We are about to enter the blessed month of Dhu`l-Hijjah. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ informed us that there are no days in which righteous actions are more beloved to Allah than the first ten days of this month.1 For that reason some scholars have ruled that these days are better than the final ten days of Ramadan, although the nights of Ramadan are superior to these nights. Allah Himself swears by “the Ten Nights” in Surat al-Fajr, which is sufficient evidence of their greatness. Most of the scholars say that these are the first ten nights (and days) of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said that the reason that these days have been accorded such merit is that it is only in these days that all the most important of acts of worship are performed: prayer, fasting, giving charity and hajj.
The Prophet ﷺ said that fasting one of these days is equal to the reward of fasting for a whole year and standing in one of these nights in prayer is equal to standing in prayer on Laylat al-Qadr.2 It has also been narrated that the reward for actions in these days is multiplied seven hundred times.
This is not to mention the Day of Arafah (the 9th of Dhu’l-Hijjah) which is the greatest day of the year. Fasting that day wipes out the sins of the previous year and the year to come. Read more about the Day of Arafah here.
If we are unable to fast the first nine days of the month, we should at least fast the Day of Arafah. If we are able to fast two or three days then by fasting Monday or Thursday or both we will gain the reward of following the Sunnah. Likewise by fasting three of these days we will have performed the Sunnah of fasting three days in every month.
These are days in which we should remember Allah abundantly. Allah says that they remember the name of Allah on well-known days.3 These “well-known days” according to the majority of scholars are the ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah. This is why the Prophet said ﷺ that in these days we should make abundant tahlil (saying la ilaha ill’Allah), takbir (saying Allahu akbar) and tahmid (saying alhamdulillah).4 Sayyiduna `Abdullah Ibn `Umar and Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah would go into the marketplace in Madinah in these days and raise their voices with the takbir. The people in the marketplace would then raise their voices with the takbir in response. Thus the most hated place to Allah, a place where most people are heedless of Him, was filled with His remembrance.
Whether it be prayer, fasting, charity, remembrance, seeking knowledge, helping people, any righteous actions we do will be greatly rewarded and beyond that are beloved to Allah. This is also a time when prayers are answered by Allah.
Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) reminds us that the linguistic meaning of hajj is seeking or intending. Thus the people of Allah are constantly performing hajj because they are constantly seeking Allah. Just as their whole year is Ramadan, likewise their whole year is hajj. Just as those performing hajj respond to the call of Allah by saying “labbayk”, they are swift to respond to the call of Allah. They take themselves to account and leave that which is disliked and dubious in all their states and actions. They reject the desires of their lower selves and they are the furthest of people from that which is prohibited. They constantly receive new blessings from their Lord so they constantly renew their ihram.5 Day and night they make tawaf around the House of their Lord, the One to Whom they turn themselves with absolute sincerity until nothing remains in them which is directed to other than Allah.
Actions that Carry the Reward of Hajj
Nothing of course can equal actually performing the hajj and worshipping Allah in those blessed places. Allah knows that many people long to make hajj every year but are unable to do so. Out of His generosity, He made the reward for certain actions similar to the reward of a supererogatory hajj.
- Remembering Allah from Fajr until Ishraq. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever prays Subh (Fajr) in congregation and then sits in the place where he prayed remembering Allah until the sun rises and then prays two rakats has the reward of a complete hajj and `umrah.” He repeated “complete” three times.6
- Attending a gathering of knowledge. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The one who goes out to the mosque wanting only to learn good or teach it has the reward of a complete hajj.”7
- Going to the mosque for the congregational prayer. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever performs ablution in his house and then goes out to perform the obligatory prayer in the mosque has a reward similar to a person performing hajj. Whoever goes out to perform the mid-morning prayer (Duha) has a reward similar to the reward of a person performing `umrah.”8
- Performing the Friday Prayer. Sayyiduna Sa`id Ibn al-Musayyib said performing the Friday Prayer is “more beloved to me than a supererogatory hajj.”
- Performing the Eid Prayer. One of the Companions said: “Going out to pray Eid al-Fitr is equal to performing `umrah and going out to pray Eid al-Adha is equal to performing hajj.”
- Fulfilling the needs of your brother or sister. Sayyiduna Hasan al-Basri said: “Going to fulfill the need of your brother is better for you than performing one hajj after another.”
- Being good to your parents. The Prophet ﷺ commanded one of the Companions to be good to his mother. If you do so, he said: “You are someone performing hajj, someone performing `umrah and someone striving for the sake of Allah (mujahid).”
- Performing obligatory actions. The slave can only draw near to Allah by performing supererogatory actions after first having performed that which is obligatory. This includes purifying one’s heart from forbidden attributes and safeguarding one’s tongue and limbs from committing forbidden actions. All of this is much harder on the lower self than many supererogatory acts of worship.
Finally there is no action more beloved to Allah on the Day of Eid than making a sacrifice. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ told his beloved daughter Sayyidah Fatimah al-Zahra’ that she would be forgiven for her previous wrongdoings with the first drop of blood to be shed from the sacrificed animal. She asked if this reward was specifically for the household of the Prophet and he replied: “For us and for all the Muslims.”
These are adhkar that many of the pious people would recite during the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Habib Umar recommends reciting them.