Days of Dhul-Hijjah: Ethics & Morals

A Muslim has to seize every opportunity that could bring him closer to Allah. Among the special seasons of worship are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, which Allah has preferred over all the other days of the year. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “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 to fight, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

The Sunnah indicates that the one who wants to offer a sacrifice must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “When you see the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah, if any one of you wants to offer a sacrifice, then he should stop cutting his hair and nails until he has offered his sacrifice.”

However, if a person does any of these things deliberately, he must seek Allah’s forgiveness but is not required to offer (an extra) sacrifice in expiation. Whoever needs to remove some hair, nails, etc., because it harms him, such as having a broken nail or a wound in a site where there is hair, should do so, and there is nothing wrong with that. Though the state of Ihram is so important, it is permitted to cut one’s hair if leaving it will cause harm. There is nothing wrong with men or women washing their heads during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) only forbade cutting the hair, not washing it.

If a person, having no previous plan to offer a sacrifice, cuts his hair or nails during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, then decides later, during the ten days, to offer a sacrifice, then he must refrain from cutting his hair and nails from the moment he makes this decision.

Concerning the types of worship to be performed during these ten days: one must understand that these days are a great blessing from Allah to His servants, which is appreciated properly by the righteous persons. It is the Muslim’s duty to appreciate this blessing and seize the opportunity, by devoting these ten days to paying more attention to striving hard in worship. Among His blessings to His servants, Allah has given us many ways in which to do good and worship Him, so that the Muslim may be constantly active and consistent in his worship of his Lord. Among the good deeds which the Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are:

Imam Ahmad narrated from Ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with him), from the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) that he said: “There aren’t any days greater, nor any days in which deeds done in them are more beloved to Allah Most High, than these ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah). So, increase in them the saying of Tahleel (Laa-ilaaha-ill-Allah), and Takbeer (Allahu-Akbar) and Tahmeed (al-hamdu-lillaah).”

The Types of Deeds in These Ten Days: 

First: The performance of Hajj and Umrah, and these are the best of deeds that may be done. And what indicates their superiority are a number of Hadiths, one of which is the saying of (The Prophet) (p.b.u.h.): “Performance of Umrah is an expiation of the sins committed between it and the previous Umrah, and the reward of the Hajj which is accepted by Allah Most High is nothing but Paradise.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Second: Fasting during these days as many of them as may be easy (for one to fast) – especially the Day of Arafah. There is no doubt that the act of fasting is one of the best deeds, and it is from what Allah, Most High has chosen for himself, as in the Hadith Qudsi: “Fasting is for Me, and it is I who give reward for it. Verily, someone gives up his sexual passion, his food and his drink for my sake…” (Bukhari, Muslim, Malik, Tirmidhi, Nasaa’ee and Ibn Majah).

Also, from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (May Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) said: “No servant (of Allah Most High) fasts one day in the way of Allah, except that Allah Most High removes his face from the fire because of it (the distance of traveling) seventy years.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Muslim narrated from Abu Qutaadah that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: “Fasting the Day of Arafah will be credited with Allah by forgiving one’s sins of the previous year and the following year.”

Also: Abu Hurairah relates that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said, “There are no days more loved to Allah for you to worship Him therein than the ten days of Dhul Hijja. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year and to offer salatul tahajjud (late-night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power. [i.e., Lailatul Qadr].”[Related by at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and al-Baihaqi]

Third: at-Takbeer (saying: Allahu-Akbar) and adh-Dhikr (remembrance of Allah, the Most High) in these (ten) days, because of the saying of Allah in Soorah al-Hajj verse 28: “…And mention the name of Allah on the appointed Days…”

This has been explained (by some) to mean the ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah), and the scholars consider it desirable to increase adh-Dhikr (remembrance of Allah Most High) in these days, because of the Hadith of Ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated by Ahmad, which says in it: “…so increase in these days the Tahleel and Takbeer and Tahmeed.”

Al-Bukhari mentioned about Ibn Umar and Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with them) that the two of them used to go out to the market place during the ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah) saying ‘Allahu-Akbar’, causing the people to also say it.”

Ishaq narrates from the scholars of the Taabi’een that in these ten days they used to say: Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar; Laa-ilaaha-ill-Allah Wallaahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar; Wa-lillaahil-hamd.

It is a beloved act to raise the voice when saying the Takbeer in the markets, the houses, the streets, the Masjids and other places, because of the saying of Allah, the Most High in Soorah al-Hajj verse 37: “…that you may magnify Allah for His Guidance to you…”

The saying of Takbeer in congregation, i.e., everyone pronouncing the Takbeer with one voice, is not permissible since this has not been transmitted (to us) from the early generations of the companions and those who followed their ways. Verily the Sunnah is for everyone to say the Takbeer individually. And this is applicable for all Dhikr and supplications, except if the person doesn’t know what to say. In that case he may repeat after someone else until he learns (the words to be said). It is also permissible to make Dhikr with all the different wording of Takbeer (Allahu-Akbar) and Tahmeed (al-hamdu-lillaah) and Tasbeeh (Subhaan-Allah), and the rest of the Islamic legislated supplications (from Quran and Sunnah).

Fourth: at-Tawbah (repentance) and abstaining from disobedience and all types of sins, since forgiveness and mercy are the results of deeds. Disobedience is the cause of being far away (from Allah, the Most High) and repulsion, while obedience is the cause of being near (to Allah, the Most High) and His love. In the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him), he said that the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) said: “Verily Allah has a sense of ‘Ghayrah’ (honor, prestige and anger over it’s violation), and Allah’s sense of Ghayrah is provoked when a person does that which Allah has made prohibited”. (Bukhari and Muslim).

Fifth: Doing plenty of voluntary (Nafl) righteous deeds of worship like prayer, charity, Jihad, reciting Quran, commanding what is good and forbidding what is evil, and other deeds like this. Verily they are of those deeds which are multiplied in these days. Because, even those deeds which are less preferred, in these days are superior and more beloved to Allah than superior deeds done at other times – even the Jihad which is one of the most superior of all deeds, except in the case of one whose horse is killed and his blood is spilled (loss of life in Jihad).

Sixth: It is legislated in these days to make at-Takbeer al-Mutlaq (unrestricted to specific times or form) at all times of night and day until the time of the Eid Prayer. Also, at-Takbeer al-Muqayyid (restricted to specific times and done in a particular manner) is legislated, and it is done after the (five) obligatory prayers which are performed in congregation. This begins from Dawn (Fajr) on the Day of Arafah (the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah) for those not performing Hajj, and from Noon (Dhuhr) on the Day of Sacrifice (10th of Dhul-Hijjah) for those performing Hajj (pilgrims); and it continues until Asr prayer on the last day of the days of Tashreeq (13th of Dhul-Hijjah).

Seventh: The slaughtering of a sacrificial animal (Adhiyyah) is also legislated for the Day of Sacrifice (10th) and the Days of Tashreeq (11th, 12th and 13th). This is the Sunnah of our father Ibraheem (May Allah be pleased with him) – from when Allah, the Most High redeemed his son by the great sacrifice (of an animal in his place). It is authenticated that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) slaughtered (sacrificed) two horned rams, black and white in color, and that he slaughtered them with his own hands, mentioned the name of Allah, the Most High (saying Bismillaah), said Takbeer (Allahu-Akbar), and placed his foot on their sides (while slaughtering them). (Bukhari and Muslim. Bukhari English translation – Dr. Muhsin Khan, Vol.2, Pg. 447-448 #770 and 772, 1979).

Eighth: Muslim and others narrated from Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) said: “If you see the Hilaal (new moon) of Dhul-Hijjah, and any one of you wants to make a sacrifice, then he should not cut (anything) from his hair and his nails.” and in one narration he said: “…then he should not take (cut) anything from his hair, nor from his nails, until he performs the sacrifice.” Perhaps this is because of the similarity with the one who is bringing a sacrificial animal for slaughter (in Hajj). As Allah, the Most High said: “…and do not shave your heads until the Hadee (sacrifice) reaches the place of sacrifice…”

The apparent meaning of this prohibition is that it is particularly for the one whom the sacrifice is for, and does not include the wife or children, unless there is an individual sacrifice for one of them. There is no harm in washing the head, or scratching it, even if some hairs may fall out.

Ninth: It is incumbent for the Muslim (who is not making Hajj) to make every effort to perform the Eid Prayer wherever it is performed, and to be present for the Khutbah and benefit. He must know the wisdom behind the legislation of this Eid (celebration). It is a day of thankfulness and performing deeds of righteousness. So, he must not make it a day of wildness, pride and vanity. He should not make it a season of disobedience and increase in the forbidden things like music and singing, uncontrolled amusement, intoxicants and the like – those things which could cause the cancellation of the good deeds done in these ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah).

Tenth: After what has been mentioned, it is fitting that every Muslim, male and female, take advantage of these days by obeying Allah, the Most High, remembering Him, thanking Him, fulfilling all the obligatory duties, and staying far away from the prohibited things. He must take full advantage of this season, and the open display of Allah’s gifts to attain the pleasure of his Lord.

Surely, Allah, the Most High is the One who grants success, and He is the Guide to the Straight Path. And may the blessings of Allah, the Most High, and Peace be upon