Yes, Ramadan was our 2nd chance and the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah was the 3rd.
Now, we have yet another chance: Muharram.
You might wonder why I keep pointing to specific months as being 3rd or 4th chances when, in reality, a person can make a fresh start from…NOW.
Yes, that’s true. However, the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah and Muharram are what I call mini-goals and iman-boosting opportunities, because of their many virtues.
It is very difficult for a person to think about working hard for a lifetime. So we need to shorten that to working hard until the end of Ramadan, so that we can take it year by year. However, as Ramadan is still quite far away, we need to work towards another goal that is close by in order to keep ourselves motivated.
That’s what I’ve noticed about most people. They need deadlines. I’m like that too. I need a real tangible deadline so that I can get the adrenaline going.
So, let’s give ourselves yet another deadline to improve: Muharram.
And we’ll just keep doing this until Ramadan comes, insha-Allah.
Remember: The only way to actually “remember” Ramadan is to become our “Ramadan selves” and better in all the months.
PS. Question to all of you: Are you still asking Allah to accept your Ramadan? If not, then why not? The early generations did this for 6 months after Ramadan!
Yes, Ramadan was our second chance (remember?) and Dhul Hijjah is our third.
So, why should we stick to “remembering” (i.e. dreaming about) Ramadan? Why don’t we just take advantage of the ten best days* that are coming up in order to give ourselves another little Ramadan?
[*Actually, even the days of Tashreeq (11th-13th) have some virtues so we shouldn’t forget about them. Sadly, most people do exactly that because they’re too busy partying their brains out because it’s Eid.]
What should we do?
1) Aim for a fresh start (don’t wait for Dhul Hijjah, do it NOW). Seek Allah’s Forgiveness and ask Him to make things easy for you.
2) Read about the virtues of Dhul Hijjah and write down all the specific deeds that can be done during this time (e.g. fasting, takbeer, etc).
[Note: We need to read about Eid Al-Adha and the days of Tashreeq too as they are a religious celebration, not a 4 day party.]
Rather than waiting for next Ramadan to come, we need to pretend that it is already here and that we are in the last ten days (hey, there’s even an Eid after them!).
3) Bring out all those Ramadan Resolutions papers out from the bottom of your drawers. Oh yes.
However, now we’re going to call this “Dhul Hijjah resolutions”.
Look over those resolutions and then write down your goals for these 10 days.
4) Write down all the good things that you did in Ramadan and then aim to do them in Dhul Hijjah as well.
5) Write down where (and why) you messed up in Ramadan and take steps to rectify that in Dhul Hijjah.
6) Try to get the Eid shopping done before these 10 days.
7) Encourage everybody to participate in Dhul Hijjah.
See, one of the great things about Ramadan is that everybody is trying to be good, so it’s much easier for us to be good.
8) Try to prepare a checklist for Dhul Hijjah (we have so many Ramadan checklists but not even one Dhul Hijjah checklist!).
It’s always easier to remember things when you have a checklist (we’re not elephants, remember?)
[Note: To the menstruating women, remember that even though you can’t pray or fast, you can still do a lot.]
9) Try to prepare a dua list as well (remember the wonderful day of Arafah?)
10) Remember that ultimately the purpose of Ramadan is the same as Dhul Hijjah: to get closer to Allah.
Therefore, we should once again aim to continue the good deeds even after Dhul Hijjah. If we just intend them for Dhul Hijjah and don’t want to bother doing them after that, it means we have a problem with our sincerity.
So, let’s get going, insha-Allah. We don’t want to waste our third chance, would we?
It’s true, you know.
Best Days of the Year = The First Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah.
And we’re still in Dhul Qaaidah.
[Oh, you thought that I meant something else? Sorry.]
So, what do we do? Well, how about if we start preparing for it? You know, so that we can squeeze these 10 days for all they are worth?
See, these 10 days are almost like a mini-Ramadan (talk about recovering Ramadan, huh?). The only reason that we don’t think that way is because they’re not as heavily advertised as Ramadan.
What’s the first thing to do? Well, we need to read about the virtues of these great days, of course.
Here’s a really nice treatise on this matter that discusses their virtues as well as the recommended deeds to be done during them (no, Hajj is not the only recommended deed that can be done in them):