The first ten days of the month of Dhul Hijjah are many a times under-looked and not paid much attention to, when in fact these ten days are the best ten days of the year! Yes even greater than the days of Ramadan! Subhan’Allah. And yet many of us treat these ten days lightly, thinking those who are not doing Hajj don’t need to care about this season.
Note, the best nights are the last 10 nights of Ramadan and the best days are the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah.
Allāh swears an oath by them, and swearing an oath by something is indicative of its importance and great benefit. Allāh says:
By the dawn; by the ten nights 
Ibn ‘Abbaas, Ibn al-Zubayr, Mujaahid and others of the earlier and later generations said that this refers to the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Ibn Katheer said: “This is the correct opinion.” 
This oath substantiates the greatness and sacredness of these ten nights in the eyes of Allah. This is an extraordinary oath and Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) further affirms the high status of these ten days:
There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allāh than these ten days. The people asked, ‘Not even jihaad for the sake of Allāh?’ He (ﷺ) said, Not even jihaad for the sake of Allāh, 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. 
It is clear then that these 10 days possess tremendous blessings and excellence. Therefore we should spend these 10 blessed days and nights in intensive worship and virtuous acts. We cannot possibly afford to miss out on such immense rewards otherwise we will definitely be in utter regret in the Hereafter!
The following are recommended acts to do during the blessed 10 days and nights of Dhul Hijjah.
1. Fasting the first 9 days of Dhul Hijjah
It is recommended to fast the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah, especially on the 9th which is the blessed day of Arafah – further showing the virtue of these days. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) encouraged us to do righteous deeds in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah; and indeed fasting is one of the best of deeds. Allāh says,
All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except fasting, which is for Me and I shall reward for it. 
Note: The 10th of Dhul Hijjah is the day of Eid ul Adha and it is prohibited to fast on this day.
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) used to fast the first nine days of Dhu’l-Hijjah. It was narrated from Hunaydah ibn Khaalid from his wife, that one of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
The Prophet (ﷺ) used to fast on the first nine days of Dhu’l-Hijjah and the day of ‘Ashoora’, and three days each month, the first Monday of the month and two Thursdays. 
If you can’t fast the 9 days, then you have to at least fast the 9th day. Why? Because forgiveness for 2 years of sins (minor sins) is at stake for fasting on the day of Arafah (the 9th of the month: Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah. He (ﷺ) replied,
Fasting on the day of Arafah is an expiation for the preceding year and the following year. 
There are some reports that fasting is prohibited on the Day of ‘Arafah. However, it must be understood that this refers to a person performing the Hajj. If a person is on the Hajj, there is no fast for him or her on the day of ‘Arafah. That is undoubtedly a blessing for him because of the hardships of the pilgrimage. In a saying reported by Umm Al-Fadl (may Allāh be pleased with her):
The companions doubted whether the Prophet was fasting on ‘Arafah or not. She decided to prove to them that he was not, so she said, ‘I sent to him milk, which he drank while he was delivering the khutbah (sermon) on ‘Arafah.’ 
Therefore we should try our utmost to fast all the blessed 9 days of Dhul Hijjah – particularly the 9th of Dhul Hijjah which is the day of Arafah. If not then we should at least fast as many as we can possibly can as we may not get this opportunity again next year as life is uncertain and we should never procrastinate on doing good actions. Even encouraging our family and friends to join in!
Avoid overeating or having oily and sugary food nor fizzy drinks.
2. Reciting tasbeeh, tahmeed, tahleel and takbeer abundantly
It is Sunnah to recite takbeer (Allahu Akbar), tahmeed (Alhamdulillah), tahleel (Laa ilaaha ill-Allah), and tasbeeh (SubhanAllah) during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
There are no days greater in the sight of Allāh and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal of Tahleel, Takbeer and Tahmeed. 
These words should be recited abundantly in the masajid, homes, streets and in every place where it is permissible to remember and glorify Allāh for He says:
That they may witness things that are of benefit to them (reward of Hajj in the Hereafter and also some worldly gain from trade), and mention the Name of Allāh on appointed days (the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah), over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them (for sacrifice). 
Reciting the Takbeeraat-e-Tashreeq from the 9th to the 13th of Dhul Hijjah:
Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallahu Wallahu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar, Wa lillahil Hamd.
Translation: “Allāh is the greatest, Allāh is the greatest. There is no deity besides Allāh and Allāh is the greatest. Allāh is the greatest and all praises are for Allāh only.”
Note: Men can recite the above after every fardh salaat from Fajr of the 9th of Dhul Hijjah until Asr of the 13th of Dhul Hijjah audibly. Women should recite it silently.
So, remember and glorify Allāh no matter what you are doing: This is particularly easy as one can remember Allāh anywhere and at any time whether it is during work or any daily activity.
Avoid doing the takbeerat in unison, the Sunnah is for everyone to do it individually.
3. Performing Hajj and ‘Umrah
One of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days is to perform Hajj to the Sacred House of Allāh. The one whom Allāh helps to go on Hajj to His House and to perform all the rituals properly is included in the words of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
An accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise. 
Hajj allows us to have a new beginning in life too for Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any obscenity or commit any evil will go back (free of) sin as on the day his mother bore him. 
And those who are blessed to be on the journey of Hajj, it’s vital we think again to do it or even Umrah, since Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
Make the Hajj and ‘Umrah follow each other closely, for they remove poverty and sins as the bellows removes the dross of iron, gold and silver, and an accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise. 
Note: Performing Hajj or Umrah on behalf of someone else is permissible as long you have done your own first. In fact, doing it for the deceased is a beautiful gift you can send to their book of deeds by the mercy of Allāh.
Avoid any act which is not from the authentic Sunnah and keep your frustration and anger in control.
4. Offering the Qurbani (sacrifice of a livestock animal)
The qurbani (also known as udh’hiya) is the sacrifice of a livestock animal during Eid ul-Adha. It is the sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him). It is a means of getting closer to Allāh Azzawajal. It is obligatory upon every sane adult who is not a traveller and can afford it (wealth equal to or more than nisab). It is performed on the days of sacrifice which is the 10th, 11th or 12th of Dhul Hijjah and should be done after you have prayed Salatul Eid ul-Adha.
One may sacrifice a thousand animals on days other than these, but it will never be regarded or considered as udh’hiya. Therefore the qurbani is a sacred act which can only be done during the three days of Dhul Hijjah as specified. Regarding the qurbani, Allāh says:
It is not their meat, nor their blood, that reaches Allāh, It is their piety that reaches Allāh. 
Note: It is best to go about the sacrifice the traditional way and offering it in your locality so that you obtain the lesson from the sacrifice and remind yourself of the emotions and test that Prophet Ibrahim ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him) himself endured. However, where you face logistical issues, nowadays it is much easier for us to fulfil this sacred act by the mere click of a button over the Internet where we can buy an animal to be sacrificed on the various established Muslim charity websites.
Avoid mistreatment of the animals and wasting the sacrificed food.
5. Doing more good deeds than usual
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days (Dhul Hijjah). 
Therefore we should increase the amount of good deeds we do in order to take advantage of this blessed time where good deeds are increased significantly.
Just like we are advised for Ramadan, complete as many worldly tasks as possible beforehand and do not waste this precious time. We must make a firm intention that during these blessed 10 days that we will not take part in idle talk, watch TV, play computer games or spend unnecessary time on the social media. There are many more days in the year for all that – if you really cannot resist. This is just 10 days! Consider the utter loss and regret for those who waste these blessed 10 days.
Avoid doing any innovative acts, stick to the Sunnah deeds.
The following 7 deeds are amongst the best actions we can do during these blessed 10 days:
- Reciting the Qur’ān abundantly:
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward. And that reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that “Alif, Laam, Meem” is a letter, rather I am saying that “Alif” is a letter, “laam” is a letter and “meem” is a letter. 
So if one letter of the Qur’ān is equivalent to ten good deeds then imagine how much reward there is for reading each letter during these blessed 10 days which are said to be the best days of the year! Therefore let us recite as much of the Qur’ān as we can during these 10 days and nights and aim to recite it from cover to cover if we can. After that we should continue reciting the Qur’ān throughout the rest of the year, for it is one of the excellent forms of worship! Remember the Qur’ān will either testify for us or against us, depending on how much of a connection we had with it during our life.
- Showing exemplary character:
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the Scale of the believer than good manners. Allāh hates one who utters foul or coarse language. 
So we must aim to be the best in character during these blessed days and nights and continue to do so for the rest of the year. We must not argue, swear, backbite, slander or gossip. Make an extra effort to be good to your friends, family, and neighbours, and especially those of other faiths.
- Giving much in charity:
As the rewards of doing good deeds during these days are increased significantly then we should also give as much as we can in charity – just like we do in Ramadan. Allāh promised forgiveness of our sins and multiplication of deeds if we give in charity to the poor and needy without bragging about it to others. It will be a shield for us on the day of judgment too and our reward is with Allāh for taking part in this transaction. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
Whoever gives charity equal to a date from good (halal) earnings – for Allāh does not accept anything but that which is good – Allāh will take it in His right hand and tend it for the one who gave it as any one of you tends his foal, until it becomes like a mountain. 
Have some change with you at all times to hand out when the opportunity arises. If you don’t have the opportunity to give out money in public, go online and resolve to donate a fixed amount every morning! If you don’t have money, remember that even a smile is considered charity – so go on and spread some good cheer!
- Respecting and honouring our parents:
Islam teaches us that of the most beloved deeds to Allāh, having respect for one’s parents is second only to that of prayer and is greater than that of fighting in His cause.
It is narrated on the authority of Abdullah bin Mas’ood raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), who observed:
“I asked Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) which deed was the best.” He (ﷺ) replied: ‘The Prayer at its appointed hour.’ I (again) asked: “Then what?” He (ﷺ) replied: ‘Kindness to the parents.’ I (again) asked: “Then what?”He (ﷺ) replied: ‘Earnest struggle (Jihad) in the cause of Allāh.’ I refrained from asking any more questions for fear of annoying him. 
Make an extra effort to spend time with them during these blessed days. Recite Qur’an with them, read a book together, discuss a lecture you heard, share your plans for the future and seek their input. Drive your father to the masjid if he is unable to walk there and earn reward for doing so, or call them a few more times in the day if they live far away. Above all be the reason behind their smiles.
- Doing many nawafil (superogatory) prayers:
Rabi’ah ibn Malik al-Aslami reported that the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:”Ask (anything).” Rabi’ah said: “I ask of you to be your companion in paradise. ” The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Or anything else?” Rabi’ah said: “That is it.” The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to him:
Then help me by making many prostrations (i.e., supererogatory prayers). 
Let’s try to make sure we pray all of the following sunnah and nawafil prayers to during the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah:
– Pray 12 raka’ahs of sunnah daily along with the fardh prayers.
– Salaatul Doha – 2 or more raka’ahs nafl performed between sunrise and midday.
– Two raka’ahs sunnah after entering the masjid
– Tahiyyatul wudhu: – 2 raka’ahs sunnah after performing wudhu (ablution).
Tahajjud prayer: The most virtuous nawafil (voluntary) prayer is the Tahajjud prayer as it enables one to get closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). During the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah we should aim to pray Tahajjud every night. If not then we should pray it in as many nights as we possibly can.
- Increase in glorification & remembrance of Allah:
As His creations we should all remember and glorify our creator as much as we possibly can, but even more so during these blessed days. The following are some easy and very beneficial dhikr and glorification we can do throughout these blessed days and nights.
– Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallahu Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahil Hamd
– Allahu Akbar
– Laa ilaha ilallah
– La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah
– SubhanAllahil azeem wa bihamdihi
– Subhāna-llāhi, wa-l-hamdu li-llāhi, wa lā ilāha illā-llāhu, wa-llāhu akbar. Wa lā hawla wa lā quwwata illā bi-llāhi-l-aliyyi-l-azīm
– Lā ilāha illā-llāhu waḥdahu lā sharīka lahu lahu-l-mulku wa lahu-l-ḥamdu yuhyi wa yumītu wa huwa ḥayyu-llā yamūtu abadan abada, ḏū-l-jalāli wa-l-ikrām, biyadihi-l-khayr, wa huwa alā kulli Shay-in qadīr or the shortened version Laa ilaaha illal-laahu wahdahu laa shareeka lahu, lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shay-in qadeer
- Making much dua:
When my servants ask you concerning me, (tell them) I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on me. 
We should busy ourselves in Dua during these 10 blessed days and nights particularly on the night and day of Arafat which is the 9th of Dhul Hijjah. Duas are also readily accepted during fasting, especially just before Suhur ends and just before breaking the fast.
- Making life changes:
We should make the necessary changes to improve ourselves as Muslims and what better time to make such changes than during these blessed 10 days where we can change our lives forever? We must internalise these changes and make a firm commitment to Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), and maybe that will wipe off our sins until we become newborn babies. We should aim to rectify our condition and live for the Hereafter rather than living for this world which can end at any second for any one of us. Allah tells us In the Qur’an to enter fully into our deen (way of life) and not partly:
O believers enter into Islam completely and do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan, surely he is your clear-cut enemy. 
So then will we not make Islam a FULL part of our lives? This is our best opportunity and if we don’t grab it now and death comes to us then surely we will regret it for ETERNITY! Time is not on our side. This life is very short indeed. It is like a quick passing phase. It is a short stopover in our journey to the eternal Afterlife.
May Allah enable us to make the best of these blessed days and nights and make it a means of our success in this world and in the Hereafter. Ameen.
 Qur’ān 89:1-2
 Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 8/413
 Sahih al-Bukhari, 2/457
 Sahih al-Bukhari, 1805
 Sunan al-Nasaa’i, 4/205 and by Abu Dawood; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2/462
 Sahih Muslim
 Sahih al-Bukhari
 Musnad Ahmad, 7/224; Ahmad Shaakir stated that it is saheeh
 Qur’ān 22:28
 Sahih al-Bukhari, 1773 and Muslim, 1349
 Sahih al-Bukhari, 1521 and Muslim, 1350
 Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 738 and Sunan an-Nasa’i, 2631
 Qur’ān 22:37
 Sunan Ibn Majah
 At- Tirmidhi
 Sahih al-Bukhaari, 1344; Muslim, 1014
 Sahih Muslim
 Sunan Abu Dawud
 Qur’ān 2:186
 Qur’ān 2:208