It is the time of the pilgrimage. Nearly 2.5 million pilgrims went to Mecca for Hajj during 2019.
But that number stands for a small fraction of Muslims who participated in Dhul Hijjah. The month is an important occasion for religious performances all over the world, not just in Mecca. To celebrate this special time, you need to answer some questions.
What exactly is Dhul Hijjah? What virtues should you embody during this time? What practices can you follow, and how can you schedule your day to get to all of them?
Answer these questions and you can spread goodwill for all people. Here is your comprehensive guide.
The Basics of Dhul Hijjah
Dhul Hijjah is the final month in the Islamic calendar. It begins this year on 11 July and goes until 8 August.
It is one of the holiest months on the calendar because the Hajj takes place during the 8th, 9th, and 10th days of it. The Day of Arafah takes place on the 9th, commemorating the Farewell Sermon. Eid al-Adha also begins on the 10th and extends to the 13th.
The first ten days of the month are considered to be auspicious. A verse from the Qur’an reads, “There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.”
There are several virtues that particularly stand out. Piety is extremely important. The five prayers are obligatory on all days of Dhul Hijjah, but recommended prayers are strongly encouraged.
It is especially a good idea to pray in a congregation. This creates a communal power that is lacking when one person prays by themselves.
Community is its own important value. Families should gather together, sharing prayers and memories.
Generosity is always central to Islamic practices. Muslims are encouraged to give to the poor through a number of means, including food donations.
At the same time, Muslims should engage in self-sacrifice. They should not make themselves destitute while helping others, but they should fast and offer their valuables.
The history of Dhul Hijjah extends back to the Prophet Ibraheem. Muslims should spend time studying this rich history, emulating the lives of prophets and religious leaders.
The month is something of a second opportunity after Ramadan. If you broke the fast or committed a sin, you can pray for forgiveness. If you did not do anything wrong, you can double up on your good works.
There are many practices through which you can fulfil the virtues of Dhul Hijjah. You are not required to perform all of them. But try to delegate some time during the ten days for as many activities as you can perform.
Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Every Muslim who is capable of performing it must perform it at least once.
Muslims travel to Mecca and participate in numerous rites. Before they travel to Mecca, they enter into a state called Ihram. They wear modest attire and refrain from killing animals.
When they arrive in Mecca, they perform Tawaf. They walk seven times around the Kaaba, then perform prayers at the Place of Abraham.
They then run or walk seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah. They can go to the Zamzam well and drink from the water there. The day ends with a round of prayers.
On the second day of the Hajj, pilgrims travel to Arafat. They pray and listen to sermons from scholars. The pilgrims walk to Muzdalifah to spend the night praying and sleeping under the stars.
On the third day, the pilgrims enact the stoning of the devil by throwing rocks at pillars. Once this is done, animals are sacrificed and people trim their hair. They then perform Tawaf again.
Some people have performed an Umrah, travelling to Mecca during another time of the year. To count as a Hajj, the trip must take place during Dhul Hijjah. It is okay for a pilgrim to extend their visit, but they should be in Mecca during the Day of Arafah.
Hajj 2021 is under strict COVID-19 restrictions. Only 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed into Mecca, and all of them must be fully vaccinated.
Muslims traditionally spend much of Dhul Hijjah praying. In addition to the traditional five prayers, observant people can offer many additional ones.
Sunnah, al nafl, and Nawafil prayers are optional prayers that a person can perform throughout their day. Tahajjud is performed at night. Someone can sleep for a short period of time, perform a short prayer, and then return to bed.
The Ishraq prayer is the post-sunrise prayer. A person can perform a few short prayers, then recite some Islamic verses. They then must sit for a few minutes, meditating and avoiding worldly affairs.
Muslims who are not performing Hajj may offer prayers for those who are. They can invoke specific people by name, wishing them well on their spiritual journey.
Prayer can involve dhikr or thiker Allah, praising the name of Allah constantly. Some people recite various names of Allah 100 times. This is done to eliminate burdensome sins that other actions cannot clean away.
It can involve dua, asking for help directly from Allah. Many Muslims perform several different kinds of prayers within one session.
You can perform prayers at home, or you can visit a masjid or mosque. Try to do a little of both, especially with your family.
Reading the Qur’an
Most Muslims try to take twenty minutes out of their day to read the Qur’an. It can be in an English or Arabic translation. Reading the Qu’ran reminds the Muslim of their duties and increases the chance of a reward.
You can choose your favourite verses, or you can focus on a section you are not familiar with. Try reading the words out loud. This will help you memorize them and get familiar with their pronunciation.
Fasting during Dhul Hijjah functions similarly to fasting during Ramadan. Muslims should try to avoid eating during the daytime hours of the first nine days of the month. At night, they can eat in between prayers.
A person who struggles with fasting can do so just on the Day of Arafah. According to the Qur’an, this can erase the sins of the previous year and the coming one. They can eat after sundown.
Most scholars state that it is haram to fast on Eid al-Adha. Feel free to eat as much as you want during that day. Take advantage of the festivities by indulging in your favourite meals.
Simple actions count as charity giving during Dhul Hijjah. Doing household chores you don’t normally do counts. Inviting someone over for a cup of tea and giving them snacks counts.
More profound actions can lead to substantial rewards. Many Muslim charitable organizations run drives during Dhul Hijjah to raise donations. You can give money to fight cancer or allow people to travel to Mecca.
Try to volunteer some of your time. Work at a food bank or a soup kitchen to feed the homeless. Visit your local library and read to children, or organize the shelves so people can access books.
The head of every Muslim family must sacrifice an animal during Dhul Hijjah. This mirrors the story of the Prophet Ibraheem.
If you are offering a sacrifice, you must avoid removing anything from your skin for ten days. This includes cutting your hair or your nails, though you can remove them if medical care requires it.
Most people sacrifice a ram, which Ibraheem sacrificed in lieu of his son. If you cannot find a ram, you can slaughter a different animal. You can also arrange for someone to kill the animal if you cannot.
Once the animal has been sacrificed, you can distribute the meat to family members and needy people. This serves as an act of charity.
How to Schedule Your Time
If you plan on performing the Hajj, you need to make your arrangements well in advance. Flights to Mecca and hotel rooms book up very quickly. Check the government’s advisory page on Hajj travel to see if everything is safe.
You should try to perform prayers, charity-giving, and Qurbani. Add one prayer to your daily routine of five. Commit to performing at least one charitable act a day before you leave home.
If you are not performing Hajj, you can focus on prayers and charity-giving. Try to add a new prayer to each of the five you have to perform. Dhikr may take some time, so add it to a prayer you perform at home.
Reading Qur’an should not pose a disruption to your day. You can read it in the morning to remind yourself of important principles, or you can read at night to wind down from the day. Try doing both and see what works best for you.
Ease your way into fasting. A couple of weeks before Dhul Hijjah begins, stop eating breakfast. Eat smaller and smaller meals so you get used to feeling hunger.
Follow healthy fasting tips, including ones for Ramadan. If it endangers your health, you are not required to fast. Talk to your doctor sometime before Dhul Hijjah so you know if it is right for you.
Celebrate Dhul Hijjah
Dhul Hijjah is a crucial time in the Islamic calendar. The first ten days include the Hajj and the Day of Arafah, the holiest day of all. It is a time to be pious, charitable, and kind to family members.
There are many ways to spread these values. You can perform Hajj, make prayers, and read the Qur’an. You can also perform good works, including Qurbani.
Do something good every day. Add additional prayers to your normal routine, and make a trip to the mosque.
Embrace a truly Islamic life. Crescent Wealth serves Muslims across Australia. Contact us today.
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Islamic Money Expert
Fatma currently leads Crescent Wealth’s Operations, including strategic business planning, project management of major projects and management of key stakeholders.