Zil Hajj The Sacred Month

Zil Hajj the last of Islamic calendar is sacred & distinguished owing to combination of different worships like prayer, sacrifice, fasting, charity, Takbir and above all Hajj. This is Allah SWT’s favorite month with regards to good deeds. It is also among the four sacred months in Islamic religion. 

In this post we’ll overview significance of this month and account of do’s & don’ts associated with this month as per Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ. Allah Swt states in 9th Chapter of Quran (Surah Tauba):

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ وَقَاتِلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَافَّةً كَمَا يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ كَافَّةً ۚ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ (36)

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

Allah SWT has forbidden Muslims to start fight or any wrongdoings in this holy month. This is a testimony of its importance and sacredness. Most of us are already accustomed with Hajj & it’s rituals more  details here. Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ narrated virtues of Hajj in following words:

The Prophet (Hazrat Muhammad ) said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.”

Another Hadis reported by Anas RA where Prophet Muhammad ﷺ narrated

the Prophet (Muhammad ) stood at `Arafat, and almost the sun was about to set, he said: O Bilal, make the people listen to me. Bilal stood and said: O people, listen to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). People kept silent, and he (the Prophet) said: O people, Gabriel came to me earlier and told me that my Lord sends His Salam (peace) to me, and said: Verily, Allah has forgiven the sins of the people of `Arafah and the people of Al Mash`ar Al Haram and removed the consequences of their sins. Thereupon, `Umar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: O Messenger of Allah, is this special to us? He said: This is for you and for those who will come after you until the Day of Recompense. `Umar said: The goodness of Allah has become plenty and good.

Whole month of Zil Hajj is important and distinguished but first 10 days are relatively more important as all the worships mainly fall within first ten days.

First Ten Days of Zil Hajj

First ten days of Zil Hajj are very important & sacred due to aforementioned combination of prayers, Hajj, sacrifice, Takbeer & charity. Allah SWT has specifically mentioned this in 89th Chapter of Quran (Surah Al Fajr):


وَالْفَجْرِ (1) وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍ (2) وَالشَّفْعِ وَالْوَتْرِ (3) وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَسْرِ

By the dawn. And [by] ten nights. And [by] the even [number] and the odd. And [by] the night when it passes,

Allah swears upon Fajar of 10th Zil Hajj and 10 nights of Zil Hajj as these are distinguished and as per meanings of a hadis are the best days on earth. Allah SWT regards good deeds in these 10 days like no other day of year. Prophet Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ said:

The Prophet said, “No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these (first ten days of Dhul Hijja).” Then some companions of the Prophet 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.”

Prophet Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ emphasized significance of worship in first ten days of Zil Hajj at another occasion:

The Prophet of Allah said: There are no days more beloved to Allah that he be worshipped in them than the ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah, fasting every day of them is equivalent to fasting a year; and standing every night of them (in Salaah) is equivalent to standing on the Night of Qadr. [Tirmizi 758]

Among other actions, fasting in first ten days is regarded very high. Our beloved Prophet Hazrat Muhammad used to fast in first ten days of Zil Hajj.

Narrated One of the wives of the Prophet: Hunaydah ibn Khalid narrated from his wife on the authority of one of the wives of the Prophet who said: The Messenger of Allah used to fast the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah, Ashura’ and three days of every month, that is, the first Monday (of the month) and Thursday. [Sunan Abi Dawood 2437]

Quranic verses from Surah Al Faj’r and ahadees are enough to establish how first ten days of Zil Hajj are sacred & important and how much Allah rewards us for every good deed, be it prayer, fasting, charity or Zikr (remembrance of Allah SWT).

The Day of Arafa [9th Zil Hajj]

Whole month of Zil hajj is sacred but first ten days are distinguished and the day of Arafa which falls on 9th Zil Hajj is highlight of the month. Waqoof-e-Arafa [when all the pilgrims visit valley of Arafat and pray to Allah Almighty] the main action of Hajj also called “Ruk-e-Azam” is performed on the day of Arafa. Day of Arafat is important even before commencement of Hajj when Allah SWT took oath of HIS Lordship from all mankind, as stated in Surah Al’Araf 

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ أَن تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَٰذَا غَافِلِينَ (172) أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِّن بَعْدِهِمْ ۖ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ (173)

“Allah took the covenant from the back of Adam on the Day of `Arafah. He took out from his back all his progeny He created, and scattered them in from of Him and spoke to them saying ‘Am I not you Lord?’ They said, ‘You are indeed, we bear witness,’ lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Surely we were unaware of this’ Or lest you say: ‘Our fathers before us ascribed partners to Allah and we were only descendants after them, will You then destroy us for what those who have followed falsehood have done.”  

Prophet Muhammad wife and mother of all believers Hazrat Aisha RA reported Prophet saying Allah SWT forgives and frees very many people from hellfire on the day of Arafa.

“There is no day other than the day of ‘Arafah when Allah releases more of His slaves from Hell. Indeed, He draws near and proudly tells His angels about the pilgrims. Then He asks: What do these slaves of Mine seek? (So He forgives them).”

Fasting on 9th Zil Hajj (Youme-e-Arafa) is regarded very high, Hazrat Muhammad said Allah SWT will forgive previous years sins and one year in advance.

As for the fasting on the Day of Arafah, I anticipate that Allah will forgive the year (i.e. the sins of the year) after it and the year before it [Tirmizi 749] One who fasts in these days is rewarded as if he has fasted whole year.

In another narration, Jabir report Prophet Muhammad ﷺ 

There is no day better in the sight of Allah than the day of `Arafah when Allah comes down to worldly sky and boasts of the people of the earth before the people of the sky. Then Allah says: Look at My Servants, they have come to Me in the morning in a scruffy state with dusty hair, having crossed every deep valley (in a state of love-sickness for Allah). I call you to witness that I have forgiven them.’ The angels submit to Him, ‘O Lord, there was also Such-and-such among them who was arrogant and also Such-and-such and So-and-so.’ Allah (Glory be to Him) says: ‘I have forgiven him as well (for the sake of these lovers).'” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “There is no other day on which more people are set free from the Fire than the day of `Arafah.” 

The day of Arafa is indeed an important and distinguished day, we must prepare for it beforehand and make most out of it.

Eid ul Azha

Eid ul Azha is second festival of Islamic religion. It is celebrated in remembrance of great sacrifice by Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim AS when he dreamt of sacrificing his son Ismail AS and acted accordingly. Allah SWT narrated the tale in 37th Chapter [Surah As Saafat] as:

فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ إِنِّي أَرَىٰ فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنِّي أَذْبَحُكَ فَانظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَىٰ ۚ قَالَ يَا   أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ ۖ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ (102    

فَلَمَّا أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُ لِلْجَبِينِ (103) وَنَادَيْنَاهُ أَن يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ (104) قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَا ۚ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ (105) إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَهُوَ الْبَلَاءُ الْمُبِينُ (106) وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ (107) وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِي الْآخِرِينَ (108) سَلَامٌ عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ (109)

 (102) And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.” (103) And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, (104) We called to him, “O Abraham, (105) You have fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. (106) Indeed, this was the clear trial. (107) And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, (108) And We left for him [favorable mention] among later generations: (109) “Peace upon Abraham.”

Legend has it angel Gabriel brought a sheep from Heavens which was sacrificed in place of Hazrat Ismail. Hence this ritual of sacrificing animals in the name of Allah Almighty is obligated on Muslims ever-since in remembrance of the great sacrifice. Indeed  it was a test from Almighty and Ibrahim AS succeeded. Allah SWT explained sacrifice in Quran,

 وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنسَكًا لِّيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ ۗ فَإِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَلَهُ أَسْلِمُوا ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُخْبِتِينَ (34)

 And for all religion We have appointed a rite [of sacrifice] that they may mention the name of Allah over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. For your god is one God, so to Him submit. And, [O Muhammad], give good tidings to the humble [before their Lord]

Sacrifice or Qurbani is obligated on Sahi-e-Nisab. Sahib-e-Nisab is anyone having minimum prescribed amount or quantity of Gold, Silver, property or unsold goods. Government sets value of Nisab every year. Minimum of one goat or one portion of Cow or Camel per head is obligated however there’s no limit if anyone wants to sacrifice more than one animal. Time duration for sacrifice of animals starts after Eid prayers on 10th Zil Hajj and remains till after Asr (before Maghrib time starts) of 13th Zil Hajj. As for the animals cow, bull, goat, sheep, ram and camels are recommended and allowed. Minimum age for goat, sheep or ram is 1 year, that for cow or bull is 2 years and for camel is 5 years. Common indication is front teeth of animals. If we personally know the seller we can trust his word regarding animal’s age in case of strangers buyer has to ascertain animal’s correct age before purchasing also make sure animal is defect free as defected animal is not allowed for sacrifice. Detailed scenarios regarding sacrifice obligation, sacrifice animals etc. in this document

For those planning to sacrifice animals on Eid Ul Azha, must avoid cutting nails, hairs or skin during first ten days of Zil Hajj.

Umm Salamah narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: “When the ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah) begin, and one of you wants to offer a sacrifice, let him not remove anything from his hair or skin.” [Sunan Ibn Majah 3149]

Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ narrated that best action on Eid ul Azha (10th Zil Hajj) is sacrificing animals in the name of Allah Almighty, start the day with praying. 

I heard the Prophet (p.b.u.h) delivering a Khutba saying, “The first thing to be done on this day (first day of ‘Id ul Adha) is to pray; and after returning from the prayer we slaughter our sacrifices (in the name of Allah) and whoever does so, he acted according to our Sunna (traditions).” [Sahih Bukari, Volume 2, Book 15, Hadith 71]

Muslims recite following Takbirat 3 times from Fajar of 9th Zil Hajj till Maghrib of 13th Zil Hajj after Farz prayers. These are obligated (Wajib)at least once after every farz prayer on all men and women and shouldn’t be missed.    

اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ لَا إلَهَ إلَّا اللَّهُ وَاَللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ وَلِلَّهِ الْحَمْد

Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, there is no god but Allah. And Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, and to Allah belongs all Praise.

Legend has it when Hazrat Ibrahim AS was sacrificing his son Ismail AS in the name of Allah Almighty, angle Gabriel brought a sheep from Jannah and he was sacrificed in place of Ismail AS. Witnessing this angles started exclaiming “Allah hu Akbar Allah hu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest). Hazrat Ibrahim responded by “La Ilaha Illalahu Wallahu Akbar” (there is no god but Allah. And Allah is the Greatest). Listening to this conversation, Ismail AS realized Allah has saved him from being sacrificed so he added “Allah hu Akbar Wa lillahil Hamd” (Allah is the Greatest, and to Allah belongs all Praise). 

Zil Hajj is sacred and distinguished month, lets pray to Almighty Allah accept all our good deeds, enable us to make most of this month. May Allah bless us with a chance to perform Hajj at least once in lifetime and bless us with a peaceful life in accordance with Sunnah of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad . Ameen.

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