|The 10 Days of Dhul Hijjah: Their Virtue and the Ruling of Fasting
|Article ID: 1512 | 9080 Reads
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
All praise is due to Allah, and may He send peace and salutations on His Messenger, Muhammad. I ask Allah to give us the Tawfiq to do righteous deeds and to take advantage of the time He has given us before a Day arrives when we will regret every moment not spent in His Pleasure. To proceed:
Allah, in His Perfect Wisdom, has blessed certain times and certain places with virtues and great rewards with which He has not graced others. Allah has made certain months, days and nights more virtuous than others, to motivate His slaves to increase in worship and righteous deeds, renew their energies and revitalize their Iman. Among those days are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
Allah swears an oath in Surat al-Fajr, âBy Fajr, and by ten nights.â According to ibn âAbbas, ibn al-Zubayr, Mujahid and countless scholars from theSalaf and the Khalaf, this refers to the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. This is the correct interpretation according to ibn Kathir. When Allah swears an oath by something, it is an indication of its excellence, its virtue and its blessing.
Also, al-Bukhari reports from ibn 'Abbas that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, "Deeds are not better in any days than they are in these days." The Companions asked, "Not even Jihad in Allah's Path?" He said, "Not even Jihad in Allah's Path, except a man who goes out risking his life and his wealth and returns with neither.â
Tirmidhi also reports this hadith with the wording, "There are no days in which righteous deeds (al-'amal al-salih) are more beloved to Allah than these ten."
This shows the great virtue of righteous deeds done in these days. Any deed done in these days is greater in reward than if that same deed were to be done at any other time. The one who strives to do righteous deeds in these days is even greater in reward than the Mujahid, except for the Mujahidwho gives his life and his wealth for Allah's Sake.
Ibn Rajab states, "It is this particular Jihad which surpasses the deeds of these ten days. As for other types of Jihad, the deeds in the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are superior and more beloved to Allah than them and likewise (more than) all other deeds. This indicates that lesser deeds done at a virtuous time can reach the level of a deed that is superior to it at other times and even surpass it if its reward is multiplied."
What righteous deeds are intended?
The phrase al-'Amal al-Salih is general in meaning in this hadith, as it is qualified by the definite article "al", indicating that all righteous deeds are intended. Righteous deeds are all those deeds that have been encouraged in the Qur'an and Sunnah, and many of them are well known to the average Muslim. They include prayer, charity, fasting, late night prayer (qiyam al-layl), recitation of Qur'an, kindness to parents (birr al-walidayn), maintaining ties of kinship (silat al-arham), commanding good, forbidding evil, feeding the poor, helping the oppressed, freeing Muslim prisoners, and so forth.
Ibn Rajab states, "Sa'id b. Jubayr is the one who reported this hadith (from ibn 'Abbas). When these ten days would arrive, he would strive (in worship) to an extent that is almost impossible to be matched. It is reported that he said, 'Do not extinguish your lamps on these ten nights,' for he preferred one to worship (during those nights)."
Likewise, al-'Amal al-Salih also includes remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and supplication (du'a).
As for du'a, it is encouraged at all times, and it is even more virtuous during these days, so much so that Abu Musa al-Ash'ari is reported to have said, "Du'a in these days is not rejected."
Dhikr is also encouraged in these days. Ibn âUmar reports that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said concerning these days, âSo fill them with Tahlil, Takbir, and Tahmid.âIn fact, according to some scholars, it is recommended to perform Takbir vocally and in public during these days, as al-Bukhari reports in a mu'allaq narration that "Abu Hurayrah and ibn 'Umar used to come to the marketplace during these ten days and make Takbir, and the people would make Takbir with them. They would come out for no other purpose than that."
Most importantly, it goes without saying that the great rite of Hajj is performed in this time, and perhaps that is part of the wisdom in encouraging all Muslims to do righteous deeds in these days. Ibn Rajab states, "Allah has placed a longing in the souls of the believers to see His Sacred House, but not everyone is able to visit it every year. Consequently, He made it obligatory for the person who is able to perform Hajj to do so once in his life, and He made these ten days a season shared by those who go forth (for Hajj) and those who stay back. Whoever is unable to perform Hajj in a given year, he is able to do in his home such deeds in these ten days that even surpass Jihad, a deed more virtuous than Hajj."
Answering an objection concerning fasting during these 10 days
Firstly, it goes without saying that fasting the tenth day is not permissible as it is the Day of 'Id and this is prohibited by the consensus of the scholars. This is not a point of dispute. Likewise, there is no question about fasting the day of 'Arafah, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said about fasting the Day of 'Arafah, "It is expiation for the previous year and the coming year."
It is regrettable that there is a recent phenomenon of some students of knowledge, who, in their haste to distinguish Sunnah from Bid'ah, have gone as far as objecting
to the practice of fasting in the other eight days of Dhul-Hijjah, to the point that some of them have counted it as a bid'ah, although there is general agreement among the fuqaha' that fasting these eight days is encouraged.
There is no doubt that it is important to warn the average Muslims of the various innovations that are widespread in many Muslim societies. However, when excessive zeal is coupled with insufficient grounding in knowledge, it leads some students of knowledge to prohibit legitimate deeds that have sanction in the Shari'ah or which, at the least, fall within the scope of legitimate difference of opinion.
The objection to this practice is based on the hadith of 'A'ishah reported by Muslim, âI never saw him (صلى الله عليه وسلم) fasting in these ten days.âAnother wording states, âThe Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not fast these ten days.â
The response to such a usage of this hadeeth in order to propagate that view is from a number of angles. Firstly, it must be said, the hadith mentioned earlier in this article establishes the recommendation to do righteous deeds as much as possible in these days. This is dependent on what suits a personâs circumstances. For some, it may be fasting, for others it may be prayer, charity, recitation of Qurâan or other deeds. Some may be able to do a combination of these deeds. No doubt, this will vary from person to person depending on personal circumstances, profession, work schedule, and other obligations.
Furthermore, there is no doubt that fasting is one of the greatest of deeds, due to the innumerable hadiths enumerating its virtues, and because it is the only deed which Allah has promised to reward personally and without measure, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) states, âAll of the son of Adamâs deeds are multiplied: a good deed is multiplied from ten to seven hundred times. Allah, âazza wa jall says, âExcept for fasting, for it is for Me, and I shall reward it (without measure).ââ
If the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not fast, it does not mean that fasting is not encouraged. It is possible that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was preoccupied with more important deeds. It is also possible the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) only fasted some of these days, in order to keep his strength for other deeds or to avoid giving the impression that fasting in particular is to be emphasized in these days over all other deeds. Ibn Hajar states, âIt is possible this is because he would sometimes leave a deed which he loved to do out of fear that it would be made obligatory on his Ummah, and this is reported in the two Sahih collections from âAâishah as well.â
Additionally, the wording of this hadith suggests that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not fast at all during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, including the Day of âArafah, yet those who object to fasting in these days agree that fasting on the Day of âArafah is sunnah.
Also, to understand the words of âAâishah one must be familiar with her style of speaking. Those familiar with the hadiths of âAâishah will be aware that she had a habit of using expressions of negation when she in fact did not intend a complete negation. An example of this is the hadith of âAâishah, âI never saw Allahâs Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) pray the Duha prayer, yet I pray it.âThis hadith is reported by Muslim, and in the very nexthadith he reports, âAâishah says he would pray âFour rakâahs, and then he would increase as much as he chose.âTherefore, in the first hadith, âAâishah must have meant it was not his practice to always pray the Duha prayer, or that he would only pray it occasionally. There are many similar examples from the statements of âAâishah as well that show that she uses expressions of negation which are not intended to be taken at face value.
Finally, it should be pointed out that there are no specific reports describing the Prophetâs worship or deeds (صلى الله عليه وسلم) during these days other than Hajj, be it prayer, charity, supplication or recitation of Qurâan. Should we then understand that extra recitation of Qurâan, prayer and so forth in these days is also bidâah? If this logic is followed to its conclusion, this attempt to close the door of bidâah would lead to closing the door of âamal altogether, and there is no doubt that this is against the teachings of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم).
Every Muslim should strive to fill these days with worship and righteous deeds as much as he is able. In his wisdom, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not specify certain deeds so that each person would be able to choose those deeds that suit his circumstances and his personal inclinations. Recitation of Qurâan might be difficult for some while it is easy for others, and likewise fasting, charity and so forth. Therefore, each person should strive to earn Allahâs Pleasure in these days in the manner that Allah has facilitated for him.
This includes fasting without a doubt. Countless scholars have explicitly stated it is recommended to fast these days, while no classical scholar is known to have disliked it or objected to this practice. It is stated in al-Mawsuâah al-Fiqhiyyah, âThe fuqahaâ are agreed that it is recommended to fast the eight days at the start of Dhul-Hijjah before the Day of âArafah.â In fact, the Shafiâis and the Malikis have explicitly stated that this recommendation even applies to the one at Hajj.
Zeal in adhering to the Sunnah is a praiseworthy quality, and one which every Muslim should strive to nurture in himself and in those under his care, but he must take care that this zeal is governed by the rules and objectives of the Shariâah and the understanding of the Salaf. If someone finds difficulty in understanding some ruling or some text, he should not be hasty, but rather should refer back to well-grounded scholars who can alleviate his confusion and clarify his misunderstandings; and Allah knows best.
Finally, I ask Allah to grant us beneficial knowledge and righteous deeds, and may Allah send peace and salutations on the Unlettered Prophet, and on his family and Companions.
 Generally, the term Salaf refers to the first three generations: the Sahaba, the Tabiâun, and the Atbaâ al-Tabiâin, whereas the Khalaf refers to those who came after them.
 Tafsir al-Qurâan al-Azim, 8/390-391.
 No. 969.
 No. 767.
 Lataâif al-Maâarif, p. 580.
 P. 585.
 Lataâif al-Maâarif, p. 597.
 Ahmad, 9/323.
 Muâallaq narrations are those in which the text of a hadith has been given without any chain of narration or only a partial chain of narration. Al-Bukhari uses this device extensively in his Sahih. His purposes in doing so have been explained by ibn Hajar in Hady al-Sari and Taghliq al-Taâliq. For more
 P. 601.
 This is in respect to those not performing Hajj. As for the one performing Hajj, most scholars prefer that he not fast so that he may have more energy for duâaâ on that day, as that is the most important act of worship for the one at âArafah.
 Muslim, no. 1159-197.
 Al-Mawsuâah al-Fiqhiyyah, 28/91.
 Muslim, no. 1176. Although the hadith has been authenticated by Muslim and al-Tirmidhi, other scholars such as Ahmad and al-Daraqutni inclined to the view the hadith is weak. The limited scope of this article does not allow for a thorough discussion of its authenticity. For more, refer to Lataâif al-Maâarif, â and al-Daraqutniâs works, al-âIlal and al-Tatabbuâ.
 Muslim, no. 1151-164.
 Fath al-Bari, 3/291.
 Muslim, no. 718.
 Muslim, no. 719.
 Al-Mawsuâah al-Fiqhiyyah, 28/91.