One day I called a friend of mine to ask if she wanted to have coffee with me that evening. She said she could meet up with me tomorrow, in sha’ Allah, and that she had to finish off a project due in 15 hours!

She said that just 15 hours earlier, her professor had e-mailed her to inform her of the probable grade she would get for his subject. She was just about 20 points short of getting an A. And she had a good chance of an A considering that she had yet to submit a project worth 30 percent. Since the deadline for the project was not over yet, the professor reminded her that if she decided to just pass the course, which she had definitely done, she could just forget about the project. However, if she wanted a better grade, she should make sure that the project was submitted on time.

Suddenly excited with the offer, she strived to finish off the project with only 30 hours till the deadline. She was now left with 15 hours and was almost 80 percent there. The thing was that, before she received that e-mail, she was all burned out and had told herself she would be able to live with a B for that course.

When my friend told me about her professor, I was really impressed that he had taken the trouble to remind his students of the chance to improve their grades. I mean, how many of us actually received e-mails or phone calls from our professors like that? Hana sure got herself one caring lecturer!

Later in the evening, as I was enjoying a hot steaming mug of tea while looking through my 2006 planner, I saw a big red line marked across 10 days of the planner: EXTRA DEEDS REQUIRED. I looked at the dates on the marked boxes and I realized that it was already coming to the month of Dhul-Hijjah. Time sure flies. Subhan Allah.

Suddenly it dawned upon me that I have just received a reminder from my Lord, giving me one last chance to improve my “grades” of my “report book” for this Hijjri year. What was the reminder?

A message from my Lord, conveyed by my beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

According to Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), the verse [That they may … celebrate the name of Allah, through the days appointed] (Al-Hajj 22: 28) refers to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah (Al-Bukhari).

Ibn `Umar reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “There are no days more honorable in Allah’s sight, and no acts more beloved therein to Allah than these ten days. So repeat frequently tahlil (La ilaha illa Allah ‘There is no deity worthy of worship but Allah’), takbir (Allahu Akbar ‘Allah is the greatest’) and tahmid (Al-Hamdu lillah ‘All praise is due to Allah’).” (Ahmad 7/224; authenticated by Ahmad Shakir)

Subhan Allah. These 10 days are the most honorable days in Allah’s sight! No wonder then that our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked us to remember Allah during them. These easy words can be repeated anytime I want to: while driving, walking, eating, sitting, running, jogging, and even while smiling. How easy and convenient!

Not only that, I realized that there is more for me when I saw the following hadith.

Ibn `Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these days (meaning the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah).” The Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, not even jihad in the way of Allah?” He said, “Not even jihad, except for a man who goes out with his self and his wealth, and never comes back with anything (that is, he is killed).” (Al-Bukhari and others)

So any good deeds done during these 10 days are superior than deeds done in any other days. I smiled. Good deeds — are they like smiling, visiting ill people, making my parents happy, praying on time, saying kind words, withholding my tongue from bad words, being patience, kissing the children, picking up thorns from the street? I definitely can do that. In fact, I will definitely strive to do that, in sha’ Allah. And do you know what is the best part? The reward is even higher and better than making jihad in Allah’s way! Allahu Akbar! Most Merciful. When in other times can I smile to another person and receive reward as jihad? Think about it. Subhan Allah.

And as I was contemplating the rewards that could be earned during this period, I wondered if I could have the chance to get my sins forgiven

As I was searching for an answer, I then remembered this hadith:

Abu Qatadah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Fasting on the day of `Arafah is an expiation for two years, the year preceding it and the year following it. Fasting the day of `Ashura‘ (Muharram 10) is an expiation for the year preceding it.” (Muslim and others)

Subhan Allah! Not only was I given the chance to earn extra rewards, but I could also reduce my “red marks” on my “report card.” And you know what, the “red marks” involved would be the ones I had actually received and also the ones I, as His servant, potentially would incur, (may Allah forgive me)! I felt like weeping. I closed my eyes and kept silent for a few seconds to regain my composure.

First, He forgives existing sins, and then He forgives the future ones He knows I am going to commit. And He is the All-Knower, the Most Compassionate, isn’t He?

Don’t you feel it in your heart how considerate He is? How much He loves us? How much He wants us to be in His Paradise? How much He wants to forgive us? With the minimum amount of effort as a sign of obedience, He gives us the undeserved reward: His blessings, His love, His forgiveness. Chance after chance after chance. That is what He has given me, given you, given us.

This is an incredibly outstanding offer by my Lord that is beyond words to describe.

As I sat on my chair, smiling and beaming, I thought excitedly on the coming of the best days in the Muslim calendar. The end of the Hijri year, and I intend to end it with a bang! Yes, a celebration between me and my Lord. I want to seal the year with the acts of obedience and proof of my love for Him. I want to seek for His forgiveness for all my sins, and I want to take up all His offers that can increase my “grade” and eliminate my “red marks” on my “report card,” in sha’ Allah.

What about you, my friends? Do you want to end this Hijri year with a bang, too? Do you want to take up this last offer for the year? Let us celebrate the end of this year by showing Him, our Lord, our Creator, of our regrets for all the wrongdoings that we have done. Let us end this year by earning the “bonus marks” offered to us. It is so easy, don’t you think? Just 10 days, my friends, just 10 short days.

By Zabrina Abu Bakar