We’re already more than halfway through the best 10 days of the entire year, the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah, the month in which millions of Muslims from all corners of the world head to Mecca for Hajj (pilgrimage). As Muslims, we want to ensure that we earn all the good deeds we can during this period of immense blessings and rewards.
One of the hardest things to do in this materialistic, hyper-connected world we live in today is to connect with God and to be more aware of ourselves in order to make sure we’re doing the best we can to earn all the good deeds we can. That is why I’m sharing with you 5 practical ways to make the most of these blessed days, without changing your work schedule, letting your house become a junkyard, or going into full-on hermit mode. I wrote this post over a week ago, but a number of things kept me from sharing until now. Better late than never, right?
Renew Your Intentions
In Islam, almost everything we do, we can get rewards on. You’re a stay-at-home mom who works hard to keep her house clean and kids fed? Make sure you renew your intentions every time you start a task. I’m sure you know that cleanliness is part of Iman (faith), so every time you start doing something that is related to cleaning, make sure the intentions you’re channeling are pure, so you reap the rewards of doing something that is part of Iman.
No matter what you do, try to remember that intentions are the most important thing in Islam and that no matter what you do, as long as you are not transgressing Allah’s limits, then you always have a way to earn rewards from Allah for it. Work, studies, or upkeep of the home doesn’t have to be just “what you do”, it can be something that helps you earn Paradise in-sha Allah.
Pray on time
Most of us struggle to pray on time. It’s another oe of the curses of the super-busy world we live in. There’s so much to do and take care of, that we sometimes make taking care of our spirituality an afterthought. Often, it’s when we’re exhausted and about to fall into our beds that we remember we haven’t prayed Maghrib and Isha, or even worse, nothing since Fajr in the early morning.
Take a prayer schedule and set alarms for every prayer for these 10 days, at least for 5 minutes before the prayer time, which is when you stop whatever you are doing and head over to make wudu (ablution).
But, Bouchra, I have ninja-like wudu-protecting skills and I pray Dhuhr through Isha with the same wudu, you might say.
Well, I congratulate you on your wudu-protecting skills, but do you know that every time you take wudu and pray 2 raka’s afterwards, you get a few steps ahead in Jannah? Renewing wudu is somewhat like renewing intentions – it’s a higher form of intention mixed with commitment to cleanliness as well as the upcoming prayer that you’re about to perform.
Pray slowly and carefully, paying attention to the du’as you’re reciting, and trying to keep your mind from wandering into other thoughts. Being present immensely increases the quality of your salah, and gives you the sensation of serenity that almost everyone assumes is impossible to achieve in the Age of Distractions we live in today.
After you finish your prayer, sit on your prayer mat for an additional five minutes to say the dhikr (supplications) after prayer. If you’re in a rush do them on the go. Use an app like myDuaa (iOS, Android) to listen to the audio of the du’as and repeat.
Increase the amount of dhikr you do
Sounds fairly straightforward, right?
Well, it’s not simple, because it requires you to use your mind, at the very least. but that doesn’t mean we’re going to give up and find something else to do, right? Think of the tasks you do in which you don’t need your mind to be 100% on task. Brushing teeth is out of the question. Brushing hair, on the other hand, makes a perfect mind-idle task. How long do you spend brushing your hair daily? If you’re always in a rush like me, then maybe 90 seconds, right?
90 seconds may not be a lot of time, but think of in terms of how many astaghfirullahs you can say in that much time! We all think that to do dhikr we need quiet time and preferably, wearing a prayer dress/abaya and sitting on a prayer mat, but it doesn’t have to be like that all the time. Yeah, special time for you to build a relationship with Allah is a must, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t use other times to do dhikr.
In Islam, sadaqa (charity) is a diverse range of things. The simplest form of charity in Islam is smiling at your Muslim brothers or sisters. Removing an obstacle from someone’s path is a form of charity. Feeding one’s family and keeping them sheltered is another form of charity we discussed above. Giving money to poor people is also charity.
Nowadays, many Muslims go through dire financial situations or are barely able to handle their own expenses with the money they make, so giving money as charity isn’t always an option. For such people, there are dozens of ways to give charity without spending too much. Operating from a mindset of scarcity isn’t going to increase the sense of abundance we should be having, as Muslims. We’re told that the more we give, the more Allah is going to give us. Whether that means you’re finally going to get that raise you’ve been waiting for, or you’re going to get success in your business is something that only Allah knows. However, give charity and make sure that you keep your faith strong. Allah will give you something far better, in-sha Allah.
Try to Fast a Couple of Days
Yes, we all know that fasting the day of Arafa is the next best thing one can do on that day other than being on Mount Arafa in person (as in, doing Hajj), but what about the other days? Surely, fasting on some of the blessed days of the year is something that one should strive to do, right?
Even if you have a job and you don’t want to fast while working outside of Ramadan, you can make use of the weekend to fast a day or two. It’ll definitely put a damper on your weekend plans, but why not turn it into a day or two of relaxation as well as fasting? If you haven’t taken a break in a while, this is the time to get a less-busier weekend!
Whatever you choose to do, at the end of the day, keep in mind that your options are unlimited, and practicality isn’t going to get in the way of worship – if you do it right. May your Dhul-Hijjah be blessed, and I hope you have a great Eid!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to stay tuned – I have a surprise coming in tomorrow for you all!