My alarm went off at 4 A.M. I dragged myself out of my snuggly bed. I headed to the bathroom, freshened up, and performed wudu in preparation for my date.
I laid my prayer mat toward qibla. “Allahu Akbar.” I started my tahajjud night prayers.
Immersed in a profound, one-on-one conversation with God, I humbled myself to His presence. The past eight days have been precious; not just for me, but for the 1.6 billion Muslim women and men around the world.
The 10 days of Dhul-Hijja, the 12th and last month in the Islamic calendar, is when Muslims flock to Makkah to perform Hajj. For the rest of us who don’t make it to the holy sites, these days are sacred.
The Prophet (PBUH) has said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these 10 days.”
As a mother, wife, student, and part-time worker I used to lack spiritual stamina to intensify my worship and virtuous acts — especially during such blessed days. My dear friend then introduced me to Rabata’s Circles of Light.
I started participating in their Pilgrims at Home annual ibadah competition. What an exceptional transformation it has been.
Let me explain.
Circles of Light
Rabata.org is an organization offering Muslim women online Islamic programs and activities to bring the female voice to Islamic scholarship in this century. They started Pilgrims at Home to inspire women from across the globe unite on teams of five to compete in as much worshipping as possible during the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijja.
“We developed this game six years ago, because those days are the best for good deeds. We are an ummah that was raised by the Prophet to have great worship, to stand at the night and pray, to recite Qur’an, to remember Allah’s name, to spend deep moments praising Him, seeking forgiveness…but we’re missing most of our ibadah, so what to do?” Tamara Gray, the founder of Rabata, said.
Six years ago, it was the Olympics season. The think tank behind this organization were discussing how Olympians reach for the gold and so they train, work their muscles and eat well to be ready. That is when the idea of Pilgrims at Home developed.
These Muslim women asked themselves: Are we willing to work that hard for Allah? Are we able to flex and train our ibadah muscles? Starting with just a few teams in 2011, the following years saw the competition expand to almost 100 teams across the globe.
“…We are an ummah that was raised by the Prophet to have great worship, to stand at the night and pray, to recite Qur’an, to remember Allah’s name, to spend deep moments praising Him, seeking forgiveness…but we’re missing most of our ibadah, so what to do?”
This manual explains in detail the rules of the game and how to calculate the daily scores. There is a standard scoresheet for the first 8 days. In addition, there is a scoresheet specific to the 9th day of Dhul-Hijja; Arafa.
What is Arafa?
It is the day in which the pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat to worship and make du’a. It is one of the three central integrals of the Hajj rituals. An assemblage of pilgrims dressed in white from all backgrounds, genders, statuses, races and ethnicities walk together from Mina until they reach Arafa where they stay between noon and dusk.
For those who are not pilgrims, Arafa is just as important. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Fasting the Day of Arafa expiates for two years, one prior and one forthcoming.”
Shortly before his death, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) delivered his final sermon during the day of Arafa where he reminded Muslims with the foundational essence of our beautiful religion. He addressed the large crowd of pilgrims 1,437 years ago, stating:
“…Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you…You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequality…It is true that you have certain rights with regards to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission…Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners…an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”
These precious words need no further analysis or deconstruction. His advice embody the fundamentals of human and women’s rights, equality and social justice.
May this day of Arafa be a reminder to Muslims to adhere to the virtuous code of conduct that Islam preaches.