When embarking on a never-ending journey in a car crammed with passengers, the more pit stops the driver decides to take, the easier the journey becomes. Each pit stop helps the driver and the passengers to regain a sense of focus and clarity.
Similarly, along our wearying journey in this temporary world, Allah — through His infinite mercy — has allocated varying pit stops for us, wherein righteous actions are facilitated, and rewards are multiplied.
Amongst those auspicious pit stops are the blessed days of Dhul Hijjah.
Virtue of Dhul Hijjah
Whilst communicating the value of these sacred days to his companions, the Prophet (ﷺ) said,
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بن مسعود قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَا مِنْ أَيَّامٍ الْعَمَلُ فِيهِنَّ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ أَيَّامِ الْعَشْرِ قِيلَ وَلا الْجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ قَالَ وَلا الْجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ
“No good deeds can be done at a time better than these first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.”
It was asked,
“Not even jihad in the way of Allah?”
The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“Not even jihad in the way of Allah.” 
The ten days of Dhul Hijjah are often referred to as the best days of the year.
Within these sacred days, Muslims from all over the world eagerly prepare to journey to Makkah to carry out the pilgrimage (Hajj), whilst being faced with unimaginable challenges and troubles.
Hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most Muslims. The pilgrims start their preparations for this spiritual journey, months in advance to maximise their acts of worship and make proper use of their time there.
Spiritual behaviour of the pilgrim
Many of us have a tendency to think that the perks of this sacred month are exclusively available to those who are carrying out the pilgrimage in Makkah.
This is incorrect.
In fact, there are a plethora of ways that non-pilgrims — who haven’t been able to do Hajj this year — can make the most of these special days.
In Surat al-Hajj, Allah draws our attention to a series of characteristics that are embodied by the pilgrims who actively maintain the rites of Hajj:
ٱلَّذِینَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ ٱللَّهُ وَجِلَتۡ قُلُوبُهُمۡ وَٱلصَّـٰبِرِینَ عَلَىٰ مَاۤ أَصَابَهُمۡ وَٱلۡمُقِیمِی ٱلصَّلَوٰةِ وَمِمَّا رَزَقۡنَـٰهُمۡ یُنفِقُونَ
“Who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts are fearful, and [to] the patient over what has afflicted them, and the establishers of prayer, and those who spend from what We have provided them.” 
One of the best ways — for pilgrims as well as non-pilgrims — to take advantage of these magnificent days is to work towards cultivating the four aforementioned attributes.
A conscious heart
ٱلَّذِینَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ ٱللَّهُ وَجِلَتۡ قُلُوبُهُمۡ
“Who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful…” 
While observing the pilgrims, the effects of regular remembrance of Allah (dhikr) is evident in their performance of ritual acts of worship.
In addition to making generic dhikr throughout the day… in the car, at work, during our breaks, and amongst our family members… we’re inspired to internalise those words of remembrance in hopes of our hearts becoming more conscious of our Creator, just like that of the pilgrims.
A determined response
وَٱلصَّـٰبِرِینَ عَلَىٰ مَاۤ أَصَابَهُم
“…the patient over what has afflicted them…” 
The pilgrims are exposed to all kinds of troubles, challenges, and inconveniences, whilst dutifully carrying out their pilgrimage. However, in the face of such adversity, they exercise patience and toil on, relentlessly working towards spiritual betterment.
Like the pilgrims, in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day work, we, too, need to demonstrate determination in trying to engage in various acts of worship throughout these days.
A protected prayer
“…and the establishers of the prayer…” 
Regardless of what happens during their pilgrimage journey, the prayer is given precedence over all things, so much so, that Allah described them to be “establishers” of the five daily prayers.
While we all find ourselves at different stages on our journey to prayer, it’s an opportune time for us to take steps to start to pray all five daily prayers in the hopes of becoming of His devoted slaves.
A charitable spend
وَمِمَّا رَزَقۡنَـٰهُمۡ یُنفِقُونَ
“…and those who spend from what We have provided them.” 
Those who meet the financial requirements of being able to fulfil their charitable duties are reminded to wholeheartedly spend from the provision Allah has given them.
And amongst the charitable duties within these noble days is the sacrifice (Uḍḥiyah), which commemorates the legacy of our father, Ibrahim (ʿalayhi al-Salām).
Here are a few things we can incorporate into our daily lives with the intention of gaining closeness to our Creator in the days of Dhul Hijjah:
- Engage in much more dhikr in these blessed days, whilst internalising the meanings;
- draw up a plan to help with time-management;
- sacrifice pleasures and enjoyment for righteous actions;
- carry out extra voluntary acts of worship in pursuit of great rewards;
- reflect upon the historic details of sacrifice, so our sacrifice is more heartfelt.
 al-Qur’ān, 22:35