10 days spiritual program: Are you ready for a new start?
In Islam the first ten days of Dhul Hijja are marked with great reverence and outstanding sacredness in the sight of God. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says “There are no days greater in the sight of God nor good deeds are more beloved to Him than in these days so make a lot of remembrance of the greatness of God (takbir), His Oneness (tahlil) and His Praise (tahmid).” The great status of these blessed days is mentioned in the Quran when God swears an oath by them, “By the dawn and by the ten nights” (89:1-2)
The spiritual zeal that a believer could obtain out of these blessed days are remarkable because they indicate the advent of pilgrimage; a sacred journey which includes all types of worship such as praying, fasting, feeding the poor, supplicating along with spiritual development that is signified by the denunciation of earthly desires and worldly gains through dressing in unstitched white drapes which eliminate all appearances of difference in social status, financial standard and prestigious positions. Every year millions of people head to Makkah to embark on a spiritual journey seeking a divine connection and a rectified relationship with God. Inner spiritual refinement gushes out of the believer’s heart during his one on one encounter with God’s divine presence which fills his journey with mercy, grace and light.
Although only physically and financially capable Muslims are the ones who are obliged to perform hajj, the spiritual fruit of this blessed journey is no way confined to only the couple of million Muslims travelling for the journey leaving behind hundreds of millions of Muslims stranded and deprived of such blessings. The physical circumambulation of the pilgrim around the sacred Ka’ba signifies the circumambulation and the wandering of the heart around God’s divine names and attributes in an attempt to polish one’s heart in preparation for embracing these divine names of beauty and grace.
The first ten days before the advent of Hajj is seen as a preparation period for the believer’s heart to be receptive to God’s divine light and presence. A polished heart is a heart where mercy descends in abundance, where compassion finds its dwelling and where seeking God’s pleasure is a purpose of one’s life. The ten days program sets you on full gear to regain your lost time with God and offers you a new start to make things straight with your Lord.
The refinement of one’s heart starts with sincere repentance of one’s own mishaps, sins, and shortcomings. Repentance is considered a pledge of one’s heart to surrender to God’s divine love with one’s heart, soul and body through abiding by God’s commandments and steer away from His prohibitions. This new start opens up all doors of worship such as involving in supregatory prayers which allows the worshipper to stand before his Lord in utter awe and overwhelming reverence to His grandeur and majesty. Prayer also involves reciting Quran which is God’s speech to the believers as well as supplication which is the believer’s plea to God. This intimate divine conversation forms an untied bond between the worshipper and God; it creates a feeling of intimacy, privacy and dependency in the heart of the believer. Also fasting is one of the recommendable actions which draws the worshipper closer to God as he refrains from bodily desires of eating, drinking and involving in sexual engagements from dawn to dusk. It helps him/her to rise above the shackles of the demands of the flesh and nourish his soul which yearns for spiritual fulfillment.
Another rewarding act of worship is helping the poor, the sick and the destitute through donating money, time or effort in elevating their pain or contributing positively in changing their lives to a better state. Prophet Muhammad said, “Human beings are God’s children and the most beloved to Him are the ones who are most beneficial to His children”.
Setting the heart’s compass towards God with the aim of reaching a level of excellence (ihsan) in worshipping, loving and knowing God are the building blocks of a divine relationship with God which aims at purifying one’s self, developing the world and worshipping the Lord of the worlds.
The first ten days of Dhul Hijja offers such a unique opportunity to set your self at full gear towards developing a new start of self-reflection, purification and development. By the end of the ten days which marks the day of standing on Arafat where pilgrims spend their day supplicating and repenting, we too can have a commemoration of our intense 10-day program which results in receiving God’s generous acceptance of our pleas and supplications along with showering us with His divine mercy which is a light that guides our way back to our Lord.