Virtues of the First Ten Days of Dzul-Hijjah
By Shaykh Abdullah Ibn Abdur-Rahman al-Jibreen
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. And may the Blessings of Allāh and Peace be upon His Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions, all of them.
By His wisdom, Allāh 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-Qadr” 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. There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allāh than these ten days.
Allāh 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 Allāh 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, Ibn Abbās (radiallāhu`anhum) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) of said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds done in them are more beloved to Allāh than these days, ie the ten days (of Dzul-Hijjah). They said: O Messenger of Allāh, not even Jihād in the path of Allāh? He said: Not even Jihād in the Path of Allāh, the Most High, except if a man goes out (for Jihād) with his self and his wealth, then he doesn't return with anything from that." (Al-Bukhārī, Abu Dawūd and others; the exact wording is that of Abu Dāwūd)
Thus, the ummah should not allow these ten days Zulhijjah be passed without noticed as there are great virtues attached to it because time is passing quickly. Allah says: "So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it, And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it." [Al-Zalzalah, 99:7-8]
In what follows are suggested ideas on how to make the best use of the first ten days of Dzul-Hijjah:
The Types of Deeds in These Ten Days:
First: Perform Haj and Umrah. These are the best of deeds that may be done. And what indicates their superiority are a number of Ahādith, one of which is the saying of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam): “Performance of Umrah is an expiation of the sins committed between it and the previous Umrah, and the reward of the Haj which is accepted by Allāh, the Most High, is nothing but Paradise.” (Al-Bukhārī and Muslim)
Second: Observe Fasting in the First Nine Days - as many as possible as Allah enables for one to fast; especially the Day of Arafah. The importance of The Day of Arafah is related to the amount of forgiveness and mercy bestowed by God on His pilgrims.
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) spent the day at Arafah until almost sunset. Then the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "O Bilal! Ask the people to be quiet and listen to me." Bilal (radiallāhu`anhu) stood up and asked the people to be quiet and listen to the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) . When they were quiet, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "O People! A little while ago Gabriel (`alaihissalam) came to me, gave me salutations from Allāh, and informed me that Allāh has forgiven those who spend the Day at Arafah…" At this, Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) stood up and asked: "O Allāh's Messenger is this for us only?" The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "This is for you and for all those who will come after you, until the Day of Judgment…" Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) exclaimed: "How plentiful and blissful Allāh’s bounties are!" [At-Targhib wat-Tarhib]
There is no doubt that the act of fasting is one of the best deeds, and it is from what Allāh, the Most High, has chosen for himself, as in the Hadith Qudsī: “Fasting is for Me, and it is I who give reward for it. Verily, someone gives up his sexual passion, his food and his drink for My sake..." (Al-Bukhārī, Muslim, Mālik, at-Tirmidzi, Nasā'ie and Ibn Mājah)
Abu Sa'eed al-Khudrī (radiallāhu`anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “No servant (of Allāh, the Most High) fasts one day in the Path of Allāh, except that Allāh, the Most High, removes his face from the Fire because of it (the distance of travelling) seventy years.” (Al-Bukhārī and Muslim)
On the day of Arafah, the non-pilgrims are highly recommended to maintain fasting: The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah, whereupon Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "It expiates the sins of the preceding year and the coming year." [Muslim] The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) also said: "Allāh frees far more people from Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day. Allāh comes closer this day and proudly says to the angels: ‘What do these people want and seek?!'" [Muslim] Abu Qatadah (radiallāhu`anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “Fasting the Day of Arafah will be credited with Allāh by forgiving one's sins of the previous year and the following year.” (Muslim)
Do not observe fasting on the tenth day because it is an `Eid day and it is prohibited to fast that day. But 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.
Third: At-Takbīr (Allāh Akbar) and adhkār (the remembrance of Allāh through different words of praise and glorification) in these (ten) days.
Allāh says: "And mention the name of Allāh on the appointed days" (Yusuf, 12:28). "...Then when you leave Arafat, remember Allah (by glorifying and praising Him) at the Mash ‘ar il-Haram. And remember Allah (by invoking Allah for all good) as He has guided you..." [Al-Baqarah, 2:198]
There are two Takbir. At-Takbīr al-Mutlaq (the Takbīr (Allāhu Akbar) which is unrestricted to specific times or any specific form) at all times of night and day until the time of the Eid Prayer. Secondly, at-Takbīr al-Muqayyad (the Takbīr which is done at a particular time and in a specific manner) is legislated, and it is done after the (five) obligatory prayers that are performed in congregation. This begins from Dawn (Fajr) on the Day of Arafah (the 9th of Dzul-Hijjah) for those not performing Haj, and from Noon (Dzuhur) on the Day of Sacrifice (10th of Dzul-Hijjah) for those performing Haj (pilgrims); and it continues until Asar prayer on the last day of the days of Tash-rīq (13th of Dzul-Hijjah).
i. This Takbīr should be pronounced loudly, in order to revive the Sunnah and as a reminder to the negligent. It is reported about Ibn Umar and Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhum) that: “the two of them used to go out to the market place during the ten days (of Zul-Hijjah) saying: Allāhu Akbar, causing the people also to say it.” (Al-Bukhārī) The idea behind reminding the people to recite Takbīr is that each one should recite it individually, not in unison, as there is no basis in syari’ah for doing this.
Verily, it is the Sunnah for everyone to say the Takbīr individually. And this is (generally) applicable to Dzikir and supplications, except if the person does not know what to say. In that case he may repeat after someone else until he learns (the words to be said). It is also permissible to make Dzikir with all the different wording of Takbīr and Tahmīd and Tasbīh, and the rest of the Islamic legislated supplications (from the Qur'an and Sunnah).
ii. The Takbir includes Takbīr al-Muqayyad: “Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar Lā Ilāha illa 'llah Wa 'llahu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar Wa li'llahil-hamd.” Ishāq narrates the Tābi'ien used to say it in these ten days they. It is a beloved act to recite this Takbīr in loud voice in places like, the Masjids, the markets, the houses, the streets and other places, because Allāh, the Most High, Says: "... that you may magnify Allāh for His Guidance to you" [Surah al-Hajj, 22: 37]
But the Takbīr should be pronounced loudly, in order to revive the Sunnah and as a reminder to the negligent. The idea behind reminding the people to recite Takbīr is that each one should recite it individually, not in unison, as there is no basis in syari’ah for doing this.
Reviving aspects of the Sunnah that have been virtually forgotten is a deed that will bring an immense reward, as is indicated by the words of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam): "Whoever revives an aspect of my Sunnah that is forgotten after my death, he will have a reward equivalent to that of the people who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward." [At-Tirmidzi, 7/443: a hasan hadith].
iii. The remembrance of Allāh: Abdullah Ibn Umar (radiallāhu`anhu), narrated that Rasūlullāh (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "There aren't any days greater, or any days in which deeds done in them are more beloved to Allah, the Most High, than these ten days (of Dzul-Hijjah) So, increase in them saying of Tahlīl (Lā Ilāha illa Allāh), and Takbīr (Allāh Akbar) and Tahmīd (al-Hamdu li-llāh)" [Ahmad]
iv. The best supplication is that of 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: ‘Lā ilāha illa allāhu wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu al-mulku wa lahu al-hamdu wa huwa `ala kulli shai'in qadīr ‘(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]
Fourth: At-Tawbah (repentance) and abstaining from disobedience and all types of sins, since forgiveness and mercy are the results of deeds. Disobedience is the cause of being far away from Allah and repulsion, while obedience is the cause of being near to Allah and His love.
In the hadith of Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) he reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “Verily Allah has a sense of Ghaira (a sense of honour and prestige, and the anger caused by its violation), and Allah's sense of ghaira is provoked when a person does that which Allah has prohibited.” (Al-Bukhārī and Muslim)
Repentance at special times is very important because in most cases people’s thoughts turn towards worship at these times, and they are keen to do good, which leads to them recognizing their sins and feeling regret for the past. Repentance is obligatory at all times, but when the Muslim combines sincere repentance with good deeds during the days of most virtue, this is a sign of success, in sha Allāh. Allāh says: "But as for him who repented, believed and did righteous deeds, then he will be among those who are successful." [Al-Qasas, 28:67]
Fifth: Doing plenty of voluntary (nawafil) righteous deeds of worship. For the non-Hujajj performers should occupy himself at this blessed time by worshipping Allāh, praying (solāt), reading Qur’an, remembering Allāh, making supplication (du’ā), giving charity, honouring his parents, upholding the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and other good deeds and acts of worship.
Verily, these are amongst the deeds that are multiplied in these days. It is during these days that even deeds that are less preferred are superior and more beloved to Allāh than superior deeds done at other times. (These deeds are superior) even to al-Jihād - which is one of the most superior of all deeds.
In a hadith Qudsi Allāh promised a great reward for offering extra acts of worship. The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "Allāh 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]
i. Solāt: Solāt is the first matter that will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the solāt. It is the pillar of Islam that the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) mentioned after mentioning the testimony of faith, by which one becomes a Muslim. Prophet’s (sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the solāt. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad." [Recorded by al-Tabarani; Sahih]
The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) was asked by a man about the most virtuous deed; he did it for several times; the first three times the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) repeatedly answered it: "The solāt"; then on the fourth occasion he stated, "Jihad in the way of Allāh." [Recorded by Ahmad and Ibn Hibban]
ii. Jama'ah at the Masjid: It is mustahabb to perform the five daily Solāt in the masjid. The ummah must be keen to perform it in congregation as Allāh says: “…And bow (in ruku’) with those who bow” (Al-Baqarah: 43), and the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, “He who hears the Adzan and does not respond, his Solāh is not accepted, except with the congregation, unless he has a (valid) excuse” (Ibn Majah) The excuse is either fear, sickness or rain.
If time permissible after Solāt Fajr, sit in the masjid, recite a juz' of al-Quran. 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”. 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).
One may also make dua’, or recite some Adhkār (remembrance of Allāh). Then offer a two raka’at before you return home. If you do so, you are reviving a tradition that Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) used to do, a tradition which has been neglected by many Muslims.
iii. Observe more Optional Solāt during these virtuous ten days of Zul-Hijjah. It is a path to goodness which Allāh loves. Many hadiths mentioned the virtues of optional Solāt.
Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi 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)
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said “Prostrate as much as you can, because whenever you prostrate, Allāh elevates your rank by a degree and wipes out a sin from your record” (Muslim). In another narration: “Whenever a servant prostrates to Allāh, Allāh 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).
Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) narrated Rasulullāh (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, “The son of Adam could not do anything more beneficial for himself than Solāt; reconciliation (between Muslims) and being well mannered” (Al-Baihaqi and others). Solāt, reconciliation and being well mannered lead to righteousness that the son of Adam can do, yet we see some people slighted it. A woman was praised in the presence of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) for her Solāt, 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). So, let us repent, reform our situation and improve our manners.
iv. The excellence of Sunnat Al-Rawatib: 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 Raka’ahs of Sunnah prayer, Allāh will build a house in Paradise (as follows): Four Raka'ahs before and two after the Dzuhur (Midday) Prayer; Two after the Maghrib (Sunset Prayer); Two after the ‘Ishā’ (Evening) Prayer; and two before the Fajar (Dawn) Prayer." (Narrated by at-Tirmidzi No. 415 (Sahih) and by others.)
v. The excellence of Tahajjud: Abu Hurayrah (radiallāhu`anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi 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] In another narration ‘Abdallāh Ibn ‘Amr (radiallāhu`anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “The most beloved of prayer to Allāh is the prayer of Dawud (‘alaihissalam), and the most beloved of fasts to Allāh 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]
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) described the way to perform Solāt: “The night Solāh is done two (raka’ahs) at a time” (Al-Bukhari) and in another narration: “The optional Solāt at night and during the day is done two Raka’ahs at a time” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah and others).
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]
vi. Maintain 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.
vii. Offer 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. Sadāqah or voluntary charity is indeed a virtuous deed; In fact, it is considered as a proof of one’s īman (faith). Sadāqah is not restricted to giving part of our wealth or material possessions or any special deed of righteousness. Islam considers all good deeds as sadaqah that would increase our īman
Abu Malik al-Ashari, (radiallāhu`anhu) narrated that Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “Cleanliness is half of faith. Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allāh) fills the scale. Subhān Allāh (Glory be to Allāh) and Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allāh) fill up what is between the heavens and the earth. Solāt is a light. Charity is proof (of one’s faith). Patience is a brightness and Al-Qur‘an is a proof on your behalf or against you. All men go out early in the morning and sell themselves, thereby setting themselves free or destroying themselves.” [Muslim, 432]
Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) reported Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) as saying: “Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allāh adds to his respect; and the one who shows humility, Allāh elevates him in the estimation (of the people).” [Muslim , 6264]
viii. Try to Do Something New this Year. If you used to recite a part of the Quran last year, try to finish reading the whole Quran this year. Try to pick some verses everyday and check the books of Tafsir (exegesis of the Quran) to reflect on their meaning in order to derive lessons from them in your daily life. If you do not read Arabic, I recommend Muhammad Assad’s translation of the Quran. If you are well-versed in the Quran recitation, try to teach a group of new Muslims how to read the Quran correctly. The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The best amongst you are those who learn the Qur’an and then teach it” (Bukhari).
Sixth: The slaughtering of a sacrificial animal (Adhiyah) is also legislated for the Day of Sacrifice (10th) and the Days of Tashrīq (11th, 12th and 13th). This is the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrāhīm - when Allāh, the Most High, redeemed Prophet Ibrāhīm's son, Ismail by the great sacrifice (of an animal in his place). It is authentically reported that The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) slaughtered (sacrificed) two horned rams, black and white in colour, and said Takbīr (Allāhu Akbar), and placed his foot on their sides (while slaughtering them). (Al-Bukhārī and Muslim)
Umm Salamah (radiallāhu`anha) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “If you see the Hilal (new moon) of Dzul-Hijjah, and any one of you wants to make a sacrifice, then he should not cut (anything) from his hair and his nails.” (Muslim and others). And in one narration, he (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “Then he should not cut (anything) from his hair, nor from his nails, until he performs the sacrifice. Perhaps this is because of the similarity with the one who is bringing a sacrificial animal for slaughter (in Hajj). As Allāh, the Most High, said: And do not shave your heads until the Hady (sacrifice) reaches the place of sacrifice... ”
The apparent meaning of this prohibition is that it is particularly for the one whom the sacrifice is for, and does not include the wife or children, unless there is an individual sacrifice for one of them. There is no harm in washing the head, or scratching it, even if hairs may fall out.
Seventh: Eid celebration. It is incumbent for the Muslim (who is not performing Haj) to make every effort to perform the Eid Prayer wherever it is performed, and to be present for the Khutbah and benefit. Eid celebration is a day of thankfulness and performing deeds of righteousness. So, it must not be make a day of wildness, pride and vanity. One should not make it a season for disobedience and increase in the forbidden things like music and singing, uncontrolled amusement, intoxicants and the like - those things which could cause the cancellation of the good deeds done in these days (of Dzul-Hijjah).
Eighth: Obedience to Allah. After what has been mentioned, it is fitting that every Muslim, take advantage of these days by obeying Allāh, remembering Him, thanking Him, fulfilling all the obligatory duties, and staying away from the prohibited things. One must take full advantage of this season, and the open display of Allāh's gifts, to attain the pleasure of his Lord.
It is Allāh who grants success and the guidance to the Straight Path. May the blessings of Allāh and peace be upon Muhammad, his family and companions.
[Adapted with modification from “The Superiority and Virtue of the First Ten Days of The Month of Zulhijjah and the Deeds Legislated in it” by Shaykh Abdullah Ibn Abdur-Rahman al-Jibreen published in the Gulf Times March 1999]