We are truly in the midst of blessed days.
This is the time of Hajj and Eid.
The first 10 days of Zul Hijjah are also blessed. Consider this: The 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 ill Allah), and Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and Tahmeed (Alhamdu lillah)." (Reported by Imam Ahmad narrated from Ibn 'Umar).
Below is a sample schedule of activities you and your family can do together in these first 10 days of Zul Hijjah. We have formatted this to fit an activity per day, but since time is running out, it would be a good idea for you and your family to combine two or three activities together.
One activity to do each day is to show what people making Hajj are doing on that day on a blackboard or poster in the living room or on the refrigerator. This way, you and the family will feel connected to them, knowing what they are doing of the Hajj rituals.
DAY ONE: 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 that's what!
But don't stop there. Make the Kaba the centerpiece of your family or living room for what's left of the first 10 days of this blessed month. Discuss Hajj by describing exactly how it is performed. If possible, get some dolls or action figures to demonstrate how Hajj is made.
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. See The Kaba: Its Size and History!.
DAY TWO: Invite a Haji, dim the lights and .....
What better way to learn about Hajj from a personal perspective than to hear it from someone who's been there and done it?
If you have a Haji (a person who has performed Hajj) in your home great! Otherwise invite one over.
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 or do it again if they have performed this pillar of Islam already.
DAY THREE: "Take me, take me, take me to the Kaba!"
Do you think going for Hajj is as simple as booking a plane ticket and flying to the Middle East?
You're wrong! Flying to Saudi Arabia is a luxury most Muslims worldwide still can't afford. This is why you and the family have to discuss HOW people of today and the past got to the Kaba for their Hajj.
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.
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 FOUR: Tell it like it is: the story of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him)
Is there a storyteller in the family? If not, is there someone who loves to read aloud?
If even this isn't there, take the initiative and for this one night, be the storyteller of the family so you can share the incredible story of Prophet Ibrahim.
If families are able to sit together and passively watch television why can't they do something more interactive like sharing and discussing a great true story.
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, ask everyone to think of all the Jewish and Christian people they know at school, work and in the neighborhood and pray for them mentioning their name. Everyone should pray aloud, asking Allah to help them understand what Prophet Abraham brought to humanity, the correct belief in One God. End Dua by saying Ameen.
DAY FIVE: Using the TV for Hajj
Does your family's time together revolve around the tube? If so, one great way to take advantage of these days of Zul Hijjah while having the family together is to watch a video about Hajj. One video to check out is of Muslim American brother Michael Wolfe's Hajj experience. For kids, they can check out Adam's discussion of Hajj in Adam's World 4: Take me to the Kaba.
But do turn off the TV as soon as you're through and discuss practical ways in which you and your whole family can and will be going for Hajj.
DAY SIX: Share what you know-do a school presentation
What would happen if we let all this great knowledge we now have of Hajj, Prophet Ibrahim and Eid just sit in our brains? We would forget!
This is why sharing your knowledge via school presentations on this topic will not only make a great tool for Dawa (inviting others to Islam) but also help you check your own knowledge and remind yourself of the facts.
Presentations can actually be done even after Hajj and Eid, although if it can be arranged beforehand, that would be better, since it would be more timely.
Parents can also do this. Check out our article 21 Tips for Parents for a Hajj Presentation in a Class.
DAY SEVEN: Engage your tongue in the remembrance of Allah
What's a great way to use our tongues these next few days?
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!
And don't forget to make Dua for all those who are suffering Muslim and non-Muslim. Ask for Guidance, and ask Allah to guide humanity.
DAY EIGHT: Planning for the big day
Did seven-year-old Yassin wear different colored socks to Eid prayers last Eid? Did Daddy forget to bring change for parking at the stadium where prayers took place? Was the main dish for that special Eid dinner burnt last time because of the rush to get it done in time?
Planning and Dua are the keys to ensure that disasters like those mentioned above don't happen. Eid can be stressful and rushed as it is. Reduce this by planning properly. Call a family meeting and discuss logistics, menu, where the family will go or who it will invite for Eid, for instance.
DAY NINE: Fast & read aloud the Last Sermon of the Prophet
Did you think fasting ended with Ramadan? If so, you're mistaken.
It is recommended to fast on this day. Muslim narrated from Abu Qatadah that 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, if possible, to enjoy Iftar together.
Also, read the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him)'s last Sermon that day, since it was on the 9th of Zul Hijjah that it was delivered. There are so many lessons in the Prophet's Last Sermon (Khutba). This is a great time to read it as a family together.
You can even designate specific parts for presentation to one member of the family. For instance, Sara, 15, must discuss what the Khutba says about women. Ali, 12, must discuss what it says about racism and prejudice.