by Sana Ibrahim
Prophet Muhammad (saw) stated, The best of you are those who possess the best of characters. [Tabarani, Sahih)
The best character is achieved by doing good deeds. The best of deeds are deeds done during the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, and the best of days is the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah (The Day of Arafah). As these days of excellence have loomed, let’s revive the sunnah of practicing and instilling its spirit as the sahabas did, thus re-molding ourselves into better Muslims and helping us reap great benefits and rewards.
The Importance of the First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah
There are no days which are more beloved to Allah than the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah. [Bukhari]
Allah (swt) takes an oath on the ‘The Ten Nights’ in surah fajr [Quran 89:2], which refers to the the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, and when Allah(swt) himself takes an oath on anything, then it’s to highlight its excellence.
Ibn Hajar says in Fath al-Bari: The most apparent reason for the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah being distinguished in excellence is due to the assembly of the greatest acts of worship in this period, i.e. salawat (prayers), siyam (fasting), sadaqah (charity) and the Hajj (pilgrimage), increase in tahlil (to say la ilaaha illallah), takbir (to say allahu akbar) and tahmid (to say alhumdulillah).” In no other periods do these great deeds combine.
The barakah are at the highest within these nights, and the rewards are the greatest.
Preparation of the Sahabas for the Ten Nights
Abdullah ibn Abbas reported the Prophet (saw) to have said: Of all the days Allah has created that we do good deeds, none has reward more than that of the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah. The Sahabas asked, ‘Oh Prophet, even more than fighting in the cause of Allah? The Prophet(saw) answered in affirmative and said except in the case of a man who went out, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause(of Allah), and came back with nothing.’ This person has reward that is tantamount to that of First 10 days of Dhul Hijja. [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Let’s analyze the application of the sahabas regarding whom the Prophet (saw) stated that they were the best of generation and the foremost people.
- Umar ibn al-Khattab(ra) used to begin chanting the takbir from his pulpit in Mina, whereupon the people of the mosque hearing Umar (ra) would also start to say the takbir as would the people in the markets, until the whole of Mina was locked in glorifying Allah.
- Za’id bin Jubair(ra): When the days of Dhul-Hijjah began he would strive to increase in good actions with great intensity until he was unable to increase anymore.
- Abu Huraira(ra) and Abdullah ibn Umar(ra) would walk in the streets and and markets chanting the tahlil, the takbir, and the tahmid.
Recommended acts during these days
- Reciting of the Quran: The Quran will intercede for us on the Day of Judgment. Aboo Umaamah relates that the Prophet (saw) said: Read the Quran, for verily it will come on the Day of Standing as an intercessor for its companions. [Muslim]
- Fasting: Imam an-Nawawi said that fasting in these ten days is extremely recommended, because it acts as a shield to all evil deeds.
- Hajj and Umrah: The act of Hajj is amongst the best deeds one can perform when pleasing Allah (swt). The ones who perform Hajj, in its proper and complete form, has all their past sins forgiven from Allah and they return to their homes as a newborn comes into this world— sinless.
- Qurbani/Udhiya: Eid-ul Adha is an act to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice, accomplished with the intention of getting close to Allah (swt) by giving some or all of the meat to the deprived on the day of Eid-ul-Adha following the next 3 days (Days of Tashreeq- 11, 12 and 13th of Dhul Hijjah). Eid-ul-Adha is a time of celebration for Muslims so this act facilitates happiness among the deprived community.
- Increase in Nawafil Salah: A person who offers Nawafil Salah is considered to be a true believer with superfluous love towards Allah (swt).
- Increase in Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah): This is the most beloved deed to Allah. Indeed the best of you are those who keep remembering Allah, by moistening their lips with his praise.
- Charity: It extinguishes sins, increases wealth, and expels calamity. The Prophet (saw) said: Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity. [Bukhari]
- Istighfar: Increase in istighfar, as it opens the closed doors of Allah’s mercy. Regularly saying Asthaghfirullah contributes enormously in attaining the consciousness of Allah and thus shield us from evil.
- Maintaining Ties of Kinship: Islam has placed a tremendous emphasis on the establishment, maintenance, and preservation of family kinship including the non-Muslim relatives. Severing bonds can have disastrous consequences on a person’s life. Showering relatives with gifts is one of the effective methods of generating love between people.
- Community Service: Islam is a religion which propagates universal brotherhood. A noble Muslim possesses an urge or desire to fulfill the needs of others without anticipating anything in return. It is only in serving people that we can expect a share in Allah’s (swt) mercy.
Blessed of days within the blessed 10 days– The Day of Arafah
Jabir (r.a) reported that the Prophet (saw) said the best of all days is Day of Arafah.
The day of Arafah is when Islam was perfected; Prophet (saw) said, It expiates the sins for the past and coming years. [Muslim] Fasting on the day of Arafah for non-pilgrims is a sunnah. Iblis, the enemy of Allah (swt), was never more humiliated and enraged than on the day of the battle of Badr, except for every year on the day of Arafah. On that day he sees the mercy that Allah pours down.
When he witnesses the descent of Allah’s angels and Allah’s forgiveness of sins, Iblis weeps. Hence, for a believer it’s requisite to follow the Sunnah and implement it in our lives by exhibiting the best of Islam. Acts of excellence are dearer to Allah (swt) due to which on the 9th day of dhul hijjah, Allah will assemble the angels and make them witness the glory of Islam on the earth and retort them saying this is why I created humans, Subhan Allah.