Ten blessed days of Dul Hijjah

Updated 02 September 2016
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Ten blessed days of Dul Hijjah

It is the time of the year again when we see millions of people from every corner of the world gathering in Makkah for Haj, which is the largest annual religious gathering that humanity knows. It is not just the number of people, but also the diversity that is stunning. Indeed, the heart of every believer soars with joy and the eyes well up when they watch the live transmissions being aired from the holy sites and every single one of them wishes that he/she was one of the blessed ones performing Haj.
It all started when Allah commanded Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to build His House, purify it and then call people to it for pilgrimage. Allah talks about this, in Surah Al Haj and says: “And when We designated for Ibraheem the site of the House, [saying], ‘Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate. And proclaim to the people the Haj; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.’” (Qur’an 22:26-27)
Ibn Katheer said in his commentary on these verses: “This means: Allah says, Proclaim (O Ibrahim) the Haj to the people, calling them to come on pilgrimage to this House which We have commanded you to build. It was mentioned that Ibrahim said, “O Lord, how can I proclaim it to the people when my voice does not reach them?” He said, “Call and We will convey it.” So he stood in his maqaam (Station of Ibraheem) — or it was said, on the rock, or on Al-Safa, or on Abu-Qubays (a mountain) — and said: “O people, your Lord has taken a House, so come to it on pilgrimage.”
Praise be to the One Who has made His House "a place of return for the people and (a place of) security." (2:125). The hearts of those who love Allah are naturally attached to the House of the Beloved. Every time they see its image from afar they long for it and every time they are away from it they want to return. Although this narration amazes us, it also saddens many who are unable to undertake this amazing journey, either due to financial reasons, family obligations, or any other reason that may exist. Allah knows the state of hearts and He is especially Merciful toward His believing slaves when He decrees that whenever one resolves to do an act of worship but he is unable to do it because of some excuse, he will be granted the reward of one who does it.
This is proven by the incident when the Messenger (peace be upon him) came back from the campaign of Tabook and when he drew close to Madinah he said: “In Madinah there are some people who, whenever you marched or crossed a valley, were with you (gaining similar rewards).” The companions said: “O Messenger of Allah, but they were in Madinah.” He said, “They were in Madinah because some excuse kept them back.” (Al-Bukhari-4423)
We can also get the ultimate rewards of Haj, right from where we are. According to a Hadith, whoever prays Fajr prayer in congregation, then sits and remembers Allah until the sun rises, and then prays 2 rakahs of voluntary prayer (Al-ishraq), he will gain a reward equal to that of performing a perfect, perfect, perfect Haj and Umrah. (Al-Albaani, Saheeh Al-Jaami’-6346)
Furthermore, Allah has made the month of Haj, Dul-Hijjah blessed, and the first ten days of this month have been made the best ten days of the year so all good deeds done in this season carry extra rewards.
The evidence of this has been reported in both the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Allah says: “By the dawn. And by the ten nights.” (Qur’an 89:1-2) The ten nights refer to the first ten days of Dul-Hijjah according to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and others. (Tafsir Ibn Katheer)
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “There are no days in which righteous actions are more beloved to Allah than these ten days...” (Al-Bukhari, 2/457)
Therefore, for those of us who are unable to be in Makkah right now for Haj, let’s value these special days of the year and maximize our efforts to excel in various good deeds. We can:
— Pray all obligatory prayers on time and try to pray extra voluntary prayers for extra reward.
 Fast as the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on the first nine days of Dul-Hijjah. (Saheeh Abi Dawood-2/462). And when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on the 9th — The Day of ‘Arafah, he said: “It expiates (sins) for the past year and the coming year.” (Muslim-1162)
 Keep our tongues moist with Takbeer (Allahu-Akbar), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillaah), Tahleel (La ilaha ill-Allah) and Tasbeeh (SubhanAllah)
 Try to read the Qur'an as much as possible as ‘every letter earns us more than ten rewards’ (Tirmidhi-2910).
— Increase in our worship, repentance and dua during the day and during the night.
 Give charity and help those who are less fortunate to prepare for Eid.
 Restrain our tempers and our tongues from evil or idle talk, try being patient in upholding ties with relatives even if they are rude to us.
— Share sacrificial meat with the poor and be cheerful with everyone.
These ten days are truly special days of great gains and profits. The smart trader is the one who makes the most of this special season to increase his profits and seek nearness to His Master, whether he is at Makkah or not. May Allah guide us to be of the wise ones who do their best to get the maximum reward. Ameen.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.