The Hajj is a unique experience. For a Muslim, it is the apex of ‘ibādah, a fusion between spending in the path of Allah and carrying out actions for the sake of Allah. With most of our worship, we are limited in respect to our involvement with that worship: Salāh begins with the takbir and ends at the salām; giving charity is enjoyed at the time of giving; fasting envelops the day, but most of us are fairly engrossed in our day-to-day activities that we barely notice it. Hajj on the other hand completely encompasses the mind and soul, illustrated in the oft-repeated prayer of the pilgrim “I am present! Oh my Lord, I am present” (labbaik) while his body inebriates [fills] itself with the sight and sounds of millions of hajjis, allied in their desire for the mercy of their lord. Hajj is an experience like no other, where every single moment and ounce of energy is passionately spent in the worship of the creator.
The months of Hajj are months where the mercy of Allah freely flows. With the month of Ramadhan having passed, the months of Hajj are a blessing upon a blessing and provide a Muslim with an early post-Ramadhan booster for the coming Islamic year. We often find ourselves engaged in excessive worship during the last 10 days of Ramadhan, and rightly so, but in addition to that, the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah are as worthy of our time for worship. The Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said:
“There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than [in] these 10 days” (Bukhari).
These 10 days include days of fasting, and especially on the day of ‘Arafah (9th Dhul-Hijjah), about which it is reported from the Prophet (SAW) that:
“Fasting the day of ‘Arafah expiates the sins of two years: the past one and the coming one” (Muslim).
The Prophet ﷺ is also reported to have said about the day of ‘Arafah:
“There is no day in which Allah sets free more souls from the fire of hell than on the day of ‘Arafah”.
Thus, we should try and ensure we make the most of these truly blessed days, and through fasting, remembrance and worship, fill our lives and homes with the spirit of Hajj and light of ‘Īmān.
Hajj is also a time for sacrifice. As we saw in the story of Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS), the objective as we are aware was in his readiness to submit to the will and order of Allah. Likewise, Muslims around the world share in the ritual of Ibrahim (AS), and do so to express their willingness to submit to what Allah has ordered. As Allah mentions in the Qur’an:
“It is neither their flesh nor their blood [of the animal] that reaches Allah, but what does reach Him is the taqwā (the sense of obedience) on your part” (Al-Hajj: 37).
The sacrifice is one of the defining acts of Hajj, and a commemorated act of worship in the Islamic calendar, but it is not the animal which is truly sacrificed, for it is us who partake of it. Rather, it is the sacrifice of our volition: our wishes and desires, in the face of what Allah wishes and desires.
Children will undoubtedly look forward to the Hajj for the celebration of Eid, and we should facilitate that. Eid ought to be a momentous occasion, filled with happiness, joy and laughter. Gifts, if affordable, should be given out, new or best clothes worn, and delights shared. However, we should try and create an Islamic atmosphere to enjoy this in. One way to do this is to build up anticipation leading up to Eid by engaging our children with importance of the days preceding it. Children ought to be told the reason as to why we are celebrating this day, and beyond simply the story of Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS), we should try and develop an awareness of the significance of the days of Dhul-Hijjah in our children.
Some ideas on how to create such an atmosphere might be:
May Allah shower his infinite blessings on us during these blessed days, and may he divinely enable us to make the most of these days as they pass by us.
Mohammed Ibn Abu Bakr
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