As a general principle, all people are the same, all months are the same, all days are the same and so on – unless, Allah the Almighty declares so otherwise. For example, in the case of people, yes they are all the same, be they rich or poor, strong or weak, black or white; but in the sight of Allah, special are those who are most obedient to Him and best in deeds. Likewise all months are the same, except the month of Ramadan, which Allah (SWT) has declared to be the best, most virtuous of them.
And so, all days are the same – except the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, which have been declared to be the 10 best days of the year!
How does that affect me, you ask? Well, it provides you with a wonderful opportunity to do good deeds for the sake of Allah and to maximize your acts of worship during this time to seek the pleasure of Allah and stack up on limitless rewards in the Hereafter! Sound fair?
Such is there importance that Allah (SWT) swears an oath by them in the Qur’an:
“By the dawn; by the ten nights.” [Qur’an 89:1-2].
The earliest scholars/commentators of the Qur’an agree that these are the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
According to an authentic hadith from Sahih Bukhari (2/456), narrated Ibn Abbaas (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) 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.”
These ten days also include Yawm Arafah (the Day of Arafah), on which Allah perfected His Religion. Fasting on this day will expiate for the sins of two years.
“This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” [Qur’an 5:3]
These days also include Yawm al-Nahar (the Day of Sacrifice), the greatest day of the entire year and the greatest day of Hajj, which combines acts of worship in a way unlike any other day.
So firstly, we know that these ten days are better than all the other days of the year, without exception – even better than the last ten days of Ramadan! Though the last ten nights of Ramadan are considered to be better as they include Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power), which is better than a thousand months. (Ref: Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 5/412).
HOW DO WE MAXIMIZE THESE 10 DAYS?
It is Sunnah to fast, as this is among the best of deeds, especially on the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah.
In a hadith from Abu Dawud and Nisaai (4/205), it was narrated that:
“The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah, on the day of Ashoora’, on three days of each month, and on the first two Mondays and Thursdays of each month.”
2. Repentance (Tawbah / Istighfar):
Repentance for our sins is an obligation for us and thus becomes even more important on days which are special in the sight of Allah. The idea for us during these days is to repent sincerely before Allah and seek His forgiveness and follow this up with lots of ibadah (acts of worship) and good deeds. Such a repentance combined with good deeds is a sure sign of success. Allah says:
“But as for him who repented, believed and did righteous deeds, then he will be among those who are successful.” [Qur’an 28:67]
3. Remembrance of Allah (Zikr):
During this time we need to remember Allah (zikr) as much as possible and to perform acts of worship for Him.
In a hadith from Ahmad (7/224), narrated by Abdullaah ibn Umar (r.a.), the Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
“There are no days greater in the sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal of Tahleel (La ilaaha ill-Allah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and Tahmeed (Al-hamdu Lillaah)“.
It is Sunnah to recite the following phrases loudly, for men and quietly for women, whether you are at home or in the market or in the masjid:
Takbeer (Allahu Akbar)
Tahmeed (Al-hamdu Lillaah)
Tahleel (La ilaha ill-Allah)
Tasbeeh (Subhaan Allah)
The Takbeer may include the words: “Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, la ilaaha ill-Allah; wa Allahu akbar wa Lillaahi’l-hamd (Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah; Allah is Most Great and to Allah be praise),” as well as other phrases.
4. Revive a Sunnah:
Takbeer at this time is an aspect of the Sunnah that has been forgotten so it should be pronounced loudly, in order to revive the Sunnah and as a reminder to the negligent. Ibn Umar and Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) used to go out in the marketplace during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, reciting Takbeer, and the people would recite Takbeer when they heard them (though this was not done in unison).
Reviving a Sunnah that has been almost forgotten is a highly meritorious deed, as the Prophet (s.a.w.) said in an authentic hadith from at-Tirmidhi (7/443):
“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.”
WHAT NOT TO DO!
The Sunnah indicates that the one who wants to offer a sacrifice must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“When you see the new moon of Dhu’l-Hijjah, if any one of you wants to offer a sacrifice, then he should stop cutting his hair and nails until he has offered his sacrifice.” According to another report he said: “He should not remove anything from his hair or skin.” [Sahih Muslim]
Brothers and sisters, the opportunity is now; no one knows if they will be able to get the same chance next year. So let us do what best we can now insha’Allah to make the most of these 10 days and strive for our home in the Hereafter.
May Allah have mercy on us and pardon us for our sins. Ameen Yaa Raab!