It is Hajj season and don’t we all wish we were going? Those of us who have gone before are reminiscing, wishing to go again, while those of us who haven’t gone yet are yearning for the opportunity, the invitation, to visit Allah’s sacred House. Insha’Allah, our time will come.
So, what can we do while the fortunate ones are performing tawaf around the Ka’bah, running between Safa and Marwah, or camping at Muzdalifah? How can we share in the reward and not feel like we are missing out?
Alhamdulillah, our Deen provides us with the opportunity to maximize the rewards for our worship at certain times of the year, and the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah is one of those times!
Importance and excellence of the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah
Allah (SWT) has sworn an oath by them. He says in the Qur’an: “By the dawn. By the ten nights.” (Al-Fajr: 1-2)
Most scholars agree that the “ten nights” refer to the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Good deeds are most beloved and most rewarded by Allah in these ten days. The Prophet (SAW) said: “There is no deed more precious in the sight of Allah, nor greater in reward, than a good deed done during the ten days of Sacrifice.”
He was 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-Daarimi)
SubhanAllah! Can there be any greater motivation than this? Here is a list of things we can do in order to reap the reward of these ten days in the best manner.
Sunnahs for the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah
1. If you are offering a sacrifice, abstain from cutting hair and nails
The Prophet (SAW) said: “When you see the new moon of Dhul 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 (literally, touch) anything from his hair or skin.” (Sahih Muslim)
The greatest day of Hajj is the 10th, which is the “Day of Sacrifice” wherein all the sacrificial animals are slaughtered. Hence it is a great deed to offer a sacrifice on that day.
Note: The ruling on not cutting hair and nails applies to only those who are offering the sacrifice themselves, not to those on whose behalf it is being done.
2. Recite the Takbeeraat (Allah’s glorification)
The Prophet (SAW) 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 (“Alhamdulillah”).” (Ahmad)
It is also sunnah to recite tasbeeh (“SubhanAllah”). One should recite these as much as one can during these ten days, in every place where dhikr (remembrance of Allah) is permitted – in the house, in the masjid, in the streets, and so on. It is a proclamation of Allah’s greatness, and a joyous form of worship. Men should recite these phrases out loud, and women quietly.
3. Fast on all the days, especially the 9th of Dhul Hijjah
Fasting is one of the best forms of worship, which Allah claims is for Himself Alone and He rewards for it. It is highly encouraged to fast these days. Fasting on the 9th day (Day of Arafah), however, is a confirmed sunnah:
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah and he said: “It expiates for the past and coming years.” (Muslim)
According to another report: “I ask Allah that it may expiate for [the sins of] the year that comes before it and the year that comes after it.”
4. Other recommended actions
Because of the greatness of these days, it is important to utilise them lest we do not live to witness them again. Think of it as an opportunity of a lifetime, a time where Allah is ever-willing to accept our deeds and reward us manifold – much more than most other times of the year.
5. Doing good deeds and avoiding bad deeds
Allah I has said: “Whoever brings a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever brings an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged.” (Al-An’am: 160)
If this is the case for normal days, then what about the special days of Allah (SWT) where rewards are multiplied?
6. Qiyaam-al-Layl (Standing for prayer at night)
The Prophet (SAW) said: “The best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” (Muslim)
7. Connecting with the Qur’an
There are so many things we can do with the Qur’an and be rewarded for it – recitation, reflection, implementation, propagation. Remember, it is the word of Allah, so give it its due.
8. Dhikr – Remembrance of Allah
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Shall I not tell you of the best of your deeds, the most pleasing to your Lord, that raise you most in status, and are better than your giving gold and silver, or meeting your enemy [in battle] and you strike their necks and they strike your necks?”
They said: “Yes,”He said: “Remembrance of Allah, may He be exalted.” (Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah)
We all know how it feels when we have a burden of sins weighing heavily on our chests, so cleanse yourself during these ten exalted days.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “When a person repents, Allah rejoices more than one of you who found his camel after he lost it in the desert.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
10. Making du’a to Allah
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Dua is the essence of worship.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
11. Giving charity
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Save yourself from the Fire, even if by giving half a date [in charity].” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
So, you are not losing out on much after all. Of course, the best deed would be Hajj at this time of the year – but for those of us who cannot go, it is from Allah’s mercy that He has not limited the opportunities for forgiveness and reward to just one place or time. These ten days are for everyone and, if we strive hard in worship, then Allah may grant us a clean slate too, just like for the pilgrims.
Hiba Khan is a twenty-something student of the Qur’an, born and raised in Saudi Arabia and living in Pakistan since the past five years. Ironically, she got connected to the Holy Book only after moving from the Holy land! Regrettably, she has never performed Hajj and dreams of doing so one day…