The month of Dhul Hijjah is one of the most blessed months in the Islamic calendar. In a hadith reported by Ibn Abbas, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said that:
“There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” The people asked, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing” (Bukhari 2:457).
In light of this hadith then, there are certain things that one must do in the first 10 days of this beloved month so as to be able to reap as many rewards as possible. This is because if the first ten days supersede Jihad to some level, then they must be really special in the eyes of Allah almighty.
The first and foremost duty on any Muslim, who is eligible for the holy pilgrimage, is to perform Hajj. It is one of the 5 pillars upon which the foundation of Islam is based and it is our responsibility to fulfill the required obligations towards the Almighty. Hajj is only obligatory once in any person’s lifetime and for those who are not fortunate enough – in terms of health and means – there are other ways to make the most of Dhul Hijjah.
Another thing that one should do in first few days of Dhul Hijjah is to keep fasts. The first ten days are of significance when it comes to fasting but the 9th day which is the day of Arafah is of even greater significance. It is Sunnah to fast on the 9th day and Prophet (PBUH) encouraged us to keep fast and do good deeds especially on this day. In a hadith the Prophet (PBUH) has stated the significance of fasting in the eyes of the Lord Almighty:
“All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except for fasting, which is for Me and I am the One Who will reward him for it” (Bukhari 1805).
However, it is prohibited to fast on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah as it is a day of celebration for the Muslim community.
Offer a sacrificial animal in the name of the Lord
“Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good” (Quran 22:37).
The month of Dhul Hijjah is a tribute to the sacrifice of Abraham and in this month all Muslims should sacrifice an animal in the way of Allah just like Abraham did, as a testament of unwavering faith in the Lord Almighty. The sacrifice must be given on between the 10th to 12th Dhul Hijjah, as these are the designated and preferred dates – sacrifice on any other days of the month do not hold the same kind of significance.
Be more charitable
There are many rewards for performing good deeds during these ten days and so one should try and give as much in charity as possible.
“If you loan Allah a goodly loan, He will multiply it for you and forgive you. And Allah is Most Appreciative and Forbearing” (Quran 64:17).
A good loan means a charitable deed and if the Lord promises forgiveness in reward for charity, then what better gift is there than to accept His forgiveness?
On days that rewards become manifold and Allah’s mercy descends upon us, one should take such an opportunity and make the most of it. Giving charity not only helps others but also helps those who give because Allah does not let any good deed go unrewarded. Hence the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are the best days to make up for lost time with the Lord.
Those Muslims who are unable to perform Hajj should occupy themselves in worshipping Allah as much as possible: offer the obligatory prayers, read Quran, do Dhikr and make Dua for themselves and the whole of the community. In Surah Baqarah the Lord says:
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided” (Quran 2:186).
If this is how Allah Almighty feels when His men call upon Him, just imagine how significant it would be to call upon Him and invoke His mercy and blessings on the special days.
One should definitely make the most of these days and get in touch with the Lord who is the Sole Protector and Guardian and who loves us the most.