PRAISE be to Allah Who has created time and has made some times better than others, some months and days and nights better than others, when rewards are multiplied many times, as a mercy toward His slaves. This encourages them to do more righteous deeds and makes them more eager to worship Him, so that the Muslim renews his efforts to gain a greater share of reward, prepare himself for death and supply himself in readiness for the Day of Judgment.
This season of worship brings many benefits, such as the opportunity to correct one’s faults and make up for any shortcomings or anything that one might have missed. Every one of these special occasions involves some kind of worship through which the slaves may draw closer to Allah, and some kind of blessing though, which Allah bestows His favor and mercy upon whomsoever He will. The happy person is the one who makes the most of these special months, days and hours and draws nearer to his Lord during these times through acts of worship; he will most likely be touched by the blessing of Allah and will feel the joy of knowing that he is safe from the flames of Hell. (Ibn Rajab)
Among the special seasons of worship are the first 10 days of Dul Hijjah, which Allah has preferred over all the other days of the year. Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these 10 days.” (Al-Bukhari).
This Hadith and others indicate that these 10 days are better than all the other days of the year, with no exceptions, not even the last 10 days of Ramadan. But the last 10 nights of Ramadan are better, because they include Laylat Al-Qadr (the Night of Power), which is better than a 1,000 months. Thus the various reports may be reconciled. (See Tafseer Ibn Kathir)
The virtue of these 10 days is based on many things: Allah swears an oath by them, and swearing an oath by something is indicative of its importance and great benefit. Allah says: “By the dawn; by the 10 nights.” (Qur’an, 89:1-2) Ibn Abbaas, Ibn Al-Zubayr, Mujahid and others of the earlier and later generations said that this refers to the first 10 days of Dul Hijjah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) testified that these are the best days of this world, as we have already quoted above from Sahih Hadith.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us to recite a lot of Tasbeeh (Subhan-Allah), Tahmeed (Al-hamdu Lillah) and Takbeer (Allahu akbar) during this time. Abdullah ibn Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are no days greater in the sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these 10 days, so during this time recite a great deal of Tahleel (La ilaha ill-Allah), Takbeer and Tahmeed.” (Ahmad).
These 10 days include Yawm Arafah (the Day of Arafah), on which Allah perfected His religion. Fasting on this day will expiate for the sins of two years.; and the Day of Sacrifice, the greatest day of the entire year and the greatest day of Haj, which combines acts of worship in a way unlike any other day. These 10 days include the days of sacrifice and of Haj.
Things to avoid
One who wants to offer a sacrifice must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the 10 days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When you see the new moon of Dul Hijjah, if any one of you wants to offer a sacrifice, then he should stop cutting his hair and nails until he has offered his sacrifice.” According to another report he said: “He should not remove (literally, touch) anything from his hair or skin.” (Muslim)
The Prophet’s instruction here makes one thing obligatory and his prohibition makes another haram, according to the soundest opinion, because these commands and prohibitions are unconditional and unavoidable. However, if a person does any of these things deliberately, he must seek Allah’s forgiveness but is not required to offer (an extra) sacrifice in expiation; his sacrifice will be acceptable. Whoever needs to remove some hair, nails, etc. because it is harming him, such as having a broken nail or a wound in a site where there is hair, should do so, and there is nothing wrong with that. The state of ihram is so important that it is permitted to cut one’s hair if leaving it will cause harm. There is nothing wrong with men or women washing their heads during the first 10 days of Dul Hijjah, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) only forbade cutting the hair, not washing it.
Some women delegate their brothers or sons to make the sacrifice on their behalf, then cut their hair during these 10 days. This is not correct, because the ruling applies to the one who is offering the sacrifice, whether or not he (or she) delegates someone else to carry out the actual deed. The prohibition does not apply to the person delegated, only to the person who is making the sacrifice, as is indicated in the Hadith. The person who is sacrificing on behalf of someone else, for whatever reason, does not have to adhere to this prohibition.
Concerning the types of worship to be performed during these 10 days: One must understand that these days are a great blessing from Allah to His slave, which is appreciated properly by the actively righteous. It is the Muslim’s duty to appreciate this blessing and make the most of the opportunity, by devoting these 10 days to paying more attention to striving hard in worship. Among His blessings to His slaves, Allah has given us many ways in which to do good and worship Him, so that the Muslim may be constantly active and consistent in his worship of his Lord. Among the good deeds which the Muslim should strive to do during the first 10 days of Dul Hijjah are:
Fasting. It is sunnah to fast on the ninth day of the month, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) urged us to do good deeds during this time, and fasting is one of the best of deeds. Allah has chosen fasting for Himself, as is stated in the Hadith Qudsi: “Allah says: ‘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) The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on the first nine days of Dul Hijjah.
Takbeer. It is Sunnah to say Takbeer (‘Allahu Akbar’), Tahmeed (‘Al-hamdu Lillah’), Tahleel (‘La ilaha ill-Allah’) and Tasbih (Subhan Allah’) during the first 10 days of Dul Hijjah, and to say it loudly in the mosque, the home, the street and every place where it is permitted to remember Allah and mention His name out loud, as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the greatness of Allah, may He be exalted. Men should recite these phrases out loud, and women should recite them quietly.
Performing Haj, Umrah. One of the best deeds that one can do during these 10 days is to perform Haj to the Sacred House of Allah. The one whom Allah helps to go on Haj to His House and to perform all the rituals properly is included in the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “An accepted Haj brings no less a reward than Paradise.”
Doing more good deeds in general, because good deeds are beloved by Allah and will bring a great reward from Him. Whoever is not able to go to Haj should occupy himself at this blessed time by worshipping Allah, praying (salaat), reading Qur’an, remembering Allah, making supplication, giving charity, honoring his parents, upholding the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and other good deeds and acts of worship.
Sacrifice. One of the good deeds that will bring a person closer to Allah during these 10 days is offering a sacrifice, by choosing a high-quality animal and fattening it, spending money for the sake of Allah.
Sincere repentance. One of the most important things to do during these 10 days is to repent sincerely to Allah and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. Repentance means coming back to Allah and foregoing all the deeds, open and secret, that He dislikes, out of regret for what has passed, giving it up immediately and being determined never to return to it, but to adhere firmly to the Truth by doing what Allah loves.