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Make the First Ten Like the Last Ten

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A mighty oath

In the Quran, the Almighty took an oath by two aspects of His creation, both being great in their stature, both being symbols of Allah, and both being signs to reflect on:

“By the dawn, and by the ten nights”[1]

The dawn is truly a magnificent sign of Allah. It signifies the end of darkness and passing of the night and heralds the beginning of a new day. It is a phenomenon that mankind recognises itself as having no control over, as Allah declared in the Quran:

“Say: Have you thought, if Allah made night everlasting for you till the Day of Resurrection, who is a God beside Allah who could bring you light? Will you not then listen?”[2]

So many acts of worship are connected to this time, such as the end of tahajjud prayer, the beginning of fajr prayer, and the beginning of fasting.

Similarly, by association, the ten nights are a great sign of Allah. Something so profound, that Allah chose to take an oath by them. Something so important, that Allah connected it to the dawn itself. Ibn Abbas explained that these ten nights are indeed in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.

Do we appreciate this opportunity?

As we stand at the eve of these ten days, we might well reflect, do we as Muslims give these days their due importance? Consider the last ten nights of Ramadan; the mosques swell beyond their walls with men and women praying in every nook and cranny of the courtyard.

The evenings resound with the sublime recitation of Qur’an in tarawih prayer. In the dead of the night, empty streets come to life with Muslim households switching on lights, preparing food and waking up tired children. Wallets are emptied for the orphans, destitute and oppressed with every noble cause raising its flag. The generous compete to feed the fasting with invitations and grand meals.

But what of the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah? Sometimes they come and pass anonymously with some Muslims not knowing that they have begun, let alone aware of their importance. Sometimes these days are considered nothing but a countdown to the Eid.

It was but two months ago that we raised our hands begging for Allah’s forgiveness. The roofs of mosques were almost taken off by the power of the qunut beseeching the help of Allah and His victory. So what has changed? Why has our conviction in Allah’s promise waned? Why have we become overcome with an apathy that subdues worship and stifles our longing for the Hereafter?

Better than Jihad

This same companion, Ibn Abbas, also narrated that the Prophet (Peace and salutations be upon him) said:

“’There are no days wherein good deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days’. The companions asked, ‘Not even Jihad in the path of Allah?’ He said, ‘Not even Jihad in the path of Allah, with the exception of that person who went out to fight with his life and his wealth and did not return with either.’”[3]

No other motivation should be needed for us after these words of the Prophet (Peace and salutations be upon him). Jihad is the pinnacle of Islam. The noble act of worship where a servant puts on the line everything that is beloved to him, to make the word of Allah the highest. Even better than this is to worship Allah in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah! Allah has opened every door of goodness to us in these ten days, so be weary not to turn your back on the Mercy of Allah, lest that door is not opened for you again.

So what should the worshipper busy themselves with from the adhan for Maghrib on the eve of the first of Dhul Hijjah? Begin with the Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah as Allah said in the Qur’an,

“And verily the Dhikr of Allah is greater.”[4]

A communal faith

It is from the Mercy of Allah that He enjoined upon us acts of worship that bring peace and contentment to our hearts and that have an intrinsic enjoyment, as Allah said in the Qur’an,

“Truly in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”[5]

As soon as the declaration of the beginning of Dhul Hijjah reaches you, increase profusely in the Dhikr of Allah. Ibn Umar and Abu Hurayrah upon the entering of Dhul Hijjah would enter the market place and raise the takbir of Allah. So much so that the entire market place would resound with the glorification and praise of Allah. Ibn Umar narrates that the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said:

 “There are no days during which good deeds are greater and more beloved to Allah than these ten days. So recite more often the tahlil, takbir and tahmid.”[6]

Our religion is a communal faith that cannot be fully practiced in isolation. When Muslims remind and aid each other to increase in the remembrance of Allah, and compete with each other for the Hereafter, good deeds become so much easier on our souls.

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Note the two types of takbir to be made in these ten days. The generic takbir which is made from the Maghrib of the first of Dhul Hijjah until the tenth. And the specific takbir which is made from the Fajr of the ninth of Dhul Hijjah (the day of Arafah) until the Asr of the thirteenth of Dhul Hijjah. The wording is flexible including statements such as those stated by Ibn Masood, “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illa Allah, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahil-Hamd.”

“Fasting is for Me…”

Fast, for it is a unique act of worship that Allah attributed to Himself when He said “Fasting is for Me and I will reward it”[7]. Ibn Hajr explains that one of the reasons fasting has been singled out is that showing off may enter into all good deeds except fasting as no one can see when a person is fasting except Allah. Also, fasting can be performed simultaneously with other good deeds such as prayer and charity, while good deeds besides fasting are to be performed alone.

Abu Qatadah narrates that the Prophet (Peace and salutations be upon him) said regarding the fast of the day of Arafah, “It expiates the sins of the past year and coming year.”[8] It is indeed reported from Hunaydah ibn Khalid that one of the wives of the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) stated that the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) used to fast the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah and the day of Ashurah, the three days each month, the first Monday of the month and two Thursdays.[9]

Ancient sacrifice

Sacrifice, for it is the ancient ritual of our forefather Ibrahim and was ordered for our Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) when Allah said “so pray to your Lord and sacrifice.”[10] The Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said:

“The son of Adam does not perform any actions on the day of sacrifice which is more pleasing to Allah than the flowing of blood. The sacrificed animal shall come on the Day of Judgement with its horns, hair, and hooves. The sacrifice is accepted by Allah before the blood reaches the ground…”[11]

Ensure the sacrifice takes place after the Eid prayer or it will not be considered a valid ‘udhiyyah’ or ‘qurbani’, and if you deputise a friend, relative or charity to carry out the sacrifice on your behalf, ensure due diligence and care that the conditions of sacrifice are fulfilled.

Hajj at home

Resemble the people of Hajj. While the pilgrims assume their state of Ihram, heading towards the ka’bah, Allah has not deprived other Muslims of sharing in their nobility. The wife of the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him), Umm Salamah stated, “When you see the new moon of Dhul Hijjah, and one of you wants to sacrifice an animal let him refrain from cutting or shaving his hair or clipping his fingernails or toenails.”  It is therefore a great error that Muslim men especially, those who intend to sacrifice, fill the saloons on the eve of Eid cutting and trimming their hair while the sacrificial animal has barely reached the place of sacrifice.

Plan your worship

Increase greatly in your prayer for it is related of Saeed ibn Jubayr that he would increase in the night prayer and good deeds during these ten days so much so that people could not bear the example he was setting and would ask him to relent.

Recite the Qur’an for it is the best form of Dhikr and the shortest route to draw closer to Allah. Set yourself an aspirational target for these days as you did set yourself a target for Ramadan. You can recite the whole Qur’an in ten days by reciting three jus’ per day – that’s just around 60 pages.

Donate in charity for charity has been linked to bravery while miserliness has been linked to cowardice. The Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) would invoke, “O Allah, I seek refuge in you from miserliness and cowardice.”

In summary, it is the responsibility of every Muslim, man and woman, old and young, to revive these ten days until they become for our community like the last ten nights of Ramadan. Ibn al-Qayim explained that the best nights of the year are the last ten nights of Ramadan while the best days of the year are the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Our lives are short and our accountability great. We cannot afford to let golden moments like these pass by without expending ourselves in the worship of Allah.

So let our mosques and homes resound with wave after wave of the takbir of Allah until they resemble the market places of Medina in the era of the companions. As the Islamic year draws to a close, let us revive the ancient ritual of our forefather Ibrahim. And as the pilgrims set out for Hajj, hoping to return pure from sin like the day they were born, let us remember that we too have worship that will tire us and consume us, but will illuminate our faces on the day that we meet our Lord.

Source: www.islam21c.com


This article has been updated, originally posted on 17th October 2012

[1] Surah al-Fajr, verse 1

[2] Surah al-Qassas, verse 71

[3] Saheeh al-Bukhari

[4] Surah al-Ankabut, verse 45

[5] Surah al-Ra’d, verse 28

[6] Reported by Imam Ahmed

[7] Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim

[8] Sahih Muslim

[9] Al-Nasai and Abu Dawood

[10] Surah al-Kauthar, verse 2

[11] Tirmithi, Ibn Majah

About Ustadh Abu Haneefah Sohail

Abu Haneefah is an educationalist and student of knowledge. He has worked extensively in community projects in the UK. He holds regular study circles on reflections on the Qur'ān and his field of expertise is the tarbiyya of young people.


  1. iamunique786@hotmail.com

    Jazak Allah !

  2. Such a well written and timely reminder, very useful – thank you. NS

  3. m
    Alhamdulillah very useful infor, please can someone answer me, what is the generic takbeer made from magrib of the first day of dhul-hijjah until the ninth?

    jazakallah khair

  4. Jzk!
    Allahu akbar, what a brilliant article and inspiration to do good! JazakAllah Khayr!

  5. so helpful!
    Asa, jazak Allah you guys… I didn’t know as such, I am grateful I learnt this today masha Allah.

  6. assalaamu alaikum akhi

    jazakallaah khair

    this has never been brought into perspective using the example of the last ten nights of ramadhan

    may Allah reward your efforts

  7. Excellent article.
    A great and beneficial article. May Allah reward the writer.

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