The greatness of the month of Dhu al-Hijja is well established in our religion. The evidences are many, but it suffices to note that the Prophet of God صلى الله عليه وسلم informed us that there are no days in which righteous actions are more beloved to Allah than the first ten days of this month. Allah in the Qur’an swears by ‘The Ten Nights’ in Surat al-Fajr, which many scholars say refers to the first ten nights of the month of Dhu al-Hijja. For that reason, many of the learned claim that the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijja are even better than the final ten days of Ramadan, while the last ten nights of Ramadan exceed them in greatness. And God knows best.

It is good to recollect the surah here, and the meanings:

“By the dawn,
and ten nights,
and the even and the Odd,
and the night when it travels! Is there, in that, an oath
for thinking man?”
(Surat al-Fajr 1-5)

There are differences of opinion about the meanings of these verses. According to Ibn Abbas (may Allah be well pleased with him and with his father), “the dawn” is the ritual fard prayer of daybreak [salat al-subh]; “and ten nights ” refers to the ten special nights at the beginning of the month of Dhu al-Hijja; “the even [al-shaf’]” is the creation [khalq] and “the Odd [al-Watr]” is Allah. Allah knows best; there are other interpretations which Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani in his Ghunya goes into.

In his Ghunya, Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani also goes into what happened during the 10 days, in different epochs. He narrates how Sayyidina Ibrahim gained the ‘friendship’ bestowed upon him by Allah; how the Ka’aba was constructed by him during those days; how Sayyidina Musa had the conversations (munajat) with Allah during those days; that the pledge of allegiance (bay’at al-ridwan) was given to our Prophet, ‘alayhi salat wa salam during those days.

It suffices that Shaykh Abdal Qadir said:

“It has been said that Allah (Exalted is He) will bestow ten charismatic gifts [karamat] upon anyone who treats these Ten Days [al-Ayyam al-‘Ashara] with all due honor and respect, namely:

• Blessed grace [baraka] in his earthly life.
• Increase in his property and wealth.
• Safekeeping for his dependents.
• The remission [takfir] of his misdeeds.
• The multiplication of his good deeds.
• The easing of his agonies [sakarat] [in the throes of death].
• The illumination of his darkness and gloom [in the grave].
• The favorable weighting of his balance [at the Resurrection]. • Salvation from the descending layers [darakat] [of Hell].
• Promotion to the ascending levels [darajat] [of Paradise].

May Allah make us of those who find all of these in these ten days, amin!

There are specific actions that are advised by our scholars and sages during these days and nights, and there are general ones as well. The general ones are clear – they are all good actions. Prayer, fasting, charity, the reading of litanies, the seeking of knowledge, giving aid to people, making du’a to Allah: the reward for any righteous action may be multiplied seven hundred times.

Specific Actions during the first ten days

In terms of fasting: the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said that fasting any one of the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijja is equal to the reward of fasting for a whole year. Additionally, fasting the Day of Arafa, which is the 9th of Dhu al-Hijja, which is the greatest day of the year, is said to wipe out the sins of the previous year and the year to come. Of course, fasting more generally is advised during this month, as per the greatness of the month.

In terms of prayer: it is narrated that standing in one of these nights in prayer is equal to standing in prayer on Laylat al-Qadr. Of course, prayer more generally is advised during this month, as per the greatness of the month.

In terms of Qur’anic recital: it is strongly recommended that we read Sura al-Fajr during the first ten days. Of course, reading Qur’an more generally is advised during this month, as per the greatness of the month. It has been narrated that whoever reads Surat al-Ikhlas one thousand times will be given whatever they ask for.

In terms of specific litanies: Allah says that ‘they remember the name of Allah on well-known days’. These “well-known days” according to the majority of scholars are the ten days of Dhu al-Hijja. Thus, one should engage in different types of litanies during those days. One that is especially narrated is the following (which should be done preferably at least 10 times each day):

Ibn Umar, radiya Allahu ‘anhu, narrated that the Prophet said: “There are no days which are greater and more beloved to Allah in which good needs are done than in these ten days. So engage in abundant tahlil, takbir, and tahmid in them.” (Tahlil: the saying of la ilaha ilAllah; takbir: the saying of Allahu Akbar; tahmid: the saying of alhamdulillah.)

Additionally, our teachers advise that the following litany be made at least once a day anytime after Fajr (preferably 10 times), and the subsequent supplication as well. When one reads the litany, it is good to pause and ponder the imagery that is being evoked in the litany.

Finally, we are also advised to recite (recommended 10 times each day):

حسبي الله وكفى. سمع الله لمن دعا. ليس وراء الله منتهى. من توكل على الله كفى . و من اعتصم بالله نجا

Specific to the Day of Arafa
It is also narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “The best prayer is the prayer of the Day of

Arafa. The best thing which I and the Prophets before me have said is:

[“There is no deity save Allah alone. He has no partners. To Him belongs the dominion and all praise and He has power over all things.”]

Another narration contains the following addition to the previous supplication:

[“O Allah, place light in my heart, my hearing and my sight. O Allah, My Lord bring tranquillity to my heart and give me ease in my affair.”]

Sayyiduna `Ali narrates that the supplication that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم made most on the Day of `Arafa was:

اللهم لكَ الحمدُ كالذي نقولُ وخيرًا ممَّا نقولُ، اللهم لكَ صلاتي ونُسُكي ومَحْياي ومَماتي، وإليكَ مآبي، ولكَ ربِّ تُراثي، اللهم إنِّي أعوذُ بكَ مِن عذابِ القبرِ، ووَسْوَسةِ الصدرِ، وشَتاتِ الأمرِ، اللهم إنِّي أعوذُ بكَ مِن شرِّ ما تجيءُ به الريحُ.

[“O Allah, to You belongs all praise, as we praise You and better than that. O Allah, my prayer, worship, life and death are for You, and to You is my return. Everything I possess, my Lord, returns to You. O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the punishment of the grave, the whispering of the devil and from my affairs being in disarray. O Allah I seek refuge in You from the evil which the wind carries”]

Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, rahimahu Allah, includes a series of supplications for the Day of ‘Arafa in his magnum opus, the Ihya. It can be accessed here:

The Night of Eid and Sunnahs of Eid al-Adha

In the Shafi’i school, it is considered to be mandūb to engage in takbirat from the dawn prayer of the 9th of Dhu-l-Hijjah, until the afternoon prayer of 13th of Dhu-l-Hijjah.

The takbirat are done after the fard prayers during this time; or sunna prayers. On the night of the Eid itself, it can be made at any time. A form of the takbirat that is recommended (mandūb) followed by salawat is:

It has been narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “There are five nights on which du`a is not rejected: the first night of Rajab, the fifteenth night of Sha`ban, Thursday night, the night before Eid al-Fitr and the night before Eid al-Nahr (al-Adha).” Sayyiduna `Ali, may Allah be well pleased with him, used to spend four nights in worship: the first night of Rajab, the nights before the two Eids, and the 15th night of Sha`ban.

It is mentioned in the hadith that if someone gives life to the nights before the two Eids, Allah will give life to his heart on the day when hearts die. What is primarily meant is safety on the Day of Judgement but even in this life the majority of people’s hearts are dead, starved of the remembrance of Allah and heedless of the return to Him.

May Allah make us of those whose hearts are made alive!