and came back with nothing.’ [Al-Bukhari]
Al Awzaa’i said, based on this hadith that “I was informed that good deeds during the ten days are the equivalent (in reward) to a battle in the path of Allah, in which the day is spent in fasting and the night in safeguarding, except if one is bestowed with martyrdom.”
The rewards are multiplied in these days. Ibn ‘Abbas said: “(The reward for good) deeds are multiplied seven hundred times in these days.”
Why are these days so special?
There is only one time when you can do all of the best of deeds – salaah, charity, sacrifice, fasting, Hajj.
Yawm al-Arafah (the Day of ‘Arafah) is the Day on which Allah completed this deen and perfected His bounty (Quran 5:4)
It was narrated from Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd ibn Kurayz in a mursal report: “The best of du’aa’ is du’aa’ on the day of ‘Arafah.” Narrated by Maalik in al-Muwatta’ (500)
This is the dua with the greatest blessing, the greatest reward and that which is most likely to be answered.
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no day on which Allaah ransoms more of His slaves from the Fire than the day of ‘Arafah. He draws close then He boasts about them before the angels and says, ‘What do these people want?’” Narrated by Muslim (1348).
Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No days are better to Allah than the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.” A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, are they better or time spent waging jihad in the way of Allah?” The Prophet said, “They are better than time spent waging jihad in the way of Allah. No day is better to Allah than the day of Arafat. Allah descends to the lowest heaven and He boasts to the inhabitants of the heavens about the inhabitants of the earth, saying: Look at My servants, appearing disheveled and dusty. They came from every mountain pass hoping for My mercy. They do not see My punishment, yet they do not see that on no day are more saved from Hellfire than the day of Arafat.” [Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 3853]
So what should we do in these days?
Khalid bin Mi`dan used to say: “If the door for good is opened for one of you, then rush (to take advantage) because you don’t know when it will close.”
The Prophet ﷺ encouraged everyone to treat these days as your best days and fill them with goodness.
The story of Labbayk
When Ibrahim (peace be upon him) completed the structure of the Ka’bah, Allah commanded him to call the people to Hajj and this is recorded in the Qur’an
And proclaim the Hajj among mankind. They will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways. [Surah Al-Hajj 22:27]
It was said that Ibrahim (AS) said, “O Lord, how can I convey this to people when my voice will not reach them?’’ It was said, “Call them and We will convey it.” So Ibrahim (AS) stood up (on the Black Stone, or As-Safa) and said,
“O mankind! Your Lord has established a House so come for pilgrimage to it.’’ It is said that the mountains lowered themselves so that his voice would reach all the corners of the earth, and those who were still in their mothers’ wombs and their fathers’ loins would hear the call.
The response came from everything that heard him, from stones, trees, and those whom Allah has decreed will make Hajj, until the Day of Resurrection: “Labbayk Allahumma labbayk We answer your call, O Allah, we answer your call.” [Ibn Katheer]
The Prophet ﷺ said: “When any pilgrim utters Talbiyah, every stone and tree on his right and on his left responds with a (similar) Talbiyah, until the whole earth resounds with it.” [Ibn Khuzaymah]
To this very day, millions upon millions of Muslims continue to answer the call of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). Perhaps this year you shall be amongst those who answer the call.
Respond to the call
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Iblis said to his Lord, ‘By Your Glory and Majesty, as long as the Children of Ādam exist on earth, I shall continuously misguide them.’ Allāh replied, ‘By My Glory and Majesty, as long as they seek My forgiveness, I will continue to forgive them!’” [Musnad Ahmed]
A time for tawbah Turn back to Allah(SWT) and ask for forgiveness. It is extremely useful to step back from our busy lives and look for the triggers which caused our hearts to stray. What people, places or things have affected our path? Did a new relationship, responsibility, or job cause us to lose sight of our journey to Allah? Did some sort of wealth, power, or status take pull too strongly on our hearts and cause them to deviate?
The answers to such questions can often help us create a map for our hearts—an outline of what we should keep doing and what we should avoid.
‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas arrived with Khalid b. Waleed four years before the passing of the Prophet(SAW) to accept Islam at the hands of the Prophet(SAW). Waleed b Waleed, his brother, was given the good news that he had arrived in peace by the Prophet(SAW). ‘Amr (RA) narrates,
“When Islam entered my heart, I went to the Messenger of Allah and said, ‘Give me your hand so that I may pledge allegiance to you.’ The Prophet spread his hand, but I withdrew mine. He said, ‘What is wrong ‘Amr?’ I said, ‘I want to make a condition.’ ‘And what is that?’ he said.
I said, ‘(I have committed too many sins in my life, and I planned to kill you more times than I can count, I want the promise) that Allah will forgive me.’ Then the Messenger of Allah said, ‘Did you not know that Islam wipes out what came before it, and that Hijrah wipes out what came before it and that Hajj wipes out what came before it!” – Al-Islaam yahdee wa maa kaana qabla wal hijrah tahdee wa maa kaana qabla wal hajju yahdee wa maa kaana qabla (Sahih Muslim).
This is your opportunity. Hijrah (migration) is of many degrees – wal muhaajiru man hajara minal khataaya wa dhunoob – the one who migrates from minor and major sins. This is my moment. This is your moment. When will you and I make hijrah too?
How long will you search for happiness and joy without Allah(SWT)? It’s like trying to make a cake without flour or sugar.Do not leave your repentance till Ramadan. Do not wait until you go for Hajj. Do not even wait till tomorrow. Do it now and prepare for this journey. Come back to Allah before it is too late. Now.
Ali – Radi Allahu ‘anhu – once stood at the head of a grave and said to his companion, “If he had a chance to return to this life, what do you think he would do?” His companion replied, “He would do nothing but good deeds.” Ali – Radi Allahu ‘anhu – then said, “If it is not going to be him, then let it be you.”
Abdullah ibn Al-Mubarak narrates: I went to Sufyan ibn al-Uyaynah as the day of Arafat was setting. He sat on his knees, his hands raised to the Heavens, and tears moistened his cheeks and beard. He turned and looked at me, so I asked him, “Amongst the people who have gathered here for Hajj, who is in the worst state?” Sufyan ibn al-Uyaynah said, “He who thinks that Allah will not forgive him.”
Make a plan for these coming days of Dhul Hijjah from Sunday up to and including the Day of Eid as these are the days that Allah(SWT) loves more than any other.
Your plan should include:
- Arranging a qurbani as “there is nothing dearer to Allah during the days of Qurbãni than the sacrificing of animals. The sacrificed animal shall come on the Day of Judgement with its horns, hair, and hooves (to be weighed and converted to rewards). The sacrifice is accepted by Allah before the blood reaches the ground. Therefore sacrifice with an open and happy heart.” – Tirmidhi
It is sunnah for those who are sacrificing an animal to avoid cutting their hair and nails for the first 10 days, even if you’re not going to Hajj. Narrated Umm Salamah: That the Prophet ((May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him)) said: “Whoever sees the crescent of Dhul-Hijjah, and wants to slaughter a sacrifice he should not take from his hair nor from his nails.” – Tirmidhi
- Fasting The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah. He replied, “Fasting on the day of Arafat is an expiation (for sins) for the preceding year and the following year…[Muslim] Like in Ramadan, follow the best of examples and eat at suhoor time even if its just a date. Pray tahajjud, recite your Qur’an at fajr and try to make it to the masjid.
- Remembering Allah(SWT). There are no days greater in the sight of Allah than them, so recite “Subhan-Allah“, “Al-hamdu Lillaah” and “Allahu akbar” profusely during this time (Musnad)
- Pray The 5 prayers on time, and in congregation. Pray the 12 Rakah Sunnah’s on this day for a reward of a palace in Jannah. Pray additional Nawafil prayers. Salaatul ishraq (soon after the sun rises) has a full reward of Hajj and `umrah (the lesser pilgrimage).”
- Qur’an – try to complete or excel in it
- Du’a `Ali (ra) used to advise people to say, “O Allah, free my neck from the fire,” on the day of `Arafah.
Other good deeds include spending in charity, serving your parents, mending ties with friends and family and being good to your neighbours.
It’s important to remember that this is a time in which all deeds are multiplied. Whenever we have a noble place, location or time, then the deeds are greater, and the sins are also greater. The stakes are higher. If you play football and you miss a shot in the first few minutes, it’s not the same as you missing a defining shot in the last two minutes when the scores are equal. This is a reality. Similarly, the scholars say that the nobility of a place (e.g. Makkah, Madinah, Jerusalem) or a time (e.g. Ramadan, Dhul-Hijjah) the sins are worse, and are multiplied just like the good deeds. So, commit to leaving off sins and bad habits, while making dua that Allah(SWT) gives you steadfastness on leaving them permanently.
May Allah(SWT) count us amongst the forgiven in these blessed days and accept all our good efforts seeking His Pleasure.