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Yaser Birjas | The Days of Hajj Series | Ayyam-ut-Tashreeq

Sh. Yaser Birjas

Published

The Days of Hajj Series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Three days of Tashreeq: 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah

The days of Tashreeq are the days following the Eid day. These are the appointed days Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) mentioned in Surat al-Baqara:

وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَنْ تَعَجَّلَ فِي يَوْمَيْنِ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ وَمَنْ تَأَخَّرَ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ لِمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
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“Celebrate the praises of Allah during the Appointed Days. But if anyone hastens to leave in two days, there is no blame on him, and if anyone stays on, there is no blame on him, if his aim is to do right. Then fear Allah, and know that ye will surely be gathered unto Him.” [al-Baqara 2:203]

The strongest opinion on why they are called Ayyam-ut-tashreeq or the days of Tashreeq is because prior to the invention of the refrigeration system, the hujjaj used to slice the meat they acquired from the udhiya and qurbani, season it with salt and then let it dry in the sun in an early and traditional style of food preservation. The dehydrating of the meat allowed the hujjaj to preserve it and carry it with them on their long journey back from wherever they came.

This process in itself is called tashreeq, and it was derived from the the Arabic word شروق or إشراق which means sunrise or sunshine.  The process entails the exposure of the meat to the sun for a long time. And although most of the hujjaj don’t practice this anymore, if you look carefully in the camps of Mina, perhaps you will see some people still practice the tradition, and you might see the meat “jerky” already hung on ropes and on different sides of their tents.

These days are considered days of celebration and worship. It is not recommended for the hujjaj to fast on these days, rather they should enjoy the celebration of the Eid by feasting, eating and drinking. The Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “The days of Tashreeq are days of eating and drinking (i.e. feasting)” (Muslim).

The wisdom behind these days is to allow the hujjaj to celebrate the season and encourage them to eat from the meat they have offered for the sake of Allah.  The hujjaj in the past used to come from far distances, and meat for them was a very precious meal.  Now that they have plenty of it, they were given the incentive and encouragement to consume it during the days of Eid without any feeling of guilt.  It was normal during these days to walk around the camps of Mina seeing smoke all over the place and smelling nothing but barbecue. Today things are different, and pre-catered meals are becoming the standard.  Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) said:

وَالْبُدْنَ جَعَلْنَاهَا لَكُمْ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ لَكُمْ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ ۖ فَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا صَوَافَّ ۖ فَإِذَا وَجَبَتْ جُنُوبُهَا فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْقَانِعَ وَالْمُعْتَرَّ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرْنَاهَا لَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

“The sacrificial camels We have made for you as among the symbols from Allah: in them is (much) good for you: then pronounce the name of Allah over them as they line up (for sacrifice): when they are down on their sides (after slaughter), eat you thereof, and feed such as (beg not but) live in contentment, and such as beg with due humility: thus have We made animals subject to you, that you may be grateful.” [al-Hajj 22:36]

It is only permissible to fast these days for the hujjaj if they were unable to offer the had’y or the sacrificial animal, and therefore these hujjaj become obligated to fast three days during the Hajj and seven when they arrive home. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) said:

فإِذَا أَمِنْتُمْ فَمَنْ تَمَتَّعَ بِالْعُمْرَةِ إِلَى الْحَجِّ فَمَا اسْتَيْسَرَ مِنَ الْهَدْيِ ۚ فَمَنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ فِي الْحَجِّ وَسَبْعَةٍ إِذَا رَجَعْتُمْ ۗ تِلْكَ عَشَرَةٌ كَامِلَةٌ ۗ

“…and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the ‘umra on to the Hajj, he must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, he should fast three days during the Hajj and seven days on his return, making ten days in all…” [al-Baqara 2:196]

The days of Tashreeq are minimum of two: the 11th and the 12th; the 13th is an optional day for those who desire to stay longer, as Allah mentioned in the ayah previously quoted:

“But if any one hastens to leave in two days, there is no blame on him, and if any one stays on, there is no blame on him, if his aim is to do right.” [al-Baqara 2:203]

The routine of these days which the hujjaj will continue to follow for the two upcoming days and the optional extra day as well until the end of the Hajj season is as follows:

1. The hujjaj are required to spend most of the night, preferably the entire night, of the days of Tashreeq in Mina. During the Eid day at night, the hujjaj should have already been in Mina and after Fajr they will be allowed to move out to Makkah whether to go to the hotel or go to the Haram for prayer and worship. Some hujjaj, if not even most of them, don’t have hotels anymore, and therefore they spend their days and nights in Mina and that is also valid, and as a matter of fact that was the practice of the Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam).

2. During these days the hujjaj continue to offer their udhiya and had’y if they haven’t done so yet. They pray every fard salat in the shortened format just like the traveler but performed in its time without the need to combine between them. They also continue their recitation of the Takbeer until the end of the season. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says:

لَنْ يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَٰكِنْ يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنْكُمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرَهَا لَكُمْ لِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that you may glorify Allah (takbeer) for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right.” [al-Hajj 22:37]

Abdullah ibn Umar (radiya Allahu anhu) used to raise his voice with Takbeer while staying in Mina in his camp, and the people would follow his lead and recite their Takbeer until the entire camp resounded with their voices. (Bukhari)

3. The most important practice of these days is the throwing of stones رمي الجمرات at the jamarat site (singular: jamra جمرة the place where the pebbles are thrown and collected). Some call it rajmu-sh-shaytan or the stoning of the devil after the incident of Ibrahim (alayhi salam) with the shaytan or the devil. According to some Muslim scholars and historians, when the shaytan appeared to Ibrahim, he tried to tempt him three times on these sites, and Ibrahim had to cast him away by throwing stones on him.

4. The jamarat are three, located on the northern boundaries of Mina east from Makkah. The closest one from Mina is called al-jamra as-sughra or the minor jamra, then al-wus’ta or the middle one and then the farthest and closest to Makkah al-kubra or the major.

Just few hundred yards away, northeast from the major jamra, a small old masjid is found indicating the location where the early pledge of allegiance known in seerah as bay’ah-tul-aqaba, was given to the Messenger (salla Allahu alayhi was sallam). This was the pledge the people of Yathrib, later known as Madinah and its people the Ansar, had given to the Messenger of Allah to protect him and support his message. This incident prompted the hijra or immigration to Madinah afterwards, marking a new milestone in the history of Islam.

5. With seven pebbles, the hujjaj throw at each and every one of the three jamarat. The pebbles should not be too large, rather each should be as small as a chickpea, and they can be collected from anywhere, even from Makkah itself. The pebbles don’t have to be washed or perfumed as some hujjaj might do, after all it will be thrown at the devil, anyway, according to some. The hujjaj are required to make sure the pebbles land in the pool of stones not outside, and with each stone they say Allahu Akbar. It is disrespectful to the ritual to throw whatever someone might have in his or her hand such as slippers or umbrellas, and it should be treated with full respect for it is the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alayhi was sallam).

6. The timing of this rite of Hajj is critical. The standard opinion is that this should be performed after the time of zawal or when the time of dhuhr is already in until right before sunset. In modern times, due to the size of the Hajj congregation, the limited time window allocated to perform the ritual has created hazardous conditions and a situation prone to disaster. Therefore, to preserve human life, Muslim scholars have made a concession for the hujjaj to use anytime of the day or night to perform this rite.

7. After finishing throwing the stones at each station the hujjaj stand on the side away from the traffic, facing Makkah and raise their hands with du’a and praise and then move on to the next station starting from the minor, the middle and then the major one for last.

8. Once the hujjaj are done, they move on to Makkah if it is still daylight or go to their camps in Mina if it is already night. Because they need to spend the night in Mina anyway, many hujjaj delay this practice until close to time of sunset so they come from their hotels in Makkah in the last hour of the day, perform the jamarat rites and head to the camps right away all in one trip.

9. The fifth day of Hajj is the 12th of Dhul Hijjah. Any pilgrim who desires to hasten and leave early can end his or her Hajj after they perform the throwing of the stones on that day, and they have to be out of Mina before sunset. If they stayed in Mina after sunset then they are required to remain there for the extra day, the 13th, which is the last and final day of Ayyam-ut-tashreeq.

10. It is during this beautiful time the hujjaj get to connect with each other, learn about different cultures, meet scholars from different parts of the world and also make business and trade with each other among many other things they do there. Ironically, it is a time to celebrate the diversity and yet the unity of the whole Muslim Ummah.

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Sh. Yaser Birjas is originally from Palestine. He received his Bachelors degree from Islamic University of Madinah in 1996 in Fiqh & Usool, graduating as the class valedictorian. After graduating, he went on to work as a youth counselor and relief program aide in war-torn Bosnia. Thereafter, he immigrated to the U.S. and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He is also an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, where he teaches popular seminars such as Fiqh of Love, The Code Evolved, and Heavenly Hues.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    muslimah

    November 17, 2010 at 11:14 PM

    beautiful. jazak Allahu khayran shaykhuna!

  2. Avatar

    Bintwadee3

    November 17, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    MashaAllaah

    Jazaak Allaahu Khayran wa baarak Allaahu feek shaykhana.

    -Maymuna

  3. Avatar

    Zakariyya

    November 18, 2010 at 3:03 AM

    In the portion of 2:196 in the article, there’s a typo; could moderator/poster/editor replace the tha’ with a ta’, so it says أمنتم?

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      November 18, 2010 at 7:04 AM

      It does have a taa, not a thaa. You may have thought it was a thaa because the font size is smaller.

  4. Avatar

    Amatullah

    November 18, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    Jazaakum Allahu khayran Shaykh Yaser for this great series. It’s like a behind the scenes version of hajj, it is very beneficial.

  5. Avatar

    abu Abdullah

    November 18, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    jazak Allah khyar shaykh YB :)!!! subahan Allah, I started fasting habitually this morning only to be reminded by my mother from far far away on phone to go and enjoy eating and make dhikr of Allaah.

    i appreciate the series because its very thorough and detailed description. may Allah forgive you and your parents. ameen.

  6. Pingback: Yaser Birjas | The Days of Hajj Series | The Last Day of Hajj | MuslimMatters.org

  7. AbdulHasib

    AbdulHasib

    November 20, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    Bismillah

    as-salamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah shaykhana,

    ‘Eid Mubarak!

    barakAllahufeekum for the series, mA very beneficial.

    I wanted to add a few notes from something we’re witnessing these few days in Ayam al-Tashriq with regards to the Stoning before Zawal.

    I’m currently in Hajj and working with hajj groups, and seeing the situation live on-site, as well as taking into consideration the allowance for stoning before Zawal that was given in the fatwa a few years ago and what we face currently with regards to the timing.

    The timing of this rite of Hajj is critical. The standard opinion is that this should be performed after the time of zawal or when the time of dhuhr is already in until right before sunset. The size of the Hajj congregation in our modern time and the limited time window allocated to perform it has created a hazardous condition and a situation prone to disaster. Therefore, to preserve the human life Muslim scholars made concession for the hujjaj to use anytime of the day or night to perform this rite of hajj.

    1. With regards to the current situation in Hajj vs. The situation when the fatwa was given to stone at any time.

    Picture: http://www.karwan-e-shabbir.com/images/makkah%20project/Jamarat%20Project%20in%20Menna%20Makkah%20Al%20Mukkerma%20after%20Completion.jpg

    http://www.constructionweekonline.com/pictures/gallery/Projects/jamarat_bridge_web.jpg

    —–a. The Jamarat was only 1 level, and the previous year the fatwa was given, over 300 people died because of the this. The scholars of the Council of Senior Scholars and Fatwa Council in the Saudi Arabia passed the fatwa that due to this condition it was allowed to stone before the time of Zawal in order to preserve human life and allow for the flow of hujjaj. Cue in 2010, there are over 4 floors now, and even in peak times – i.e. right after Dhuhr, it is crowded but not hazardous at all compared to what was faced in the prior condition, billahil hamd.

    2. The ‘illah (cause/reason) for the fatwa does not hold in the current stoning of the Jamarat. The reason for the allowance was the extreme hazard and threat of death that it posed for the hujjaj, and any scholar at the time would know that preservation of human life is first and foremost than establishing the time (i.e. stoning after zawal). The current situation we see a number of subsidiary problems when it comes to Hajj groups and their planning when they take the fatwa that was given:

    ——a. The first problem is that these groups plan for the hujjaj that chose to leave early and on the same day as the 12th day. They plan and book their tickets 6 months in advance so that logistically, the hujjaj have no possibility of stoning after zawal, doing their Farewell Tawaf, and then having enough time to make it to Jeddah to fly out. This is simply a nicely planned “logistical Darurah (necessesity)” that is created 6 months in advance, when the tickets are booked, in order that the hujjaj are forced to take such an allowance because when the time comes they realize they will not be able to stone after zawal – i.e. a “created” darurah. This causes a situation that does not fall under the fatwa of a “hazard to human life.” Rather it’s just bad business practice, i.e. in order to save money, by not planning an extra “travel day.”

    ——b. Confusion ensues by those hujjaj who are not immediately leaving Mina to their homes 2, 3, or even 4 days after the 12th (when most of the Hujjaj leave, Ta’jul): they see that there’s no rush in Jamarat, nor is there a huge hazard, to take the ‘fatwa’ that allows for stoning before zawal, and they are upset and confused whether to follow such an allowance or not.

    ——c. Business practices of Hajj groups and the effect of the Fatwa. There seems to be a clear pattern between how Hajj groups book their tickets for their Hujjaj in order to save themselves money, and a connection with these groups taking the allowance of the fatwa that spoke for a specific ‘illah (reason) in a specific time frame, and to a specific situation. From what we see in the current situation and all indications point to one conclusion: the fatwa is outdated, and there needs to be a rectification based on the current situation.

    ——d. Not all Hajj groups are out to make such business profit based on taking the fatwa, on the contrary, many do want good and to establish the best Hajj for their Hujjaj, but in light of the outdated nature and the lack of “recalling the fatwa,” nor clarification of it in today’s current situation – they are continuing to tell their Hujjaj the fatwa and to stone before zawal.

    Given all that has been mentioned, seeing the situation live on the ground, and discussing this with scholars here, the solution to this isn’t that difficult whatsoever to implement.
    1. There is a current plan by students to write to the Fatwa Council in Saudi Arabia to clarify the situation with regards to stoning in light of the modern building of the Jamarat and the ease of the matter to implement the stoning after Zawal, and to clarify that the reason for the allowance of the previous fatwa, no longer exists.

    2. The Ministry of Hajj can strictly enforce timings and do a better job with crowd control by allocating the crowd to the different levels (even though it’s not Hazardously crowded!). It’s not difficult to route the groups based on the current way it is setup masha’Allah, very easy and it can facilitate constant flow on all levels.

    3. Given if there are people who have issues with the crowds as well as the time, we can turn to the Fatwa of Allowance to Stone in the Nights (not the night BEFORE, the night OF). We can easily take the allowance of the scholars that makes more sense, and that is to stone in the night of the same day, for women, elderly, or anyone – instead of BEFORE zawal, to stone after zawal and after maghrib. The fatwa for this has been given by dozens of major scholars and makes more sense to implement in the current situation to ease the crowds.

    Insha’Allah, the above 2 out of 3 will be implemented soon and hopefully we can get a response from the Council and publish it, and through this can fully establish the means to help the Hujjaj establish the rite of stoning the Jamarat in the most correct way.

    BarakAllahufeekum

    AbdulHasib

  8. Avatar

    tina

    January 13, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    is their such thing as day 7 hajj
    if their is some information can u let me know

  9. Pingback: The Great Fives in Islam! « YasSarNal QuR'aN

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#Islam

An Ashura Message: Proclaim Good And Refrain From Evil, Always And At All Costs!

Shakeel Syed

Published

Light coming through the stone lattice window


“If you do not march forth, Allah will chastise you grievously and will replace you by another people, while you will in no way be able to harm Him. Allah has power over everything”. (The Holy Quran – 9:39)

No people can live successfully, fruitfully and triumphantly without a strong memory of their past. Ashura, the 10th of Muharram, is one such milestone.

Muslims attempt to recall the tragic event that took place around the 60th year after Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) migrated from Makkah to Madinah. This time it was his family led by his noble grandson Imam Hussayn ibn Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him).

Reciting Divine words, reflecting Prophetic advises and studying history enables us to crystallize our insights. However, when we attempt to draw the imagery of Karbala, no heart could be so hard as not to be pierced with sadness while replaying the Day of Ashura. Words cannot do justice to the sacrifices made that day.

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They kept their heads high, faces flowing with blood and tears, looking one upon another. Others stood in dolorous pain, looking up to the highest heavens, fixing their eyes upon it, crying out, asking help from the Only Helper; while others made lamentations in the manner of dirge.

Today we try to recall their pain, suffering and sacrifices, as they happened, to inspire ourselves and to understand the concept of sacrifice for a noble cause.

Regrettably, sacrifice as it is generally understood today, is to give up something that should not have been touched in the first place. Selfless and unasked giving is a rarity and unheard of. Giving one’s entire self and offspring for His pleasure is unimaginable. Muslims must spiritually survive from the unparallel yesterdays of the Prophet’s progeny.

We have been largely overwhelmed by a culture that has emptied our memories, made us apologetic for who we are, and stripped us along the way of the sheerest hope of self-definition. We alone are presumed past less and are left to repair our self-esteem. Imperative it is for us today, to define ourselves by our ongoing tribulations and those who mete them out to us. Otherwise, we cannot be collectively successful if we have no idea or, worse that we have the wrong idea of who we were and who we are.

The intent of this writing is to stimulate, not to sate — to pose the question and to invite reflection — to cause ourselves to act for an almost forgotten legacy of the sacrifices made by our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)and his progeny.

O Allah! Bestow upon us the courage to enjoin, proclaim and enforce the good and the patience and perseverance to forbid and stop the evil for and by all.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

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Continue Reading

#Life

Mental Health & COVID-19: Light, Guidance, & Much Love | Part 1

Sharada Nizami, Guest Contributor

Published

Insha’Allah, you and your loved ones are safe & healthy. May Allah swt protect us all from COVID-19, Ya Hafidh, and open the way for our spiritual growth, Ya Fattah Ya Rabb. No doubt, we are living in very challenges times, and many in our community are suffering. As such, my intention for this two-part series is to provide some beneficial perspectives and practical strategies that will make your emotional journey safer & easier, insha’Allah.

And a journey it surely is. We are on a very long hike up a very steep mountain. And we have only two choices about HOW we approach this challenge: unskillfully or skillfully. If we wear flip-flops, and fail to pack water and snacks, we will have a very difficult time reaching the summit. And if we do, we will be in very bad shape. If we wear good socks, sturdy hiking boots, and our backpack is well-stocked, not only are we likely to reach the summit, but reach it in great shape. This is what I want for our beloved community, insha’Allah.

As Muslims, it is crucial to remember that the ultimate summit is the hereafter. Truly, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is our goal and pleasing Him is our aim. Truly, everything we do or fail to do here has an impact there. For many people, this haqq is much more difficult to remember and actualize when their day-to-day challenges are daunting. This is why historically and traditionally, in times of crisis, Muslims have always sought the nasiha of wise elders. Imam Muhasibi, the father of Islamic Psychology, developed this crucial, beautiful science in response to the human needs of his students. Sadly, the loss of these teachings as a widespread living tradition has contributed in large part to the widespread mental-health problems that have been plaguing our community for a very long time, which have now been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Here’s a good metaphor. The science of nutrition teaches us about our body, the properties of different foods, what to avoid to prevent disease, and the vital nutrients we MUST ingest to attain optimum physical health. Likewise, the science of mental health teaches us about our heart and mind, the impact of specific activities, what to avoid to prevent disease, and the vital psychological nutrients we MUST ingest to attain optimum mental health. Lack of knowledge about Islamic Psychology and the absence of the vital psychological nutrients have taken a huge toll on our community. The stories I hear would probably shock you. They would certainly break your heart. Especially the stories of our young people, who are my top priority. Insha’Allah, the wake-up call of COVID-19 propels us to reclaim en masse this lost part of our spiritual heritage, so we can reclaim our vitality and nobility as the Ummah of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

To continue with the metaphor. Working one-on-one with an experienced nutritionist is very different than reading a book about nutrition. With the former, your nutritional program is specifically tailored to your particular problems, challenges, habits, and temperament. The same is true when it comes to mental health. So I must manage your expectations honestly and honorably by saying that it is not possible for me to do in two articles for the general public what I do one-on-one in my private practice as a psychotherapist, life-coach, and spiritual mentor. Truly, there is a palpable, powerful, fitrah-based alchemy that can only happen when two human hearts link-up in real time. That said, in the same way that reading and learning about nutrition is very beneficial, so too reading and learning about mental health, especially now.

Working Skillfully with Difficult Emotions

No doubt, COVID-19 has unleashed a wide range of very difficult emotions. People are struggling with tremendous anxiety, uncertainty, fear, sadness, loneliness, depression, helplessness, hopelessness, anger, frustration, confusion, grief, despair, and in some cases, a full-blown crisis of faith. So let me explain a little bit about emotions and how to work with them skillfully  

One of the foundational principles of cognitive-behavioral psychology is called ‘reframing.’

It is the process of deliberately thinking differently about our situation. Reframing it. The fact is, the lens through which we view our circumstances makes all the difference in the world insofar as how we feel. Thoughts are like the front wheels of the car and feelings are like the back wheels. We must be in the driver seat, steering intentionally. Whichever way the front wheels turn, the back wheels follow. So paying attention to our thoughts moment by moment, and making sure they are aligned with the Qur’an and Sunnah, is crucial. The mind is a like a muscle that MUST be trained through specific exercises, and our tradition is rich in the techniques for doing so. Truly, we must hit the spiritual gym regularly. The heavy lifting of muhasiba (self-reckoning) and muraqaba (mindfulness/meditation) are not optional. If these are not already a consistent part of your spiritual practice, NOW is the time to take them up. You will be so happy you did!

Here’s a good metaphor. If you are a longtime couch potato, even a flight of stairs leaves you huffing and puffing. If you are in good shape, you’re able to jog around the block easily. If you’re in great shape, you’re able to leap over the hurdles like a gazelle. For many, COVID-19 has been like asking a couch potato to run a marathon. So we need to get in the best spiritual shape possible as quickly as possible. To that end:

The Centering Exercise 

Every time you notice that you are feeling sad, anxious, fearful, angry, hopeless, helpless, impatient, frustrated, confused, or depressed, here’s what to do.  

  • Turn off your devices and put them in another room.
  • Close your door and put a “Please do not disturb.” sign on the doorknob. Lay down.
  • Close your eyes. Turn your attention to your heart. Remember the Hadith Qudsi, “Heaven and earth cannot contain me but the heart of my faithful believer is where I reside.” Truly, Allah is closer than our jugular vein. (50:16)
  • Take some slow-deep breaths. On the out-breath, silently recite “La illaha.” On the in-breath, silently recite “il Allah.” After a few minutes, notice the shift in your state. Notice the deep connection between ‘self’ and ‘breath’, not just experientially, but also etymologically. They both derive from the same Arabic root, transliterated nfs.   
  • When you are centered, mentally review what you had been thinking about that gave rise to the difficult emotions.  Then do a ‘search and replace,’ deliberately and intentionally replacing your dark thoughts with the Light of The Qur’an or Hadith. Here is one example: Search: “I’ll never get through this.” Replace: “Allah never burdens a person with more than he is well able to bear.” (2:286)

As individuals, we each have our own particular dark thoughts. NOW is the BEST time to fix them. I lovingly encourage you to get a blank journal, so that each time you do The Centering Exercise, you can make note of what you observed, what you learned about yourself. Write down each dark thought and then write down each Rx of Light from The Qur’an or Sunnah. Having a personal journal gives you a concrete means of reinforcing your new thought patterns. 

We know from our neuroscience that the human brain possesses ‘neuroplasticity’, which is the capacity to be shaped, molded, changed. As such, the more often you do The Centering Exercise, the more your thinking patterns will change. This is how Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created us, mash’Allah! It’s really quite amazing to realize that the Qur’an we’ve been given provides Light upon Light from The Lord of The Worlds. And the Sunnah is that Light fully actualized to perfection, mash’Allah. The fact is, no matter how dark a room may be, if we light just one candle, it illuminates the space. Mash’Allah!

Parents, once you get the hang of The Centering Exercise, please please teach it to your children! Insha’Allah, make it the new normal in your household, transforming discord and upset into harmony and peace.

Say “Ameen!”

Divine Reminders

Insofar as reframing COVID-19 in the broader sense, I offer you this lens, this Divine Reminder, with much love. May it shift your state from embittered to empowered. My beloved sisters and brothers, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is our Rabb, our Teacher, and COVID-19 is the Test we’ve all been given. Every single human being on the planet. We all woke up one day, walked into the classroom of Life, and got handed a pop quiz. The purpose of which is to show us the places where we weren’t prepared. This is great! Because the trumpet is absolutely going to sound, and we surely want to be ready. As long as we’re breathing, we have time to prepare. This is great!

Say “Ameen!” 

Beloved ones, we have the incredible privilege of being students of The One Who Knows Everything, including The Future and The Unseen.  It is very bad adab to question the teaching methods of our Teacher or to complain that we don’t like the Test.

This was the fatal mistake of Bani Israel that we are reminded 17x/day not to emulate. On the contrary, what we want to be asking ourselves is: “What must I do to pass this Test with flying colors, to ace this Exam?” Our beautiful Qur’an teaches us: “Not without purpose did We create heaven and earth and all between.” (38:27)  This pandemic is not some random event. It has a divine purpose. There is deep meaning in it. 

There is also enormous rahmah in it. Our beautiful Qur’an teaches us: “…My mercy embraces everything.” (7:156) The Divine Physician has dispensed this bitter medicine to heal us. To heal the whole world from its longstanding imbalances and injustices. Surely, it is no accident, the timing of COVID-19 vis-à-vis the murder of George Floyd and the global response it has galvanized.  Surely, every human being wants to and deserves to breathe.

COVID-19 is a wake-up call for the whole world. Ours to do as students is to be fully present in each moment, to practice mindfulness (muraqaba), so we can be deeply receptive to the Lessons we are meant to learn (muhasiba). Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (13:11) Beloved ones, NOW is the time for global tawbah (repentance). As the Ummah of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), this is our Divine Assignment, individually, collectively, institutionally. 

My vision and personal commitment is that we wind up stronger and better-than-ever on the other side of this, insha’Allah. I can say this with great confidence because first and foremost, I know that COVID-19 or no COVID-19, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is not out of business! The presence of The Presence, the power of the Names & Attributes, are as robust as ever. 

We are being summoned to recognize our hubris and turn our hearts in humility toward The One Who Is In Charge, The One Who Calls The Shots, to The One Whose Decree we surrender. Humbly. Readily. Insha’Allah, NOW is the time to actualize the last part of Hadith Jibreel about qadr. The fact is, what’s happening around us is what’s happening, and this is always in the hands of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). HOW we respond to what’s happening is entirely up to us.

What I want for our community is the best possible response, the most skillful and beautiful response, the response that will be of maximum benefit here & hereafter, insha’Allah.

I can also say this with great confidence because time and again, working with Muslim refugees who have been through horrific trauma, I have seen with my own eyes how absolutely amazing human beings are. How resilient. How courageous. How creative. How capable of transforming sorrow into joy, lemons into lemonade, compost into roses. This is what I want for you, my beloved sisters and brothers.

No doubt, on any long and arduous journey, in addition to having the right equipment and supplies, having an experienced trail-guide makes all the difference. There is dangerous terrain you want to avoid, and beautiful vistas you don’t want to miss. In my experience over decades, I have observed that human beings thrive when we are given the right tools and the loving encouragement to master them.  So let me give you now some very practical guidelines to help you navigate skillfully, so you can extract from these precious days of your life what is meaningful & transformational. 

Practical Strategies

When it comes to protecting our physical health from the pandemic, there are certain steps we MUST take. Likewise with our mental health. As such, here are some practical strategies, culled from thousands of pages of research and decades of experience. My focus is on parents, whose job has never been more difficult. And with the new school year right around the corner, this guidance is extremely timely. 

Boundaries: Set clear boundaries regarding where and when devices can be used. This applies to everyone in the household, kids and parents alike. Parents, as your elder who loves you, I am reminding you that YOU are the CEO of your home. YOU are the policy maker. YOU are in charge. NOT your kids or their devices. So take charge!

  • No devices for kids 0-3. These guidelines are from the American Pediatric Association. 
  • No devices at the dinner table* or in the bedrooms.
  • No devices until after Fajr. Better yet, after breakfast.
  • All devices put away 1-2 hours before bedtime. Plugged in in the kitchen to recharge.
  • Limit on-line entertainment and socializing to 1 hour/day MAX.
  • Schedule tech fasts ½ day weekly, and 1-2 full days monthly, on a weekend.
  • An occasional family-time movie is fine on the weekend. Choose something meaningful, uplifting, thought-provoking, heart-opening. Pop some popcorn. Make tea. Engage in a special time afterward to really talk together about your experience. *Getting in the habit of real-time-face-to-face conversations is crucial. If you start when your kids are young, it will lay a strong foundation for their teenage years, when they desperately need wise, trustworthy, caring adults who really know how to listen from the heart.

Nature: Spending time in nature is the very best thing you can do for yourself and with your family. There are reams of data about the stress-reducing effects of being outdoors, especially in the woods. There are also reams of data about the benefits of exercise, not only for physical health, but for mental health. Given all the extra sitting everyone is doing during COVID-19, regular exercise is not optional. 

Furthermore, if your kids are schooling from home and you are working from home, everyone will surely need some breathing room, some physical and emotional space from one another, some time every day in solitude, unplugged from their devices. Spending alone-time in nature is the perfect solution. 

For family-time activities, unplug from your devices and enjoy these delightful experiences. They will engender tremendous awe (khushu’) and deepen your heart-connection with your Rabb, The One Who Created you and all the beauty around you. Subhan’Allah.

  • Take a 15-30 minute family-walk every night after dinner before homework.
  • Go hiking, biking, rollerblading, kayaking, kite-flying, or camping on the weekend.   
  • Set up bird feeders in your yard. Learn their names and identify their songs.
  • Go out nightly to look at the stars. Learn the names of the constellations.
  • Watch as many sunrises & sunsets, moonrises & moonsets as you can. 

As Muslims, our worship is guided by the natural cycles Allah put in place. The sun is our clock. It tells us when to pray. The moon is our calendar. It tells us when the new month begins. Sighting the moon is an act of worship, mash’Allah.

Divine Reminders

Our beautiful Qur’an teaches:“We will show them Our Signs (ayat) in the universe and in their own selves, until it becomes clear to them that this (the Qur’an) is the truth.” (Fussilat 41:53)

In this ayah, we are taught the two beautiful gateways into the sacred: the macrocosm of the universe, and the microcosm of the self. Both of these gateways open into the direct experience of Allah’s presence. 

As Muslims, we have been invited to spend time in this dunya in the company of The One Who is Love (al-Wadud). The One Who is Strength (al-Aziz). The One Who is Peace (as-Salaam). And on & on. What could be more beneficial during this time of crisis? Alas, calling upon our Rabb by His most Beautiful Names, with urgency & sincerity, is one of the Lessons we must learn from COVID-19.  My prayer for our community is that people do not squander the opportunity to connect in a deep, meaningful, intimate way heart-to-heart with Allah because they can’t put their phone down or turn their computer off. Insha’Allah, I will address the subject of digital addiction in the second article, as it plays a huge role when it comes to mental health issues.

Closing Du’a

Ya Habibi Ya Allah. Please grant us oceans of fortitude and mountains of strength Ya Sabur Ya Aziz. May we be dutiful beautiful students who strive with all our might in jihad al akbar to pass this test with flying colors, to ace this exam. May we, the Ummah of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), love one another like he loves us, and strengthen one another every step of the way. May we wind up stronger and better-than-ever on the other side of COVID-19, reclaiming the standard of Insan Kamil as the Index by which we measure our lives. Ya Dhal Jalali wal Ikram.

Say “Ameen!” 

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#Islam

Help! I Can’t Make Dua For More Than 30 Seconds On The Day Of ‘Arafah

Imam Azfar Uddin, Guest Contributor

Published

Much emphasis has been given on the importance of fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, but don’t forget, this was a day the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) “made du’a from the time of Dhur til the time of Maghrib on the day of ‘Arafah while STANDING.” (Sahih Muslim)

He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said, “The best du’a is that which is made on the day of ‘Arafah.” (Sahih Muslim)

If we can develop the capacity to binge watch on Netflix 5-6 for hours a day, we can develop the capacity to make du’a longer than 30 SECONDS on the day of ‘Arafah.

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I used to be a person who couldn’t make du’a longer than 2 minutes.

3 things changed

1. I started writing my personalized du’as on a mini-notebook

2. I started reading du’as using Hisnul Muslim (The Fortress of the Muslim)

3. I started following the etiquettes of making du’a.

As an Imam, I have numerous meetings with members of my community. Sometimes, at the end of my meetings, I asked the community member to end our meeting with a du’a. It is surprising that many of them do not know the etiquettes of making du’a. By following the above etiquettes of making du’a, you can make du’a longer than 2 minutes inshAllah!

Here are 16 etiquettes of making du’a from the Qur’an and Sunnah

1) Have 100% conviction that Allah will answer you

2) Find a way to praise Allah before making your request

3) Use the proper names of Allah

4) Send salutations upon Muhammad (upon him be peace)

5) Raise your hand like a beggar

6) Face the qibla

7) Be in a state of wudu

8) Cry

9) Be a lone wolf (Be alone)

10) Ensuring that your food is pure

11) Acknowledge your sins (Privately)

12) Repeat the du’a 3 times

13) Start the du’a by praying for yourself

14) Expand your heart, pray for everyone (in particular those Muslims in China who wish they could fast on the day of ‘Arafah, but they are prohibited from doing so.)

15) Say Amin after making du’a.

16) Make du’a during the “prime-times” (From Dhur till Maghrib on the day of Arafah is primetime!)

Bonus tip: If you’re like me, you may get stuck when making du’a. An excellent tip given by our master Muhammad (upon him be peace) is to use the “filler du’a”. This “filler du’a” was actually what Muhammad (upon him be peace) and all of the Prophets made on the day of Arafat!

He said, “The best invocation is that of the Day of Arafat, and the best that anyone can say is what I and the Prophets before me have said:

Lā ‘ilāha ‘illallāhu

wahdahu lā shareeka lahu,

lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu

wa Huwa ‘alā kulli shay’in qadeer.

Translation:

None has the right to be worshipped but Allah

Alone, Who has no partner.

His is the dominion and His is the praise,

and He is Able to do all things. (Al-Tirmidhi)

To recap, here are 5 action items you and your family can perform on the day of Arafah.

1. Go over the following hadith with your family members.

“Allah frees far more people from Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day, and Allah comes closer this day and proudly says to the angels, ‘What do these people want and seek?’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)

2. Say to your family members or whoever you have influence over,

“The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made du’a on the day of Arafah from Dhur till Maghreb. How long do you think we can make du’a for on this day?”

3. Go over the 16 etiquettes mentioned in this post.

4. Challenge your family members to make a 10 minute du’a.

     Materials needed

  • Whiteboard
  • Markers
  • A Creative mind
  • Brainstorm with your family members what du’a you want to make and then write them on a whiteboard.

5. Whenever you get stuck and you can’t don’t know what du’a you want to make, make the “filler du’a” the Prophet (upon him be peace) made on the day of ‘Arafah.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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