Reflections By Sheikh Faiyaz Jaffer: The month of Dhul Hijaah

In the Qur’an, God swears, “By the dawn, and by the ten nights.”1 Why swear by dawn and what could potentially be an inner meaning? The time of dawn represents the beginning of light, a new day, and for many, a new opportunity. Dawn are moments where darkness begins to fade, and illumination begins to dominate, where ignorance comes to pass, and knowledge is manifest. But what about the “ten nights?” Scholars have long debated in regard to what those ten nights
are. Are they the final ten nights of the Holy Month of Ramadan? Or the first ten nights of Muharram, culminating with the day of Ashura? Many have taken the opinion that God swears by the sacred first ten nights of the month of Dhul Hajja— days and nights which are unique in our opportunity to seek our Creator, and the final ten nights which culminated Prophet
Musa’s journey Mount Tur.

In Sura al-Fajr, God correlates the breaking of dawn with the ten nights—days and nights of unique merit and opportunity to allow for light to overcome darkness and beauty to outshine gloom. Every dawn in a new day, a new opportunity to be thankful to God and fulfill our responsibility to Him. We should recognize these blessed days and nights
as sacred; an opportunity to fast, worship, reflect, meditate, and seek the Lord or Mercy, Compassion and Forgiveness.

As I write this piece, I am days away from making my journey to the holy cities in performance of the Hajj pilgrimage. And from my limited experience, there are no days like the days of Hajj in proximity of the Beloved. The feeling is different—the fragrance of the two holy cities is unique, and there is an overwhelming feeling of optimism, love and beauty. But far more than the energy of the two holy cities, I need to ask myself, “who am I going to be upon my return?”
And even for those of us who are not fortunate enough to perform he pilgrimage this year, what are we doing during the course of these blessed days of this blessed month to allow for a revival of our souls. So beyond the practice, the worship, the prayers and fasts…its about reforming ourselves for an eternal change.

In a hadith, the Prophet tell us in a tradition (narrated in Bihar), “The greatest sin of a person who goes to Arafat and then leaves is to think he has not been forgiven of his sins.” The struggle thus is not solely making it to the valley of Arafah on the 9th of Dhal Hajja or pleading from afar if we don’t have that capacity, but rather channeling that inspiration
moving forward after we leave the sacred land. Our prayers, fasting, worship, reflection are all a means, and not an end. It’s about internalizing the unique aspects of our worship to becoming a better people, a better community, as the Qur’an states— “You are the best nation brought forth to mankind: you bid what is right and forbid what is wrong and have faith in
God. (3:110)”

So, as I make my rounds to complete my final errands, and finalize all the logistical preparations for my journey, I have some thoughts to share with you.

Firstly, I seek your forgiveness: Amongst the major goals of our presence in the land of Arafah as the Hajj begins is to be absolved of our sins and shortcomings in front of our Creator. And before I plead to God that He purifies my heart and soul, it would not be appropriate if I have wronged members of my community; my brothers and sisters in faith. So, with this in light, if there was any word I said, or action I performed, knowingly or unknowingly, then I ask you, with all sincerity, to forgive me so that I don’t carry the burden of that lapse on my back as I seek to find God during the next few weeks.