Shaikh Ahmad Kutty
The first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah have been singled out for their great merit and excellence like no other in the Islamic calendar. Allah, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has chosen to dispense immense spiritual blessing and rewards in these particular days. They enjoy such high status that Allah Himself makes an oath by them: “By the Daybreak, by the Ten Nights” (Quran 89:1–2).
According to some mufassirun (Quranic commentators), the nights mentioned here are none other than the first ten nights of Dhul-Hijjah, while others hold the view that they are the last ten nights of Ramadan. But none dispute the fact that the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah possess tremendous blessings and excellence. The Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said, “There are no days that are dearer to Allah in respect of devoting oneself to worship than the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjjah.”
Based on this and similar traditions, scholars have stressed that the days and nights of Dhul-Hijjah must be set aside for intense dedication to worship, increased preoccupation with virtuous acts, and contemplation. Virtue and reflection go hand in hand in Islam. Acts that are especially worthy are: reading the Quran; making dhikr and du’a; performing supererogatory prayers; sending blessings on the Prophet ﷺ; rendering acts of kindness and compassion; visiting the sick; doing what is right and forbidding what is wrong; bringing peace, reconciliation, and harmony amongst people; helping those who are in distress or need, and so on. While these works should occupy Muslims at all times, during these days they must be pursued with the greatest zeal.
Fasting is noted to be the most worthy act of devotion one can perform in the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah (for those not performing Hajj). According to some traditions, fasting in these days is a tremendous opportunity to gain repentance and forgiveness. Those who cannot manage to fast all nine days should at least endeavour to fast on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah (the Day of Arafah). It must be noted that while fasting the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah is recommended, it is forbidden to fast during the days of the Eid. This prohibition is not limited to the tenth of Dhul-Hijjah, but extends to the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth – these are all days of festivity and celebration.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the unique merits and excellences of these days of Dhul-Hijjah are in no small measure due to the significant rites of Hajj performed therein. The major days of Hajj are:
- Dhul-Hijjah 8: the day of tarwiyah (quenching thirst), when pilgrims resume ihram and proceed to Mina
- Dhul-Hijjah 9: the Day of Arafah, the great ritual where pilgrims stand on the plain of Arafah
- Dhul-Hijjah 10: the day of nahr (sacrifice), when pilgrims sacrifice, and stone the Jamarat
While pilgrims gather at sacred sites to perform the greatest rites of Hajj, it is only fitting that those not performing Hajj demonstrate spiritual and emotional solidarity. As pilgrims perform the rites of Hajj, other Muslims are exhorted to participate in their tremendous spiritual feats and experience by performing acts of virtue and devotion.
May Allah the Most Exalted and Glorious grant us the wisdom to honour the sanctity of these rites and bless us to participate in them with our whole bodies, minds, and souls. Ameen.