Dhul Hijjah is the 12th month in the Islamic calendar and one of the most blessed months of the entire year. In this month, Muslims around the world witness two very special events: the Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) and Eid al Adha (the feast of the sacrifice).
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us, referring to the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days."
Each year, when the month of Ramadan approaches, we find ourselves planning and preparing, well in advance, in order to maximize our time for worship (ibaadah) in this blessed month. We cook and freeze food ahead of time. We decorate our homes. We prepare special places for worship in our homes. We buy books, games, activities, and toys to engage our young children during this blessed month. We visit and host friends, family, and neighbors. We give gifts and celebrate Eid in a big way. But when it comes to the days of Dhul Hijjah, we tend to treat them like ordinary days, with the exception of the day of Arafah and Eid day. Unless we are going for Hajj, rarely do we plan ahead and think about how we will maximize our time in the days of Dhul Hijjah.
If we know that these are the most beloved days of the entire year, in the eyes of Allah, we can be doing so much more to take advantage of the blessings and rewards of worship in these days. Let's take a look at some ways we can make the most of these blessed days, in the absence of being able to perform Hajj.
It is highly recommended to fast the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to fast these days. Hafsa (may Allah be pleased with her), narrated that, "The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would not leave four matters: Fasting on Ashura, the ten days [of Dhul Hijjah], three days of every month, and performing two Rak’ats of prayer before dawn.” (Nasa’i no: 2416 & Ahmad)
It is especially rewarding to fast the ninth of Dhul Hijjah - Yawm al-Arafah (the Day of Arafah) as fasting this day is equal to forgiveness for two years: the sins of the previous year and the sins of the coming year. (Sahih Muslim)
We should increase our dua in these most blessed days of the year, and certainly not miss our chance to make dua on the day of Arafah.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The best of dua is dua on the day of Arafah, and the best that I and the Prophets before me said is, ‘La ilaha ill-Allah wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadir (There is no god but Allah Alone, with no partner or associate; His is the dominion, to Him be praise, and He has power over all things).” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (3585)’ classed as hasan by al-Albani in Sahih al-Targhib (1536)]
General Good Deeds
These are the best days of the year to increase all types of good deeds, as per the hadith mentioned above. Some areas we can focus on include reciting Quran, offering extra prayers, giving charity, staying away from sin and wrongdoing, respecting our parents and elders, maintaining the ties of kith & kin, repentance & seeking Allah's forgiveness, and increasing our sincere dua.
The Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said: “There are no days greater before Allah, or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed during them.” (Ahmad)
- Tasbeeh: SubhanAllah (Glory be to God)
- Tahmeed: Alhamdulillah (All praises be to God)
- Tahleel: Laa ilaha ill-Allah (There is no god but Allah)
The Takbeer is recited after every obligatory (fard) prayer starting from Fajr on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah until after Asr on the 13th of Dhul Hijjah.
The Hajj ends on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, which is the day of Eid al-Adha. On this day, we honor Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah by sacrificing an animal according to Islamic tradition. We divide the qurbani into three portions: one portion we keep, one portion we give to friends and relatives, and one portion we give to the poor and needy.