As I sat in the prophet’s (peace be upon him) masjid, trying to relax to prepare for taraweeh, I noticed an old man continuously praying beside me. A while later, he came next to me to lie down and apologised and said, “Excuse me, but I’m 80 years old and my body is weak”. By Allah, he did not lie down for more than a minute before he got up again and looked at me and said, “Prayer in this masjid is equivalent to 1000 prayers”, and he got up and carried on praying again. Although he was old, and taraweeh were just round the corner (they last for around 2 hours in Madinah), he could not rest while knowing that there is an opportunity available for him to maximise his rewards and this opportunity will not last for long.
The reason I mention this story is that we are currently living at a time in which we should be striving to do more good deeds and using every chance we have to increase our righteous actions. I’m not going to go into the virtues of Dhul-hijjah, as we have all heard this so many times before, but I want to use the story of this man as an example for us to work extra hard in these days. Just like he was unable to find rest knowing that every extra salah he makes will be multiplied by 1000, we too should not find rest in these days whilst knowing that there are no other days in the year in which actions are more beloved to Allah than these 10 days.
We also know from a hadith Qudsi found in Bukhari and included by Imam Al-Nawawi in his compilation of the 40 hadith that Allah says, “My slave does not come closer to me with anything more beloved to me than that which I have made obligatory upon him”. From this hadith we know that obligatory actions are the most beloved actions to Allah so we should use this opportunity to gain Allah’s love by coming closer to Him by that which He loves most at a time which He loves most i.e. through fulfilling the obligatory actions in these 10 days. Obligatory actions are things we should be doing anyway, but what we can do is improve how we do these obliagatory actions, so we should be praying with full khushoo’, extending the rukoo’ and sujood, praying in the masjid, etc.
To finish off, instead of listing all the things I recommend you do in these days, I just want to say one thing. These days as agreed by the majority of the scholars are the best ten days of the whole year, better than Ramadhan (many say even better than the nights of Ramadhan), so what I advise you to do is compare yourself how you are in these days and how you were in Ramadhan, and if you see that you were doing much more ibadah in Ramadhan, then I’m afraid you have your priorities wrong and need to change from now!