Ten Great Nights: Dhu al Hijjah
When Allah takes an oath upon some aspect, it is to illustrate the great significance of that aspect in the sight of Allah Ta’aala. Among the various things which Allah Ta’aala has taken an oath upon in the Quran is “ten nights” (Surah Al-Fajr). Many Mufassirîn [commentators] are of the view that this refers to the first ten nights of Dhu al Hijjah.
Narrated Ibn Abbâs Radhi-Allahu anhu: The Prophet Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on the first ten days of Dhu al Hijjah.” Then some of the companions of the Prophet Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam asked: “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 these things.” (Al-Bukhâri)
The companions of the Prophet Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam felt that the best deed is Jihâd or fighting for the sake of Allâh. So when the Prophet Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam mentioned that the righteous deeds in the first ten days of Dhu al Hijjah are the most loved by Allâh, the companions asked right away, whether Jihâd is better than those ten days or not. So the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam replied, “Even fighting for the sake of Allâh is not better than these days, except for a man who went fighting for the sake of Allâh with his soul and his wealth, and then he fought until he spent all of his wealth and died for the sake of Allâh.” This is a very clear indication of the greatness of these 10 blessed days.
In another Hadith it is reported that one fast in these ten days is equivalent to the reward of fasting for one year (the tenth of Dhu al Hijjah is excluded since it is not permissible to fast on the day of Eid-ul-Adha). Likewise, performing Ibâdah in any of these nights earns the reward of Ibâdah in Lailatul Qadr (Tirmidhi).
Furthermore, among these ten days is the day of Arafah (9th Dhu al Hijjah). Regarding this day Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam is reported to have said: “I have hope in Allah I that the fast of the day of Arafah (9th of Dhu al Hijjah) will be an atonement for the (minor) sins of the past and forthcoming year.” (Tirmidhi) In a narration of Tabrâni it is reported that one should in these ten days recite the following excessively: Tasbeeh (Subhan-Allah), Tahleel (La ilaha illallah), Tahmeed (Al-Hamdulillah) and Takbîr (Allahu Akbar).
A good and righteous deed is any action that pleases Allâh Ta’aala, and the best of these deeds is to perform the obligated deeds (Faraidh) first, and then perform the extra, recommended deeds next. Some actions that are both obligatory and recommended are: Praying, fasting, giving charity, reciting Qur’ân and Dhikr (remembering Allâh), learning the branches of Dîn and teaching them, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and also treating people with good manners and good words and so on.