Dhul Hajj is the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. The Hajj pilgrimage is performed in this month. This month is important not only to the pilgrims but to the rest of the Muslims as well. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has said about the first ten days of Dhul Hajj:” There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” The people asked: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.” (Bukhari)
As mentioned in the hadith, the first ten days of this month are very important. So sacred are the first ten days of Dhul-Hajj that Allah swears an oath by them when He says in the Quran: “By the dawn; by the ten nights.” (89:1-2). Swearing an oath by something indicates its importance and great benefit.
Fasting, zikr (dhikr), repentance besides sacrifice have been highly recommended during the first ten days of the month.
Fasting has been particularly encouraged on the ninth day of Dhul-Hajj. This day is also known as Arafah. The Holy Prophet (SAW) used to fast on this day. (Abu Dawud). Fasting on this day washes off the sins of the previous year and the coming (following) year.
Abu Qatadah quotes the Holy Prophet (SAW) as having said:
“Fasting the Day of Arafah will be credited with Allah by forgiving one’s sins of the previous year and the following year”. (Muslim)
The Holy Prophet (SAW) used to fast the (first) nine days ofDhul Hajj, the day of Ashura, and three days of each month. (Abu Dawud).
The verbal remembrance of Allah is another meritorious act during these ten days.
“And mention the name of Allah on the appointed days.”
The Holy Prophet (SAW) encouraged the Ummah to recite Tasbeeh (Subhan Allah), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah) and Takbeer (Allah-u-Akbar) during this time.
The Takbeer may include the words “Allah-u-Akbar, Allah-u-Akbar, La Ilaha Ill-Allah; Wa Allahu Akbar Wa Lillahil-Hamd (Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah; Allah is Most Great and to Allah be praise),” as well as other phrases.
Men are encouraged to recite them aloud and women quietly.
Ibn ‘Umar and Abu Hurairah (RA) used to go out in the marketplace during the first ten days of Dhul Hajj, reciting Takbeer, and the people would recite Takbeer individually when they heard them.
In addition, seeking Allah’s forgiveness (Istighfar) and Taubah (repentance) at this time is also encouraged. This means more than just a verbal statement 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 Allah.
The tenth of Dhul-Hajj is Eid ul-Adha, or the day of an-Nahr (slaughtering). It marks the conclusion of the major rites of Hajj, and commemorates Allah’s bounty on Prophet Ibrahim (AS) when He gave him a ram to sacrifice as ransom for his son.
It is reported that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) slaughtered (sacrificed) two horned rams, black and white in colour, and recited Takbeer (Allah-u Akbar), and placed his foot on their sides (while slaughtering them).
(Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The one who plans to sacrifice (normally, the head of household) is prohibited to cut his hair or nails from the first Dhul Hajj until he offers the sacrifice. “For the one who has a slaughtering to perform (on ‘Eid) then, once the Hilal (crescent) of Dhul Hajj is sighted, let him not cut any of his hair or nails until he sacrifices.” And in another narration: “Once the ten days start, for those of you who have the intention to sacrifice, let them not cut any of their hair or nails (until they sacrifice).” (Muslim)