The Holy Qur’an, Taubah, 9:36-37 says, “The number of months in the sight of God is twelve (in a year)- So ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred: That is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein, and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that God is with those who restrain themselves. Verily the transposing (of a prohibited month) is an addition to unbelief: The unbelievers are led to wrong thereby: for they make it lawful one year, and forbidden another year, in order to adjust the number of months forbidden by God and make such forbidden ones lawful. The evil of their course seems pleasing to them. But God guideth not those who reject faith.”
The 12th lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah is no doubt among the four sacred months we have in Islam (Qur’an 2:194). Others are Dhul-Qa’da, Muharram and Rajab. These are months when warfare and all forms of hostilities are prohibited, and when the law of equality should uphold. Even if the enemies of Islam break that custom, the Muslims are only free to do so to that extent.
God Almighty declares in Qur’an 2: 194, “The prohibited month for the prohibited month and so for all things prohibited there is the law of equality. If, then anyone transgresses the prohibition against you transgress ye likewise against him. But fear God and know that God is with those who restrain themselves”.
Much as each of the sacred months has its special nature historically, morally, and spiritually for strengthening the faith of the faithful, the months of pilgrimage (Dhul-Hijjah) has its numerous benefits and uniqueness. It is indeed the month, when the chief rites of Hajj, the complete pilgrimage are performed, in first ten days. The lesser hajj (‘Umra) is a less formal pilgrimage that is performed at any time of the year.
During the period, all pilgrims are dedicated to worship and prayer and denial of vanities. Almighty Allah declares in Holy Qur’an, Fajr, 89:1-5, “By the break of day; by the nights twice five; by the ven and odd (contrasted); and by the night when it passeth away: – Is there (not) in these an adjuration (or evidence) for those who understand?”
Besides, it is the unique month when there is spiritual rejuvenation for the Faithfuls to strengthen their piety. At least, Allah accepts prayer, fasting and offerings only from the righteous (or the pious).
God says in Qur’an 5:27, “Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! they each presented a sacrifice (to God): it was accepted from one but not from the other. Said the latter: ‘Be sure I will slay thee’. ‘Surely’, said the former, ‘God doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.’”
Also, on sacrifice during pilgrimage, God says in Qur’an 2:197-198, “For Hajj are the months well known. If anyone undertakes that duty therein let there be no obscenity nor wickedness nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good ye do (be sure) God knoweth it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey but the best of provisions is right conduct. So, fear Me o ye that are wise.! It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of your Lord (during Pilgrimage). Then when ye pour down from (Mount) Arafat celebrate the praises of God at the Sacred Monument and celebrate His praises as He has directed you even though before this ye went astray”.
It is to achieve this state of piety that Prophet Muhammed (SAW) has recommended fasting and special prayers for the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah which leads to ‘Eid-1-Adha festival on the 10th day. Most importantly, the Arafat day which is the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah is strongly recommended for fasting for non-pilgrims.
The adult Muslims are also expected to refrain from food and drink up to the slaughtering of man’s ram at the praying ground on the “Eid days. In fact, all other days of the months, except the Eid day of 10th, 11th, and 12th are good for fasting to savour the forgiveness and blessing of Allah (SWT).
Prophet Muhammad, SAW, says, “The Prophet of Allah said: There are no days more beloved to Allah that he be worshipped in them than the ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah, fasting every day of them is equivalent to fasting a year; and standing every night of them (in Salaah) is equivalent to standing on the Night of Qadr” (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim).
Ibn ‘Abbass (ra) reported that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “There are no days which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days”. They (the Companions) said, ‘Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out himself for Jihad, taking all his wealth with him and comes back with nothing’ (Sahih Bukhari).
Therefore, Prophet Muhammad, SAW, recommends the following in the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah lunar month:
Read the Quran: Reading the Qur’an is a good deed and Allah (swt) especially loves the good deeds done in these days. Read as much as you can, even if it is a few verses each day.
Increase in nawaafil prayers: There are a number of extra prayers you can observe during the day to increase your worship and good deeds.
Make lots of dhikr: Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these 10 days, so recite a great deal of tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed during them.” [Ahmad]: Tahmeed: Al-hamduLillah (All praises be to God); Tahleel: Laailaha ill-Allah (There is no god but Allah); Tasbeeh: Subhaan-Allah (Glory be to God).
Istighfaar: Use these blessed days to seek forgiveness for all our wrongdoings.
Fasting: It is Sunnah for the Muslim to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah, because fasting is one of the best of deeds. In a hadith qudsi, Allah says: “All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except fasting, which is for Me and I shall reward for it.” [Bukhari, 1805] The Prophet said: “Fasting the day of `Arafah expiates the sins of two years: the past one and the coming one.” [Muslim].
Give in charity: Give in charity in these blessed days, as much as you can.
Preserve ties of kinship: Maintaining the ties of kinship is from the best of deeds due to the saying The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “Whoever would like his provision to be increased and his lifespan to be extended, let him maintain the ties of kinship.” [Bukhari].
And finally as Eid approaches, don’t forget to give your Qurbani, slaughtering of camel, cow and ram for Eid-el-Adha Day, 10th of Dhul-Hijjah.
Really, the day of Arafat is a day of blessing for mankind which commemorates the reunion of Prophet Adam with his wife, Hawau, after their wanderings on earth seeking Allah’s forgiveness after being driven away from paradise for taking the forbidden fruit (Quran 2:35-39).
Perhaps our greatest grandfather and mother would have continued to wander on earth in sin, suffering and rejection if not for Allah’s Mercy on us on the Month of Mercy on the 9th Day of Dhul-Hijjah.
God says in Qur’an 35-39: “We said: ‘O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the garden and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will but approach not this tree or ye run into harm and transgression’. Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden) and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: ‘Get ye down all (ye people) with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling place and your means of livelihood for a time’. Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration and his Lord turned toward him; for He is Oft-Returning Most Merciful. We said: ‘Get ye down all from here; and if as is sure there comes to your guidance from Me’. Whosoever follows My guidance on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. But those who reject faith and belie Our Signs they shall be companions of the Fire; they shall abide therein.”
May Almighty Allah make it easy for us to observe good deeds at this period of the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah and grant us the benefits. Ameen.