by Ammar M. Ali
In order to draw our attention to the importance and grandeur of certain things, and increase our appreciation of them, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) honors objects of His creation by swearing by them in the Qur’an. Amongst these objects are the moon, the stars, the sun, the night, the day, the heavens, the earth, time immemorial, the dawn, and the ten nights. Allah (swt) says:
“By the dawn and the ten nights…” (89:1-2)
In his tafsir (exegesis), Ibn Kathīr rahimahu allah (may God have mercy on him), mentions that the above verse is referring to the first ten days of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
What is the significance of these ten days?
How can we properly utilize these days?
By performing Hajj:
It is during these days, and only these days, that we implement the final pillar of Islam, Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). By the grace of Allah (swt), my parents performed Hajj last year, and I remember them telling me about the emotional and powerful scene of seeing close to three million people gather from every nook and cranny of the world. People with different skin colors, speaking languages many of us haven’t even heard of. Yet one thing united them all, and one thing alone: laa ilaaha ill Allah Muhammad ar-rasool allah (there is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God).
When Allah (swt) created Adam `alayhi assalaam (peace be upon him), the angels were baffled. They asked Allah (swt), “Are You going to create a creation that will spread corruption and spill blood!? While here we are, worshipping you and praising you” (2:30). They could not understand the wisdom behind a creation that is inclined toward sin, while they are worshipping and praising Allah (swt) all the time. The angels do not eat, they do not sleep, and they do not sin. Allah (swt) replied, “I know what you do not know” (2:30). During Hajj, on the day of Arafah, Allah (swt) calls out to the angels, and points to the pilgrims saying, “(Look,) my slaves have come to Me, looking rough, from every deep valley hoping for My mercy, so if their sins are equivalent to the amount of sand or the drops of rain or like the foam on the sea I will forgive them. So go forth My slaves! Having forgiveness and for what or who you have interceded for” (At-Tabarani). Subhan Allah (glory be to God). Allah (swt) is self-subsisting and needs not the worship, nor the praise, nor the sacrifice of us measly human beings, yet one cannot help but feel overwhelmed by emotion at the fact that our Lord is so proud that the pilgrims left their homes, their belongings, their families, and everything for His sake; so proud that He (swt) even boasts and shows them off to the angels. Allah knew what they did not know.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), commit sin, or dispute unjustly during the Hajj, will come back like the day his mother gave birth to him” (Bukhari, Muslim).
By receiving the rewards of Hajj & Umrah, without actually performing them:
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever prays Fajr in congregation then sits remembering Allah until the sun rises, then prays two rak’ahs, will have a reward like that of Hajj and ‘Umrah.” He said, “In full, in full, in full.” (Tirmidhi)
By constantly making dhikr (remembrance) of Allah (swt) and reciting Qur’an:
The Prophet ﷺ said, “There are not any days that are holier than these ten days of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah. Therefore increase in doing good deeds to Allah, and increase in saying Allahu Akbar [God is Greater], and saying alhamdulillah [all praise be to God], and saying laa ilaha illAllah [there is no deity but God]” (Ahmed). After hearing this, the sahabah (companions of the Prophet ﷺ) became so eager to say these things, that “they would shout them aloud, even in the market places” (Al-Bukhari), after the prayers, and especially after the prayers until three days after Eid (Eid al-Adha, the holiday that falls on the last day of the ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah). When we truly love something and feel its need, we can’t stop thinking about it and craving it. When we haven’t eaten for a while, and are hungry, all we think about is food. Similarly, a true mu’min (believer) recognizes how much he needs Allah (swt) and just how parched his soul is, and realizes that his soul can only be quenched with the remembrance of Allah (swt). For, “Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured,” (Qur’an, 13:28).
By increasing our fard (obligatory) & nafl (voluntary) prayers and deeds:
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah (swt) said, ‘Whoever takes a wali [loyal trustee] of Mine as an enemy, I will wage war on him; and My slave will not perform any act with which he draws closer to Me, more beloved to Me then when he fulfills what I have ordained on him; and My slave will keep drawing closer to Me by performing the nawafil [voluntary acts of worship] until I love him, and when I love him, I will be his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hands with which he strikes, and his legs with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him; and if he seeks refuge with Me, I will grant him refuge.'” (Bukhari)
By giving charity:
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily charity removes the wrath of Allah and eases the sufferings of death.” (Tirmidhi) But what about those amongst us who don’t have the means to give? The Prophet ﷺ said, “The reward of giving one dirham has become has surpassed that of giving a hundred thousand dirhams.”The companions asked, “How can that be O Messenger of Allâh?” He replied, “A rich man takes a hundred thousand dirhams from his wealth and gives it away as Sadaqah. Another man has nothing except two dirhams, and so he takes one dirham and gives it away in charity.” (Nasâ’i and ibn Hibbân who graded it sahîh) Subhan Allah, our rabb (Lord) is so merciful and loving that even if you only have a dollar to give, He will accept it, multiply it, and love you for it. And if you can’t even give one dollar, then remember that Rasool Allah ﷺ said, “Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, your removing of stones, thorns, and bones from people’s paths is charity, and your guiding a man gone astray in the world is charity for you.” (Tirmidhi)
By spending our nights in tahajjud (late night prayers):
Allah (swt) comes down to the lowest heaven, not only in Ramadan, not only on laylatul qadr (the night of power, one of the last ten nights of Ramadan), but every single night. The Prophet ﷺ said, “In the last third of every night our Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) descends to the lowermost heaven and says; “Who is calling Me, so that I may answer him? Who is asking Me so that may I grant him? Who is seeking forgiveness from Me so that I may forgive him?”‘ [Bukhari, Hadith Qudsi]
By seeking forgiveness and repenting for our sins:
In one of my favorite and most powerful verses in the Qur’an, Allah (swt) says, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful,” (Qur’an 39:53). Allah (swt) is giving us hope and reassuring us that no matter how far we’ve have gone off the path, it’s never too late to come back. Who are we, pathetic, measly, human beings to think that our sins are too great in quality and quantity for Allah (swt) to forgive!? Who are we to think that our sins are too substantial for the Creator of the heavens and the earth to forgive!? Allah (swt) can, and Allah (swt) will forgive all of our sins. We are not perfect, we are not angels, and we can never stop sinning. In fact, the Prophet ﷺ said, “I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, if you were a people who did not commit sin, Allah would take you away and replace you with a people who would sin and then seek Allah’s forgiveness so He could forgive them.” (Muslim) Allah (swt) loves to forgive us, so we try our best, and when we do slip, we feel guilty, we repent, and promise to never go back to the sin. “O son of Adam! As long as you invoke Me and plead to Me, I will forgive you whatever you have committed, and I will not make much of it. O son of Adam! If your evil deeds reach the borders of the sky, and then you ask Me for forgiveness, I will forgive you. O son of Adam! If you bring forth the earth full of errors, then you meet Me while you do not associate anything (or anyone) with Me, I will bring forth for you its full of forgiveness.” (Tirmidhi)
Fasting on the ninth of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah, the day of `Arafah:
- Fasting that day expiates the sins of two years, the previous one and the coming year. (Muslim)
- It is a day on which Allah (swt) completed the revelation of the religion, perfected this bounty bestowed upon us and was satisfied with Islam as our religion. This was mentioned in Sūrat’l-Mā’idah, Qur’an 5:3. (Bukhari and Muslim)
- It is the day when Allah All-Mighty descends, in a manner that suits His Majesty, to the closest heaven and shows his pride to the angels about the presence of the pilgrims. (Muslim)
- On this day Allah (swt) promises the pilgrims to bestow His mercy on them and forgive their sins so that when they return home they return free of sins just like the day when their mothers gave birth to them. (Bukhari and Muslim)
- It is a day when many people will be emancipated from the fire of Hell.
Perform Salat al-Eid (the Eid prayer), and celebrate the greatest day of the entire year:
The 10th day of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah is the greatest day of the year. It is called Yom un-Nahr, the day of the sacrifice, the day of Eid-ul-Adha. The Prophet ﷺ said: “The best day with Allah is Yawm an-Nahr, the day of sacrifice and then Yawm al-Qarr (the day that follows, when the pilgrims reside in the camps of Mina for worship).” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood)
Also, it is important to remember that not only is it sunnah (Prophetic tradition) to attend Eid salah (prayer), it is obligatory.
- The Prophet ﷺ would make a sacrifice every single year, and said, “Whoever can afford to offer a sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place for prayer.” (Ahmad and Ibn Maajah; classed as saheeh by al-Haakim)
- The Prophet ﷺ told his daughter Fatima (ra), “Be present when your Eid sacrifice is slaughtered. Allah forgives you as the first drop of its blood comes out.” (Narrated by al-Bayhaqi’ and Abdul Razaq in their collections of hadeeth.)
- The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever made a sacrifice then Allah SWT will forgive the amount of sins on the hairs of the animal.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)
- We should make the sacrifice after salat al-Eid, or before sunset on the 12th day of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah. (This is according to some jurists as there is another opinion stating that the time is extended until the sunset of the 13th day.)
- An animal suffices for one family, but a cow or camel suffices for seven families.
- Meat should be divided amongst the self, family, friends, and the poor.
- The one who will be sacrificing the animal should avoid clipping nails, and cutting or shaving hair for the ten days in order to show respect to Allah (swt).
These are just a few of the many things we can do to take advantage of these days; they are not new to us. We read them all the time, we teach them to our children, and we relate them to our friends. Why is it then, that year after year we ignore the call of Allah (swt)? Why is it that we keep telling ourselves tomorrow I’m going to change, tomorrow I’m going to become a better person? Do we not realize that this is a plot from shaytaan (the devil), and there will come a day for you and I that we will have no tomorrow? It is now that we must turn to a new page and get closer to Allah (swt), by praising Him, by worshipping Him, by seeking His forgiveness, by promising Him that we are going to change, by cleansing our intentions and our thoughts, and by appreciating and thanking Him for everything we are and everything we have. How foolish it is to not realize the importance of these days, and what a loss it would be to not utilize every moment of these days.
Let us put our hand out to Allah (swt), for He will put His arm out to us. Let us go walking towards Allah (swt), for He will come to us running.
Oh Allah! Send Your blessings upon Muhammad ﷺ and upon the family of Muhammad, as You have sent Your blessings upon Ibrahim (as) and upon the family of Ibrahim (as). Indeed, You are praiseworthy and glorious.