Dhul Hijjah and Hajj: An introduction
Allah Almighty mentioned in the Quran that Hajj is ‘a well-known month’, ashurhum malumaat:
“Remember Allah (God) during the well-known days.” (2:197)
There are three months which are considered holy, because they are months of hajj. It used to take 1-2 months to travel to reach Makkah, therefore hajjis had to leave for hajj long before hajj, whereas locals would start during the month of Dhul Hijjah. The months of hajj are Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah, and Muharram, which were made holy, to enable hajjis to reach Makkah and travel there and back safely, because in those months it is prohibited to fight.
Rajab is the stand alone holy month because people often perform umrah in this month.
Kitab Lataif Al-Maarif By Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali
Dhul Hijjah is one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar, and scholars have written a great deal about it. My favourite writing is by ibn Rajab al Hanbali who is a muhaddith, faqhi and a spiritual scholar, as his writings are very deep and comprehensive. He wrote many books including a commentary on the Forty Nawawi which is very good and he started a commentary on Sahih Bukhari but passed away before he completed it.
In his book Lataif al Ma’arif, he wrote about different times in the year and their virtues. He mentioned that Allah divided the year into different months and conferred different virtues on them, to particular days, nights and months.
He divided Dhul Hijjah into four sections:
- The first ten days, because the rituals of Hajj are completed by day 10. The 9th day is Arafah and the 10th day is Eid.
- The importance of good deeds which one might do in these days and nights.
- The day of Arafah and the Days of Tashreeq, which are Eid and the three days following it.
- The end of the Islamic year, as Dhul Hijjah is the last month of the year. The new year begins with the month of Muharram.
Deeds in the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah are better than jihad
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:
“There are no days during which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these days,” meaning the (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah. They said: “O Messenger of Allah! Not even Jihad in the cause of Allah?” He said: “Not even Jihad in the cause of Allah, unless a man goes out with himself and his wealth and does not bring anything back.” (Ibn Majah)
The companions were wondering which were better the days of Dhul Hijjah or jihad, because they had heard the best deed was jihad. They were surprised that good deeds in these days could be better than jihad for Allah. The Prophet (peace be on him) explained that doing good deeds during these days were better than jihad, with the exception of the man who left for Jihad and gave away everything he owned. He was prepared to sacrifice his life and money and prepared to give up everything for Allah. Apart from this, during good deeds in these days will be most beloved to Allah.
As we promotions in our time, like Black Friday where you get great deals, this is a promotion and an encouragement from Allah to do good deeds in these days.
It does not mean that we only do good deeds in these days, but it is an encouragement to increase them, and dedicate more time to doing good deeds.
Advice based on the Unseen
When the Prophet (peace be on him) said, ‘The most beloved deeds are during these days,’ it is because he is telling us what we do not know and explaining what we cannot seen. It is out of his mercy that he is sharing his knowledge of these days with us.
It boosts our imaan and helps us to fill up our account with goodness and reward and enables us to gain more closeness to Allah so we can be the better version of ourselves.
The Prophet (peace be on him) is encouraging us to come forward so we can reap the fruits of these days, rather than sit back and do nothing.
The Prophet (peace be on him) was telling us that in these ten days are special days, and showed us that there are blessings and mercy which Allah increases during these days.
It is an extra special journey for those who go, and for those who cannot we still have blessing we can enjoy and benefit from.
The month of Dhul Hijjah is also important because it coincides with an event. Allah Almighty created the heavens and earth and 12 months, and dedicated special blessings in some of the months, and He instructed believers to perform hajj in Dhul Hijjah.
Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth, of these four being sacred; that is the right reckoning; therefore be not unjust to yourselves regarding them, and fight the polytheists all together as they fight you all together; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil). (9:36)
What to do on the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah
The night of Lailatul Qadr is the most important night of the year, but the most important day of the year is the Day of Arafah.
The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are the best days of the entire Islamic year. The Prophet (peace be on him) said,
‘There are no days greater and more beloved to Allah than these (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah’. [Ahmad]
- Increase your good deeds.
- If you can fast, fast for the 9 days, particularly on the day of Arafah. If you fast on this day it expiates your sins of the previous year and the next year:
The Prophet (peace be on him) said, ’It (fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah) expiates the sins of the past year and the coming year (i.e. those sins will be forgiven)’. [Muslim]
- Increase your charity
- Increase your salah
- Help others financially or in any way you can
The Prophet (peace be on him) used to increase how much he fasted during the holy months. This is not obligatory, but it helps you gain more control over yourself, your appetite, your whims and desires, your eyes and ears and tongue. It teaches you discipline. We have the spiritual side of the worship but we also have the discipline.
Hajj has been performed since time of Adam
Hajj was performed by Adam and Ibrahim (peace be on them) during this month and they passed on the message through the generations until the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) taught people how to perform the original hajj, not the one which was corrupted over time by cultural practices. It was purified and delivered in the way Allah wanted. It was removed of any non-Islamic practices.
The obligation of hajj
Allah Almighty said:
فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۖ وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ
In it are evident signs; the Station of Abraham. Whoever enters it attains security. Pilgrimage to the House is a duty to God for all who can make the journey. But as for those who refuse—God is Independent of the worlds. (3:97)
Hajj, the fifth pillar, was made an obligation, as per most narrations, in the 9th year of AH, a year before the death of the Prophet (peace be on him). In that year, he send Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) to perform hajj and he announced that no one should perform it naked.
Some hajjis used to circumambulate the Kaba naked , but Islam made it obligatory to wear two white clothes for men.
Once in your life
This obligation is once in your life. Salah is five times a day, Ramadan and zakat are once a year, and Hajj is once in your life. This is in line with the variety of types of worship which Allah instructed us to perform. If you want to perform more than one hajj, you can but the obligation is once in your life.
It is once in your lifetime because of the hardship in it, despite its joys it is difficult. The journey is not easy, you are so focused on getting all the rituals done at the right time in the right way and planning and managing them, make you forget you have family. You are so absorbed by it you have an indescribable experience.
My first hajj was the most enjoyable. Hajj is very special and Allah does not overburden us.
When the Prophet (peace be on him) was asked if hajj is obligatory every year he did not reply. The companion eager to find out pushed him by repeating the question until the revelation came to not make your life difficult by asking questions.
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
“When the following was revealed: “And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Kabah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, for whoever can bear the way.” [3:97] They asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah, is Hajj every year?’ He remained silent. They asked: ‘Is it every year?’ He said: ‘No. If I had said yes, it would have become obligatory.’ Then the following was revealed: “O you who believe! Ask not about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble.'” [5:101] (Ibn Majah)
Although all salah is obligatory they have different number of rakahs. We have three types of Hajj:
The ability to perform hajj
It requires time, money and effort to perform hajj, so Allah confirms that it is only expected from those who are able to perform it. What does this mean? It means it is only obligatory for those who have the ability to do it:
Physical ability – the health. If the doctor does not think you are fit enough to do it you cannot do it.
If you are not mentally able then it is not an obligation.
Financially if you do not have the money, then it is not obligatory for you to do for hajj.
Safety is important and varies from century to century. In the past, when people travelled they were at risk of being mugged or attacked if the road was not safe and there were gangs operating there, then it was not an obligation to go, because it was not safe.
Now we have safety issues due to Covid. Last year there were a few thousand. This year it will 60,000. In the years before that it was at least 2 million. At one point in time there was a plague and the obligation was lifted, because you have to preserve and protect your life by staying home.
Therefore hajj is only an obligation when it can be done and for those who are able to.
The hajj of the Prophet (peace be on him)
The Prophet (peace be on him) performed hajj once in his lifetime. It was in the 10th year Ah a year before he passed away, it was called al hajj al akbar. He taught the ummah how to perform throughout it. and he kept repeating learn your rituals from me. The year he wanted to perform it, he announced it so that as many people could attend. 100,000 people attended it. He performed it and scholars collated the narrations. Ibn Kathir, Ibn al Qayyim and Alama Kandhalawi wrote about it.
“I have not but been sent as a teacher.” (Ibn Majah)
Do not delay hajj
The Prophet (peace be on him) therefore said perform hajj before you cannot perform hajj. For that reason, anyone who can perform it, should not delay it, because you never know when things will change and you will not be able to do it.
In Surat al Imran Allah said:
The most important shrine established for the people is the one in Becca (Makkah); a blessed beacon for all the people. In it are clear signs: the station of Abraham. Anyone who enters it shall be granted safe passage. The people owe it to God that they shall observe Hajj to this shrine, when they can afford it. As for those who disbelieve, God does not need anyone. [Quran 3:96-97]
Time, place and discipline
Salah can be prayed anywhere. It is not limited to the mosque or Kaba. Fasting is also not restricted to place, but is linked to a specific time. Allah Almighty knows the wisdom behind this. You cannot fast before Ramadan or fast in the winter months because they are shorter. They would not count as your obligation. Therefore the pillars have to be performed in accordance with what has been prescribed.
Hajj is related to a time and place. You cannot perform it outside of the time or the place, just as you cannot perform dhuhr outside its time.
You have to travel to the Kabah in Makkah, which is called Al Haram because it is sanctified and a sanctuary where it is prohibited to fight or hunt.
It is filled with tranquility, therefore Allah Almighty described the Haram as follows:
‘And whoever enters into this house will have security and tranquillity descend on him’. (3:97)
Why did Allah connect these forms of ibadah with specific times? It creates discipline in us.
It is about being punctual accurate and heading in the same direction. Hajj is all about Arafah so whoever misses Arafah has missed hajj.
When we pray on time and when you wake up during the night for prayer or for suhoor, it disciplines us. It creates a person who is disciplined and that makes you more employable and more beloved to others.
Allah Almighty is moulding us inside and outside, time keeping and preparation and the purity of the heart, to be on time, to be a better person.
Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim to the Al Manar New Muslim Group
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