Dhul Hijjah: The best ten days of the year
The sacred months
Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah, and Muharram are the three consecutive prohibited months – meaning that no one was permitted to fight any battles during these months, or use their arms against anyone else, so that security was assured in this period and it gave safe passage to pilgrims traveling to Makkah to perform Hajj (pilgrimage) in Dhul Hijjah. Hajj takes place from 8th Dhul Hijjah until 13th Dhul Hijjah and the period before and after that allows for the travel time, as it would take many weeks to reach Makkah and return.
The fourth sacred month is Rajab. These four months are known as Ashur ul Hurum. They are the sacred months of the Islamic year. During these months, good deeds carry more reward.
It is disputed among scholars whether sins carry more penalty during the sacred months. It was the opinion of Ibn Abbas and Ibn Mas’oud (may Allah be pleased with them) but there is no clear evidence on this. It is clear however that the reward for good deeds will be multiplied by Allah Almighty to whom He wills.
Allah swears by the first ten nights of Dhul Hijjah
Allah Almighty mentioned in Surat Fajr in the Quran:
وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍۢ ٢
By the dawn and the ten nights. (89:1-2)
He also talks about ‘specified days’ (ayyamin ma’lumat), when people can glorify His name and witness the benefits.
That they may witness the benefits for themselves, and celebrate the name of God during the specified days, for providing them with the animal livestock. So eat from it, and feed the unfortunate poor. (22:28)
Many companions, including Ibn ‘Abbas, Zubair, and Abu Musa al-Ashari, and tabi’een such as Mujahid and Qatada (may Allah be pleased with them) commented that these ten nights and specified days are the ten days of Dhul Hijjah, which is the month of Hajj.
The best ten days of the year
There are many authentic narrations describing the virtue of these ten days.
Some scholars go so far as to say these days are even better than the last ten days of Ramadan.
Other scholars say there is no day that is as special as Laylat ul Qadr.
Many scholars combine these opinions, and say that the last ten nights of Ramadan are the best nights of the year, while the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are the best days of the year. These ten days include the Day of Arafah, which is the most special.
The ten days of Musa
Some scholars said that these were the ten nights are the same time ten nights which Musa (peace be on him) extended his seclusion of thirty days by:
And We made an appointment with Moses for thirty nights and perfected them by [the addition of] ten; so the term of his Lord was completed as forty nights. (7:142)
Why are the ten days special?
These ten days are the best days to perform good deeds and increase our closeness to Allah Almighty as they are the most beloved to Allah Almighty.
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:
There are no days during which the righteous action is so pleasing to Allah than these days (i.e. the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah). (Bukhari)
This is an opening to the unseen. We cannot penetrate the unseen with our own intellect, unless we have an authentic narration. If the Prophet (peace be on him) had not told us that these are the best ten days, we wouldn’t be able to guess.
The Prophet (peace be on him) knew of the special gifts and blessings which Allah Almighty showers on people during this time, so he was keen to share knowledge of it with his ummah, rather than keeping it for himself.
He wanted to direct us towards goodness. He encouraged us to avail the opportunity and reap the benefits. He wasn’t just telling us for the sake of it: he meant that we should roll up our sleeves and increase our good deeds. He himself used to increase his good deeds and fast these ten days.
Whatever you are doing of good deeds, do more. In any areas where you are a bit wobbly, use this time as your vitamins to improve. Seize the opportunity to become closer to Allah Almighty in these ten days.
What to do in the ten days
Sa’id bin Jubair the great qari, tabi’, scholar and student of ibn Abbas and Aisha (may Allah be pleased with them) used to roll up his sleeves in these ten days and no one could imagine how much he increased his good deeds.
The Prophet (peace be on him) used the term ‘al-amal as-salih’ (righteous actions) to describe what we should do in these days. This is a very broad term, so what specific actions should we do?
Salah is number one on the list of good deeds. Be regular with your salah, improve your khushoo’ and the quality of your salah.
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be on him) said:
When one of you stands to pray, he is privately conversing with his Lord. (Bukhari)
Salah is not a tick box exercise, that you’ve done your fardh and that’s it. We need to improve the quality of this conversation with Allah.
It’s no surprise that the pillars of Islam are the top good deeds. There are many narrations, such as in Abu Dawood, that the Prophet (peace be on him) used to fast for the first nine days – of course excluding the tenth day, which is Eid and therefore prohibited to fast.
The ninth day is the Day of Arafah, when Allah releases a huge number from Hellfire. We ask Allah to include all of us in those who are released.
When the Prophet (peace be on him) went for his Farewell Hajj, there was a dispute between the companions over whether he was fasting on Arafah day or not. Some said no, because he was performing Hajj, while others thought he must be, because he always fasted on the Day of Arafah.
Eventually, his wife resolved the issue by giving him some milk, which he drank, to prove that he was not fasting. If this hadn’t happened, many people would have assumed that he was, and that it was the sunnah to fast while on Hajj. We now know that it is not the sunnah. Don’t put yourself through that hardship.
However, this shows that fasting on the Day of Arafah when you are not performing Hajj is a very strong sunnah. Let’s try to fast as much as possible during the first ten days.
This is another top good deed. Give as much sadaqah as you can.
In Surat al-Hajj, Allah says:
To witness the benefits for them and celebrate Allah’s name for the favours He has given them. (22:28)
And in another narration, the Prophet (peace be on him) said:
There are no greater (adham) days and more beloved to Allah than doing good deeds than these days. So increase your tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed. (Musnad Ahmad)
Tahleel is la illaha illah, Takbeer is Allahu Akbar and Tahmeed is Alhamdulilah.
Assuming that we are already doing takbeer and tahleel and tahmeed, we are being told here to increase our dhikr and remembrance of Allah. Be continuously engaged in remembering Him.
Abdullah bin Omar and Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) used to go to the market and do takbeer and people would echo their takbeer. I am not suggesting you go to Oxford Street and do takbeer, but this is how the companions applied the sunnah of the Prophet (peace be on him) in their lives.
Say the Eid takbir:
Allah is Most Great,
Allah is most Great,
Allah is most Great,
There is no God but Allah,
Allah is Most great,
Allah is most great, and to Allah be praise.
Forgive and seek forgiveness
If we have any disputes with anyone, let’s resolve them. Ask for forgiveness, and forgive everyone who wronged us.
Ask for forgiveness from those whom we did not wrong intentionally.
From the bottom of your heart say, ‘Allah, I forgive everyone who wronged me.’
Let’s clear our hearts of from any hatred bitterness or rancour.
The list is endless
The list of things we could do is endless.
Increase your recitation of Quran, and the quality of recitation.
Maintain a good relationship with your family.
Keep good character.
This is an opportunity that only comes once a year, so do your best to seize it. Now is the time to seek closeness to Allah and increase our good deeds. May Allah accept it from all of us.
May Allah make us from those who are always engaged in good deeds and delivering the right message in the Prophetic manner. May Allah bring happiness to every home and every soul. Ameen.
Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim on 17th July 2020 and 16th June 2023
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