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The Most Sacred Days of the Year

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The month of Zul-Hijjah is the last of the four sacred months “Ashhur al-Haraam” sanctified by the Qur’an. Allah SWT states in Surah al-Towbah:

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنْفُسَكُمْ…

9:36 “Lo! the number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah's ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves in them.”

The Prophet (SAW) explained this verse by identifying these months as Zul-Qa’adah, Zul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab.

السَّنَةُ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا، مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ [حُرُمٌ، ثَلَاثَةٌ] مُتَوَالِيَاتٌ: ذُو الْقَعْدَةِ، وَذُو الْحِجَّةِ، وَالْمُحَرَّمُ، وَرَجَبُ مُضَرَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ جُمَادَى وَشَعْبَانَ"

Muharram al-Haram is the first month of Islamic calendar. Probably it is made sacred so that people can avoid destructive impulses such as argumentation, fighting, corruption, obscenity etc. and focus upon evaluating the past year and planning for the upcoming year. Rajab al-Muazzam is the second of these four Sacred Months and the 7th month of the Islamic calendar. It grants us the opportunity to look back at the last six months’ progress and see how much of the spiritual and moral planning was put into practice. The last two Sacred Months (Zul-Qa’adah and Zul-Hijjah) remind us that another precious year of our temporal life is drawing to an end. We are getting a year closer to our death. Therefore we must evaluate the year’s activities, spiritual and moral savings and see where do we stand in regards to Allah SWT and His causes. The month of Zul-Hijjah provides us with increased opportunities of mending our ways, making up for the missed goals and getting our spiritual accounts balanced. We must utilize this month to the best of our abilities so that when this year’s books of accounts are closed, we are without divine fines, have enough stock of virtuous acts and are among the forgiven ones.

The first ten days of Zul-Hijjah are the most sacred days of the year. The Qur’an states:

وَالْفَجْرِ (1) وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍ (2) وَالشَّفْعِ وَالْوَتْرِ (3)

“By the Dawn, And ten nights, And the Even and the Odd.”

The above verses of Surah al-Fajr refer to the first ten nights of Zul-Hijjah and the Day of Eid al-Adha, the 10th day of Zul-Hijjah, as Ibn Abbas, Ibn al-Zubair and Mujahid have stated:

وعن مسروق، ومجاهد، ومحمد بن كعب: المراد به فجر يوم النحر خاصة، وهو خاتمة الليالي العشر.
والليالي العشر: المراد بها عشر ذي الحجة. كما قاله ابن عباس، وابن الزبير، ومجاهد

Jabir (RA) narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The ten days (mentioned in Surah al-Fajr) are the first ten days of Zul-Hijjah, the “Odd” refers to the Day of Arafah and the “Even” alludes to the Day of Eid al-Adha.”

عن جابر، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "إن العشر عشر الأضحى، والوتر يوم عرفة، والشفع يوم النحر".

The first ten days of Zul-Hijjah, as Imam al-Bukhari reports, are the most virtuous days of the year.

وقد ثبت في صحيح البخاري، عن ابن عباس مرفوعا: "ما من أيام العمل الصالح أحب إلى الله فيهن من هذه الأيام" -يعني عشر ذي الحجة -قالوا: ولا الجهاد في سبيل الله؟ قال: "ولا الجهاد في سبيل الله، إلا رجلا خرج بنفسه وماله، ثم لم يرجع من ذلك بشيء"

Ibn Abbaas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: There are no days during which the virtuous deeds are more beloved to Allah SWT than these days; meaning the first ten days of Zul-Hijjah. They inquired: Not even Jihad in the cause of Allah? He said: Not even Jihad in the cause of Allah, unless one goes out for Jihad sacrificing both his life and property and returning with nothing.

In another Hadith it is stated:

ابْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: «مَا مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أَعْظَمُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ، وَلَا أَحَبُّ إِلَيْهِ مِنَ الْعَمَلِ فِيهِنَّ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْأَيَّامِ الْعَشْرِ، فَأَكْثِرُوا فِيهِنَّ مِنَ التَّهْلِيلِ، وَالتَّكْبِيرِ، وَالتَّحْمِيدِ»

Ibn Umar (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: There are no days during which good deeds are greater in reward or more beloved to Allah SWT than these ten days. So frequent recitation of the Tahleel (Laa Ila’ha Illallah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah) (during these days).

Jaabir (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: The best day is the Day of Arafah. There are no days during which good deeds are greater in reward or more beloved to Allah SWT than these ten days. So recite more often the Tahleel (Laa Ilaha Illallah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar),Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah).

Al-Tahleel is the pronouncement of Allah’s Oneness and Unity. Perhaps this is the reason that it has been mentioned in the Qur'an and the Prophetic traditions (Sunnah) more frequently than any other phrase. It has been referred to as kalimah ṭayyibah (sacred utterance) (14:24), al-qawl al-thābit (the firm word) (14:27), kalimah al-taqwā (utterance of piety) (48:26), maqālid al-samawāti wa al-ard (key to the heavens and the earth) etc. Al-Tahleel is half of Shahadah which stands as the supreme religious act in Islam and its mere recitation brings one within the fold of Islam. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has been reported to have said that one who recites with sincerity that there is no god but Allah will enter Paradise. In another report he said that he who bears testimony to that fact that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Allah makes him immune from Hell-Fire. According to Prophetic traditions, Prophet Moses' request for a special formula of remembrance was responded to by Allah SWT in the following words: "If the seven heavens and the seven earths were placed in one pan of the Balance, and the Kalimah La ilaha illa Allah in the other, the latter will outweigh the former.”
Al-Takbeer inculcates a sense of divine greatness, sublimity, magnificence, grandeur, enormity, ineffable glory and human creatureliness and sheer dependence upon Allah SWT in each and every aspect of their existence. It reminds Muslims to give Allah SWT the due preference over every personal interest and design. Al-Tahmeed encourages us to thank Allah SWT for all the bounties He has showered upon us. This sense of gratitude is supposed to foster in us the Islamic values of giving, caring and sharing in imitation of Allah’s loving compassion and mercy. Therefore, the above quoted recital formula with its tripartite division is meant to inspire Muslims to connect with Allah SWT with sincerity and translate that sincerity into kind actions, love and mercy towards His creatures. The loving compassion should reach its climax on the day of Arafah continuing into the rest of the Days of al-Tashreeq.

The Day of Arafah (9th of Zul Hijjah) is the most sacred day among the days of Zul Hijjah and also the most sanctified day of the year. Sayyidah Ai’sha narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said: “There is no day on which Allah SWT frees people from the Fire more so than on the day of ’Arafah. He SWT comes close and then He revels before His Angels saying, ‘What are these people seeking.”

قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ مَا مِنْ يَوْمٍ أَكْثَرَ مِنْ أَنْ يُعْتِقَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ عَبْدًا مِنْ النَّارِ مِنْ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ وَإِنَّهُ لَيَدْنُو ثُمَّ يُبَاهِي بِهِمْ الْمَلَائِكَةَ فَيَقُولُ مَا أَرَادَ هَؤُلَاءِ

The hadith refers to the international gathering of Muslims in the valley of Arafah where Muslims pour out their hearts and manifest their utter humility, nothingness and insignificance in front of their Majestic Lord (SWT). Muslims all over the globe follow the Hujjaj’s footsteps and fast the Day of Arafah to be in unison with the pure devotional state of the pilgrims. The Day of Arafah is the annual day of profound repentance, self-evaluation, self-accountability and confessions in the sublime presence of Allah SWT, the Lord who knows the whisperings of human hearts and is the Judge of the Day of Judgment. In essence it is the day of self-reckoning before the real Day of Reckoning. It is the rehearsal for the Day of Resurrection and Accountability. Therefore, the Muslim community of the world should take the Day of Arafah seriously and observe it with due respect and proper supplications.

The Prophet (SAW) said: “The best Dua is the Dua of the Day of Arafah and the best of what the Prophets and I have always asked is:

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“There is no god but Allah alone. He has no partner in divinity. All authority and praise belong to Him and He has control over everything.”

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ خَيْرُ الدُّعَاءِ دُعَاءُ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ وَخَيْرُ مَا قُلْتُ أَنَا وَالنَّبِيُّونَ مِنْ قَبْلِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

It is highly recommended to fast the 9th day of Zul-Hajjah, the Day of Arafah. The Prophet (SAW) said that “It expiates sins of the past as well as the coming year.”

عَنْ أَبِي قَتَادَةَ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ صِيَامُ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ إِنِّي أَحْتَسِبُ عَلَى اللَّهِ أَنْ يُكَفِّرَ السَّنَةَ الَّتِي قَبْلَهُ وَالسَّنَةَ الَّتِي بَعْدَهُ

The believers are required to loudly recite Takbeerat al-Tashreeq after each five daily prayers starting from the Fajr of 9th to the Asr of 13th Zul-Hajjah as the Hadith states:

عن جابر بن عبد الله قال : كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم يكبر في صلاة الفجر يوم عرفة إلى صلاة العصر من آخر أيام التشريق حين يسلم من المكتوبات

عن جابر بن عبد الله قال : كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم إذا صلى الصبح من غداة عرفة يقبل على أصحابه فيقول على مكانكم ويقول الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر لا إله إلا الله والله أكبر الله أكبر ولله الحمد فيكبر من غداة عرفة إلى صلاة العصر من آخر أيام التشريق

The Takbeerat al-Tashreeq are agreed upon but their timings are not. One is permitted to follow one’s preferred fiqhi opinion.

The sacrificial animals (Udhiyah) can be slaughtered from 10th to 13th of Zul-Hijjah although the preferred day of slaughter is the 10th of Zul Hijjah.

أن وقت الأضحية من يوم النحر إلى آخر أيام التشريق

1: Please engage in as much Zikr as possible. Focus upon Tahleel (Laa Ilaha Illallah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah). Some of the Prophetic recital formulas combine all these forms of Zikr. For instance:

" سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، وَلَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ، وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ.

“Glory and Praise be to Allah, there is no god but Allah and He is Great.”

Caliph Othman (RA) was asked about the good deeds that last for eternity. He replied that the following formula contains such deeds:

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ، وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ، وَالْحَمْدُ لله، وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ، وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ.

وَهَكَذَا سُئل أَمِيرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ عَفَّانَ، رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عنه، عَنْ: "الْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ" مَا هِيَ؟ فَقَالَ: هِيَ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ، وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ، وَالْحَمْدُ لله، وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ، وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ.

عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: "اسْتَكْثِرُوا مِنَ الْبَاقِيَاتِ الصَّالِحَاتِ". قِيلَ: وَمَا هِيَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ؟ قَالَ: "الْمِلَّةُ". قِيلَ: وَمَا هِيَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ؟ قَالَ: "التَّكْبِيرُ، وَالتَّهْلِيلُ، وَالتَّسْبِيحُ، وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ".

2: Fast as many days of the first 9 days of Zul Hijjah as possible especially the Day of Arafah. Those intending to fast the Day of Eid al-Adha should fast till the sacrificial animal is slaughtered. They should break their fast by eating meat of the sacrificial animal.

3: Give Udhiyah (Qurbani) for yourself, on behalf of your parents, teachers and for Rasulullah (SAW), if possible.

4: Make special Duas especially the ones mentioned in the above quoted Hadith.

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

5: Recite loudly Takbeerat al-Tashreeq after each obligatory prayer starting from the Fajr of 9th of Zul-Hijjah (possibly Monday, October 14th) to the Asr of 13th Zul-Hijjah (possibly October 18th). The preferred formula of Takbeerat is:

الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر لا إله إلا الله والله أكبر الله أكبر ولله الحمد

6: Those intending to slaughter the Udhiya should avoid shaving, cutting hair and nails starting from the first of Zul Hijjah until after their Udhiyah is slaughtered.

7: Recite the following as much as you possibly can:

سُبْحَان اللهِ وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ وَ لآ اِلهَ اِلّا اللّهُ، وَ اللّهُ اَكْبَرُ وَلا حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّة ِ الَّا بِاللّهِ الْعَلِىّ الْعَظِيْم

Glory be to Allah and all praise be to Allah there is no deity (God) but Allah and Allah is the greatest and there is no power and no might but from Allah, the high, the tremadous.

لا الهَ اِلَّا اللّهُ وَحْدَهُ لا شَرِيْكَ لَهْ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَ لَهُ الْحَمْدُ يُحْى وَ يُمِيْتُ وَ هُوَحَىُّ لَّا يَمُوْتُ اَبَدًا اَبَدًا ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَ الْاِكْرَامِ بِيَدِهِ الْخَيْرُ وَهُوَ عَلى كُلِّ شَئ ٍ قَدِيْرٌ

(There is) none worthy of worship except Allah. He is only One. (There is) no partners for Him. For Him (is) the Kingdom. And for Him (is) the Praise. He gives life and acuses death. And He (is) Alive. He will not die, never, ever. Possessor of Majesty and Reverence. In His hand (is) the goodness. And He (is) the goodness. And He (is) on everything powerful.)

اسْتَغْفِرُ اللّهَ رَبِّىْ مِنْ كُلِّ ذَنْبٍ اَذْنَبْتُه عَمَدًا اَوْ خَطَاً سِرًّا اَوْ عَلَانِيَةً وَاَتُوْبُ اِلَيْهِ مِنْ الذَّنْبِ الَّذِىْ اَعْلَمُ وَ مِنْ الذَّنْبِ الَّذِىْ لا اَعْلَمُ اِنَّكَ اَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الغُيُبِ وَ سَتَّارُ الْعُيُوْبِ و َغَفَّارُ الذُّنُوْبِ وَ لا حَوْلَ وَلا قُوَّةَ اِلَّا بِاللّهِ الْعَلِىِّ العَظِيْم

(I seek forgiveness from Allah, my Lord, from every sin I committed knowingly or unknowingly, secretly or openly, and I turn towards Him from the sin that I know and from the sin that I do not know. Certainly You, You (are) the knower of the hidden things and the Concealer (of) the mistakes and the Forgiver (of) the sins. And (there is) no power and no strength except from Allah, the Most High, the Most Great)

May Allah SWT accept the efforts. Ameen.