The first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are the best days of the year. Thus, doing good deeds therein has a great status with Allah Almighty. Performing deeds therein is better, greater and more beloved to Allah than in any other days. Imam Bukhari narrated in his “Sahih” from the hadith of Sa`id bin Jubayr who narrated from `Abdullah bin `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these [first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah).” So some companions said, “Not even Jihad?” He replied, “Not even Jihad, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger [for Allah’s sake] and does not return with any of those things.”[Sahih Bukhari(969)]
In this hadith is encouragement to perform all good deeds, whether outward or inward, obligatory or recommended. Moreover, it is no secret that good deeds are of varying levels and degrees. So searching for the best is the aspiration of the intelligent.
The Sunnah has clarified that the best thing a believer can get closer to Allah Almighty through, whether in these or other days, is by busying himself with what Allah has made compulsory upon him. In Sahih Bukhari, from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said narrating from Allah, “The most beloved thing with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him.” [ Sahih Bukhari(650)]
So every obligatory act that the slave comes nearer to Allah Almighty through in these days is better, more beloved and greater with Allah than coming nearer to Him with the same obligatory act performed in any other days. Consequently, the first thing that the believer should busy himself with of good deeds in these blessed days is the obligatory acts, beginning with the five pillars of Islam; the first of which are the two Shahadahs (testimonies) consisting of sincerity to Allah Almighty, loving and venerating Him, believing in the Messenger (peace be upon him) and following him, and loving everything that Allah and His Messenger love. Then the rest of the pillars of Islam follow that; prayer, Zakah, fasting and Hajj. Also, being diligent in fulfilling the rights of others, such as being dutiful to parents, maintaining ties of kinship and other forms of kindness and maintaining of ties. Also, refraining oneself from what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden of prohibitions in these days, for refraining from the prohibitions during these days is greater and more abundant in reward in the sight of Allah Almighty than refraining from them in other days.
Then after carrying out what Allah has enjoined and refraining from what Allah has forbidden, one should hasten to perform every pious and righteous act, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in what he narrated from Allah, “And My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing nawafil (voluntary deeds besides what is obligatory) until I love him, such that I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his leg with which he walks; if he asks Me something, I will surely give him, and if he seeks My protection, I will surely protect him.” [ Sahih Bukhari(650)]
It is worth knowing that the best kind of good deeds performed in these ten days, as well as in the days of Tashriq (11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah), is the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah; rather it is the characteristic and slogan of these days, for they are the “known days” and the “numbered days” that Allah Almighty has encouraged His dhikr therein. He said:
“And that they may mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals.” [Al-Hajj22:28]
He also said:
“And remember Allah during [specific] numbered days.”[Al-Baqarah2:203]
Bukhari reported from Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said, “Remembering Allah on the ‘known days’ refers to the ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah), and the ‘numbered days’ refers to the days of Tashriq.” [Sahih Bukhari 2/20)) ]
A group of the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them), Tabi`un and those after them have gone with this tafsir. [ Rather al-Qurtubi said, “There is no difference of opinion among the scholars that the ‘numbered days’ mentioned in this verse are the days of Mina and the three days of Tashriq.”]
What further supports the view that the best deed performed in these days is the dhikr of Allah Almighty, is what Ahmad reported by way of Mujahid from `Abdullah bin `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There are no days that are greater before Allah, nor in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahlil (la ilaha illa Allah), takbir (Allahu akbar) and tahmid (alhamdulillah) therein.”
Also what Ahmad and others reported from the hadith of Nubayshah al-Hudhali (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “These days are days of eating, drinking and dhikr of Allah Almighty. [Musnad Ahmad (9/323) (5446); its original can be found with Muslim.]
This is why Abu Hurayrah and `Abdullah bin `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) used to go out to the markets and common meeting places of people in these ten days, reciting takbir, not having any purpose of going there other than to recite takbir: “They would both say takbir and the people would say takbir with their takbir.” [Sahih Bukhari, before hadith 969]
So reciting takbir, tahlil, tahmid and other dhikrs is among the best acts that one can come nearer to Allah through during these days, on top of the dhikrs that are legislated for a person everyday, such as the dhikrs of the morning and evening, the dhikrs when going to sleep and waking up, the dhikrs when entering the masjid and exiting there from, the dhikrs upon completion of daily prayers, the dhikrs when entering the toilet and exiting there from, etc. So reciting dhikr and takbir is legislated during these days by the agreement of the scholars, and is of the best of deeds; rather it is better than the Jihad that is not binding on one. This is based on what has been mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, from the hadith of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these [first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah).” So some companions said, “Not even Jihad?” He replied, “Not even Jihad, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger [for Allah’s sake] and does not return with any of those things.” [ Musnad Ahmad (9/323) (5446); its original can be found with Muslim]
The best legislated dhikr during these days is to recite takbir, due to the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the hadith of Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), “So recite a great deal of tahlil (la ilaha illa Allah), takbir (Allahu akbar) and tahmid (alhamdulillah) therein.”
Also due to what has been mentioned by the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them), the most authentic of which is what has been narrated by Salman (may Allah be pleased with him), that he said, “Say takbir of Allah; Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar kabira.”[Musannaf `Abdul-Razzaq11/295]
Among that is also what has been narrated by Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him), that he used to say, “Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, la ilaha illa Allah, Wallahu akbar, Allahu akbar, walillahil-hamd.” [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah2/167]
There are other forms that have been mentioned as well, however, nothing has been authentically narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him) concerning a specific form for takbir. So whatever form one recites takbir in, he has fulfilled the purpose.
Furthermore, the legislated dhikr during these days is of two kinds:
1. Dhikr mutlaq (unrestricted). This is when the month of Dhul-Hijjah starts until the sun sets on the thirteenth of Dhul-Hijjah, the last of the days of Tashriq. This dhikr has been referred to as mutlaq because it is not restricted to anything; rather it is recited at any time, any place and in any state; standing, sitting or lying down; at home, in the market or in the masjid. Bukhari narrates from `Abdullah bin `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), that he used to recite takbir during all the days of Mina on his bed, in his tent, in his place of sitting and while walking.
2. Dhikr muqayyad (restricted). This is restricted to after prayers. The scholars have varying opinions regarding it; among them are those who made it general for after all prayers, while others specified it for the five daily prayers not including the voluntary prayers, while others specified it for men not including women, yet others specified it for the congregation not including the one who prays alone, or the resident not including the traveler. What seems to be apparent is that this is legislated for after prayers in general, whether the five daily prayers or others, in congregation or not, for men and women, as a resident or a traveler. This is what all the narrations that have come from the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) allude to, and is what seems to be Bukhari’s preferred opinion [ See Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar 2/462.]
As for the timing of the takbir muqayyad, then according to the correct view it begins from Fajr on the day of `Arafah (9th of Dhul-Hijjah) – for other than the pilgrim making Hajj – and ends at `Asr on the thirteenth day of Dhul-Hijjah, the last of the days of Tashriq. This has been narrated from `Umar, `Ali, Ibn Mas`ud and Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them). It has also been favored as the stronger opinion by a group of leading scholars past and present. As for the pilgrim on Hajj, then he begins from Dhuhr on the day of slaughtering (10th of Dhul-Hijjah) due to being preoccupied with the rites of Hajj.
From the above, it becomes clear that reciting takbir beginning from Fajr on the day of `Arafah until the last of the days of Tashriq is a combination of takbir mutlaq and takbir muqayyad for everyone besides the pilgrim on Hajj. As for the pilgrim, then he begins from Dhuhr on the day of slaughtering until the last day of the days of Tashriq.
So let’s fill the world with takbir so that our hearts are filled with love of Allah, veneration for Him, reliance upon Him and trust in Him. What more pleasant applause is there! Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar kabira!
أفضل الأعمال في أيام العشر
Dr. Khalid al-Muslih
4 / 12 / 1434 AH