If I could choose some kind of super powers for myself, I would want to be able to freeze time.
I feel like there is always so much to do – some things I have to do, others I desire to accomplish – yet the time allotted often feels strained.
If I could stop time, I would sit down calmly and intentionally, to tend to my list of aspirations.
When everything was all done, brainstorms dissipated, and I was feeling well accomplished, I would then resume, to spend time with my family and fulfill my usual duties.
I’ve caught myself daydreaming about this on many occasions, which I realize is pretty senseless, but somehow I know that many can relate.
The hard fact is that time is limited. We are not only limited by daylight, the need for rest, work, and other necessities, but also by lifespan.
Perhaps I will live to be 91 like my grandparents, or I might just have a few more years, a few days or even only moments remaining. This is the topic that really puts things into proper perspective.
A year ago, a relative of mine slowly slipped away. As the days and nights wore on and her condition only deteriorated, the reality of the finality of death was literally in front of me. The fundamentals of life, the things that really matter began to surface in my consciousness.
A particular kind of clarity came over me; I became aware of my own shortcomings and more importantly, I felt strongly motivated to improve and rectify them. But after my relative passed away (may Allah have mercy on her soul) and time carried on, that clarity began to gradually fade.
Blessings & Opportunities
Thankfully, our Most Generous and Merciful Lord has provided us many opportunities to regain lucidity and to focus on the aspects of life that really matter – those that will benefit us not only in this life, but also the next.
Allah has chosen particular times, places and actions and made them special – filled with abundant opportunity to attain His pleasure.
One of those well-known times is Ramadan. Although we regularly witness plentitudes of Muslims who strive to utilize the blessing of Ramadan – upon us right now, is another specially chosen time that gets far less attention: the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
These days are similarly packed with blessings and golden opportunities. We don’t want to allow them to pass by without using them wisely.
While millions are answering the call of their Lord and making their way by plane, boat and automobile to the Hajj, millions more are not.
So what about all of us staying home with our usual lives ongoing during these sacred days?
It is related that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said about these special days:
“There is no day more honorable in Allah’s sight and no acts more beloved therein to Allah than those in these ten days. So say tahlil (There is nothing worthy of worship but Allah), takbir (Allah is the greatest) and tahmid (All praise is due to Allah) a lot [on those days].” (Ahmad and At-Tabarani)
Just as in Ramadan, where we strive to increase our self-control, good deeds and emerge better people in the sight of Allah, the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah similarly are a momentous occurrence. It is one of the many chances given to us by our Maker to regain the clarity and sense of purpose that often gets muddled and mired in our material lives.
We are indeed offered a generous gift if we are fortunate enough to live to experience these days. Many have passed away before the arrival of these ten days, and many of us will not live to the next Dhul-Hijjah.
Fasting the Day of Arafah
In addition to the adhkar mentioned in the hadith above, the Prophet Muhammad also emphasized fasting and tahajjud.
Abu Hurairah relates that the Messenger of Allah said,
“There are no days more loved to Allah for you to worship Him therein, than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year and to offer salatul tahajjud (late-night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power. [i.e., Lailatul Qadr].” (At-Tirmidhi)
It was also narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Arafah (the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah) and he said: “It expiates for the past and coming years.” (Muslim)
So, as we increase our focus and worship, dhikr, fasting and salah in the last part of the night, are all on the list. But these acts are only buttressed by our intentions and our awareness – presence of that worship in our hearts.
While we pray, our foreheads on the floor, with words upon our lips, glorifying our Creator – free of deficiency, The Most High – are our hearts and minds present? Are those words emanating from within us with conviction and sincerity? Or do those words originate on our tongues?
If you were to die making sujood, chances are everyone would believe Allah was pleased with you, but it is only Allah who knows us both internally and externally. He knows if we are prostrating, saying subhana Rabbee al ‘Ala, but instead of being immersed in Awe for Him, the YouTube video we just watched is replaying in our minds.
At the time when my relative passed away, suddenly wudu’ constantly occupied my thoughts. It became viscerally clear to me that rushing through wudu’, or not performing it with a present heart and mind, was extremely wasteful. It increased in priority, because it is one of the conditions for the great pillar of Islam, the salah.
These kinds of fundamentals, like our wudu’, our salah, our fasts, dhikr with a present heart and mind, are the things we should work to improve and perfect especially during these days.
It is Allah alone with complete control of all things, including time. We will not be able to make it stop. My dream of super powers will not come to fruition. Time is incessantly passing and slipping away from us. What we can do though, is use that time wisely.
Allah has provided us numerous opportunities throughout the year to renew our faith and to encourage us towards acts of goodness by specifying such special days.
May Allah help us to remember Him and glorify Him with awareness and sincerity.
May He aid us and allow us to increase in goodness and righteous acts during these days of Dhul Hijjah and beyond.
May our living and our Dying be only for His sake. Ameen.
Last Published: August 2016