Wise Plan, Ten Greatest Days, Acts of Merit
Issue 606 » November 5, 2010 - Dhul-Qida 28, 1431
Al-Fajr (The Dawn) Chapter 89: Verses 1-5
"By the dawn, by the ten nights, by that which is even and that which is odd, by the night as it journeys on! Is there not in that an oath for a man of sense?"
Much difference of opinion has been expressed by the commentators in the commentary of these verses, so much so that in respect of "the even and the odd" there are as many as 36 different views. In some traditions the commentary of these verses has also been attributed to the Prophet (upon whom be peace), but the fact is that no commentary is confirmed from him, otherwise it was not possible that anyone from among the Companions, their immediate successors, and later commentators would have dared to determine the meaning of these verses by himself after the commentary by the Prophet.
All these things point to the reality that an all-Powerful Sustainer is ruling over this universe and nothing of what He is doing is absurd, purposeless, or lacking wisdom; on the contrary, a wise plan clearly underlies whatever He does. In His world one will never see that while it is night, the midday sun should suddenly appear overhead, or that the moon should appear one evening in the shape of the crescent and be followed next evening by the full moon, or that the night, when it falls, should never come to an end, but should become perpetual, or that there should be no system in the alternation of the day and night so that one could keep a record of the dates and know what month was passing, what was the date, on what date a particular work is to begin, and when it is to finish, what are the dates of the summer season and what of the rainy or winter season.
Now, if a person living in the world of such a Wise, Omnipotent and All-Mighty Creator denies the rewards and punishments of the Hereafter, he inevitably commits one of the two errors: either he is a denier of His powers and thinks that though He has the power to create the universe with such matchless order and discipline, He is powerless to recreate man and mete out rewards and punishments to him or he denies His wisdom and knowledge and thinks that although He has created man with intellect and powers in the world, He will neither ever call him to account as to how he used his intellect and his powers, nor will reward him for his good deeds, nor punish him for his evil deeds. One who believes in either, is foolish to say the least.
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi
Ten Greatest Days
Even for those not performing the pilgrimage, Hajj, the first ten days of this month are considered very sacred and a time for increased reflection, seeking Allah's forgiveness, doing good and various other forms of worship.
Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) has said about the first ten days of Dhul Hijja: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." The people asked, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing (Bukhari).
While any good deed done for the sake of Allah according to the way He approves will be rewarded immensely during the first ten days, Insha Allah, some of the more specific actions mentioned in the Traditions of the Prophet are as follows:
In terms of fasting, it is particularly encouraged to fast on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijja, known in Arabic as Yawm Arafa. The Prophet used to fast on this day (al Nisai and Abu Dawud). Fasting on this day will expiate a Muslim's sins for two years.
The verbal remembrance of Allah is another meritorious act during these first ten days of Zul Hijjah. The Prophet upon him) encouraged Muslims to recite a lot of Tasbeeh ("Subhan-Allaah"), Tahmeed ("Al-hamdu Lillaah") and Takbeer ("Allahu akbar") during this time.
The Takbeer may include the words "Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, la ilaha ill-Allah; wa Allahu akbar wa Lillahi’l-hamd (Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah; Allah is Most Great and to Allah be praise)," as well as other phrases.
Men are encouraged to recite these phrases out loud and women quietly.
One of the good deeds that will bring a person closer to Allah during these ten days is offering a sacrifice, by choosing a high-quality animal and fattening it, spending money for the sake of Allah.
4. Sincere repentance
One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. This means more than just a verbal expression of sorrow for past misdeeds. It also requires a firm resolution to avoid making the same mistakes in the future by giving up bad habits and behavior while sincerely turning to Allah.
Generally, all good deeds are rewarded highly at this blessed time. These actions include praying, reading Quran, making Dua (supplication), giving in charity and being good to our families.
Acts of Merit
Inasmuch as prayer contains recitation, remembrance and supplication, and joins these elements of devotion in their most perfect form to worship through all the limbs of the body, it is of greater merit than any of these practices in themselves.
This is an extremely useful principle, which opens for the servant the door to understanding how to give every act its rightful importance and place. In this manner, he will not busy himself with a lesser deed to the detriment of a greater one, thereby profiting the Devil by the difference. Nor will he behold a greater deed and busy himself with it because he imagines that it brings more reward, when it is actually the moment of a lesser one, the benefit of which he loses entirely.
All this requires a comprehensive knowledge of the order of practices, the time of their omission and what their purposes are. It requires one to understand how to give each practice its proper due, how to situate it in its rightful place and when to forego it in favour of something more important, with greater priority or more merit. For it may be possible to make up or to repeat a greater deed, but not a lesser one. Therefore, for completion, the lesser deed comes first. An example of this would be someone who cuts short his recitation of the Quran in order to return someone's greeting or to bless someone who had sneezed. Although the Quran has greater merit, he may accomplish those lesser deeds and still return to it. If he is too busy reciting to return a greeting or to bless someone who had sneezed, he would miss the benefit these lesser acts contain. And this holds true for all other practices when they coincide in time.
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, p. 125