The first 10 days of Zul Hijjah are considered blessed in Islam. Zul Hijjah is the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Prophet Mohammed, peace and blessings be upon him, said: "There aren't any days greater, nor any days in which deeds done in them are more beloved to Allah Most High, than these ten days. So, increase in them the saying of Tahleel (La ilaha illa Allah), and Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and Tahmeed (Alhamdu lillah)." (Reported by Imam Ahmad).
Below is a sample schedule of activities you and your family can do together in these blessed days.
Show what people making Hajj are doing that specific day on a blackboard. This way, you and the family will feel connected to the pilgrimage.
Day 1: Make Hajj come to life in your home
What can you do with a square-sized cardboard box, some black paint and a line of gold fringe material? Make a model of the Kaba!
But don't stop there. Make it the centerpiece of your living room for the next 10 days. Discuss Hajj by describing exactly how it is performed. If possible, get some dolls or action figures to demonstrate.
Also, get one of the male family members to "model" Ihram, the clothing men wear during Hajj and Umra, using two big bath towels.
In addition to talking about how Hajj is performed, you can give details about the Kaba in terms of its construction and its reparations.
Day 2: Invite a Hajji, dim the lights and .....
What better way to learn about Hajj than to hear it from someone who's done it?
If you have a Haji (a person who has performed Hajj) in your home great! Otherwise invite one over, preferably someone skilled in storytelling.
Dim the lights and ask people to close their eyes. Then the Haji should recount the story from A to Z, from when he or she first thought about Hajj to how the whole journey took place. At the end of this activity, everyone should make Dua (supplication) to Allah to be blessed with the opportunity to perform Hajj if they haven‘t.
Day 3: "Take me, take me, take me to the Kaba!"
It’s tempting to think traveling to Hajj is as simple as booking a plane ticket and flying to Makkah. But this is still a luxury most Muslims worldwide can't afford, which is why you and the family should discuss how people of today and the past traveled to make the journey of a lifetime.
If five-year-old Ammar, the baby of the family, is a car, plane, ship or train fan, use this to your advantage. Use his beloved toy(s)to show how so many people use different means of transportation to get to the Kaba, and how long it takes to get to Makkah using these various methods. Transport is a key point because Hajj becomes compulsory on an adult Muslim if the means of transportation are available.
It would also be interesting to look up Mecca online and see satellite images. Here’s a nice one.
Finally, end this activity with everyone singing the song Take me to the Kaba. The song is on the Allah Helps You Grow CD.
Day 4: Tell it like it is: the story of Prophet Ibrahim
Forego family movie night and replace it with storytelling hour so you can share the incredible story of Prophet Ibrahim. Make it as exciting and interactive as you can, adding sound effects, movement, and awesome narrative.
What was it like when this great Prophet was thrown into the fire? What was it like when he built the Kaba with his son Ismail?
At the end of sharing his story, also discuss how Jews and Christians revere Prophet Ibrahim. End with a Dua asking Allah to guide all of us to the life of commitment to God and sacrifice that he exemplified.
Day 5: Hajj film night
In the last 20 years, Hajj has been caught on film through various documentaries, and more recently, an IMAX film. For kids, they can check out Adam's discussion of Hajj in Adam's World 4: Take me to the Kaba.
Pop that popcorn, get comfy, and don’t forget to follow up with a discussion of what you’ve just seen.
Day 6: Share what you know- prepare a school presentation
Contact your child’s teacher as soon as possible to arrange a class presentation on Hajj. This is a great way to share what you’ve learned these last few days about the fifth pillar of Islam and bring a different aspect of the faith to your son or daughter’s classmates.
Day 7: Engage your tongue in the remembrance of Allah
Every person, individually, should regularly remember Allah by saying La ilaha illa Allah (there is no god but Allah), Allahu Akbar (Allah is great), and Alhamdu lillah (Praise be to Allah).
Also, talk about the Talbiya (what pilgrims recite during Hajj) and everyone should recite the Takbir of Eid!
Finally, don't forget to make Dua for those who are suffering, whether that is sickness, abuse, as well as injustice of any sort. Ask for Guidance, and ask Allah to guide humanity.
Day 8: Planning for the big day
Did seven-year-old Yassin wear different colored socks to prayers last Eid? Did Daddy forget to bring change for parking at the stadium where prayers took place?
Planning and Dua are the keys to ensure that disasters like those mentioned above don't happen. Eid can be stressful and rushed. Reduce this by planning properly. Call a family meeting and discuss logistics, menu, where the family will go or who will be invited for Eid, for instance.
Day 9: Fast & read aloud the Last Sermon of the Prophet
Muslims are recommended to fast on this day. The Prophet said, “fasting the Day of Arafa (the ninth day of Zul Hijjah) will be credited with Allah by forgiving one's sins of the previous year and the following year.”
As well, we should sincerely ask Allah for forgiveness for mistakes on this day as the Prophet said: Allah sets more people free from Hell on the Day of Arafa than on any other day (Muslim).
Have a big family Iftar. The 9th of Zul Hijjah is going to be on a weekday, so everyone should try to get home from work or school early to enjoy Iftar together.
Also, read the Prophet’s last Sermon that day, since it was on the 9th of Zul Hijjah that it was delivered. There are so many lessons it offer. You can designate specific parts for presentation to one member of the family. For instance, Sara, 15, can discuss what the Khutba says about women. Ali, 12, can talk about what it says about racism and prejudice.