“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred {i.e. the 1st (Muharram), the 7th (Rajab), the 11th (Dhul-Qa’dah) and the 12th months (Dhul-Hijjah) of the Islamic calendar}.” Qur’an 9:36.

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said “there are no days during which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these days (i.e., the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah).” They are the best ten days of the year. Allah swore by the ten nights (i.e. the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah) in Qur’an 89:2. During these days, all the major acts of worship are performed- prayer, fasting, charity and pilgrimage.

The ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah is the day of Arafah. It was on this day, many years ago, that the Prophet (SAW) in his farewell message to the Muslim Ummah said “this day I have perfected for your religion for you, completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” Qur’an 5:3. It is a very important day for Muslims.

On the day of Arafah, Hajj pilgrims gather at the mountain plain of Arafah, praying and supplicating to their Lord. It is the most crucial event of Hajj. Without it, Hajj is incomplete. Fasting on the day of Arafah expiates the sins for two years; the preceding year and the year following it. However, fasting is forbidden for one who is actually at Arafah. On this day, Allah descends to the nearest heaven and forgives those who sincerely repent. There is no day on which Allah frees people from the fire more so than on the day of Arafah.

The best Dua on the day of Arafah is “Laa ilaaha illallah wahdahu lla shareeka lahu, lahul mulk, wa lahul hamd, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer.” This means “there is nothing that deserves to be worshipped in truth except Allah, He is Alone and has no partner, to Him belongs the dominion and to Him belongs all praise, and He is All-Powerful over all things."

ALSO READ: Why the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah is important to Muslims

Eid al Adha, known as big Sallah in Nigeria is celebrated on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah. Those who are able should offer an animal for sacrifice. Sheep, goats, cows or camels may be slaughtered. One-third of the animal is eaten by the family, one-third is given to friends, and the last third is donated to the poor. A person who intends to offer a sacrifice should not remove anything from his hair or skin (nails) from the 1st of Dhul-Hijjah, until the sacrifice is made.

Muslims slaughter animals to commemorate and remember Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH)’s trials. He was childless for many years. Allah blessed him with a son in his old age. He was later to face Allah’s command to kill his only child. Ibrahim (PBUH) said to his son Ismail “O my son! I have seen a dream that I should offer you in sacrifice to Allah; consider then what you see. Ismail said “O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah pleases, you will find me of the patient ones.”

"So when they both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, and We called out to him saying “O Ibrahim! You have indeed shown the truth of the vision; surely thus do We reward the doers of good. For this was obviously a trial- and we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice (a ram). And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times.”  This story is contained in the Qur’an; chapter 37:99-108.

August 23rd, 2017 was the 1st of Dhul-Hijjah 1438. 31st of August will be the day of ‘Arafah, and the 1st of September will be Sallah day. As it falls on a Friday, we should also go for Juma’a prayer later in the day.

To make the most of the best days of the year, the following should be done:

1. Read the Qur’an- if possible, read from the beginning to the end.

2. Nawafil- perform as many extra prayers as you can; Sunnah prayers before/after the compulsory ones, Salatul Duha, and Tahajjud.

3. Fast- as many of the first nine days as you can. Do not miss out on fasting on Arafah day!

4. Charity- spend in the cause of Allah.

5. Dhikr- make lots and lots of Dhikr. Ask Allah for what you want. Recite La illaha illallah, Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah), and Takbeer (Allahu akbar), and send blessings upon the Prophet (SAW).

6. Istighfar- seek forgiveness for you and others.

From the Fajr of the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah until after ‘Asr of the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah, after every compulsory Salah, we should recite the following “Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Laa ilaaha illallah, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, wa lillaahi’l-hamd”. This means Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, there is no god but Allah, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, and to Allah belongs praise.

Etiquettes of Eid include:

Taking a bath (ghusl)

Going to the Eid ground

Eating after the prayer (on Eid al-Adha)

Greeting one another with good greetings

Adorning yourself- wearing your best clothes and smelling good

Reciting Takbir on the way to prayer and until the beginning of Eid prayer

Leaving the Eid ground after the Imam

Using two separate route to and from the prayer ground

Visiting family and friends

Giving gifts

A woman who is on her period can also go to the Eid ground, but should not perform the prayer.

No sacrifice should be made before the Imam makes his. People are often in a hurry to cook for their guests and end up missing out on the rewards for making the sacrifice. When the animal is drawn up for sacrifice, mention the name of Allah over it before slaughtering it.

“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus we have made them subject to you, that you may glorify Allah for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right.” Qur’an 22:37.

If possible, the first thing we should eat should be the meat of the sacrificed animal. The animal should be slaughtered the right way, and not made to suffer.

‘Eid Mubarak’ is the traditional greeting on Eid day, to wish someone a blessed Eid. The response is ‘taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum’ which means ‘may Allah accept it from us and you.’

“Whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.” Qur’an 99:7-8. As these days are so blessed, we should strive to make the most of them.

This article was written by Muhammad-Salisu Safiyyah, a 5th year medical student at the Lagos State University College of Medicine, Ikeja, Lagos.