Asalamualikum. How are you all? I am Nabeeha Haque, a 14-year-old girl who is doing her Duke of Edinburgh Award (more commonly known as the DofE Award). As part of my volunteering section of my DofE, which involves providing a service to a community, I decided to be creative with my choices and try something that I have little experience doing: blogging.
Some background info about me and MYH.
Around a month ago, I was searching for volunteering places in other organisations and initially, nothing really intrigued me. My vision was to volunteer for a Muslim organisation such as a mosque or charity, but the recruits had to be over 16. Then, I came across MYH and my first thoughts were, “There’s a Muslim mental health organisation?”
Previously, Muslim mental health organisations were unheard of in my family and friend circle, so it was astonishing to find one. Since being diagnosed with social anxiety, I wanted to help people who were like me and help them move past the obvious taboo that mental health brings, which is why this organisation really spoke out to me. Soon, I was in contact with the director of MYH, and here I am!
I want to kick my first week off by talking about the month of Dhul-Hijjah, as it is coming up very soon now, and refreshing our knowledge is a great way of connecting with Allah. Maybe you might learn something new today. Other events that will be included that fall within this beautiful month are the Hajj pilgrimage, the Day of Arafah and Eid-ul-Adha, accompanied by the stories from the Qur’an.
Dhul Hijjah- What is it?
Dhul-Hijjah is the 12th month of the Hijrah calendar, right at the end of the Islamic year. Contrary to popular belief, the first ten days are more significant than Ramadan. Many rewards from Allah can be obtained from these precious ten days. No matter how big or small the deed, it is important that you do something that is not too tiring or physically draining. It is said in the first two ayats of Surah Al-Fajr:
“By the dawn; And [by] the ten nights.”
It is the popular opinion of the scholars that because Allah has sworn on these days, they are enormously significant. As the majority of Muslims cannot go to Hajj, these first ten days can be used to do good deeds and reap a tremendous number of awards from Allah. After all, every deed is multiplied many times by Allah SWT:
“Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom’s weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.” – Surah Nisa, 40
Even if you think of a good deed and you are not able to commit to it, Allah will give rewards!
“If somebody intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed.” Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from Hadith Nawawi.
Wow, that was a lot of information! Now, we will break down the month of Dhul-Hijjah into smaller parts. I’ll try to make it quick.
- Hajj is the journey to Makkah, where pilgrims (known as Hajjis) complete Tawaf (circling of the Ka’ba) seven times anti-clockwise. This symbolises unity in the Muslim Ummah and Muslims must be in a state of Ihram (a sacred state) to perform Hajj. Pilgrims must also kiss the Black Stone, which was sent by Allah to Adam and Hawa to show them where to build a place of worship. It is believed that the stone has turned black because it has absorbed the sin of humans. Pilgrims must run between the mountains of Safa and Marwa seven times, which is what Hajar
- (the Prophet Ibrahim’s wife) had to do in order to search for water for her son, Ismail, who would later become a Prophet. It is a show of complete trust and devotion to Allah.
Other events include the Day of Arafah (below), shaving of the head and the stoning of the devil.
The Day of Arafah.
- This is on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah,
- It is a day of immense forgiveness, and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: There is no day on which Allah (swt) frees people from the Fire more so than on the Day of ‘Arafah. Indeed, He draws near and then boasts of them to the angels then says, “What do these want?“’ [Muslim]
- On this day, Islam was perfected by Allah, and it is said in the Qur’an :
‘’Today I have perfected for you your religion… I have chosen Islam as your religion. (Qur’an 5:3)
- During Hajj, people make their journeys to Arafat, where the Asr and Dhuhr prayers are combined and people make Du’a until the sunset facing the Ka’ba.
- Some simple things you can do on this day are: make du’a (even the small du’as can count); fasting if you cannot attend Hajj (but prioritise your health: if you can fast, go ahead, if you feel tired, put your health first); and recite dhikr.
- This is the day that commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his own son, Ismail, because of his devotion to Allah. However, Allah then performed a miracle and replaced Ismail with a ram, which was slaughtered instead.
- This was a test of Ibrahim’s faith and so in English, it translates to ‘the Festival of Sacrifice’.
- Qurbani is carried out: the slaughtering of a suitable animal (sheep, lamb, goat, cow, bull or camel) to commemorate the Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice.
- Eid Salah is performed just before the sacrifice.
- In Britain, since we cannot sacrifice animals openly, your parents or family may order for it to be performed abroad instead and then import it here (this is what my parents do) and the meat may take some time to arrive! But remember, it is the intention that counts, not the amount of meat or when it comes.
Just as a reminder…
Make sure to take care of yourselves during this time too. Don’t over-exert or tire yourself and prioritise physical and mental health. Although mental health may be a ‘taboo’ topic, it is still extremely important. Islam even promotes mental and physical wellbeing:
‘No person suffers any anxiety or grief and says this supplication, but Allah will take away his sorrow and grief, and give him in their stead joy. Having said that, however, Muslims are not immune to the feeling of grief or depression.’ – The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
I hope wherever you are, you are happy and healthy but if you need help, reach out to someone for help, and don’t fight alone, no matter what time of year it is- maybe considers reaching out to the people at MYH.
Mental Health Tips.
Though Eid-ul-Adha may be the Festival of Sacrifice, you must not sacrifice your mental health! Here are some basic yet useful tips for managing mental health. On each blog, I will share at least five tips:
Prayer is a way to improve your relationship with Allah and also help your spirituality and calmness. Sometimes, if I have a worry, I offer two ra’kah of nafl prayer to confess my sorrows to Allah, so I don’t bottle it up. It helps especially if you don’t feel like talking to anyone specifically.
- Reading Qur’an.
Reading Qur’an creates a sense of relaxation inside you as it is the word of Allah. Even a few minutes is enough to soothe me when I’m in a state of distress. Listening is sufficient too, one of my favourite reciters of the Qur’an is Sheikh Mishary Rashid Alfasy.
Obviously, there are other approaches that are supported by religion too:
- Making artwork.
Sometimes, letting our creative side go wild is a form of release. Whatever you feel like doing, from a simple scribble to the most elegant portrait, it can massively boost self-esteem and help with loneliness. Personally, I’m not a great artist but when I feel angry, a few angry scribbles allow me to burn off my nervous energy.
- Writing in a diary.
A diary is not just for teenage girls! It is for everyone when you need to confess something you can’t say to anyone. Additionally, it will improve your ability to identify trends in your moods, stress triggers and other such things. Me, I write poetry about my feelings regularly and sometimes share it with close friends. Writing stories and publishing them can massively help your self-confidence, but you don’t have to if you don’t feel like it.
This is so important! Little things like washing your face in the morning can immensely reduce stress levels. Having hobbies, and playing sports, all count as self-care because they are methods of loving yourself. These are proven to eliminate anxiety, manage depression and increase happiness levels!
I hope these tips help you in some way or form. Try them out, see which ones work for you and even if none of them seems to work for you, it won’t hurt to try. And remember, if things aren’t looking too great for yourself, try reaching out to a friend or contact MYH.
I hope I’ve refreshed your knowledge or taught you something new today. Maybe talk to a friend about what you’ve learnt, spread knowledge. Assalamu alaikum, brothers and sisters, I’ll see you soon!