Wal-fajri walayālin ‘ashr
I swear by the daybreak and the ten nights
(Sūratul Fajr, No.89, Āyat 1-2)
Like many Quranic verses, the above two verses begin with an oath. The purpose of an oath in the Quran is to confirm and place emphasis on the statement. The oath honors and elevates that which is sworn upon. According to Hadith the oath in this verse refers to the first ten nights of the month of Dhul-hijjah. These are great nights and are an opportunity for the believer to get a spiritual boost and become closer to the Almighty. God in His infinite grace grants such opportunities, scattering them through the year so that we may get constant reminders to turn back to Him. In Sūra Hajj after talking about the rituals of Hajj the Almighty says: and mention Allah’s names during the known days (Q 22:28). These days refer to the first ten days of Dhul-hijjah.
The ten days are full of blessings, for those who visit the house of God for the rituals of Hajj, and for those who are with them in spirit. The Holy Prophet (s) has said: There are no days when Allah is as pleased with good deeds as He is in these ten days [of Dhul-hijjah]. The 9th day – the day of ‘Arafah – is the culmination of the spirituality of these days. The famous Du‘ā ‘Arafah taught by Imam al-Husayn (a) and Du‘ā No. 47 in Sahīfa Sajjādiyya are testimony to the greatness of this day.
An opportunity for closeness to God is valuable and must be utilized accordingly. Imam Ali (a) says: Value and make the most of opportunities. To make the most of this chance, consider the following:
1. It is mustahab to fast for the first nine days, or as many as possible.
2. Recite the recommended two rak‘ats salāt between Maghrib and ‘Ishā prayers. In each rak‘ah after Sūra al-Fātiha and al-Ikhlās recite Āyat Q 7:142; it reminds us of the ten days which were added to the time Prophet Moses spent on the mountain away from his people. According to Tafsīr-e Namūne these ten days were also the first ten days of Dhul-hijjah.
3. Recite as many of the supplications and glorifications for these ten days.
4. Take time out for the day of ‘Arafah to do justice to this great day. Do not miss out this day on which the Hajj rituals reach their peak. Recite with reflection Du‘ās for the Day of ‘Arafah taught by Imam al-Husayn (a) and by Imam al-Sajjad (a) to feel spiritually connected to millions of Muslims who are performing Hajj.
5. The tenth of Dhul-hijjah is celebrated as the Day of Eid al-Adhā. Before we get busy with celebrations and socialization, participate in Eid salāt, recite Du‘ā for the Eid taught by Imam al-Sajjad (a) and other recommended supplications.
6. Start a good deed during these ten days which you will continue after. It is the best time for good deeds.
The salāt and supplications for these days can be found in the manuals of supplications or on sites such as www.duas.org
Remind yourself of these verses to understand the importance of the ten days of Dhul-hijjah. It is motivation to achieve a higher level of spirituality as well as attain an inner peace and calmness that only comes from a close connection with God.
Imam Ali Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a), Sahīfa Sajjādiyya;
Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;
A’maal of Dhul-hijjah, Tayyiba Publishers;