Most Muslims very well know the blessings of the nights of Ramadan, especially the last ten nights. However, not everyone knows that the first ten days of the last month of the Islamic month, Dhul Hijjah, are equally packed with blessings.
Allah has provided Muslims numerous opportunities throughout the year to renew their faith and to encourage them towards acts of goodness by specifying such special days. So, we have another such opportunity that we shouldn’t let pass by just like any other period in time.
Allah says in the Quran in Surah Al-Fajr:
“By the dawn; By the 10 nights”
(Surah al-Fajr 89:1-2)
Most scholars agree that these ten nights refer to the first ten nights of Dhul-Hijjah. Ibn Katheer also had validated that opinion by stating: “This is the correct opinion.”
[Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 8/413]
Ibn ‘Abbas (RadhiAllahu Anhuma) reports that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said,
“No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these days [meaning the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah].”
Among the deeds recommended during those ten days are observing voluntary fasting, offering animal sacrifices (lamb, goat, etc.), sincere repentance, recitation of the Quran, staying up the night and finally praying the Eid prayers on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah.
Hafsah (RadhiAllahu Anha) reported:
“There are five things that the Messenger (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) never abandoned: Fasting the day of Ashura in the month of Muharram, fasting the [first] 10 [days of Dhul-Hijjah], fasting 3 days of every month and praying two rak’aah before the dawn prayer.”
[Related by Ahmad and an-Nasa’i]
Abu Hurairah (RadhiAllahu Anhu) relates that the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“There are no days more loved to Allah for you to worship Him therein than the ten days of Dhul Hijja. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year and to offer salatul tahajjud (late-night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power. [i.e., Lailatul Qadr].”
[Related by at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and al-Baihaqi]
The Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) commanded us to recite a lot of Tasbeeh (“Subhan-Allah”), Tahmeed (“Al-hamdu Lillaah”) and Takbeer (“Allaahu akbar”) during this time. ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) 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 and Tahmeed.”
[Reported by Ahmad, 7/224; Ahmad Shaakir stated that it is saheeh].
For Muslims who do not attend Hajj, fasting on the day of Arafah is highly recommended.
Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah is a confirmed Sunnah for those who are not performing Hajj. It was narrated from Abu Qataadah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Arafah and he said: “It expiates for the past and coming years.” Narrated by Muslim (1162). 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.”
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Mughni (4/443), which is a Hanbali book:
It is a great and noble day, and a blessed festival which is of great virtue. It is narrated in saheeh reports from the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) that fasting it is expiation for two years. End quote.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: What is the ruling on fasting the day of ‘Arafah for non-pilgrims and pilgrims?
He replied: Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah for non-pilgrims is a confirmed Sunnah. The Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Arafah and he said: “I ask Allah that it may expiate for (the sins of) the year that comes before it and the year that comes after it.” According to another report he said: “It expiates for the past and coming years.”
As for the pilgrim, it is not Sunnah for him to fast on the day of ‘Arafah, because the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) did not fast on the day of ‘Arafah during the Farewell Pilgrimage. In Saheeh al-Bukhaari it is narrated from Maymoonah (RadhiAllahu Anha) that the people were not sure whether the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, so she sent him some milk when he was standing in ‘Arafah, and he drank it whilst the people were looking on. End quote.
So, as Muslims we should welcome the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah with the same fervor and enthusiasm as we welcome the last ten days of Ramadan or any other blessed days in Islam. Lets make the most of it.