Jamal SaidWelcoming a Generous Guest
Only several weeks ago, the Masjid was overflowing with those seeking to benefit from the blessed month of Ramadan, worshipping Allah through prayer, fasting, and offering charity and good works. Allah (SWT), through His vast generosity, has blessed His servants with yet another opportunity to gain His mercy and forgiveness. In a few days, Muslims from opposite corners of the earth will begin their pilgrimage to the Sacred House of Allah (SWT), emulating the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (S) and fulfilling Allah’s answer to the prayer of Ibrahim (A) to make the hearts of people incline towards this holy city so that they may establish prayer. He (SWT) swears by these very days in Surat al-Fajr: “By the dawn; and by the ten nights.” (Surat al-Fajr: 1-2) How great these days are for Allah the Most Exalted to swear by them.
And so while our brothers and sisters begin their pilgrimage and join others in mankind’s greatest expression of submission to their Lord (SWT), those of us who will not accompany them this year, should also embark on our own spiritual journey making the most of this blessed time. Prophet Muhammad (S) described the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” (Bukhari) He (S) also said, “There is no deed that is better before Allah or more greatly rewarded than a good deed done in the (first) ten days of al-Adha.” (Al-Daarimi) How often are these days taken for granted, and what a shame considering they are the most blessed of all days.
So brothers and sisters, I remind you and remind myself to use this opportunity to reflect over our purpose in this life and engage in the most righteous of deeds to build a home for ourselves in the next and permanent life.  The value of this life equates how it is used for the next.  Therefore, we must engage in worship until the moment of death: “And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (death).” (Al-Hijr: 99)
Aside from performing Hajj and Umrah, it is Sunnah for us to fast the first nine days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah as the Prophet (S) used to fast them. This includes the day of ‘Arafah when the pilgrims climb the mountain of ‘Arafah beseeching their Lord to forgive them and save their skin from Hellfire. Prophet Muhammad (S) has said, “Fasting the day of ‘Arafah expiates the sins of two years: the past one and the coming one. And fasting the day of Ashura expiates the sins of the past year.” (Muslim)
During these days we should actively engage in remembering Allah (SWT) through takbeer (Allahu-Akbar), tahmeed (Alhamdu-lilah), tahleel (La-ilaha-illa-Allah), and tasbeeh (subhana-Allah), aloud and quietly.  As Prophet Muhammad (S) reminded us, “There are no days greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel, takbeer, and tahmeed during them.” (Ahmad)
We should also do our best to not miss an opportunity to gain good deeds through praying voluntary prayers, reciting from the Quran, making dua’a, reconciling with family and friends, honoring parents, giving charity, volunteering our time and enjoying what is good and forbidding what is evil.
The ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are a great opportunity to repent since a Muslim is actively seeking ways to worship Allah and thus feels remorseful about past or present bad deeds. Through engaging in worship, we are able to evaluate our thoughts and actions and account for ourselves before the Day comes when we are accounted for. In this reflection we should take responsibility for our actions and return to Allah in sincere repentance, abandoning all thoughts, words, and actions which displease Allah (SWT), and adhering firmly to what Allah loves.
Finally, during these days we should also offer an udhiyah (animal sacrifice) as it is a confirmed Sunnah to do so and one of the great rituals through which a Muslim remembers the Oneness of Allah, His blessings upon him, and submits in obedience as Ibrahim (A) did before us. This can be done here or abroad.  Allah (SWT) says, “So pray to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him alone),” (Al-Kawthar:2) in the shortest chapter of the Quran. (call the Masjid office for more information)
There is much to be gained during this time, so we must hasten to take advantage of it. Let us not be among those who are too arrogant to render our hearts to the gentle reminder and mercy of our Creator and are regretful on the Day when all deeds are revealed. We ask that Allah (SWT) accept the pilgrimages of our brothers and sisters who have been blessed with the opportunity to do so and to grant us an opportunity to fulfill this pillar of Islam if we have not. May Allah (SWT) forgive us and all of our brothers and sisters in Islam who have preceded us and who will follow us and accept our deeds and their deeds.  Ameen.
Sh. Jamal Said