The Ten Meritorious Days of Dhul Hijjah

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All Praise is for Allah, Who bestowed seasons of blessings upon his slaves, to forgive their sins and bless them abundantly. I praise and thank Him, the Exalted. He made whomever He willed from His slaves to make the most of these blessed seasons by obeying and fearing Him…I bear witness that there is no god except Allah Who made the religion perfect for us, completed His favor upon us and has chosen for us Islam as our religion. I also bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon His Prophet, his family, Companions and sincere followers until the Day of Judgment.
It is a great favor and blessing from Allah that He made these blessed seasons and meritorious available for His slaves, so that those who are obedient to Him may make the most of these opportunities and compete with each other in this regard. The greatest of these blessed seasons is the one which the Prophet (peace be upon him) told us consist of the best days in the world: The First Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah (the last month of the Islamic calendar).

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)

Virtues of these Ten Days:

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” They said: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out himself for Jihad taking his wealth with him and does not come back with anything.” [Recorded by Al-Bukhari, Ahmad and Abu Dawud]
They truly are blessed days, so much so that Allah swore by these ten days. Allah’s taking of an oath by something is a proof of that thing’s importance and great value. Allah said in the Qur’an: “By the dawn; by the ten nights, and by the even and the odd, and by the night when it departs. There is indeed in them (the above oaths) sufficient proofs for men of understanding.” [Al-Fajr: 1-5]
Ibn ‘Abbas and many other scholars from the earliest and latter generations said that the ten days mentioned in the verses above are those of Dhul Hijjah. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged us to perform good deeds in these days due to their superiority and great benefit. These days are superior in terms of time for all Muslims and in time and place both for those who are doing the Hajj pilgrimage which is prescribed in these days. An added superiority is that the ‘Arafah Day (9th Dhul Hijjah) and Sacrifice Day (10th Dhul Hijjah, when sacrificial animals are slaughtered) also fall within this period. Hafidh Ibn Hajar said in his explanation of Sahih Al-Bukhari, “Apparently, the ten days of Dhul Hijjah are distinguished because the main acts of worship, i.e. prayers (salah), fasting (Saum), charity (sadaqah) and Hajj (obligatory pilgrimage) are carried out therein, which cannot be combined in any other period of time. ” [Fath Al-Bari]
Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiah, may Allah have Mercy on Him, was asked which period was better: the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah or the last ten days of Ramadan? He replied, “The daytimes of the ten days of Dhul Hijjah are superior to the daytimes of the ten days of Ramadan, but the nights of the (last) ten days of Ramadan are superior to the nights of the (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah.”
Hence, it is not surprising that the pious scholars of the earliest generations of Muslims were so keen to make the best of them by doing more and more good deeds. For example, Sa’eed Bin Jubair, the narrator of the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas above, himself used to toil so much in worship in these ten days of Dhul Hijjah that it was said of him: “Whenever the ten days came, he used to do (acts of worship) so much and so diligently that they became almost impossible for him to do.” [Narrated by Al-Darimi with a good (hasan) chain].
So, dear Muslims, the arrival of these blessed days is a great blessing that is fully realized by the pious and diligent worshippers. A Muslim should understand the greatness and merit of this blessing and avail this opportunity by being even more diligent in doing good deeds and struggling more than usual to be obedient to Allah.
Abu ‘Uthman Al-Nahdi said about the salaf (the earliest generations of pious Muslims), “They used to greatly value three ten-day periods: the last ten days of Ramadan, the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah and the first ten days of Muharram.”
It is a great favor from Allah on His slaves that He has created numerous ways of doing good and being obedient to Him, so that a Muslim remains active in His worship and continues to be obedient to His Lords.

Recommended Deeds in the Ten Days:

Dear Muslims, these ten days which Allah swore by and magnified their merits, in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged us to do good deeds; in these ten days there are certain deeds which are recommended. They are as follows:

1. Fasting (Saum):

It is a Sunnah for the Muslim to fast on the first nine days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) encouraged us to do righteous deeds in the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, and fasting is one of the best deeds. It is proven that fasting on these nine days is recommended since it was narrated by Hunaydah bin Khalid from his wife, that one of the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on the first nine days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the day of ‘Ashura’ (10th of Muharram), and three days each month….” [Narrated by al-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud; classed as sahih (authentic) by al-Albani].
‘Abdullah Bin ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), Mujahid and other scholars used to fast on these days. Most scholars are of the opinion that it is recommended to fast on these days.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast on the first nine days of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Most of the scholars are of the opinion that it is recommended to fast on these days, which is why Imam Al-Nawawi said, “It is highly recommended to fast on these days.”
However, the popular concept that one should fast exclusively on the 7th, 8th and 9th of Dhul Hijjah is baseless.

2. Al-Takbir and Al-Tahlil

[Al-Takbir means saying Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest), Al-Tahlil means saying La ilaha illallah (there is no god except Allah) and Al-Tahmid means saying Al-Hamdu lillah (All Praise is for Allah)]. Men should say it aloud and women should say it softly. Ibn ‘Umar narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahlil, takbir and tahmid during them.” [Reported by Ahmad, Al-Tabarani and Abu ‘Awanah. It is hasan (good) due to corroborating reports]
Imam Al-Bukhari said in his Sahih: ‘Umar Bin Al-Khattab used to say Al-Takbir in his tent (aloud) so that the people in the mosque heard him. Then, the people in the mosque too would say Al-Takbir and also those in the market so that the (valley of) Al-Mina used to reverberate with the Takbir. Moreover, his son, ‘Abdullah Bin ‘Umar used to say Al-Takbir (aloud) in Mina during these days and after the (obligatory) prayers. He used to say Al-Takbir on his bed, in his tent, in meetings and walkways during all these days. Ibn ‘Umar and Abu Hurairah used to go out to the market place during the ten days saying ’Allahu-Akbar’, causing the people to say it also. [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Al-Takbir is of two types: unrestricted (mutlaq) and restricted (muqayyad). The unrestricted takbir is done all the time from the first day of Dhul Hijjah to the last Tashriq day (13th Dhul Hijjah). The restricted takbir (i.e. restricted to be done at the end of obligatory prayers only) starts from the Fajr prayers of the 9th for the non-pilgrim and ends at the end (Maghrib prayers) of the 13th. However, for the pilgrim it starts after he stones Al-Jamarah Al-‘Aqabah on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah. This practice is proven by the consensus of Muslim scholars and the practice of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all.
Wording of Al-Takbir:

  • Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar Kabiran.
  • Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illallah, wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, wa lillahi Al-Hamd.
  • Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illallah, wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, wa lillahi Al-Hamd.

Al-San’ani said in Subul Al-Salam: “The number of versions prescribed in Islam and others suggested by the scholars (for Al-Takbir in these days) suggests that the matter is broad in scope. Also the generality of the verse (Al-Hajj 22:28 and 22:37) is a proof of this.”
We, as Muslims should try to revive this Sunnah which has been forsaken these days and even the pious people neglect it. This is contrary to the practice of the pious earlier generations of Islam. Say Al-Takbir in the mosque, home, market, on the road, remind your family about it and teach it to your kids.

3. Slaughtering the Sacrificial Animals:

It is a recommended (mu’akkadah) Sunnah according to the more correct of the two scholarly opinions. It is strongly recommended for the person who has the ability and financial space to do it, but it is not obligatory. There is nothing wrong with taking a loan for the purpose if one is able to repay it. Hence, a Muslim who has the ability to sacrifice should not be negligent in this regard, since Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) slaughtered two horned rams, black and white in color, and that he slaughtered them with his own hands. He mentioned the name of Allah Most High (saying Bismillah), then said Takbir (Allahu Akbar) and placed his foot on their sides (while slaughtering them). [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) lived in Medina for ten years and used to slaughter (sacrificial animals each year). [Narrated by Ahmad and Al-Tirmithi with a hasan (good) chain of narrators].
Ibn Qayyim, may Allah have Mercy on him said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not use to leave out the sacrifice.”
A Muslim should be keen to offer the sacrifice as it is Allah’s Commandment to slaughter animals by taking His Name alone, Who has no partners. It revives the example of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and it is also the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The meat that is distributed provides relief to family and the poor and needy on the day of ‘Eid. It contains great points of wisdom, which are not hidden from the wise.
Dear Muslims, it is important to note that if a person wants to slaughter a sacrifice, it becomes forbidden for him to remove any of his hair or nails from the first day of Dhul Hijjah until he carries out the sacrifice. If he did not intend to sacrifice and the ten days began, but changed his mind later, he should stop removing hair and nails from the time he changed his intention and there is no sin or penalty on him if he removed them before that.
Imam Muslim reported in his Sahih from Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If you see the Hilal (new moon) of Dhul-Hijjah, and any one of you wants to make a sacrifice, then he should not cut (anything) from his hair and his nails.”In another version of the report in Sahih Muslim, the words are “…then he should not take (cut) anything from his hair, or from his nails, until he performs the sacrifice.”
The wisdom behind this prohibition might be that a person should (physically) remain perfectly like what he was before being forgiven and freed from hellfire, so that all of his body will be freed. Imam Al-Nawawi said in his explanation of Sahih Muslim that the reason is to make him resemble the pilgrim (who also cannot remove hair and nails).
However, this prohibition affects only the person offering performing the sacrifice, not those for whom the sacrifice is done, e.g. his wife, children etc. This is because the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to sacrifice on behalf of his family, but it has not been reported that he ordered his family members to stop removing their hair or nails. Similarly, a person who has been appointed by someone else to slaughter the sacrificial animals is also not affected by this prohibition; the prohibition is exclusively for the one who appointed him to carry out the sacrifice, not the appointee. Similarly, someone who carries out a dead person’s will to sacrifice (from the dead person’s wealth), does not have to refrain from removing his hair and nails. If a person who is supposed to refrain does remove his hair or nails out of forgetfulness or if the hair and nails are harming him (physically), then there is no sin or penalty on him. However, if someone does so intentionally, then he is sinful and there is no penalty on him but he should repent and seek forgiveness from Allah.
If a person assumes Ihram (state of formally being a pilgrim) and he intends to sacrifice an animal, then he too should not remove any hair or nails until he has sacrificed. An exception to this is cutting or shaving the hair on his head for ending the state of Ihram since it is a ritual of Hajj and ‘Umrah.

4. Increasing good deeds in general:

Good deeds are beloved to Allah in all times and places, but especially so in these blessed days, as the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days…” These words show the virtue of good deeds done during these days and the greatness of their reward. Therefore, a Muslims should spend his time during this period in doing more and more acts of obedience to Allah, such as: recitation of Qur’an, remembrance (Dhikr) of Allah, charity, obedience and dutifulness to parents, keeping up ties of kinship, commanding good and forbidding evil etc.
One of the best deeds is prayers (salah), hence one should try to pray obligatory (fardh) prayers early (on time) and try to pray in the first row, increase non-obligatory (nafil) prayers since they are the best means of attaining closeness to Allah. ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: I asked Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), “O Messenger of Allah! What is the best deed?” He replied, “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.” I asked, “What is next in goodness?” He replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents.” I further asked, what is next in goodness?” He replied, “To participate in Jihad in Allah’s Cause.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]
Thauban (may Allah be pleased with him), the freed slave of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said he heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) say: “Make frequent prostrations before Allah, for you will not make one prostration without raising you a degree because of it, and removing a sin from you, because of it.” [Sahih Muslim]

5. The ‘Arafah Day (9th Dhul Hijjah):

It is one of the most meritorious and excellent days since it is the day of forgiveness of sins, and the day of the Festival (‘Eid) for the pilgrims present in the ‘Arafah ground. For non-pilgrims it is recommended to fast on that day. It was the day that the religion was perfected and Allah’s Favor was completed for this nation, so that no one needs any religion except it. That is why Allah has made Islam the final religion and the only religion acceptable to Him.
’Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Once a Jewish man said to me, “O the chief of believers! There is a verse in your Holy Book which is read by all of you (Muslims), and had it been revealed to us Jews, we would have taken that day (on which it was revealed) as a day of celebration.” ’Umar bin Al-Khattab asked, “Which is that verse?” The Jew replied, “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, And have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Al-Maidah 5:3] ’Umar replied, “No doubt, we know when and where this verse was revealed to the Prophet. It was Friday and the Prophet was standing at ’Arafat (i.e. the Day of Hajj)” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
The questioner was none other than Ka’b Al-Ahbar (a learned and respected Yemenite Rabbi who embraced Islam) as mentioned in the version of the report by Al-Tabari. That version also contains the words, “It was Friday and the Day of ‘Arafah, and both these days by the Grace of Allah are days of celebration (‘Eid) for us.”
‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There is no day when God sets free more servants from Hell than the Day of ’Arafah. He draws near, and then expresses His Pride to the angels, saying: What do these people want?” [Sahih Muslim]
Ibn ‘Abdul Barr said, “This shows that these people will be those who were forgiven since Allah does express Pride about sinners and wrongdoers except those whose repentance He accepts and forgives them. Allah knows best.” [Al-Tamhid]
In the hadith recorded by Imams Ahmad and Ibn Khuzaymah with an authentic chain of narrators (authenticated by Al-Albani) from Abu Hurairah, he narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Indeed, Allah expresses His Pride about the people of ‘Arafah to those in the sky (angels) and says to them, ‘Look at my slaves! They have come to me with unkempt hair and covered in dust.” [Musnad Ahmad]
These hadiths illustrate the superiority of the Day of ‘Arafah and that it is one of the most meritorious days in which prayers and supplications are answered by Allah and sins are forgiven. Hence, a Muslims should strive hard to do righteous deeds, especially on this great day, such as Allah’s Remembrance (Dhikr), recitation of Qur’an, prayers (salah), charity etc., hoping that Allah will forgive him and free him from hellfire.
Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, may Allah have Mercy on him, said in Al-Lataif, “Freedom from hellfire is general for all Muslims.”
In addition, a Muslim should be enthusiastic about fasting on this day, as the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) informed us of its superiority even among these ten days and of the great virtue of fasting on this day. Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Fasting the Day of ‘Arafah will be credited with Allah by forgiving one’s sins of the previous year and the following year.” [Sahih Muslim]
This however is exclusively for the on-pilgrim, but those doing the Hajj pilgrims should not fast on this day. Not fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah is following the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who did not fast on that day. Umm Al-Fadhl bint Al-Harith said: “While the people were with me on the day of ’Arafat they differed as to whether the Prophet was fasting or not; some said that he was fasting while others said that he was not fasting. So, I sent to him a bowl full of milk while he was riding over his camel and he drank it.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim] Also not fasting on that day in that barren ground helps the pilgrims to retain their energy for supplications (du’a), especially if the day is hot.
Supplicating (du’a) on the Day of ‘Arafah is better than supplicating on other days as well. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The best of du’a is du’a on the day of ‘Arafah, and the best that I and the Prophets before me said is *‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in Qadeer *(There is no god but Allah alone, with no partner or associate; His is the dominion, to Him be praise, and He has power over all things).” [Narrated by al-Tirmithi and Malik; see Al-Silsilah Al-Sahihah by Al-Albani (4/39)].”
Ibn ‘Abdul Barr said, “The understanding (fiqh) derived from this hadith is that du’a on the Day of ‘Arafah is better than du’a on any other day, and this is proof of the superiority of the day itself over all other days… The hadith is also proof that du’a on this day is mostly answered, and that the best Dhikr is La ilalha illallah (there is no god except Allah)”
Hence, a Muslim should pray diligently on this day in view of its merits and hoping that his supplications will be answered. One should pray for himself, his parents, family, Islam and Muslims. If he fasts on this day and supplicates when breaking his fast, it is even more likely to be accepted, since supplication of the one who fasts is answered. Also a Muslim should recite the testimony of Oneness of Allah (‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in Qadeer) with sincerity, because it is the basis of Islam, the religion chosen by Allah for this nation on this very day!

6. Hajj and ‘Umrah pilgrimages:

The best deed that can be done in these blessed days is Hajj (and ‘Umrah) of Allah’s House in Mecca. Anyone whom Allah enables to perform Hajj and its rituals in the required fashion, will have , if Allah wills, at least some part of the glad tidings given by the Prophet (peace be upon him): “The performance of) ’Umra is an expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing except Paradise.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

Conclusion:

Therefore, these are the virtues and deeds for you to take, O slaves of Allah! However, beware of becoming slack and laziness. The days are a gift from Allah, so let us make the most of this opportunity and gain many good deeds and rewards and let’s have our sins forgiven!
Hurry up, Muslim brothers and sisters to benefit the most from these meritorious and blessed days by good deeds and diligence. Repent to Allah from wasting your time. Be aware that devotion to good deeds in this blessed period is actually a race to attain Allah’s Blessings and Rewards, and it shows just how much you fear Him, Almighty! Allah says, “And whosoever honors the Sha’air [Symbols] of Allah, then it is truly from the piety of the heart.” [Al-Hajj 22:32]
We ask Allah to guide us, enable us act righteously and to make us one of his sincere slaves. The ability to do anything good is from Allah.
May the Blessings of Allah be on His Messenger Muhammad, his family and Companions.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)



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