The foundations of Islam rest upon the 5 pillars - Tawhid, Prayer, Fast, Zakat, and Hajj – which are obligatory for Muslims no matter what. However, it is also true that since Islam is a religion for all of the humanity hence it makes sure that in times of trials and tribulations one must not feel burdened by religious duties. In the Quran the Lord says:
“And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass” (Quran 22:27).
Indeed, Hajj is the most pivotal act that can be performed in this blessed month, but for those Muslim brothers and sisters who, for any reason, cannot take part in this blessed act, there are countless other activities that they can indulge themselves in to reap the rewards of this month and please the Almighty Allah. Following are a few ways to keep one close to their Creator during these days, even if one is not partaking in Hajj:
Do plenty of Dhikr (and Takbeer)
Remembering Allah is one of the most important things one can do in these blessed days, as through Dhikr one acknowledges Allah and submits oneself wholly to Him. Dhikr is one of the most praiseworthy acts in the eyes of Allah, and one which can also garnish excellent rewards for the believers.
Reciting Takbeer during this time is Sunnah, albeit a forgotten one, thus one should make a habit of reciting Takbeer as often as they can. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Know that whoever revives my practice when it has died out after me will have a reward similar to those who act upon it without detracting from his reward in the slightest, and whoever innovates misguidance displeasing to Allah and His messenger will have a sin similar to those who act upon it without detracting from their sins in the slightest” (Tirmidhi 2677).
One of Allah’s (SWT) most favorite actions is that of seeking sincere repentance, which not only brings a believer closer to Allah but cleanses their soul.
“…And beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful” (Quran 24:31)
The act involves laying one’s sins before their Lord and asking for His forgiveness. It involves the will to give up one’s sins and a promise to Allah that one will never return to them, as well as a sincere desire to earn Allah’s blessings by adhering to what He loves. Repentance not only raises one’s stature with Allah but also leads to success in this life and the hereafter, as highlighted in the following verse:
“And [saying], "Seek forgiveness of your Lord and repent to Him, [and] He will let you enjoy a good provision for a specified term and give every doer of favor his favor. But if you turn away, then indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a great Day” (Quran 11:3).
Stand in night prayers
Abu Hurairah narrates the following Hadith:
“… to offer salatul tahajjud (late-night prayer) during one of its [Dhul Hijja] nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power. [i.e. Lailatul Qadr]” (Tirmidhi).
This offers a perfect opportunity to utilize long hours of the night, so that if one misses out on performing good deeds during the day, they can still remember Allah during the night, by performing night prayers or reciting the Quran.
“And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you; it is expected that your Lord will resurrect you to a praised station” (Qur’an 17: 79).
This activity has the uncanny ability to bring tremendous peace to the heart and mind, and it adds barkah to one’s time as well.
Increase any and all types of good deeds
According to the Prophet (PBUH):
“There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days…” (Bukhari 2:457).
Small acts done out of love and praise for Allah can reap tremendous rewards in themselves, thus one should increase all types of good deeds in this blessed month such as reciting Quranic verses, offering extra prayers, giving charity, refraining from forbidden activities, attending Friday prayers, offering animal sacrifice, respecting one’s parents and making as much Dua as one can.
Therefore, one should not despair if they missed the chance to perform Hajj, as practicing these alternative activities can surely be a transformative process for a true believer as well. We should remember that Allah seeks what is in our hearts, He seeks our intentions and hence we should perform all these activities out of complete love, submission, and gratitude towards our Creator who is surely the Most Benevolent and Most Exalted.