By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Verily, all praise is for Allah. We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we ask for His forgiveness. And we seek refuge in Him from the evils of our selves. Whoever Allah guides, none can misguide. Whoever He misguides, none can guide. And I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.
“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.” [Al-Imran:102]
Dear brothers and sisters! Be conscious of Allah and obey Him. The first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah and what they contained of worships, such as Hajj, Udhiyyah (Layyah), remembrance of Allah and fasting, was a great school that taught us how to adhere to the commands of Allah. So it must be a lesson for us going forward in accounting ourselves in every command and prohibition of Allah so that we attain consciousness of Allah.
Starting with Hajj, we note the limited number of pilgrims performing Hajj this year due to the pandemic. Wallahi, millions yearned to perform Hajj but were unable to do so. But whoever sincerely intends to perform a deed and is prevented will be rewarded wholly by Allah Almighty. Also, Allah selects from His servants whom He wills. And that the bounty is in the Hands of Allah and He bestows it upon whom He wills and Allah is the possessor of great bounty.
At the same time, whoever Allah Almighty blessed and performed Hajj this year should be cautious of self-admiration and pride. For Allah Almighty is knowledgeable of the pious.
Even though the number of pilgrims was limited there was so much diversity within them…in their nationalities, in spoken language etc… We realise that it is only the religion of Allah that united them. For the pilgrims are like one body. Wearing the same clothing. They were united in the Talbiyyah exchanging it for any patriotic chant. Without pride in lineage or status. There is one gauge as Allah said:
“Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.” [Al-Hujurat:13]
And as the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Indeed your Lord is One, and indeed your father is one, and your religion is one and your Prophet is one. And there is no virtue of an Arab over a non-Arab. And not for a non-Arab over an Arab. And not for red complexion over black complexion and not for black complexion over red complexion except through taqwa (consciousness of Allah).”
Next, let us consider the Ibadah of sacrifice, Udhiyyah (Layyah). The Udhiyyah (Layyah) taught us the meaning of sacrifice and submission to Allah. It taught us the importance of spending of what we love for the sake of Allah Almighty. For Allah is Good and accepts only that which is good. And you will not attain real piety until you spend of what you love. The Udhiyyah (Layyah) taught us that every act of worship is performed only for the sake of Allah. Allah Almighty said:
“So pray to your Lord and offer sacrifice [to Him alone].” [Al-Kawthar: 2]
Respected servants of Allah! The first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah taught us to follow a righteous deed with another righteous deed. Imam As-Sa’adi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“And this is what a servant should do. Any time he completes an act of worship, he should seek forgiveness from Allah for his shortcomings. And thank Him for the success. Not like the one who thinks that they have perfected the act of worship. And that he did a favour to Allah. And that it gave him a high station. For this is truly an abhorrent and repulsive action.”
Dear brothers and sisters! In the blessed first ten days, we adhered to making remembrance of Allah, so we must continue making remembrance. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The similitude of the one who remembers his Lord and the one who does not is like that of the living and the dead.”
And our Lord described the believers as those:
“Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” [Al-Imran: 191].
My beloved people! Remembrance of Allah is a wide sphere. For the Muslim wakes up and sleeps and comes and goes while he is making remembrance of Allah Almighty. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said in describing the important and virtue of remembrance of Allah, he said:
“Should I not inform you of the best of your deeds, and the purest of them with your Master, and the highest of them in your ranks, and what is better for you than spending gold and silver, and better for you than meeting your enemy and striking their necks, and they strike your necks?” They said: “Of course.” He said, “The remembrance of Allah [Most High].”
My great people! In the blessed first ten days, we drew nearer to Allah through different types of good deeds. Through remembrance of Allah, by fasting on the day of Arafah and by sacrificing Udhiyyah (Layyah). So what is our expectation of Allah? We should have good expectations that Allah will not turn us away disappointed. Allah Almighty said:
“I am as My servant thinks I am.”
May Allah accept from us and you the righteous deeds performed in the blessed first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. Oh Allah make us among those who remember You while standing and sitting and while on our sides. Oh Allah make us among those who follow a good deed with another good deed. Indeed You are All Hearing, Answering.
Dear brothers and sisters! I advise myself and you to be conscious of Allah Almighty, to obey Him and avoid disobeying Him. For we do not know when we will part our worldly life to our graves. And we do not know the situation in which our life will be sealed. And we do not know with what deed we will meet our Lord. Death could come to a person suddenly while he is on the best and most sound condition. At the same time, thinking of death makes the living sad. And people fear for themselves. Because of little preparation and weak readiness. And this necessitates people to have constant fear and anticipate death at any moment. Allah Almighty said:
“And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty [i.e., death].” Al-Hijr:99].
Respected servants of Allah! Allah made fearing death an innate characteristic of the living. And to take precautions against its causes. And avoiding what leads to it. Just as He made their innate nature cling on to life. And to spend the expensive and precious for its sake. The young and old are the same in this regard. Just as are: the believer and disbeliever, the righteous and evil doer, the insane and sane and mankind and animals. And man is not careless regarding life.
Forgetting death is a cause for distraction, heedlessness, and immersion in this world, just as remembering death is a cause for not being attached to this world and a motivation for performing righteous deeds. Therefore, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) urged us to remember death and not to forget it so that we do not become heedless. He (Peace be upon him) said:
“Frequently remember the destroyer of pleasures (death).” [An-Nisa’i]
In the face of this great and enormous truth, it does not benefit a person to overlook or ignore it saying: Between me and death are many long years. And he does not know. Maybe death could come to him soon.
So what would be his fate if death came to him suddenly?
My people! We must face this question with courage. And stand before it for a long time. Because it is a big and dangerous question. And it is not rational to ignore or forget it. And how can we forget it and Allah Almighty has alerted us to the seriousness of the issue? And he has warned us against heedlessness and being deceived by this worldly life. Allah Almighty said:
“O mankind, indeed the promise of Allah is truth, so let not the worldly life delude you and be not deceived about Allah by the Deceiver [i.e., Satan]. Indeed, Satan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy. He only invites his party to be among the companions of the Blaze.” [Fatir: 5-6]
Marvelous and great wonders are revealed to a person by remembering death. It shows him that this worldly life is not worth anything. And does not deserve all this toiling and deception and treachery. And misery for the sake of collecting its fleeting debris.
And remembering death, opens the door of detachment from this very temporary abode. And getting prepared for the real and permanent home. And it makes him feel that his true future is not from material gains in this worldly life. Or attaining glory or a position. Or by having status among people. Rather, the real future for him will be after death from eternal bliss in the gardens of bliss. Or in misery and hell.
Deep reflection of this bitter truth shakes a person. It wakes him up to prepare him for the horrors ahead.
Imam Al-Hasan (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“Death exposed the worldly life and did not leave a joy in it for the intelligent one. And a person does not oblige his heart to remember death, except that the worldly life is minimised in his eyes. And all that is in it is insignificant to him.”
One of the pious predecessors looked at his house one day and was impressed by its beauty. then he wept and said:
“By Allah, had it not been for death, I would have been pleased with you. And were it not that we will go to the narrowness of the graves, our eyes would have been delighted by this worldly life.”
Dear brothers and sisters! I ask Allah Almighty to grant us a good conclusion. And reflection about those who came before us. And preparation for what is in front of us. And to spare us from humiliation in this world and from the torment in the hereafter. Our Lord, give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.
Dear brothers and sisters! Wallahi we will not be immortal in this world in which we live. And it will not remain forever. For it has an end just as it had a beginning. And we know that each day many people die and are buried. And it is inevitable that one day we will be one of them, whether that is sooner or later. So we should capitalise on every opportunity to better our afterlives.
We will soon have one of these golden opportunities and embrace a noble guest that will stay with us for ten days. That guest is the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. Ten great and blessed days. Allah Almighty favoured them over the other days. He the Almighty took an oath by them in His Great Book (Al-Qur’an), He said:
“By the dawn. And by ten nights.”Al-Fajr:1-2]
And Allah Almighty designated them for His remembrance:
“That they may witness [i.e., attend] benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known [i.e., specific] days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals (Udhiyyah/Layyah).” [Hajj:27]
These known days are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. And Allah Almighty has chosen that performing righteous deeds during them is more virtuous than any other days. As was narrated in Sahih Bukhari that Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“There are no ten days during which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these days (meaning the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah) They said: Not even striving in the cause of Allah? He said: Not even striving in the cause of Allah, unless a man goes out with himself and his wealth and does not bring anything back.” [Bukhari]
In these blessed ten days make plenty of remembrance of Allah Almighty, for your Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) commanded you to do so. As is in the Hadith of Ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) who said that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“There are no days greater with Allah in which the righteous deeds performed in them are more beloved to Allah than these 10 days, so make plenty of Tahlil, Takbir and Tahmid.” [Ahmad].
And Abu Hurairah and Ibn Umar used to go to the marketplace in the first ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah) and make Takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) and the people would follow them in making them (the Takbir).
And sacrifice (Layyah) is a virtuous act and thankful endeavour. And an expenditure for the sake of Allah that will be reimbursed. Also, the person sacrificing benefits from its meat. And Allah Almighty’s appreciation for it. For He Almighty is the one who bestowed it and He is the one Who compensates for it and He does not take from it anything:
“Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good.” [Al-Hajj: 37].
And whoever intends to offer a sacrifice should refrain from cutting his hair and nails starting from the first night preceding the ten days for what was related in the Hadith narrated by Um Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever wants to offer a sacrifice when Dhul-Hijjah begins, let him not remove anything from his hair or nails.” [Muslim]
We should take advantage of the virtuous and blessed times that Allah Almighty has singled out for His great rituals. Therefore, we magnify them just as our Lord the Exalted magnified them. And we single them out for extra acts of worship. And it is a loss and what a loss if we are neglectful of these ten days and do what Allah Almighty has prohibited. And perhaps these ten days will the last blessed season that we will come across in our lives. Death may strike us at any moment:
“The Day every soul will find what it has done of good present [before it] and what it has done of evil, it will wish that between itself and that [evil] was a great distance. And Allah warns you of Himself, and Allah is Kind to [His] servants.” [Al-Imran: 30]
I conclude with this and send prayers of blessings and peace upon our Prophet as your Lord commanded:
“Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.” [Ahzab: 56]
O Allah, guide us with those whom You have guided, grant us well-being among those You have granted well-being, be an ally to us along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless what You have bestowed upon us, and save us from the evil of what You have decreed. For verily You decree and none can decree over You. He whom You support can never be humiliated. Glory is to You, our Lord, You are Blessed and Exalted.
O Allah, We ask You for all that is good, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know. O Allah, we seek refuge with You from all evil, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know. O Allah, we ask You for the good that Your servant and Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has asked You for, and we seek refuge with You from the evil from which Your servant and Prophet sought refuge. O Allah, we ask You for Paradise and for that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed, and we seek refuge in You from Hell and from that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed. And we ask You to make every decree that You decree concerning us good.
Dear servants of Allah! Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.
Remember Allah, the Great – He will remember you. Thank Him for His favours – He will increase you therein. And seek forgiveness from Him – He will forgive you. And be conscious of Him – He will provide you a way out of difficult matters. And, establish the prayer.
All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: email@example.com or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Dhul-Qa’adah 24, 1443 AH (June 24, 2022).