Part 3 of a series exploring how to prepare for the 10 Days of Dhul Hijjah and suggested worship habits we can incorporate in the upcoming days. Read the other posts in the series: A Spiritual Reboot, Breaths of Mercy,Extra Charity and Fasting and Dua

Frequent remembrance and praise of God is one of the greatest deeds we can perform any day or time of the year, especially during the high seasons of worship such as Ramadan and Dhul Hijjah.

 وَلَذِكۡرُ ٱللَّهِ أَكۡبَرُۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ مَا تَصۡنَعُونَ

The Remembrance of Allah is greater, and Allah knows everything you are doing. (Surah Al-Ankabut 29:45)

Dhikr has a special status in the ten days of Dhul Hijjah, and it is one of the first habits we should make part of our 10-day bid for Allah’s pleasure. The Prophet ﷺ said, “There are no days greater in the sight of Allah, nor days in which deeds are more beloved to Allah than in these ten days. So fill them with the praises of ‘la ilah illa Allah’, ‘Allah Akbar’, and ‘alhamdu lilah.” (sahih)

Mentioning the name of Allah frequently is a life-changing habit, but not all of us are paying enough attention to this level of worship. In our worlds of constant busyness and stimulation, we are often not present nor still enough to engage in this practice consistently. Although it is an act of worship that requires no physical effort, and can be done any time and any place, it requires an extra measure of intentionality that may not come naturally in our environment. 

To upgrade your dhikr habit, work on these aspects:

1. Quantity 

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱذۡكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ ذِكۡرٗا كَثِيرٗا وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكۡرَةٗ وَأَصِيلًا  

“Believers, remember God with much remembrance and glorify Him morning and evening.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 41-42) 

A question to ask yourself is, “Do I spend more of my day thinking of God, contemplating Him, remembering Him, than not?” The Prophet ﷺ gave us some targets to aim for – in different hadiths he tells us that heturns back to Allah in repentance more than 70 times a day and in another he tells us that he used to say, “There is no God but Allah, the One, with no partner. Sovereignty belongs to Him and all praise is due to Him – He is powerful over everything,” 100 times a day. This helps us envision the amount of remembrance we should aim for. 

2. Frequency

Set aside fixed, frequent times for remembrance, after every prayer, mornings and evenings, before sleep, and other times throughout the day. Pay extra attention to the special remembrances of morning and evening, known as Athkar as-Sabah wa al-masa or al-Mathurat.

وَٱذۡكُر رَّبَّكَ فِي نَفۡسِكَ تَضَرُّعٗا وَخِيفَةٗ وَدُونَ ٱلۡجَهۡرِ مِنَ ٱلۡقَوۡلِ بِٱلۡغُدُوِّ وَٱلۡأٓصَالِ وَلَا تَكُن مِّنَ ٱلۡغَٰفِلِينَ

Remember your Lord inwardly, in all humility and awe, without raising your voice, in the mornings and in the evenings- do not be one of the heedless. (Surah Al-A’raf 7:205)

A good way to increase a habit is to attach it to daily triggers, such as driving to work, preparing a meal, and, of course, the five daily prayers.

3. Mindfulness

In preparing for the 10 Days, study the deeper meanings and the significance of saying La Ilaha illah Allah, Alhamdulillah, and Allah Akbar, words of dhikr singled out by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for the 10 Days of Dhul Hijjah. Make a point to explore why these remembrances were recommended by the Prophet ﷺ for this season. 

When we are mindful during dhikr, it raises our level of God-centeredness, taqwa (Mindfulness of God), and khushu’ (awe of God, especially in prayer). Your heart and mind will be well-primed for other acts of worship, if you keep up your remembrance throughout the 10 days.

To refresh on the benefits and practices of dhikr, here is an excellent reading:

  • Chapter 2 of In the Early Hours by Khurram Murad, “A Life of Remembrance.” (The chapter lays out the benefits and significance of dhikr, the many methods and forms of dhikr, and some tips on how to organize your habit of remembrance.) 

Sidenote: If your mind wanders or you find yourself just reciting words while making dhikr, it doesn’t mean you should stop. Keep calm and carry on remembering! – while developing the aspects mentioned above. Ibn Ata says: 

“Do not stop mentioning God just because your heart is not present. Forgetting Him completely is worse than being inattentive while you are mentioning Him; perhaps He will elevate you from being inattentive to being attentive, and from being attentive to being fully present with Him, and from being fully present with Him to being fully absent from anything but Him.” This is not difficult for God.

(quote from Jasser Auda’s Journey to God)