In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious the Most Merciful. All Prayers and Blessing of Allah are upon our Prophet (PBUH), his households, his Companions, and all those who follow his Sunnah until the Day of Judgment.
Allah SWT, the Creator of time, has favoured, out of His absolute discretion, some times over others and some months and days over others throughout the Islamic year to be occasions of more active Ibadah (worship). During those occasions, rewards for good deeds are promised to be multiplied and sins be wiped out.
One of the most favoured days in the sight of Allah SWT in the whole year is the First ten days of Zulhijjah.
In Suratul al-Fajre, Allah SWT says:
“والفجر وليال عشر” (الآيتان 1 و 2)
“By the dawn and by the ten nights” (89: 1 and 2)
The Commentators of the Quran have agreed that the ten nights referred to in that Surah are the First ten days of Zulhijjah. The fact that Allah SWT is swearing by those ten days reflects the sacredness, honor, and greatness attached by Allah SWT to those days.
In Suratul al-Hajj Allah SWT says:
“ليشهدوا منافع لهم ويذكروا اسم الله في أيام معلومات على ما رزقهم من بهيمة الأنعام” (الآية: 28)
“That they may achieve some benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah SWT in the appointed days, for the cattle that Allah SWT has provided for them to sacrifice” (22:28).
The Commentators of the Quran have interpreted those appointed days as the first ten days of Zulhijjah.
The Prophet (PBUH) has confirmed the sacredness of those blessed ten days in a Hadith Sahih narrated by Ibn Abbas, may Allah SWT be pleased with both of them, in Sunan Abu Dawood. He said:
“ما من أيام العمل الصالح فيها أحب إلى الله من هذه الأيام، يعني أيام العشر، قالوا يا رسول الله ولا الجهاد في سبيل الله؟ قال: ولا الجهاد في سبيل الله إلا رجل خرج بنفسه وماله فلم يرجع من ذلك بشئ.”
The Prophet (PBUH) said in that Hadith:
“There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah SWT than these ten days.” The Sahabah then asked the Prophet (PBUH), even more than Jihad for the cause of Allah SWT? He answered: “Even more than Jihad for the cause of Allah SWT, except for a man went out offering himself and his wealth for the cause of Allah SWT and end up sacrificing both of them”.
During those blessed ten days, Muslims combine almost all acts of worship to Allah SWT: prayers, fasting, offering Sadaqah (charity), and performing Hajj, a combination of collective worship that never occurs in any other time throughout the year.
The sacredness and blessing of those ten days are manifested by the fact that millions of Muslims assemble in those days in Makkah from all over the world to perform Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, which is obligatory at least once in the lifetime.
Those ten days include the Day of Arafa (the ninth of Zulhijjah), which is the best day of the whole year. On that day the Muslims who are performing Hajj stand in the valley of Arafat to fulfill the most essential part of Hajj (Standing in Arafat).
The Prophet (PBUH) said in Hadith Sahih narrated by Imam Ahmad and others:
Which means the whole essence of Hajj is in the standing in Arafat.
They stand before Allah SWT in total and absolute equality wearing just two peaces of white cloth without any distinction between rich or poor, black or white, high position, or low position. All are just seeking the forgiveness and mercy of their Lord, Allah SWT.
The Prophet (PBUH) said in part of a Hadith narrated by Jaber, may Allah SWT be pleased with him, in Sahih Ibn Hiban:
“وما من يوم أفضل عند الله من يوم عرفه”.
“The Day of Arafah is the most favoured day to Allah SWT”.
On that great day, Allah SWT will save from Hellfire many of His slaves more than any other day.
In another Hadith in Sahih Muslim, narrated by our mother Aishah, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“ما من يوم أكثر أن يعتق الله فيه عبدا من النار من يوم عرفه، وإنه ليدنوا ثم يباهي بهم الملائكة فيقول ما أراد هؤلاء؟”.
The Prophet (PBUH) said in that Hadith:
“There is no day in which Allah SWT will save more of His servants from Hellfire than the Day of Arafah. On that day Allah SWT will come close to Muslims who are standing in Arafat and be proud of them in front of the angles and say that those Muslims will get what they are seeking (Forgiveness, Mercy, and Pleasure of their Lord)”.
On that day one of the greatest Aiahs of Quran had been revealed in Suratul Ma’dah. This ayah has confirmed the perfection of the religion of Islam as a religion for all Mankind.
“اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي ورضيت لكم الإسلام دينا” (المائدة: 3).
“On this day I have perfected your religion and completed my favor upon you and accepted Islam as your religion” (5:3).
For all the virtues of the Day of Arafah, the fasting of that blessed day has been highly recommended for Muslims, but not for those who are performing Hajj. A great reward of forgiveness from Allah SWT is promised for the Muslims who will fast that blessed day. This is a gift that Allah SWT has reserved for the Muslims who would not perform Hajj in a particular year.
The Prophet (PBUH) said in a Hadith narrated by Abu Qatadah in Sahih Muslim:
“صيام يوم عرفة أحتسب على الله أن يكفر السنة التي قبله والسنة التي بعده”.
The Prophet (PBUH) said in that Hadith:
“The fasting of the Day of Arafah is promised to grant forgiveness for the sins of the year before it and the year after it”.
The sacred First ten days of Zulhijjah also include the Day of Nahre (slaughter of Udhiyah “Qurbani”), which occurs on the tenth of that blessed month. It is the first day of Eidul-Adha, which with Eidul-Fitre constitutes the two annual Eids in Islam. However, Eidul-Adah is much greater, as it witnesses more essential rites of Ibadah, in particular by Muslims who perform Hajj.
On that great day Muslims who are performing Hajj conclude the major part of their Hajj rites by doing the first act of throwing the pebbles (Jamarat), slaughtering Udhiyah (Qurbani), shaving or cutting hair, performing Tawaful-Ifadah around Ka’bah. After fulfilling those rites, the restrictions of Ihram for Hajj will come to an end. Then the Muslims have to return back to the valley of Mena to complete the second and the third day of throwing the pebbles.
Muslims who don’t perform Hajj celebrate that day first by performing Eid prayer and then slaughtering their Udhiyah (Qurbani). It is worth mentioning that it is prohibited for Muslims to fast the first day of Eidul-Adha (Day of Nahre) and the following three days, which are called “Days of Tashreeq”. These are days for Muslims to celebrate, visiting each other and reconnecting with their families and friends.
However, Muslims who are performing Hajj are allowed to fast the Days of Tashreeq (11-13 of Zulhijjah) if they don’t have the financial ability to offer Udhiyah and have to rush into leaving to their countries. They need to fast a total of ten days, three days in Makkah and then seven days back in their countries.
Keeping in mind all the above-mentioned virtues of the first ten days of Zulhijjah, Muslims are recommended to seize the opportunity of those sacred days to be more active in Ibadah and perform as much righteous deeds as they can. That could include prayers (more often Jamaa in Masjid), fasting during the first nine days, in particular the Day of Arafah, offering charity, reconnecting with their parents, relatives, Muslim brothers, neighbors, and showing kindness to them.
Moreover, Muslims who feel that they have deviated from Allah’s right path, also need to rush into declaring their repentance to their Lord, Allah SWT, in particular during those blessed days. Sincere repentance means to have the firm determination to stop immediately the sins that are committed and showing regret and sincere intention not to commit such sins again.
We pray to Allah SWT to grant us enough energy that would help us to be more active in our Ibadah and to bestow His Forgiveness, Mercy, Grace, and Blessing upon us, our families, and the whole Muslim Ummah. We also pray to our Creator, Allah SWT, to accept the righteous deeds that we make during those blessed ten days, Ameen!
Imam of Masjid Fatima, Woodside , NY