All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May peace and blessings be upon the Chief of the Messengers, Muhammad.
Indeed it is a great favour and blessing from Allah that He has made for His righteous servants periods of time within which they can increase in good deeds to attain great rewards and one of these opportunistic periods is the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah (the final month of the Islamic Calendar, in which the Hajj is performed).
SUPERIORITY OF THE FIRST TEN DAYS OF DHUL-HIJJAH
The excellence of these ten days have been mentioned in the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
1. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"By the dawn and by the ten nights … " [Al-Qur'an 89:1-2]
Ibn Kathir said that "the ten nights" referred to here are the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, and this opinion was also held by Ibn Abbas, Ibn az-Zubair, Mujahid and others.
2. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
"There are no deeds as excellent as those done in these ten days." They (the companions listening) said, "Not even Jihad?" He, peace be upon him, said, "No, not even Jihad except a man who goes forth endangering his life and wealth and does not return with anything."[Recorded by Imam al-Bukhari]
3. Allah says:
" … and remember the name of Allah in the appointed days." [Al-Qur'an 2:203]
Ibn Abbas and Ibn Kathir said this means in the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
4. The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said:
"There are no other days that are as great as these in the sight of Allah, the Most Sublime. Nor are there any deeds more beloved to Allah then those that are done in these ten days. So increase in tahlil (to say la illaha illallah), takbir (to say allahu akbar) and tahmid (to say alhumdulillah)." [Reported by at-Tabarani in al-Mu'jum al-Kabir]
5. With regards to the noble companion Sa'id bin Jubair, when the days of Dhul-Hijjah began he would strive to increase in good actions with great intensity until he was unable to increase anymore. [Reported by ad-Darimi]
6. Ibn Hajar says in Fath al-Bari:
"The most apparent reason for the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah being distinguished in excellence is due to the assembly of the greatest acts of worship in this period, i.e. salawat (prayers), siyam(fasting), sadaqah (charity) and the Hajj (pilgrimage). In no other periods do these great deeds combine."
WHAT ARE THE RECOMMENDED ACTS IN THESE DAYS?
1. Prayer - It is highly recommended to perform the obligatory acts at their prescribed times (as early as possible) and to increase oneself in the superogatory acts, for indeed, this is what brings a person closer to their Lord. The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said:
"Upon you is to increase in your prostration to Allah, for verily you do not prostrate to Allah with even one prostration, except that He raises you in degrees and decreases your sins because of it." [Reported by Muslim]
2. Fasting - This has been mentioned as one of the acts of righteousness where Hanbada ibn Khalid reports on the authority of his wife who reports that some of the wives of the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "The Prophet, upon whom be peace, would fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, the day of Ashura and three days in every month." [Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nisa'i and others]
Imam an-Nawawi said that fasting in these ten days is extremely recommended.
3. Saying allahu akbar, la illaha illallah and alhamdulillah - It is found in the aforementioned narration of Ibn 'Umar:
"So increase yourselves in saying la illaha illallah, allahu akbar and alhamdulillah."
Imam al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
"Ibn 'Umar and Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with them both, used to go out to the markets in the ten days saying the takbircausing the people to follow them in this action."
He also said:
"'Umar ibn al-Khattab used to say the takbir in his mimbar in Mina, whereupon the people of the mosque hearing 'Umar, would start to say the takbir as would the people in the markets until the whole of Mina was locked in glorifying Allah."
Ibn 'Umar used to say the takbir in Mina during these ten days and after prayers, whilst on his bed, in his tent, in his gathering and whilst walking. What is recommended is to say the takbir aloud due to the fact that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, his son and Abu Hurayrah used to do likewise, may Allah be pleased with them all.
Strive with us O Muslims in reviving this sunnah that has become lost in these times and it was almost forgotten, even amongst the people of righteousness and goodness all of which is unfortunately in opposition to what the best of generations were upon (preserving and maintaining the superogatory acts).
There are a number of ways of making takbir that have been narrated by the companions and their followers and from these ways is the following:
Allahu akbar, allahu akbar, allahu akbar kabirun.
Allahu akbar, allahu akbar, la ilaha illallah, wallahu akbar, wallahu akbar, wa lillahil hamd.
Allahu akbar, allahu akbar, allahu akbar, la ilaha illallah, wallahu akbar, allahu akbar wa lillahil hamd.
4. Fasting on the day of 'Arafah - Fasting has been affirmed on the day of 'Arafah, where it has been confirmed from the Prophet, peace be upon him, that he said regarding fasting on the day of 'Arafah:
"Be content with the fact that Allah will expiate for you your sins for the year before (the day of 'Arafah) and the year after (the day of 'Arafah)." [Reported by Muslim]
However, whoever is at 'Arafah as a pilgrim then fasting is not expected of him, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, stopped at 'Arafah to eat.
May the peace of Allah be upon his Prophet, the family of the Prophet and all of his companions.