Praise be to Allaah Who created time and made some times better than others. He chose some months, days and nights above others, when rewards are multiplied manifold as a mercy towards His slaves. This encourages them to do more righteous deeds and makes them more eager to worship Him, so that the Muslim renews his efforts to gain a greater share of reward, prepare himself for death before it comes and stock up on his provisions for the Day of Judgement.
Such times of the year bring many benefits, such as the opportunity to correct one’s faults and make up for any shortcomings. The clever person is he who makes the most of these special months, days and hours and draws nearer to his Lord during these times through acts of worship. Every Muslim should understand the value of his life, increase his worship of Allaah and persist in doing good deeds until the moment of death.
Among the special seasons of worship are the first ten days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah, which Allaah has chosen above all the other days of the year. Ibn ‘Abbaas (radiyallaahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said:
Reported by al-Bukhaaree.
This text and others indicate that these ten days are better than all the other days of the year, with no exceptions – not even the last ten days of Ramadaan! However, the last ten nights of Ramadaan are better, because they include Lailat-ul-Qadr which is better than a thousand months.
These ten days include the Day of ‘Arafah on which Allaah completed the religion of Islam. Fasting on this day will expiate for the sins of two years. These days also include the Day of Sacrifice, the greatest day of hajj, which combines acts of worship in a way unlike any other day.
Among the good deeds which the Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are:
Fasting. It is recommended to fast on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah, because the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) urged us to do good deeds during this time, and fasting is among the best deeds.
The Prophet used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah [and he said,
Reported by Muslim.]
It is also commendable to say Allaahu akbar (Allaah is the greatest), al-hamdu lillaah (Allaah deserves all praise) and Laa ilaaha illallaah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah) during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallaahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said:
“There are no days greater in the sight of Allaah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah), so during this time recite a great deal of tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed.” Reported by Ahmad [and authenticated by al-‘Iraaqee and Ibn Hajar].
These words of remembrance should said loudly in the masjid, the home, the street and every place where it is permitted to remember Allaah and mention His name aloud – as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the greatness of Allaah, the Exalted.
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 people. It is reported that Ibn ‘Umar and Aboo Hurairah (radiyallaahu anhumaa) 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. However, each person should recite it individually, not all together, as there is no basis in the Qur’aan and the authentic Hadeeth for doing that.
Doing more good deeds in general, because good deeds are beloved by Allaah and will bring a great reward from Him. A person should occupy himself in this blessed time with worshipping Allaah, performing salaah, reading and contemplating the Qur’aan, remembering Allaah, making supplication or du‘aa’, giving charity, honouring his parents, maintaining his ties of kinship, enjoining good and forbidding evil and any other good deeds and acts of worship.
Sacrifice. One of the good deeds that will bring a person closer to Allaah during these ten days is offering a sacrifice, by choosing a good and healthy animal and slaughtering it for the sake of Allaah, and then distributing its meat to one’s family, relatives, friends and the poor and needy.
Sincere repentance. One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allaah. Repentance means coming back to Allaah and giving up any action, open or secret, that He dislikes, out of regret and guilt, giving it up immediately and being determined never to return to it. If a Muslim commits a sin, he must hasten to repent at once without delay, firstly because he does not know when he will die, and secondly because one evil deed often leads to another.
Repentance at special and blessed 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 to admit their sins and feel guilt and regret. Repentance is obligatory at all times, but when the Muslim combines sincere repentance with good deeds during the days of virtue, this is, God-willing, a sign of success.
Every Muslim should ensure that he does not miss any of these important occasions because time passes quickly. Let us prepare ourselves by doing good deeds which will bring us reward when we are most in need of it, for no matter how much reward we earns, we will find it is less than we need.
[There is much to be gained, and I pray to Allaah that he enables us to hasten towards good works and make the most of the opportunity afforded by these invaluable and irreplaceable ten days.]