The 10 Blessed Days of Thul-Hijjah
The first ten days of Thul-Hijjah are the days of Hajj. These days include the Day of Arafah, the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. The mountain and plain of Arafah are the focal points where pilgrims gather. Such a mammoth gathering of Muslims supplicating to Allah is bound to have profound effects on the whole world; Allah promises an answer for those who gather on Arafah. The Prophet ﷺ urged those who are not performing Hajj to spend these days in as much devotion as possible. This helps us exercise spiritual solidarity with the pilgrims. The Prophet is reported to have said, “There are no days that are dearer to Allah in respect of devoting oneself to worship than the first ten days of Thul-Hijjjah.” He is also reported to have said, “Fasting on the day of Arafah expiates sins of two years, the past and future.”
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Canada, states the following:
“The first ten days of Thul-Hijjah have been singled out, especially for great merits and excellences like no other days in the Islamic calendar. Allah, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has chosen to dispense infinite spiritual blessing and rewards. Thanks to the high status these days enjoy, Allah has made them worthy of making an oath by them when He says ‘By the Daybreak, by the Ten Nights’ (Quran 89:1–2). According to some Quran commentators or mufassirun, the ten nights mentioned here are none other than the first ten nights of Thul-Hijjah; others, however, hold the view that these nights specifically refer to the last ten nights of Ramadan. No one denies that the first ten days of Thul-Hijjah possess tremendous blessings and excellence. This has been confirmed by the Prophet ﷺ who is reported to have said, “There are no days that are dearer to Allah in respect of devoting oneself to worship than the first ten days of Thul-Hijjjah.”
Based on this and similar traditions, scholars have stressed that the days and nights of Thul-Hijjah must be set aside for intense dedication to worship, increased preoccupation with virtuous acts, and contemplation. Virtue and reflection go hand in hand in Islam. Acts that are especially worthy of doing are: reading the Quran; making dhikr and du’aa; performing supererogatory prayers; sending blessings on the Prophet ﷺ; rendering acts of kindness and compassion; visiting the sick; doing what is right and forbidding what is wrong; bringing peace, reconciliation, and harmony among people; helping those who are in distress or need, and so on. While these works are ongoing concerns of Muslims, they must undoubtedly be multiplied in these days more than any other time.
Fasting is notably mentioned as the most worthy act of devotion to be performed in the first nine days of Thul-Hijjah; this is true of those who are not performing Hajj. According to some traditions, by fasting these days, one is accorded a tremendous opportunity to gain repentance and forgiveness. If we cannot manage to fast all nine days, we should at least fast the ninth day of Thul-Hijjah, which is known as the Day of Arafah. However, it is also worth mentioning that while fasting the first nine days of Thul-Hijjah is recommended, it is forbidden to fast during the days of the Eid. This prohibition is not limited to the tenth of Thul-Hijjah; rather, it extends to the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth, for all of these are days of festivities and celebrations.
Finally, it is perhaps worth mentioning that the unique merits and excellences associated with the days of Thul-Hijjah are in no small measure because they coincide with the performance of the most significant rites of Hajj. The first days of Hajj are the following: the day of tarwiyah, which falls on Thul-Hijjah 8 and is the day the pilgrims resume ihram and proceed to Mina; the day of Arafah, which is on the ninth, the day of the great ritual of standing on the plain of Arafah; and the day of nahr, which falls on the tenth and is the day of sacrifice and stoning the Jamarat. The fact that the pilgrims are gathering in the sacred sites to perform the greatest rites of Hajj is itself a most significant event; therefore, it fits those who are not pilgrims to show spiritual and emotional solidarity with the pilgrims. Therefore, as the pilgrims are engaged in performing the great rites of Hajj, Muslims, wherever they are, are also encouraged to partake something of the tremendous spiritual feats and experience by performing such acts of virtue and devotion.
May Allah the Most Exalted and Glorious expose us to these rites’ wisdom and bless us all to participate in them with our whole bodies, minds, and souls. Ameen.