In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, the month of the Hajj pilgrimage, are a virtuous and blessed time for performing acts of worship, good deeds, and remembering Allah. The reward for good deeds done during these ten days are greater than all other days, except for someone who shows exemplary bravery and is martyred in a just cause for the sake of Allah.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
مَا الْعَمَلُ فِي أَيَّامٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنْهَا فِي هَذِهِ
No good deeds are better than what is done in these first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
The companions said, “Not even jihad in the way of Allah?” The Prophet said:
وَلَا الْجِهَادُ إِلَّا رَجُلٌ خَرَجَ يُخَاطِرُ بِنَفْسِهِ وَمَالِهِ فَلَمْ يَرْجِعْ بِشَيْءٍ
Not even jihad in the way of Allah, except for a man who goes out with his life and wealth at risk and he returns with nothing.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 926, Grade: Sahih
Allah swears an oath by the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, which indicates their importance for us. Whenever Allah swears by something in the Quran, it is meant to draw our attention to its greatness.
وَالْفَجْرِ وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍ
By the dawn and the ten nights…
Surat al-Fajr 89:1-2
Ibn Abbas commented on this verse, saying:
إن اللياليَ العشر التي أقسم الله بها هي ليالي العشر الأول من ذي الحجة
Indeed, the ten nights by which Allah swore an oath are the first ten nights of Dhul Hijjah.
Source: Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī 89:2
It is recommended to increase our supplications, remembrance, and acts of charity during these first ten days, especially the 9th day which is the day of Arafat, as well as the day of Eid al-Adha and the following three days after it (ayyam al-tashriq).
لِّيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَاتٍ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ
That they may witness benefits for themselves and remember the name of Allah on appointed days over what He has provided for them of animals, so eat of them and feed the downtrodden and the poor.
Surat al-Hajj 22:28
Al-Suyuti commented on this verse, writing:
وَيَذْكُرُواْ ٱسْمَ ٱللَّهِ فِى أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَٰتٍ أي عشر ذي الحجة أو يوم عرفة أو يوم النحر إلى آخر أيام التشريق
‘That they may remember the name of Allah on appointed days,’ meaning the ten of Dhul Hijjah, or the day of Arafat, or the day of sacrificing and its following three days.
Source: Tafsīr al-Jalālayn 22:28
Specifically, it is recommended to often recite the declaration of the oneness of Allah (tahlil), the exaltation of Allah (takbir), and the praise of Allah (tahmid).
Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
مَا مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أَعْظَمُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَلَا أَحَبُّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ الْعَمَلِ فِيهِنَّ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْأَيَّامِ الْعَشْرِ فَأَكْثِرُوا فِيهِنَّ مِنْ التَّهْلِيلِ وَالتَّكْبِيرِ وَالتَّحْمِيدِ
There are no days greater and more beloved to Allah than these ten days of Dhul Hijjah, so increase in them your declaration of the oneness of Allah, your exaltation of Him, and your praise of Him.
Source: Musnad Aḥmad 5423, Grade: Sahih
These are the following supplications:
لا إله إلا الله
La Ilaha Illa Allah
There is no God but Allah.
Allah is the greatest.
All praise is due to Allah.
Fasting is one of the best acts of worship to perform during these nine days. It is highly recommended to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah, especially on the day of Arafat, but it is not an obligation to do so.
Hunaydah ibn Khalid reported:
بَعْضِ أَزْوَاجِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَتْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَصُومُ تِسْعَ ذِي الْحِجَّةِ وَيَوْمَ عَاشُورَاءَ وَثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ مِنْ كُلِّ شَهْرٍ أَوَّلَ اثْنَيْنِ مِنْ الشَّهْرِ وَالْخَمِيسَ
Some of the wives of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said that he would fast the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah, the day of Ashura, and three days of every month, which would be the first Monday and Thursday of the month.
Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 2437, Grade: Sahih
Al-Nawawi confirms the prophetic precedent for fasting on these days:
وَمِنْ الْمَسْنُونِ صَوْمُ الْأَيَّامِ التِّسْعَةِ مِنْ أَوَّلِ ذِي الْحِجَّةِ
It is part of the Sunnah to fast the first nine days of the beginning of Dhul-Hijjah.
Source: al-Majmū’ Sharḥ al-Muhadhab 6/386
However, sometimes the Prophet (ṣ) did not fast these days because it is not an obligation to do so, even though it is highly recommended. It is perfectly fine for a Muslim to focus on other types of good deeds during these nine days.
مَا رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ صَائِمًا فِي الْعَشْرِ قَطُّ
I never saw the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, fasting during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1176, Grade: Sahih
Al-Nawawi commented on this tradition, writing:
أَنَّهَا لَمْ تَرَهُ صَائِمًا فِيهِ وَلَا يَلْزَمُ عَنْ ذَلِكَ عَدَمُ صِيَامِهِ فِي نَفْسِ الْأَمْرِ
That Aisha did not see him fasting these days does not necessitate that he never fasted them at all.
Source: Sharḥ al-Nawawī ‘alá Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1176
In particular, one should fast on the day of Arafat, which is the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, even if they are not fasting for the rest of the days. This day corresponds to the time when pilgrims are completing the most important rite of the Hajj, which is supplicating to Allah on the plain of Arafat. The reward for fasting this day is the expiation of one’s minor sins for two years.
Abu Qatadah reported: A man came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “What is your view about fasting on the day of Arafat?” The Prophet said:
أَحْتَسِبُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَنْ يُكَفِّرَ السَّنَةَ الْمَاضِيَةَ وَالْبَاقِيَةَ
I consider it with regard to Allah that it expiates the sins of the previous and upcoming years.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1162, Grade: Sahih
Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
وَمَا مِنْ يَوْمٍ أَفْضَلُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ يَنْزِلُ اللَّهُ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا فَيُبَاهِي بِأَهْلِ الْأَرْضِ أَهْلَ السَّمَاءِ فَيَقُولُ انْظُرُوا إِلَى عِبَادِي شُعْثًا غُبْرًا ضَاحِينَ جَاءُوا مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتِي وَلَمْ يَرَوْا عَذَابِي فَلَمْ يُرَ يَوْمٌ أَكْثَرُ عِتْقًا مِنَ النَّارِ مِنْ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ
No day is better to Allah than the day of Arafat. Allah descends to the lowest heaven and He boasts to the inhabitants of the heavens about the inhabitants of the earth, saying: Look at My servants, appearing disheveled and dusty. They came from every mountain pass hoping for My mercy. They do not see My punishment, yet they do not see that on no day are more saved from Hellfire than the day of Arafat.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 3853, Grade: Sahih
Whether fasting on the day of Arafat or not, Muslims should remember their brothers and sisters who are at Hajj and ask Allah to forgive their sins. Likewise, the pilgrims should take advantage of their presence at Arafat to ask Allah to forgive this Ummah.
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِلْحَاجِّ وَلِمَنِ اسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُ الْحَاجُّ
O Allah, forgive the pilgrims and those for whom the pilgrims seek forgiveness.
Source: al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ 8818, Grade: Hasan
It is not recommended to fast on the day of Arafat for those who are actually performing the Hajj pilgrimage so that they have more strength to continuously supplicate, although they may fast if they have the strength for it.
Abu Najih reported: Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was asked about fasting on the day of Arafat for those who are at Arafat and he said:
حَجَجْتُ مَعَ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَلَمْ يَصُمْهُ وَمَعَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ فَلَمْ يَصُمْهُ وَمَعَ عُمَرَ فَلَمْ يَصُمْهُ وَمَعَ عُثْمَانَ فَلَمْ يَصُمْهُ وَأَنَا لَا أَصُومُهُ وَلَا آمُرُ بِهِ وَلَا أَنْهَى عَنْهُ
I have performed the Hajj pilgrimage with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he did not fast it. I performed it with Abu Bakr and he did not fast, with Umar and he did not fast, and with Uthman and he did not fast. I do not fast it, nor do I command it or prohibit it.
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 751, Grade: Sahih
Al-Tirmidhi commented on this tradition, saying:
وَالْعَمَلُ عَلَى هَذَا عِنْدَ أَكْثَرِ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ يَسْتَحِبُّونَ الْإِفْطَارَ بِعَرَفَةَ لِيَتَقَوَّى بِهِ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى الدُّعَاءِ وَقَدْ صَامَ بَعْضُ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ يَوْمَ عَرَفَةَ بِعَرَفَةَ
The majority of scholars acted upon this, that it is recommended to not fast on the day of Arafat in order for a man to have strength to supplicate, but some of the scholars would fast on the day of Arafat while at Arafat.
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 750
Muslims should definitely not fast on Eid al-Adha or the following three days (ayyam al-tashriq) because these are celebrations for eating, drinking, showing gratitude, and remembering Allah.
‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
يَوْمُ عَرَفَةَ وَيَوْمُ النَّحْرِ وَأَيَّامُ التَّشْرِيقِ عِيدُنَا أَهْلَ الْإِسْلَامِ وَهِيَ أَيَّامُ أَكْلٍ وَشُرْبٍ
The day of Arafat, the day of sacrifice, and the three following days are our celebrations for the people of Islam, so they are days of eating and drinking.
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 773, Grade: Sahih
Al-Tirmidhi commented on this tradition, saying:
وَالْعَمَلُ عَلَى هَذَا عِنْدَ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ يَكْرَهُونَ الصِّيَامَ أَيَّامَ التَّشْرِيقِ
The scholars acted upon this. They discouraged fasting on the three days of al-Tashriq.
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 773
In sum, as Muslims we should increase our good deeds of worship, prayer, remembrance, supplication, and charity during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. It is highly recommended to fast the first nine days of this month, especially the day of Arafat, and to supplicate on behalf of the pilgrims. The Hajj pilgrimage ends with Eid al-Adha and its following three days, a joyous time of celebrating in faith, gratitude, and remembrance of Allah.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.