Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa illaaha illAllah….these words are buzzing through our heads nowadays, as we proclaim the greatness of the first ten, exalted and esteemed days of the last month of the Islamic calendar – Dhul Hijjah. Allah has sworn by these days in the Quran:
“By the ten nights.”
[Surah Al-Fajr: 2]
Unlike the last ten odd nights of the Holy month of Ramadan, which are exalted in seeking rewards through night worship every odd-numbered night, the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah provide non-stop, continuous chances for doing righteous deeds.
Aside from personal acts of piety, they give Muslims the golden chance to do those good deeds that earn rewards even during the day, especially during daily, routine interaction with peers and family. For example, smiling, visiting a sick neighbor, makng your mother her tea, or patiently enduring a colleague’s unfair behavior are all good deeds that can earn manifold rewards if consciously done during these ten days.
The Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] said:
“There are no days during which good deeds are more beloved to Allah than these (ten) days.” He was asked, “Not even jihad in the path of Allah?” He replied, “Not even jihad in the path of Allah, except for a person who goes out with his self and his wealth, and comes back with nothing.”
[Sahih Al-Bukhari and others]
Therefore, here is a list of ten things, both personal and communal, that can help us maximize our rewards during these blessed Dhul Hijjah days until Eid Al Adha:
- Umrah and Hajj
As the name of the month “Dhul Hijjah” suggests (viz. “the one of the Hajj”), the most exalted deed that can be performed in it is the pilgrimage of the house of Allah. Hajj is obligatory for those who can afford the journey, physically and financially, especially if they have never done it before.
- Sacrifice of an animal
Buying, rearing, and nurturing an animal for sacrifice for the sake of Allah is part of the ritual that forms the crux of this month; it is one of the rites performed during Dhul Hijjah, by the pilgrims and non-pilgrims both, starting from the same day – the 10th of the month.
Allah says in the Quran:
”It is not their meat, nor their blood, that reaches Allah. It is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them (sacrificial animals) subject to you, so that you may glorify Allah for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right.”
[Surah Al-Hajj: 37]
The hard work needed in getting the animal slaughtered and its meat cut and distributed on the 10th – 13th of this month should not dissuade a Muslim from enthusiastically performing this rite. Rather, he should remember that it is his taqwa during this process that will greatly please Allah.
Some Muslim men opt to have the sacrifice done by a third party simply out of laziness, to avoid the manual work involved in slaughter. This attitude should be changed, and this sunnah should be carried out with enthusiasm, keeping in mind the unswerving spirit of Ibrahim (peace be upon him) as he lay his son down for sacrifice, in submission to his Lord.
- Takbeer, tahleel and tahmeed
Muslims should loudly recite these adhkar from the night they sight the Dhul Hijjah moon until the Eid salah on the 10th. The wisdom behind doing this loudly (for men only) is so that listeners can be reminded to do the same.
Fasting on the Day of Arafah – 9th Dhul Hijjah – is especially prescribed. It joins the Muslims in unity as one brotherhood: as the pilgrims reach Arafah to ask Allah for forgiveness, the rest of the Muslims the world over, seek forgiveness for their sins via fasting this day.
As many other days as possible, from the 1st – 8th of this month, Muslims should fast in order to reach a higher level of piety and to earn rewards, especially on Monday and Thursday.
- Zakah and Sadaqah
Dhul Hijjah provides another chance to give pending zakah or other charity, for greater reward. Even giving one riyal per day will have its benefits!
- Recitation of Quran
Reciting each letter gets ten rewards at the minimum; how so ever more can one please Allah by reciting as much of the Quran as they can, during these ten days? Recitation should be done carefully, giving each letter of the Quran it’s due, and should not be taken as a chore. Do as much as you like; but do it every day.
As always, its never too late to seek Allah’s forgiveness, by renewing our intention to turn over a new leaf and change our way of life to one of righteousness. Offering two units of prayer before Fajr with this intention during these ten days would prove very beneficial.
- Abstaining from prohibited things, entertainment, and useless pastimes
Reducing the amount of time we spend on activities that do not benefit our Hereafter would be a wise course of action during these ten days. Even those mundane tasks and chores that take up our time and energy, such as fixing the kitchen plumbing or servicing the car, can be delayed until after Eid Al Adha.
- Respecting and serving pilgrims
Pilgrims are Allah’s guests. Any act of help towards them: feeding them, quenching their thirst, guiding them, giving them shelter, or easing their difficulties, will please Allah tremendously, insha’Allah.
- Visiting Relatives
These ten days can be cashed in on by visiting someone who is sick or experiencing bad times in their life, within one’s clan, neighborhood or community.
This “top-ten” list allows us to prioritize our course of action during Dhul Hijjah. We can focus on waking up early to pray and eat suhoor; to find, buy, feed and care for a sturdy sacrificial animal; to help a needy person every day or give them money, and to pray every obligatory prayer in the mosque. It is just a short, ten-day period, dear Muslims! Let us not procrastinate anymore; let us rush forward to perform little bits of all the above good deeds, in order to garner the pleasure of our Creator for the rest of the year!