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                        How Muslims can join in the spirit of Hajj with Hajjies

Dear brothers and sisters,

The month of Zull-Hijjah is near and inshallah, in only 2 more weeks, Hajjis from all over the world will be traveling towards Makkah to perform the fifth pillar of Islam... Hajj. Hajj is a very unique practice as no other religion mandates the congregation of its believer anywhere at specific month of the year, hence whenever Hajj is being performed, the world views it with a lot of curiosity in mind. So, as Muslims it is important to understand its significance and to make the intention (Arabic/Urdu: Niyat) to perform it, even if it is something one cannot perform or afford it at that specific time. Every Muslim who identifies themselves as one and has the means to be able to afford it has an obligation to perform Hajj at least once in his/her lifetime. So, by making the Niyat, if nothing, at least it will be in the back of our mind and at least this way, we’ll set a goal for ourselves that one day inshallah, we’ll get to go perform Hajj if Allah SWT is willing. And until an opportunity presents us to go to Hajj ourselves, we are to join, in spirits, those who are going to by making duas for them and also, by doing what we can do to take part as well in the spirit of this month. This brings us to the topic of today’s khutbah, Hajj and how a Muslim who is not performing Hajj can still join the Hajjis in the spirit of it and how they can maximize their rewards during the holy month of Zull-Hijjah Significance of Zull-Hijjah Praise be to Allah SWT who has created time and has made some months and days/nights better than others, when the rewards of worship are multiplied many times, as a mercy towards His slaves. And among the special seasons of worship are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, which Allah SWT has preferred over all the other days of the year. These ten days bring many benefits to us, such as the opportunity to correct our faults and make up for any shortcomings or anything that we might have missed or done. An incentive such as this granted by Allah SWT only encourages us to do good deeds and make us better people. The purpose of this kind of positive reinforcement is to draw us closer to Allah SWT and away from the accursed Iblees.

According to a Hadith narrated in Al-Bukhari, Book 2, Hadith # 457, Ibn 'Abbas RA reported that the Prophet SAW said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." 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." According to Sheikh Saleh-Al-Munajjid who operate website, these texts and others show that these ten days are better than all the other days of the year, with no exceptions, not even the last ten days of Ramadan. But the last ten nights of Ramadan are better, because they include Lailat al-Qadr ("the Night of Decree"), which is better than a thousand months. This reasoning is also based on the fact that Allah SWT swears an oath by them in the Holy Quran as mentioned in Surah Fajr [89:1-5] by saying By the dawn And [by] ten nights And [by] the even [number] and the odd And [by] the night when it passes Is there [not] in [all] that an oath [sufficient] for one of perception? Swearing an oath by something is always indicative of its importance and great benefit and when Allah SWT say: "By the dawn; by the ten nights" [al-Fajr 89:1-2], according to Ibn 'Abbas, Ibn al- Zubayr, Mujahid and others of the earlier and later generations, this refers to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. Ibn Kathir said: "This is the correct opinion." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 8/413). These ten days include the days of sacrifice and of Hajj. What to do in Dhul Hijjah Among the good deeds which the Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are:

1. Fasting. It is Sunnah to fast on till the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah , because the Prophet SAW urged us to do good deeds during this time, and fasting is one of the best of deeds. Allah has chosen fasting for Himself, as stated in the hadith qudsi, Reported by al-Bukhari, 1805: "Allah SAW says: ‘All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except for fasting, which is for Me and I am the One Who will reward him for it.’” The Prophet SAW used to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah. According to a Hadith by Abu Dawud; classed as sahih by al-Albani in Sahih Abi Dawud, 2/462, it was narrated from Hunaydah ibn Khalid RA from his wife, that one of the wives of the Prophet SAW said: “The Prophet SAW used to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah and the day of ‘Ashura, and three
days each month, the first Monday of the month and two Thursdays.”

2. Takbir.
It is Sunnah to say Takbir ("Allahu akbar"), Tahmid ("Al-hamdu Lillah"), Tahlil ("La ilaha ill-Allah") and Tasbih ("Subhan Allah") during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, and to say it loudly in the mosque, the home, the street and every place where it is permitted to remember Allah and mention His name out loud, as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the greatness of Allah, may He be exalted. Men are recommended to recite these phrases out loud, and women are recommended to recite them quietly. There is sound evidence that Ibn ‘Umar RA and Abu Hurairah RA used to go out in the marketplace during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, reciting Takbir, and the people would recite Takbir when they
heard them. According to Shiek Saleh-Al-Munajjid, the idea behind reminding the people to recite Takbir is that each one should recite it individually, not in unison, as there is no basis in Shariah for doing this.

3. Sacrifice. One of the good deeds that will bring a person closer to Allah during these ten days is offering a sacrifice, by choosing a high-quality animal and fattening it, and spending money for the sake of Allah SWT. This is Sunnat-e-Ibrahimi and has been recommended to whoever earns and is liable for Zakat

4. Sincere repentance. One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah SWT and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. Repentance means coming back to Allah SWT and foregoing all the deeds, open and secret, that He dislikes, out of regret for what has passed, giving it up and deciding never to return to it. If a Muslim commits a sin, he must hasten to repent at once, without delay, firstly because we know one day we all will return to him after death so we don’t wish to be in a state of ignorance and will die, and secondly, because one evil deed leads to another. Allah SWT says in Surah Al-Qasas [28:67] "But as for him who repented, believed and did righteous deeds, then he will be among those who are successful."

Things to avoid in Dhul Hijjah:
The Sunnah indicates that the one who wants to offer a sacrifice must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because as reported by Muslim with four isnads, (vol 13, Hadith 146), the Prophet SAW said  "When you see the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah, if any one of you wants to offer a sacrifice, then he should stop cutting his hair and nails until he has offered his sacrifice." The wisdom behind this prohibition of the one who wants to offer a sacrifice from cutting his hair etc., is so that he may resemble those in ihram in some aspects of the rites performed, Whoever needs to remove some hair, nails, etc. because it is harming him, such as having a broken nail or a wound in a site where there is hair, should do so, and there is nothing wrong with that, but the state of ihram is so important, we are to observe it even though we aren’t the ones performing hajj. There is nothing wrong with men/women washing their heads during the first ten days of Dhul- Hijjah, because the Prophet SAW only forbade cutting the hair, not washing it. If a person has cut their hair or nails during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah because they were not planning to offer a sacrifice initially but decided to do so later on but still during the ten days, to offer a sacrifice, then they must refrain from cutting his hair and nails from the moment he/shemakes this decision. Similarly, if a person has been delegated to perform the sacrifice of someone else’s behalf, e.g., a son for his mother, then as per the ruling, the prohibition does not apply to the person delegated, which is the son or any other family member such as his wife or kids in this example, but will apply to the mother who has delegated her son for the sacrifice Also, this prohibition only applies to the one who is offering the sacrifice, not to his wife and children, unless any of them is offering a sacrifice in his or her own right, because the Prophet SAW used to sacrifice "on behalf of the family of Muhammad," but there are no reports that say he forbade them to cut their hair or nails at that time. If a person was planning to offer a sacrifice, then he decides to go and perform Hajj, he should not cut his hair or nails if he wants to enter ihram, because the Sunnah is only to cut hair and nails when necessary. But if he is performing Tamattu’ [whereby he performs ‘Umrah, comes out of ihram and enters ihram anew for Hajj], he should trim his hair at the end of his ‘Umrah because this is part of the ritual. As for the other things that are prohibited in the state of Ihram such as wearing a scent or perfume, having marital relations, wearing sewn garments... those things are not prohibited for those who are not performing Hajj. Allah SWT is ever watchful, He is just and to Him will we return. As the Quran says in Surah Al- Zalzalah [99:7-8] "So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it, And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.

Dear Brothers and sisters,

Performing Hajj is one of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days at the Sacred House of Allah. In the words of the Prophet SAW: "An accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise." I wanted to end today’s khutbah with a summarized commentary on the story of the story of prophet Ibrahim AS (Biblical: Abraham) concerning his son, prophet Ismael AS (Biblical: Ishmael) from his second wife Hajra (Biblical: Hajjar). This is so we can understand what is it that we are commemorating and celebrating. As it goes in the Quran, the story is that Ibrahim AS received Wahi (English: Revelations) in his dreams where Allah SWT is asking him to let go and sacrifice something that he loves the most. He had this dream several times, so after few times, he thought about what was being asked for and he realized that his most beloved possession in this world then was his son, Ismail AS. Realizing that this is what Allah SWT want, a task so hard to commit to, he went to Ismael AS and told him that Allah SWT is asking him for this trial and that, in the process, Ismael AS would be sacrificed. As soon as Ismael AS heard that it was Allah SWT command, without a doubt in his heart, he was more than willing to sacrifice himself. Ibrahim AS then take Ismael AS to a place where he had a knife sharpened and ready. Being a father, as incredibly hard this task was to commit to, neither Ibrahim AS nor Ismael AS changed their minds because they were prophets... people with the best character and resilience, as is consistent with prophet SAW’ hadith that only the prophets are tried with the hardest tasks. Once Ibrahim AS and Ismael AS had reached the place they were told, Ibrahim AS covered his eyes with a piece of cloth so he wouldn’t have to witness the horrific visual of sacrificing his son. Ismael AS then rested his head on his lap but as Ibrahim AS started to sacrifice and move the knife accordingly, Allah SWT took away the command from the knife to cut, he moved Ismael AS away and replaced him with a lamb and then, the knife started to work. When Ibrahim AS was done, all he saw was Ismael AS untouched, and a lamb sacrificed There is so much that we can learn from this story but if there is one major thing we can learn here, is that indeed Allah SWT only tries people with what they can bear and, in this case, Ibrahim AS knew that. Allah SWT was never interested in the sacrifice of Ibrahim AS’s son, let alone a son who is also a prophet, and Ibrahim AS knew that. (in Urdu) “Ibrahim AS ko Allah SWT ki raza aur wafa pe zaraa shak na tha” meaning that Ibrahim AS never doubted Allah SWT for being just and being merciful” He knew in his heart that Allah SWT would never ask Ibrahim AS to literally sacrifice Ismael AS for good, that's why, even after repeated being told by that stranger who crossed Ibrahim AS’s path to stop... Ibrahim AS refused. As Quran explains, Shaitan, who was allowed to shape-shift into different human beings back then, tried visiting Ibrahim AS as his well-wisher several times and tried to “knock sense” by offering lies on Allah SWT whenever he could. He kept saying that all he wants is what is best for them. Shaitan even tried to invoke rebellion into Ibrahim AS’s heart through fatherly love for his son because, of course, Ismael AS, was his most beloved and priced possession in this world, so it was easy to tap into that. But every time that stranger really pushed Ibrahim AS’s patience by his constant nagging and lies, Ibrahim AS drove away the deceptive stranger. As narrated in the Quran, Ibrahim AS threw rocks at him to drive him away, and this happened three times during this course of event.

So please, remember Allah SWT, and believe in him and his mercy. Ibrahim AS’s story is the story of mercy. This story tells us that Allah SWT never tries his regular beings the same way as he tried his prophets but using all of his prophet’s examples, including Muhammad SAW, understand that no matter how big is the trial, Allah SWT is trying you to bring you closer to him and that he is trying to see if you have the patience that a believer needs to have. Indeed, Allah SWT only tries those who are better in Taqwa as discussed in our last khutbah regarding Ayub AS.

How Muslims can join in the spirit of Hajj with HajjiesArtist Name
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