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4 things to do on the Blessed 10 Days of Dhul HijjahDhul Hijjah is the sacred month of Hajj. So blessed are the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah that according to a large group of commentators of the Qur’an, Allah swears by these 10 days in Surah Fajr:Allah the Most High & Exalted says: By the Dawn; By the ten Nights; (89:1-2)This oath substantiates the greatness and sacredness of these ten nights in the eyes of Allah. This is an extra ordinary oath; it is very reliable and significant and the wise men can understand that by this oath, Allah too attaches great importance and value to the ten nights of Dhul Hijjah.The Prophet (Sallahu Alaihi Wassalam) has said regarding these Blessed days: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." The people asked , "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause (of Allah), and came back with nothing." (Reported by Al-Bukhari)It is clear then that these 10 days possess tremendous blessings and excellence. Therefore we should spend these 10 blessed days & nights in intensive worship & virtuous acts. Therefore 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 9 days of Dhul Hijjah:It is recommended to fast on the first nine days of Dhu’l Hijjah, especially the 9th which is the blessed day of Arafah. Allah’s Messenger (Salallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) encouraged us to do righteous deeds in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah; and indeed fasting is one of the best of deeds. Almighty Allah says, “All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except fasting, which is for Me and I shall reward for it.”’ (Al-Bukhari) Note: The 10th of Dhul Hijjah is the Day of Eid ul Adha and is prohibitively disliked and sinful to fast on this day.Forgiveness for 2 years of sins (Minor sins) for fasting on the day of Arafah:Abu Qatada (Ra) related that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Fasting the Day of `Arafah (f: 9th of Dhu’l Hijjah) expiates for two years, one prior and one forthcoming. And fasting the Day of `Ashura (f: 10th of Muharram) expiates for the past year.” [Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah]Therefore we should try our utmost to fast all the blessed 9 days of Dhul Hijjah particularly the 9th oh 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. Tip 1: Eat light & hydrate well: If you will be staying up until Fajr, then the more you eat, the harder it will be for you to stay up and the less productive you will be! Keep some water with you at all times. This will help you stay up, feel energised and refreshed and have a clearer mind.2. Reciting Tasbeeh, Tahmeed, Tahleel & 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. These words should be recited abundantly in the masjids, homes, streets and in every place where it is permissible to remember & glorify Allah. ‘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 Allah on appointed days, over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them (for sacrifice).(22:28) Reciting the Takbeeraat-e-Tashreeq from the 9th to the 13th of Dhul Hijjah:Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallahu Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahil Hamd. Translation: "Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest. There is no deity besides Allah and Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest and all praises are for Allah only." It is Waajib (compulsory) for men to 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.Tip 2: Remember & Glorify Allah no matter what you are doing: This is particularly easy as one can remember Allah anywhere and at anytime whether it is during work or any daily activity. 3. Doing the Qurbani (Sacred sacrifice of a livestock Animal):The Qurbani is the sacrifice of a livestock animal during Eid ul-Adha. It is the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (As). It is a means of getting closer to Allah. 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. One may sacrifice a thousand animals on days other than these, but it will never be regarded or considered a Qurbani. Therefore the Qurbani is a sacred act which can only be done during the 3 days of Dhul Hijjah as specified. Regarding the Qurbani, Allah says in the Qur'an:"It is not their meat, nor their blood, that reaches Allah, It is their piety that reaches Allah" (22:37) The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) says regarding the Qurbani: “There is nothing dearer to Allah during the days of Qurbaani than the sacrificing of animals. The sacrificed animal shall come on the Day of Judgement with its horn, hair, and hooves (to be weighed). The sacrifice is accepted by Allah before the blood reaches the ground. Therefore sacrifice with an open and happy heart.” (Tirmidhi V1 pp275, Ibne Maajah V1 pp226)Tip 3: Doing Qurbani is very easy nowadays: Doing Qurbani during the days of sacrifice is a means of getting closer to Allah and gaining immense rewards. 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.4. Doing more good deeds than usual:The Prophet (Sallahu Alaihi Wassalam) said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days (Dhul Hijjah)."(Bukhari)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. Tip 4: Complete all tasks beforehand & do not waste this precious time: Make arrangements to clear as many of your pending tasks as possible or make a plan for tackling them later. This way, one is free to worship during the 10 days and nights without being distracted by worldly tasks. We must make a firm intention that during these blessed 10 days, we will not take part in idle talk, watch TV, play computer games or spend time on the social media. There are 355 days in the year for all that – if you really cannot resist. This is just 10 days! There will be indeed an utter loss and regret for those of us who waste these blessed 10 days. The following 7 deeds are amongst the best actions we can do during these blessed 10 days:1. Reciting the Qur’an abundantly: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 increase your recitation of the Qur’an to gain these merits, and to gain the following merit as well. (At-Tirmidhi)So if one letter of the Qur'an 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! Subhanallah!Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas & Anas Ibn Malik (RA) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, ‘Whoever recited Surah Zilzilah (99) would get the reward of reciting half the Qur’an. Whoever recited Surah al Kaafirun (109) would get a reward as if reading a quarter of the Qur’an. Whoever recited Surah al Ikhlas (112) would get a reward as if reading one third of the Qur’an’. (At-Tirmidhi 2818/A)Therefore let us recite as much of the Qur’an as we can during these 10 days and nights and aim to finish at least one Qur'an if we can. After that we should continue reciting the Qur'an throughout the rest of the year, for there is no better worship of Allah than to recite the Qur'an!Note: It is also very relevant to read the story of Ibrahim (As) which will give one a deeper understanding of the rituals of Hajj & the Qurbani.2. Showing exemplary character: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the Scale of the believer than good manners. Allah hates one who utters foul or coarse language.” [At- Tirmidhi]. 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.3. Giving much to 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. Allah promised forgiveness of our sins if we give in charity and give to the poor and needy. He honoured our charity and described it as a “ beautiful loan to Allah “ to emphasise that we are doing something good that He loves, and that He himself will pay our loan back to us doubled: "If ye loan to Allah a beautiful loan, He will double it to your (credit), and He will grant you Forgiveness: for Allah is Most Ready to appreciate (service), Most Forbearing." At-Taghabun 64:174. Respecting & honouring our parents:Islam teaches us that of the most beloved deeds to Allah, 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 (Ra), who observed: "I asked Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) which deed was the best." He (the Holy Prophet) replied: 'The Prayer at its appointed hour.' I (again) asked: "Then what?" He (the Holy Prophet) replied: 'Kindness to the parents.' I (again) asked: "Then what?" He replied: 'Earnest struggle (Jihad) in the cause of Allah.' I refrained from asking any more questions for fear of annoying him. (Sahih Muslim: 120)5. Doing many Nawafil (Superogatory) Prayers: Rabi'ah ibn Malik al-Aslami reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu alehi wasallam) said:"Ask (anything)." Rabi'ah said: "I ask of you to be your companion in paradise." The Prophet said: "Or anything else?" Rabi'ah said: "That is it." The Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said to him:"Then help me by making many prostrations (i.e., supererogatory prayers)." (Muslim)The following are Sunnah & Nawafil prayers to pray during the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah:- Pray 12 Raka'ahs of Sunnah daily: - 2 Sunnah of Fajr, 4 Sunnah & 2 Sunnah of Dhuhr & 2 Sunnah of MaghribUmm Habibah Ramilah bint Abu Sufyan (RA) narrated she heard the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saying: “A house will be built in Paradise for every Muslim who offers twelve units of Prayers other than the obligatory ones in day & night, to seek pleasure of Allah.” (Muslim)- Salaatul Duhaa: - (Can be prayed from 20 minutes after sunrise up until 20 minutes before Dhuhr begins) So we should remain seated after Fajr prayer & recite the Qur'an or do Dhikr up until 20 minutes after Sunrise & pray Salaatul Duhaa. If not then we can pray it anytime before midday.'Salat al-Dhuhaa consists of 2 - 12 Rakaats & it is preferable to perform 8 Rakaats.' (Raddul Mukhtaar vol.1 pg.505)The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: Whoever prayed twelve rakaats (before midday), then Allah will, as a reward, prepare a palace of gold for him in Paradise. (Mishkat, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)- 4 Sunnah, 2 Sunnah & 2 Nawafil of Dhuhr:Umm Habibah (RA) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Whoever sticks to the habit of offering four rak`ahs before Noon Prayer & four rak`ahs after it, Allah will shield him against the Hell-Fire.” (Abu Dawud & At-Tirmidhi) - 4 Raka'ahs Sunnah of Asr:The Prophet (Sallallaahu 'Alaihi wa sallam) said:"May Allaah have Mercy on the one who offers four (Raka'ahs) before 'Asr prayer."(Abu Dawud)- Two Raka'ahs Sunnah after entering Masjid:Abu Qatadah (RA) narrated the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as saying: “If any one of you enters a mosque, he should pray two rak`ahs before sitting.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim) - Tahiyyatul Wudu: - 2 Raka'ahs Sunnah after doing Wudu (Ablution)Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saying to Bilal (RA): “Tell me about the best of your deeds (i.e. one which you deem the most rewarding) since your embracing Islam because I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise.” Bilal (RA) replied: “I do not consider any act of mine more rewarding than that whenever I make ablution at any time of night or day, I perform Prayer for as much as was destined for me to do.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)”- Tahajjud prayer: (The Night Vigil prayer) - Can be prayed straight after Isha up until the break of DawnImam Abu Sa'id al-Khadimi said, "There is scholarly consensus (ijma`) that among the best of virtuous acts is the night vigil prayer." [al-Bariqa al-Mahmudiyya Sharh al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]The Most virtuous Nawafil (Voluntary) prayer is the Tahajjud prayer as it enables one to get closer to Allah (glorified and exalted be He). It can be prayed after Isha’ until just before Fajr begins. The best recitation of the Qur’an is done during Tahajjud prayer. You should recite as much of the Qur’an as you have memorised. In the long prostrations, beg Allah (glorified and exalted be He) for forgiveness and mercy and surely He will never turn away his slaves who beg of him during this prayer.Note: 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. When fasting during the first 9 days of Dhul Hijjah one should awaken a little earlier for Suhur, make Wudu & pray between 2-12 Raka'ahs of Tahajjud. The last third portion of the night is the most blessed part of the night in which Dua's are more readily accepted during this time. So by praying Tahajjud it gives us the best opportunity to get closer to Allah & to make sincere Dua, repenting for our sins past & present & to beg, cry & ask of Allah for whatever we want. 6. Increase in glorification & remembrance of Allah:As his creations we should all remember & 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- Subhanallah- Alhamdulillah- Allahu Akbar- Laa ilaha ilallah- LA HAWLA WA LA QUWWATA ILLA BILLAH- Asthaghfirullah- SUB-HAN'ALLAH HIL AZEEM WA BI-HAM'DIHI, - 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 qadīrOr the shortened version:- Laa ilaaha illal-laahu wahdahu laa shareeka lahu, lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shay-in qadeerOne can also recite the durood that one recites towards the end of one's Salaah or the shortest durood: Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallim7. Making much Dua:Almighty Allah says in the Qur'an:"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." [2:186] The place of duaa is so high to Allah, that the Prophet(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallim) had said: "Nothing is more honourable to Allah the Most High than du`a." [Sahih al-Jami` no.5268]. Almighty Allah also said: "The most excellent worship is Du'a." [Sahih Al-Jami` no. 1133]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.Tip 5. 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 (glorified and exalted be He), and maybe that he will wipe off our sins until we become newborn babies, In sha Allah.Finally:Therefore let us make the best of these blessed days and make the necessary changes so that we may live a life devoted to Allah. 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.... (Surah Al-Baqara, Ayah 208-210)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! Surely there is no logic in putting all of our efforts into a short, temporary life which can end at any second and neglect that which will last forever. Knowing this then why do we put everything into this life and neglect the Hereafter? Time is passing us by and we are blinded by the deception of this life. 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. This short life is our only one opportunity to build our Hereafter. In the Hereafter we will want to be taken back to this life in order to live it again so that we can worship Allah. But we will not be able to. So let us prepare for the Hereafter and our inevitable death before preperations are made for our funerals.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 the Next. Ameen Hamza Asadullah