November 18, 2009 (updated)
January 8, 2006 (original publication date)
TINY URL: http://tinyurl.com/yankuf9
Many of you may have already read your share of articles about the virtues of the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah, but try to trust me when I say; this one is a little different.
The first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah are noted to be among the special seasons of worship preferred by Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala over all other days of the year, and a Muslim has to seize every opportunity that could bring him or her closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, no doubt about that.
Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." [emphasis] The people asked, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing." (Bukhari)
Another hadith affirming that fasting is one of the best deeds, urges us to fast on the Day of Arafat (9th of Dhul-Hijjah) as the reward for fasting on this day is multiplied greatly:
It is said that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Fasting the Day of Arafat atones for two years of [minor] sins, the year prior and one forthcoming." (Reported by Muslim, Abu Dawud and others.) (Fiqh-us-Sunnah Vol. 3 Page 124c.)
It is my most sincere dua that each Muslim who has this knowledge and is able to, takes advantage of the great benefit to be derived from fasting on this special day.
However, perhaps in not specifically stating that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) fasted each of the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah, is it not within the realm of possibility that there are other ways to perform good deeds in addition to fasting on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah? Of course!
In further reflecting on the best of deeds, we might first, as a wise friend of mine has often said, go back to the basics...the five pillars.
As Muslims we have already achieved the first pillar, the testimony of faith (saying with conviction, "La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah." This saying means "There is no true god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God."
Zakaat (alms), being the third pillar, is what a believer returns out of his or her wealth to the neediest of Muslims for the sake of the Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala; it is an obligation upon every Muslim who possesses the minimum Nisaab (requirement). The word itself means to increase, purify and bless. "… what you give in Zakaat, seeking Allah's Pleasure, then it is those who shall gain reward manifold..." (30:39)
The fourth pillar, fasting the month of Ramadan, we did our best to complete, insha'Allah (for those of us who were able), as it has already passed.
And the fifth pillar Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), which is made during the month of Dhul-Hijjah (a one-time requirement for those with means), is something I hope we all pray that each and every Muslim gets the opportunity to perform, insha'Allah.
I bet you thought I forgot the second pillar, often referred to as the "central" pillar of Islam, salat (or prayer), but I saved that one for last on purpose.
In consideration of what is within our means to do when looking for the "best deeds" - one of the simplest things that came to mind (which doesn't cost us a thing monetarily), is to perfect our salat.
- Are we making our best effort to pray on time?
- Are we making our best effort to concentrate?
- Are we striving to make our salat in a state of humility and consciousness?
- Are we making our best effort to perfect the surah's we recite in our salat?
- Are we rushing off after salat without making dhikr?
- Are we missing salat altogether?
- Are we making up missed salat?
- Are we lazy and lacking in commitment?
- Are the men in our lives praying as much as possible in the masjid?
Be conscious of Allah's angels who have shifts - one by day and one by night - to monitor your condition and your prayers and report to Allah Most High.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "There are shifts which rotate with regard to you - angels by night and angels by day. They all meet during the dawn prayer and during the afternoon prayer. Then those who spent the night with you go up and their Lord asks them – and He is the most knowledgeable of them - 'In what state did you leave my slaves?' They answer: 'We left them praying after having come to them while they were praying.' (Muslim & Bukhari)
Need an even stronger incentive to safeguard and perfect this most important second pillar of Islam?
Narrated Abu Qatadah ibn Rab'i: "Allah, the Exalted said: I made five times' prayers obligatory on your people, and I took a guarantee that if anyone observes them regularly at their times, I shall admit him to Paradise; if anyone does not offer them regularly, there is no such guarantee of Mine for him." Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 2, Number 430, Prayer (Kitab Al-Salat).
In conclusion, when seeking a determination as to what might be considered amongst the "best deeds", we really don't have to look any farther than our knees, do we?
May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala guide us, forgive our sins, protect us from the hellfire...and reward our intention to perfect our salat. Amin.
Copyright © 2006 - Aishah Schwartz
Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.
Also by Aishah Schwartz
Al-Jamarat: The Rest of the Story
You're Back from Hajj…Now What?