A Muslima’s Guide to Dhul Hijjah

Dhul Hijjah, the twelfth and final month of the Islamic lunar calendar, offers a precious period of reflection, devotion, and connection with Allah (SWT). Whether you’re a busy mother, a working professional, or a devoted student, this month holds immeasurable blessings and opportunities for every Muslim to reconnect their faith and make the most out of these sacred days. Let’s explore what Dhul Hijjah is all about, its importance, and how we can maximize its benefits.

What is Dhul Hijjah?

Dhul Hijjah, meaning “The Month of Hajj,” is one of the four sacred months in the Islamic year. Allah (SWT) mentions these sacred months in the Quran:

“Indeed, the number of months with Allāh is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allāh [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allāh is with the righteous [who fear Him].”

At-Tawbah 9:36

It is a month filled with significant events and opportunities for spiritual growth, especially Hajj and Eid al-Adha.

When is Dhul Hijjah?

The Islamic calendar is lunar, so the dates of Dhul Hijjah shift slightly every year. The exact dates of Dhul Hijjah vary each year when converted to the Gregorian solar calendar. The sighting of the moon marks the beginning of Dhul Hijjah.

It’s during the first ten days of this month that we experience some of the holiest days in Islam, ending with Eid al-Adha on the 10th day.

What is its significance to Muslims?

Dhul Hijjah is deeply significant for several reasons:

Hajj Pilgrimage:

For those who are able, performing Hajj fulfils one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The pilgrimage rituals commemorate the trials and faithfulness of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his family. Allah (SWT) mentions Hajj:

“Call ˹all˺ people to the pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel from every distant path,”

Al-Hajj 22:27

Day of Arafah:

The Day of Arafah, the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, is one of the most sacred days. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “There is no day on which Allah sets free more slaves from Hell than He does on the Day of ‘Arafah.” [Muslim].

Riyad as-Salihin 1277
Chapter 233: The Obligation of Hajj (Pilgrimage) and its Excellence, Book 10: The Book of Hajj

Eid al-Adha:

Known as the “Festival of Sacrifice,” Eid al-Adha connects us to the story of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah (SWT). This act of faith and submission is celebrated by Muslims worldwide through sacrificial offerings.

Eid al-Adha is followed by the Days of Tashriq, which are the 11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhul Hijjah. These days are marked by continued celebration and worship. We are encouraged to recite the Takbeer, Tahleel, Tahmeed (more details below) and other forms of Dhikr (remembrance of Allah). The Days of Tashriq are also a time for eating, drinking, and enjoying the bounties provided by Allah, as fasting is prohibited during these days:

Nubaishah Al-Hudhali (RAA) narrated that The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The days of Tashriq (the three days following ‘Idul Ad-ha, i.e. 11th , 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah) are days of eating, drinking and remembering (dhikr) of Allah, the Most Great and Glorious.” Related by Muslim.

Bulugh al-Maram
Book 5: Fasting

Forgiveness and Renewal:

These days offer immense opportunities for seeking forgiveness, making dua, and performing acts of worship that can transform our lives, particularly the day of Arafah. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:

Abu Hurairah narrated that: the Messenger of Allah said: “Al-Yawmul-Maw’ud (the Promised Day) is the Day of Resurrection, and Al-Yawmul-Mashhud (the Attended Day) is the Day of Arafah, and Ash-Shahid (the witness) is Friday.” He said: “The sun does not rise nor set, upon a day that is more virtuous than it. In it, there is an hour in which no believing worshipper makes a supplication to Allah for good, except that Allah answers it for him, and he does not seek Allah’s aid for something, except that He aids him in it.”

Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3339
Chapter 76: Regarding Surat Al-Buruj, Book 47: Chapters on Tafsir

The last ten nights of Ramadan are considered the holiest of the year, particularly because they include Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree), which the Quran states is “better than a thousand months” (Al-Qadr 97:3). Similarly, the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are regarded as the holiest days. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “There are no days during which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these days,” meaning the (first) ten days of Dhul- Hijjah. They said: “O Messenger of Allah! Not even Jihad in the cause of Allah?” He said: “Not even Jihad in the cause of Allah, unless a man goes out with himself and his wealth and does not bring anything back.”

Sunan Ibn Majah 1727
Chapter 39: Fasting the (first) ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah), Book 7: Fasting

These days include the Day of Arafah, about which the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

Abu Qatadah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was asked about the observance of Saum (fasting) on the day of ‘Arafah. He said, “It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year and the current year.” [Muslim].

Riyad as-Salihin 1250
Chapter 227: The Excellence of Observing Saum on the Day of ‘Arafah, ‘Ashura’ and Tasu’a (i.e., 9th of Muharram), Book 8: The Book of Virtues

What rituals are observed?

The rituals of Dhul Hijjah help us draw closer to Allah (SWT) and reflect on the sacrifices made by the prophets:

Hajj:

While not all of us may have the opportunity to perform Hajj, we can support those who do and immerse ourselves in the spirit and stories of the pilgrimage. Hajj is an incredible journey that purifies the believer. Allah says:

“And complete the Hajj and Umrah for Allah.”

Al-Baqarah 2:196

Fasting:

Fasting the first nine days, especially the Day of Arafah, is highly meritorious. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “There are no days that are better before Allah than these ten days…” (Ibn Majah). Fasting on the Day of Arafah expiates sins of the past and coming year (Muslim).

Sacrifice (Udhiyyah):

Performing udhiyyah (also known as qurbani), or the sacrifice of an animal, is a deeply symbolic act. It not only honours Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) willingness to sacrifice his son but also reminds us to make sacrifices in our own lives for the sake of Allah. The meat is then distributed to those in need, fostering a sense of community, compassion and celebration. Allah (SWT) emphasizes the spirit of udhiyyah in the Quran:

“Their meat will not reach Allāh, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allāh for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good.”

Al-Hajj 22:37

Takbeer, Tahleel and Tahmeed:

We can frequently recite the Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), Tahleel (La ilaha illallah) and Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah), from the 1st to the 13th of Dhul Hijjah, especially after fard prayers.

The all in one takbeer, tahleel and tahmeed recited is:

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar1, Allahu akbar, la ilaha ill-Allah, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, wa lillahi’l-hamd (Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah, Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, and to Allah be praise)

Sadaqa (Charity):

Sadaqa, or voluntary charity, is highly encouraged during the blessed days of Dhul Hijjah as we can amplify the rewards and help those in need.

Zakat:

Zakat, the obligatory almsgiving, is not specific to Dhul Hijjah but can be relevant if your Zakat due date falls during this month. Zakat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is calculated annually based on one’s savings and wealth. Paying Zakat during Dhul Hijjah, especially around Eid al-Adha, can be particularly meaningful as it aligns with the spirit of sacrifice and giving.

Practical Steps to Maximizing Dhul Hijjah

To fully benefit from the spiritual opportunities in Dhul Hijjah, consider these practical steps:

  • Make Intentions and Set Goals: Start with sincere intentions to maximize your worship and set specific spiritual goals for the month, whether it’s fasting, extra prayers, or charity.
  • Engage in Dhikr: Increase your remembrance of Allah through recitations of Takbeer, Tahleel, Tahmeed and other supplications. Doing so keeps your heart connected to Allah.
  • Fast the First Nine Days: If possible, fast on the first nine days, especially the Day of Arafah, to earn immense rewards and forgiveness.
  • Offer Extra Prayers: Perform additional voluntary prayers (Nafl), especially during the night (Tahajjud), to draw closer to Allah and make dua.
  • Give Sadaqa and Pay Zakat: Be generous in giving to the needy, as charity is highly rewarded, particularly during these blessed days. If your Zakat due date falls during Dhul Hijjah, consider paying it to coincide with this spiritually significant time.
  • Read and Reflect on the Quran: Spend time reading the Quran and contemplating its meanings to enhance your connection with Allah’s words.
  • Perform the Udhiya: If you are able, participate in the sacrifice of an animal on Eid al-Adha and ensure that the meat is distributed properly.
  • Make Dua (Supplication): Engage in sincere supplication, especially on the Day of Arafah, asking Allah for forgiveness, guidance, and blessings for yourself and the Ummah.

Conclusion

Dhul Hijjah is a month brimming with opportunities for spiritual growth and immense rewards. By understanding its significance, engaging in its rituals, and implementing practical steps to maximize this blessed time, we can draw closer to Allah and strengthen our faith. Let us seize these precious moments and make the most of Dhul Hijjah, striving for a life filled with ibadah and righteousness.

May Allah accept our deeds and grant us the ability to perform Hajj, seek forgiveness on the Day of Arafah, and celebrate Eid al-Adha in the true spirit of submission to Allah, sacrifice and generosity.

Choose your Reaction!
  • For the year 2024, the first day of Dhul Hijjah is expected to be Friday the 07th of June (night precedes the day in Islam, so the first night of Dhul Hijjah is expected to be the 06th of June – noteworthy for those planning on udhiyyah (offering sacrifice), so you make sure you dont cut your nails or clip your hair after sunset on the 06th). If the days commence accordingly, the day of Arafah will be on Saturday the 15th of June.

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