Even if you are not going to Hajj this year, you still can immensely benefit from these superior Days (10 days of Zul Hijjah) for Righteous Deeds…

It is from the Grace and Mercy of Allah to the believers, to specify for them some seasons in which the rewards of good deeds are multiplied. One of these seasons, is that of ten days of Zul-Hijjah.

Zul Hijjah is the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Literally, it means “Hajj.” Obviously, this name of the month indicates that the great annual worship of “Hajj” is performed in this month, which gives it special significance and place in the Muslim tradition.

Even for those not performing the pilgrimage, Hajj, the first ten days of Zil Hijjah are considered very sacred and a time for increased reflection, seeking Allah’s forgiveness, doing good and various other forms of worship.

The first ten days of Zul Hijjah are among the most magnificent days in Islamic calendar. So sacred are these days that Allah makes an oath by them when He says in the Quran: “By the dawn; by the ten nights.” (Al Fajr 89:1-2) Making an oath by something indicates its importance and great benefit.

It is narrated from Ibn Umar that the Prophet Muhammad (S) said: “There aren’t any days greater, nor any days in which deeds done in them are more beloved to Allah, the Most High, than these ten days (of Zul-Hijjah). So, increase in them the saying of Tahleel (La Ilaaha illa Allah), and Takbeer (Allah Akbar) and Tahmeed (al-Hamdu li-llah).” (Musnad Imaam Ahmad)

This is the season of righteous actions – for pilgrims and non-pilgrims. While any good deed done for the sake of Allah according to the way He approves will be rewarded immeasurably during the first ten days, Insha Allah, some of the more specific actions mentioned in the Traditions of the Prophet (S) will be explained in this article, as merits relevant to the season of Zul Hijjah:

First: The performance of Haj and Umrah ~ These are the best of deeds that may be done. And what indicates their superiority are a number of Ahadith, one of which is the saying of the Prophet (S) that “Performance of Umrah is an expiation of the sins committed between it and the previous Umrah, and the reward of the Haj which is accepted by Allah, the Most High, is nothing but Paradise.” (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

Second: Fasting during these days – as many of them as may be easy (for one to fast); especially the Day of Arafah. There is no doubt that the act of fasting is one of the best deeds, and it is from what Allah, the Most High, has chosen for himself, as mentioned in the Hadith Qudsee: Fasting is for Me, and it is I who give reward for it. Verily, someone gives up his desires, his food and his drink for My sake…” (Al Bukhari, Muslim, Malik, at-Tirmidhee, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)

In terms of fasting, it is particularly encouraged to fast on the ninth day of Zul-Hijjah, known in Arabic as Yawm Arafa. This is the date when the Hujjaj (pilgrims) assemble on the plain of ‘Arafat, six miles away from Makkah al Mukarramah, where they perform the most essential part of the prescribed duties of Hajj, namely, the ‘Wuqoof of’Arafat (the stay in ‘Arafat). The Prophet used to fast on this day (al Nisai and Abu Dawud). He (S) has said, “One fast during these days is equal to the fasting of one complete year, and the worship of one night during this period is equal to the worship in the “Lailatul-Qadr”. (Tirmizi)

For those not performing hajj, it is greatly recommended to fast on this day accordingly. The fast of ‘Youmul ‘Arafah’ has been emphasized by the Prophet (S), as an act of major importance and benefit. Abu Qatadah (r.a.) is reported to have said that the Prophet (S) said: “Fasting on the day of `Arafah compensates for the (minor) sins of the past and the coming year.” (Reported by Ibn Majah) According to the hadith, the fast of this day becomes a cause, hopefully so, of forgiveness for sins committed in one year.

Third: At-Takbeer (Allah Akbar) and Dhikr (the remembrance of Allah through different words of praise and glorification) in these (ten) days, Allah said “And mention the name of Allah on the appointed days”(12:28). The verbal remembrance of Allah is another meritorious act during these first ten days of Zul Hijjah.

This has been explained (by some) to mean the ten days (of Zul-Hijjah), and the scholars consider it desirable to increase Dhikr in these days, based upon the hadith of Ibn Umar narrated by Ahmad, which contains the words: … so increase in these days the Tahlil and Takbir and Tahmid… The Prophet (S) encouraged Muslims to recite a lot of Takbir (“Allahu Akbar”), Tahmid (“Al Hamdu Lillah”) and Tasbih (“Subhan Allah”), during this time.

Beginning from the Fajr of the 9th Zulhijjah up to the ‘Asr prayer of the 13th, it is obligatory on each Muslim to recite the Takbir of Tashriq after every fard prayer (23  fard prayers) in the following words: Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illallahu, Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahilhamd.  This means “There is no god but Allah and Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest and to Allah belongs all praise.” Whether one is performing salah with Jama’ah (collectively) or on his/her own (individually) makes no difference — one should recite the Takbir.

Fourth: The slaughtering of a sacrificial animal (Adhiyah) is also legislated for the Day of Sacrifice (10th) and the Days of Tashriq (11th, 12th and 13th). This is the Sunnah of our father Ibrahim – when Allah, the Most High, redeemed Ibrahim’s son by the great sacrifice (of an animal in his place). It is authentically reported that The Prophet Muhammad slaughtered (sacrificed) two horned rams, black and white in colour, and said Takbir (Allahu Akbar), and placed his foot on their sides (while slaughtering them). (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

Fifth: Doing plenty of voluntary (nawafil) righteous deeds of worship like Prayer, Charity, reading the Qur’an, keeping good relations with family, relatives, neighbours… and other such deeds. Verily, these are amongst the deeds that are multiplied in these days. It is during these days that even deeds that are less preferred are superior and more beloved to Allah than superior deeds done at other times.

Sixth: It is incumbent for the Muslim (who is not performing Hajj) to make every effort to perform the Eid Prayer wherever it is performed, and to be present for the Khutbah and benefit, especially so for the Western Muslims. Muslim must know the wisdom behind the legislation of this Eid (celebration). It is a day of thankfulness and performing deeds of righteousness. So, he or she must not make it a day of wildness, pride and vanity and do things which could cause the cancellation of the good deeds done in these days (of Zul-Hijjah).

Seventh: At-Tawbah (repentance) and abstaining from disobedience and all types of sins, since forgiveness and mercy are the results of deeds. Disobedience is the cause of being far away (from Allah, the Most High) and repulsion, while obedience is the cause of being near (to Allah, Most High) and His love. In addition, seeking Allah’s forgiveness at this time is also encouraged. This means more than just a verbal expression of sorrow for past misdeeds. It also requires a firm resolution to avoid making the same mistakes in the future by giving up bad habits and behavior while sincerely turning to the Lord.

Eighth: After what has been mentioned, it is fitting that every Muslim, male and female, take advantage of these days by obeying Allah, the Most High, remembering Him, thanking Him, fulfilling all the obligatory duties, and staying far away from the prohibited things. Muslim person must take full advantage of this season, and the open display of Allah’s gifts, to attain the pleasure of his/her Lord. Surely, Allah, the Most High, is the One Who grants success, and He is the Guide to the Straight Path.

In conclusion, let me say that every Muslim should take advantage of this yet another wonderful opportunity that God Almighty is offering to His servants, during this blessed season by performing as much Iba’dah (acts of worship) to Allah and good deeds as he or she can. Being aware of this opportunity and utilizing it accordingly is a sign of our commitment to the Din, our well-being as well as well-being of others and the society. In this way, the season of Hajj could be understood as a source of blessings and goodness not just for Hujaj but also for those who did not have an opportunity to go for Hajj this year, for individuals as well as for the larger society and the world.