Monday, August 13, 2018

What is the Significance of First 10 Days of Dhu'l-Hijjah

Dhu'l-Hijjah as in Arabic and Zil-Hajj in non Arabic speaking countries  is the most sacred month of Islamic calender for its is in this month "Hajj", the fifth pillar of Islam, is performed in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Each year millions of pilgrims from around the world reach Makkah during this month before 8th of Dhu'l-Hijjah, when the Hajj rituals actually commence.

The first two verses of Surah Al-Fajr "By the Dawn; By the Ten Nights” are interpreted by many a scholar as the first ten days of Dhu'l-Hijjah, for these ten days are considered to very favourite of Allah, the Most High and Exalted. This oath, a very significant and extraordinary, can only be understood by the wise and scholarly.

In Surah At-Tawbah, Verse 36 Allah proclaims four months holier than the rest eight months of Islamic calander: “Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred.” The 4 sacred months are: Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. [5]

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been reported by Abdullah Ibn Abbas (r.a.) as saying: "There are no days more loved to Allah for you to worship Him therein than the (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year and to offer salatul tahajjud (late-night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of Qadr, Laylat Al Qadr (the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan). [1]

Dhu'l-Hijjah is the 12th and last month of the Islamic calander and it has just commenced. "Dhu'l-Hijjah" means "Possessor of the Pilgrimage" or the Month of Great Pilgrimage. The Hajj is performed on the eighth, ninth and the tenth of Dhu'l-Hijjah. The "Day of Arafah" takes place on the ninth of the month. 

“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” (Surah Al Maidah, Verse 3). This day was the day of ‘Arafah which falls on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah. [5]

As reported by by Ibn Majah, the Prophet (s) is reported to have said: “Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah is an expiation (of sins) for two years, the year preceding it and the year following it." [5]

Eid al-Adha, the "Festival of the Sacrifice", begins on the tenth day and ends on sunset of the 13th. "It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command. Before Abraham sacrificed his son, God provided a male goat to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this, an animal is sacrificed and divided into three parts: one third of the share is given to the poor and needy; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is retained by the family."[6]

The sacrificing of an animal of the eve of Eid al Adha (or the 10-13th of Dhu'l-Hijjah) is in fact the commemoration of great sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) showed when asked by Allah to sacrifice his most beloved thing. Since the Prophet loved his son Ismail (Ishmael) the most, he asked his son what he had been commanded by Allah. Prophet Ismail readily agreed and asked his father to go ahead to fulfill his obedience to God’s command. However, before Prophet Ibrahim could placed knife on his son's neck, Allah accepted his sacrifice and replaced his son with a lamb. 

It is incumbent on all those sacrificing an animal on Eid ul Adha to make three portions of the meat of which one third is to be given to the poor and needy; one third to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining one third for self and family. Thus by doing so, the poor and needy are helped who otherwise cannot afford meat, and so the needy relatives and known acquaintances. 

While those performing Hajj during the first ten days of Dhu'l-Hijjah will be granted immense rewards for observing the fifth pillar of Islam, those who cannot make it due to health or financial constraints, should preferably keep fasts on the first nine days, spend in charity, and do good as much as they can and try to slaughter as sacrificial animal on 10-13th days of the holy month. They are also to keep repeating the following as is obligatory for the pilgrims actually performing Hajj during the first ten days:
الله أكبر الله أكبر لا إله إلا الله والله أكبر الله أكبر ولله الحمد
Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, wa lillaahi’l-hamd (Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, there is no god but Allah, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, and to Allah belongs praise).

During these ten days, thus, an earnest effort be made to seek forgiveness of one's past sins and misdeed from Allah by extensively engaging in prayers. However, during these ten days one must also take a solemn pledge to stay aways from all sorts of sins, disobedience of Allah's commandments and a firm resolve to be good Muslim and help those who need our help.

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