The Virtuous First Ten Days of Dzulhijjah
‘Abdul Rahman As-Sudais
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.
By His wisdom, Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala gave preference to some places and times over others. For Muslims, Friday is the best day of the week, Ramadhān is the best month of the year, “Laylat al-Qadar” is the best night in Ramadhan, and the day of “Arafah” is the best day of the year. Likewise the first ten days of the month of “Dzul-Hijjah” are the blessed days for Muslims.
Allah says:”By the daybreak, by the ten nights, by the even and the odd, by the passing night – is this oath strong enough for a rational person?” [Al-Fajr 89:1-5] Scholars differed on what is meant by the “ten nights” but most of them agreed that the ten nights refer to the first ten days of Dzul-Hijjah. In another verse Allah says: “… to attain benefits and mention God’s name, on specified days.” [Al-Hajj 22:28] Most of the Quran commentators view that the specific days are the ten days of Dzul-Hijjah.
On the merits of the first ten days, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) told the Ummah that the best days in this life are the (first) ten days of Dzulhijjah who said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." The people asked, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said: "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, At-Tirmidzi]
The first ten days of Dzulhijjah that includes The Day Of ‘Arafah, about which the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “There is no day in which Allah Frees more of His slaves from The Fire than the day of ‘Arafah” (Muslim). These ten days are concluded by the day of An-Nahr (sacrifice); then follows the day of Al-Qarr.
The Days of An-Nahr and Al-Qarr
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The greatest days in the scale of Allah are the days of An-Nahr and Al-Qarr” (Abu Dawud). The day of An-Nahr is the major day of Hajj and the day of ‘Eid; the day of Al-Qarr is the following day.
Virtuous deeds are magnified
Virtuous deeds have a magnified during these days. Allah promised the season with great virtues and an opportunity to gain greater rewards than that of Jihad. It represents a wonderful opportunity for those who want to compete in gaining rewards and a miserable loss for the idle, who shun such opportunities.
In what follows are suggested ideas on how to make the best use of the first ten days of Dzul-Hijjah:
Seek for Allah’s forgiveness and paradise
Make a sincere repentance to Allah and promise Him that you will not do bad deeds again. This may be your last chance. You are not sure if you will live till next year. One need to seek For Allah forgiveness and paradise which is as wide as the heavens and earth and do not slacken and be unhurried, because the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Being laid-back is best in every matter except for good deeds” (Abu Dawud ; Al-Hakim).
One must compete and march forward when it comes to working for the hereafter as Allah says as: “… So for this let the competitors compete” (Al-Mutaffifin: 26) and also, “…So race to (all that is) good…” (Al-Baqarah: 148).
In this season, the path leading to goodness is numerous, so do not miss out on any of them. The intelligent ones are those who exhaust themselves during this season to gain abundantly; you see many of them joining their days with their nights, continuously doing righteous deeds and hardly sleeping in order to get the most out of this season. On the other hand, you see those who put all their efforts into the attainment of worldly gains. The sad fact is that the result of all this effort would be, at most, the doubling of their capital - if indeed they do not actually lose it. As for the wise believers, nothing is dearer to them than increasing their efforts and righteous deeds that please the Lord, get them closer to Him and elevate their ranks; Allah told us what pleases Him in His Book and through His messenger; Allah will guide those who truly wish for goodness (if He Wills).
Pray at the Mosque
Try to perform the five daily prayers in the mosque. If you have time after Fajr prayer, try to sit in the mosque, read a juz' (part) of the Quran, make dua’, or recite some Adhkar (remembrance of Allah). Then offer two raka’ahs before you go home. If you do so, you are reviving a tradition that Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) used to do, a tradition which these days has been neglected by many Muslims.
Maintain your Family Relations
Visit your relatives even for a few minutes. If they live far away, give them a call. Do not forget your parents. Be kind to them, visit them, and attend to their needs. Some new Muslims think that after their conversion, they should cut off their family members. God orders Muslims to be kind to their parents even if they are non-Muslims. This occasion might be a good opportunity to talk about Islam to your non-Muslim parents.
Give out Charity
Make it a daily habit to help the needy. Look for humanitarian organizations in your neighborhood and help them in any way you can.
Allah says: “And they give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to the Miskeen (the poor), the orphan, and the captive” [Al-Insan, 76:8]
Jabir ibn ‘Abdallah (radiallahu`anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Every good deed is a charity.” [Al-Bukhari] Ibn Battāl said: “This hadīth indicates that every good thing that a person does or says is recorded for him as an act of charity”. Al-Nawawi said: The Prophet’s words “Every good deed is a charity” means that it is like charity in offering reward.
Solāh will lead to goodness and something that Allah loves. The slave must be keen to perform it in congregation as Allah says: “…And bow (in ruku’) with those who bow” (Al-Baqarah: 43), and the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “He who hears the Adzan (call for Solah) and does not respond, his Solah is not accepted, except with the congregation, unless he has a (valid) excuse” (Ibn Majah) The excuse is either fear, sickness or rain.
A servant of Allah who is guided would perform more Optional Solah in these ten days, because it is a path to goodness which that Allah loves.
Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) narrated that the Prophet that (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Solah is the best thing that one can do, so perform as many as you possibly can” (At-Tabarani) and he (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) also said: “Two light raka’ahs which you may think as insignificant to add to you deeds, is better for you than possessing the whole world” (Ibn Al-Mubarak)
Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) narrated Rasulullah (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) also said, “The son of Adam could not do anything more beneficial for himself than Solāh, reconciliation (between Muslims) and being well mannered” (Al-Baihaqi and others).
These were three examples of good deeds that lead to righteousness is examples of good deeds that lead to righteousness. Solāh, reconciliation and being well mannered which are better than anything else that the son of Adam can do, yet we see some people slight the performance of obligatory Solāh, let alone optional Solāh; you see them instigating disputes between people; and you see ill-mannered people who have lost out on the great reward for having a good character. So let us repent to Allah from our sins, reform our situation and improve our manners.
A woman was praised in the presence of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) for her Solāh, fasting and other good deeds; her only flaw was that she harmed her neighbours. Upon hearing the praise, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “She is from the people of the Fire” (Ahmad).
The virtues of Optional Solāh
Many hadiths mentioned the virtues of optional Solāh.
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “Prostrate as much as you can, because whenever you prostrate, Allah elevates your rank by a degree and wipes out a sin from your record” (Muslim). In another narration: “Whenever a servant prostrates to Allah, Allah writes a reward for him, wipes out one of his sins and elevates his rank by one degree; so prostrate as much as you can” (Ibn Majah).
Umm Habibah (radiallāhu `anha) narrated on the virtues of Sunnat Al-Rawatib that The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever is regular with twelve Rak’ahs of Sunnah prayer, Allāh will build a house in Paradise: (as follows): 4 Raka'ahs before and 2 after the Dzuhur (Midday) Prayer, 2 after the Maghrib (Sunset Prayer), 2 after the ‘Ishā’ (Evening) Prayer and 2 before the Fajar (Dawn) Prayer." (Narrated by at-Tirmidzi No. 415 (Sahih) and by others.)
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) described the way to perform Solāh: “The night Solah is done two (rak’ahs) at a time” (Al-Bukhari) and in another narration: “The optional Solāh at night and during the day is done two Raka’ahs at a time” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah and others).
Allah promised a great reward for offering extra acts of worship. The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "Allah said, 'I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection (refuge), I will protect him; (i.e. give him My refuge) and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him." [Al-Bukhari]
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The best prayer after the obligatory ones is the night prayer (Tahajjud).” [Muslim] On the other hand, Abu Hurayrah (radiallāhu`anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) has said: “The best of prayers, after the prescribed prayers, is prayer in the depths of the night (Tahajjud), and the best of fasting after the month of Ramadhān is fasting the month of Allāh, Muharram.” [Muslim]
‘Abdallah Ibn ‘Amr (radiallāhu`anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The most beloved of prayer to Allah is the prayer of Dawud (‘alaihissalam), and the most beloved of fasts to Allah is the fast of Dawud (‘alaihissalam). He used to sleep for half of the night, then get up and pray for a third of the night, then sleep for a sixth of the night, and he used to fast every other day.” [Al-Bukhari, Muslim]
Salman al-Farsi (radiallāhu`anhu) reported the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) as saying: "Observe the night prayer, it was the practice of the righteous before you and it brings you closer to your Lord and it is penance for evil deeds and erases the sins and repels disease from the body." [Narrated by, at-Tirmidzi, an-Nasa'ie and ibn Majah: Sahih]
Reciting the Qur’an.
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The best amongst you are those who learn the Qur’an and then teach it” (Bukhari).
Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) also said: “He who recites a letter from the Book of Allah will get a reward and each of these rewards will be multiplied ten times. I do not mean ‘Alif Lam Mm’ is one letter, but rather ‘Alif” is a letter, ‘Lam is a letter and ‘Mim’ is a letter” (At-Tirmidzi).
Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) also said: “If one of goes to the masjid and learns a verse or reads two verses from the Book of Allah, is better for him than owning two she-camels, (reading) three are better than (owning) three, (reading) four are better than (owning) four and so on” (Muslim) and also, “Let him who wants to attain love for Allah and His messenger read from The Book of Allah”.
Observe Fasting in the First Nine Days
Fasting is a good deed that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam encouraged the ummah to observe, “Fast on Mondays and Thursdays” (Ahmad; Nasa’i) and “Fast the day of ‘Arafah: it expiates the sins of the preceding year and the coming year."” (Muslim) also: “Fast like the Prophet Dawud (who fasted every other day)” (Bukhari; Muslim).
One should still fast during these days because of the general texts encouraging good deeds during these ten days. The Prophet, (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "…I hope Allāh that fasting the day of ‘Arafah expiates sins of the past year as well as the next year…." [Muslim] Fasting during that day is prescribed only for those who are not pilgrims, as it is not permitted for pilgrims to observe fasting on that day. Controlling one's bodily organs from doing prohibited matters is asserted on that day.
Abu Sa`id al-Khudri (radiallahu`anhu) said: I heard the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) saying: "Indeed, anyone who fasts for one day for Allah's Pleasure, Allah will keep his face away from the (Hell) fire for (a distance covered by a journey of) seventy years." [Muslim]
Do not observe fasting on the tenth day because it is an `Eid day and it is prohibited to fast that day.
Good deeds are rewarded abundantly in these first ten days; and as fasting is a good deed, it is recommended to fast these nine days.
Fasting the Day of Arafah
On the day of Arafah, non-pilgrims are highly recommended to maintain fasting. It is reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah, whereupon he (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "It expiates the sins of the preceding year and the coming year." [Muslim]He also said: "There is no day in which Allah frees a greater number of His slaves from the Hellfire than the Day of Arafah." [Muslim]
The importance of The Day of Arafah is related to the amount of forgiveness and mercy bestowed by God on His pilgrims. The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) spent the day at Arafah until almost sunset. Then the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said:
"O Bilal! Ask the people to be quiet and listen to me." Bilal (radiallahu`anhu) stood up and asked the people to be quiet and listen to the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) . When they were quiet, the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "O People! A little while ago Gabriel (`alaihissalam) came to me, gave me salutations from Allah, and informed me that Allah has forgiven those who spend the Day at Arafah…" At this, Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiallahu`anhu) stood up and asked: "O Allah's Messenger is this for us only?" The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "This is for you and for all those who will come after you, until the Day of Judgment…" Umar (radiallahu`anhu) exclaimed: "How plentiful and blissful Allah's bounties are!"
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) also said: "Allah frees far more people from Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day. Allah comes closer this day and proudly says to the angels: ‘What do these people want and seek?!'" [Muslim]
Reciting the Takbir
It is an act of Sunnah to say “Takbir” (Allahu Akbar - Allah is the Greatest) in the first ten days. The “Takbir” should be pronounced everywhere; in the mosque, at home, in the streets, etc. It is reported that:
“Ibn `Umar and Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with them) used to go out in the marketplace during the first ten days of Dzul-Hijjah, reciting Takbir, and the people would recite Takbir when they heard them.” [Al-Bukhari]
There are many forms of Takbir, but the most common one is: Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, la illaha illa Allah, Allahu Akbar, Allahu akbar, wa lillahi al-Hamd.
In another version of the Hadith mentioned above on the merits of the ten days, there is this addition: "… so increase saying Tahlil (saying Lā-illāh illa Allah), Takbir (saying Allahu Akbar), and Tahmid (saying Al-Hamdulillah)" [Ahmad]
Therefore, these kinds of “dzikir” should be recited day and night.
Make Supplications on the Day of Arafah
The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "The best supplication is that of the Day of `Arafah, and the best thing that I and other Prophets before me said, is: ‘La ilaha illa allahu wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu al-mulku wa lahu al-hamdu wa huwa `ala kulli shai'in qadeer ‘(There is no god but Allah alone. He has no partners. To Him belong the sovereignty and all praise. He has power over all things.) [Al-Tirmidzi]