By Shaykh Abdullah Ibn Abdur-Rahman al-Jibreen
All praise is due to Allah, and may He exalt our Prophet Muhammad’s mention, and the mention of his household and Companions.
Ibn Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: There are no days during which good deeds are more beloved to Allah than these days; meaning the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah. They inquired: ‘Not even Jihad in the cause of Allah?’ He said: “Not even Jihad in the cause of Allah, unless one goes out for Jihad sacrificing both his life and property and returning with neither.(Al-Bukhari)
In another version, Ibn Umar (radiallahu ‘anhumaa) reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), said: There are no days during which good deeds are greater or more beloved to Allah than these 10 days. So recite more often the Tahleel (Laa Ilaaha Illallah) , Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah). (Imam Ahmad)
Jaabir (radiallahu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: The best day is the Day of Arafah.
Ten Kinds of Observances In These Days
First: Performing Haj and Umrah, which are the best of all observances. Its excellence is signified by many Prophetic traditions. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Performing Umrah and following it with another expiates sins that are committed in between. And the perfect Haj would be requited with nothing other than Jannah. There are also many authentic traditions to that effect.
Second: Observing fasting on all or some of these days, particularly on the Day of Arafah. There is no doubt that fasting is the best of observances; for it is one of the observances which Allah relates to Himself, according to the holy tradition (hadith Qudsi): Fasting is for Me, and I shall requite it. My slave relinquishes his desires, food, and drink for My sake.
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (radiallahu ‘anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Any slave of Allah who observes fast of a day in the cause of Allah, Allah would separate between him and the Fire a distance of 70 years on account of observing that day. (Agreed upon).
Abu Qataadah (radiallahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Observing fasting on the Day of Arafat; I expect Allah to expiate the sins that were committed during the preceding year, and the sins that will be committed in the year after. (Imam Muslim)
Third: Reciting takbeer, and Dhikr in these days according to the words of Allah, the Exalted: And mention the name of Allah in certain days.[Al-Baqarah 2:203] These certain days are said to be the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Therefore, scholars recommend Dhikr more often during these days, according to a tradition which is reported by Ibn Umar (radiallahu ‘anhumaa): Therefore, recite more often, tahleel, takbeer, and tahmeed.
Ibn Umar and Abu Hurairah (radiallaahu ‘anhum) used to go out to the marketplaces during the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah and recite out loud the takbeer and people would repeat it after them.
Ishaaq (rahimahullah) reported that the jurists (rahimahumullah) used to recite during the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa Ilaaha illallah, wallahu Akbar, wa lillaahil-hamd.” It is commended to recite them out loud in marketplaces, at homes, roads, mosques and elsewhere. According to the commands of Allah: That you may exalt Allah for having guided you, and that you may be grateful to Him. [Al-Baqarah 2:185]
It is not permissible to recite the takbeer in unison. That is, when a group of people recite the takbeer in one voice, for it has never been reported that the Pious Predecessors did so. The proper way, according to the Sunnah, is that everyone recites the takbeer individually. This applies to all supplications and dhikr; unless one is ignorant, then someone may teach him and he recites after him. It is permissible to recite whatever forms of takbeer, tahmeed, and the rest of the legitimate supplications.
Fourth: Repentance and relinquishing acts of disobedience and all sins, in order to acquire forgiveness and mercy. Acts of disobedience are means of banishing, while acts of obedience are means of gaining favour with Allah. Abu Hurairah (radiallahu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Verily Allah feels jealous, and the jealousy of Allah is aroused when man violates what Allah prohibits. (Agreed upon)
Fifth: Accomplishing more good deeds of voluntary observances, such as: salaat, charity, Jihad, Qur’anic recitation, enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong, and the like; for the rewards of such observances are multiplied during these days. Observances during these days are unsurpassed in excellence and they are better and more beloved to Allah than other excellent observances including Jihad, which is the best of deeds, unless one sacrifices both, his life and his steed.
Sixth: It is legal during these days the recitation of the takbeer in general at all times, day or night until Eid prayer. The restricted takbeer is that which is to be recited after the obligatory prayers. As for the non-pilgrims, the takbeer begins from the Day of Arafah, and for pilgrims it begins from the noon prayer of the Day of Sacrifice and continues until Asr prayer of the last of the days of Tashreeq.
Seventh: Offering the sacrificial animal during the day of sacrifice and the Days of Tashreeq. It is the sunnah of our father Ibraheem, may Allah exalt his mention, in commemoration of the occasion when Allah ransomed Ibraheem’s son with a large ram. It has been authentically confirmed that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) sacrificed two black and white rams with horns. He killed them with his own hand, and invoked the name of Allah upon them, recited the takbeer, and placed his foot on their sides, when he killed them. (Agreed upon.)
Eighth: Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: When you see the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah, and one of you wants to sacrifice an animal let him refrain from cutting or shaving his hair or clipping his finger nails, or toenails. In another version: Let him not cut his hair or his fingernails until he has slaughtered his sacrificial animal. This perhaps is enjoined on non-pilgrims to have something in common with the pilgrims who bring along with them their sacrificial animals. Allah, the Exalted, says: And do not shave off your heads until the sacrificial animal is slaughtered. [Al-Baqarah 197] This prohibition seems to apply only to a person who is making the offering, not his dependents, unless one of them has his own sacrificial animal. There is no harm in washing the head even if some hairs fall off.
Ninth: The Muslim must make sure to observe Eid prayer in its designated place, and attend the khutbah of the Eid. He should also know the purpose of the Eid, and that it’s a day of giving thanks and a chance for accomplishing good deeds. He should not turn it into a day of mischief, disobedience, or an excuse for violating the prohibited things; such as singing, music, illegitimate amusements, consuming liquor, or the like. All of these things are detestable and nullify the good deeds that one may have accomplished during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
Tenth: After knowing all the above observances, every Muslim, male or female, must utilise these days in obedience to Allah, remembering Him, expressing gratefulness to him, fulfilling all the obligatory observances, avoiding the reprehensible things and taking advantage of this season to acquire His mercy and the pleasure. It Allah alone who grants success and guides to the right path. May He exalt the mention of Muhammad, and his household, and Companions, and may He render them safe from every derogatory thing.
The meaning of Haj
Haj is a journey massive in scope that millions upon millions of people undertake year after year from each and every corner of the world. It is also a tremendous display of true devotion to Allah that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. There quite simply is no other journey like it because it leads to the most unique place in the world, Baitullahi Al-Haraam, The Holy House of Allah in Makkah. It is an answer to a most ancient call and invitation from Ar-Rahmaan, the Most Merciful Himself. You as a visitor will be His guest and the reward you may reap for your trek will be like that which none can provide except Him, Most High is He above all imperfection! Your journey to Makkah is to perform the rites as shown to us by the last of the Messengers of Allah, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). These rites began from the time of the father of all prophets and messengers to come after him, Ibrahim (‘alaihi salaam). It was he who made the call to us in fulfilment of the command of Allah to him, namely to establish the Haj to the Holy House for all human beings.
It is however, only the true believers who answer the call and perform the rites correctly in letter and in spirit and truly benefit from this journey. It is our hope to assist you in fulfilling your noble intention of Haj in the best manner possible according to the most authentic and reliable manner as proven in the life of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and his noble companions (radiallahu anhum ajma’een).
Haj: Its Meaning and Merits
Verily, the first House appointed for mankind was that at Bakka, full of blessing, and a guidance for Al-’Aalameen. In it are manifest signs, the Maqaam of Ibrahim; whosoever enters it he attains security. And Haj to the House is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses. [Ale-Imran 96 -97]
And proclaim to mankind the Haj. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep and distant mountain highway. That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the Name of Allah on appointed days. [Haj 27 -28]
Haj is the fifth pillar of Islam. Allah has made it compulsory on those who are able from among His worshippers. He said: And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka’aba) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence). Haj is not obligatory more than once in a lifetime according to the statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in an authentic report: Haj is once and whoever performs it more it is an additional good. Allah has also said: And complete Haj and Umrah as a duty owed to Allah. (2:196)
The practice of delaying the Haj to the latter part of one’s life is unfortunate and an error. It is a clear lack of understanding for a person to live their youth in an irreligious manner or as they believe “enjoying life” only to leave religion for their old age. This strips the meaning of this major rite away as it does the other rites of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, Hasten to perform the duty of Haj for verily none of you knows what will happen to him.
The Merits Of Haj
Haj is a journey not made for any purely personal end or to fulfil any base desire. It is intended solely for Allah and a fulfilment of a duty prescribed by Him. No one can prepare himself for it unless he has a true love of Allah in his heart as well as a fear of Him and he feels strongly that Haj is a religious rite ordained by Allah and an obligation. Leaving everything behind is a demonstration of the love for Allah that a servant has. He will have a willingness to sacrifice and face hardships and forego the comforts of home for the sake of Allah. Haj combines the physical and the monetary aspects of worship so it develops both spiritual and moral goals in a person such as sincerity, piety, humility, obedience, sacrifice, and submission to the will of Allah.
The self-control, humility, and obedience produced by prayer and fasting are all present in the Hajj as well as is the cleansing of greed from the heart as is done by giving Zakaat. The pilgrim spends in the way of Allah and enjoys the privilege of offering many prayers in the great Masjid wherein prayers are far superior to that of those given anywhere else in the world. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has stated that a single prayer in Al-Masjid Al-Haraam is worth 100,000 prayers performed elsewhere.
The greatest merits of Haj however are the purification of sins and a guaranteed place in Al-Jannah. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has said: The person who makes pilgrimage to Allah’s House without committing any acts of indecency or disobedience to Allah will return home as he was on the day his mother bore him and the reward for a Haj Mabroor (accepted Haj) is nothing less than Paradise (Al-Jannah).
Haj is not always easy, but the rewards for outweigh the sacrifices and the effort. A pilgrim’s pure belief and sincere seeking the reward of Allah is the only way he can avoid negative actions and reaction that may spoil their Haj.
The dearest of all lands to Allah and His Messenger
The value of glorifying the Sacred City: The importance of values lies in the fact that they are the criterion by which people, ideologies, actions, positions and subjects can be judged and measured; moreover, values decide the identity of the community; the values in a given community have a direct effect and influence on the manners and conduct which the members of that community adopt.
Whenever the values of a community originate from the teachings of its faith, the behaviour and conduct of its people will reflect such a faith and they will certainly enjoy fine and fulfilling lives within their respective communities.
Strengthening the social values that Islam instructs and emphasises upon is the safety valve that protects and guards the community, and one of the greatest and most important of such values is to glorify the symbols of Allah. Indeed, such glorification results in lofty social customs and etiquette that guarantee the stability of the Muslim community and assures happiness in this life and the Life to come.
Allah Almighty has made this city a Sacred and Secure one and has honoured His House (the Ka’aba); He made glorifying this city one of the most honourable acts of worship by which a person draws close to Allah; He says (what means): “That [is so]. And whoever honours the symbols [i.e. rites] of Allah — indeed, it is from the piety of hearts.” [Qur’an 22: 32]
Glorifying what Allah and His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, have glorified results in establishing great social values that will yield countless benefits to the Muslims, and will reflect the unity of the Muslims - a nation that direct themselves to one Qiblah (direction during prayer towards Ka’aba), believe in one religion and harbour the same objectives and hopes, as if their hearts are that of a single person.
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, taught us how to build this value of glorifying Makkah - since his prophethood started in Makkah itself - in a practical manner that is away from fantasy and in a realistic manner that is easy to comprehend, and made it deeply rooted in the hearts in a way that guaranteed the continuity of such glorification by those who reside in the Sacred City and those who come to visit it. He did so with great wisdom and with tender care which caused people to long to see and glorify this Sacred City.
Words and actions that reflects its love:
Imaam Al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy upon him, reported on the authority of ‘Aai’shah, may Allah be pleased with her, that she said: “When the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, came to Al-Madinah, both Abu Bakr and Bilaal became sick. Whenever fever attacked Abu Bakr, he would recite the following verses of poetry:
A person wakes up among his household - active he is
While death is in fact closer to him than his shoelaces
Whenever fever eased from Bilaal, he would recite the following verses of poetry:
Will I ever again go back to spend a night - only once
In the valley with Ith-khir and Jaleel (plants) in abundance?
And will I one day again drink from the water of Mijannah? 
And will again see (the mountains of) Tafeel and Shaamah? 
Then he would say: ‘O Allah! Curse Shaybah Ibn Rabee’ah and ‘Utbah Ibn Rabee’ah and Umayyah Ibn Khalaf as they forced us from our land to a land full of diseases’.
Then the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “O Allah! Make Al-Madinah dear to our hearts just like you made Makkah dear to our hearts, and even more so. O Allah! Bless our Saa’ and our Mudd  and make it a healthy place for us, and move its fever to the area of Al-Juhfah.”
Bilaal, may Allah be pleased with him, also said: “We arrived at Al-Madinah and it was a land full of diseases as the valley of Bathaan would have putrid water running through it.’”
Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said, addressing Makkah: “How good you are as a land and how dear you are to my heart! Had your people not forced me out of you, I would have never come out and left you and would have never resided in any other city but you.” [At-Tirmithi and Ibn Hibbaan]
Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “When the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was forced to leave Makkah he headed out to a cave, turned around, and said, addressing Makkah: “You are the most beloved land to Allah, and you are the most beloved land to me. Had the polytheists not forced me out of you, I would never have come out and left you. The worst enemy is the one who transgresses the sanctities of Allah, or kills a soul without due right or kills a soul as revenge from the era of pre-Islamic ignorance.” Then Allah revealed the following verse (which means): “And how many a city was stronger than your city [i.e. Makkah] which drove you out? We destroyed them; and there was no helper for them.” [Qur’an 47:13]” [Ibn Jareer At-Tabari] Imaam al-Qurtubi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “This is an authentic narration.”
Imaam At-Tirmithi, Ahmad and ‘Abd bin Humayd, may Allah have mercy upon them, reported that ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Adiyy Ibn Al-Hamraa’, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “I saw the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, standing on a hillock  and addressing Makkah, saying: “I swear by Allah! You are the best of the lands of Allah and you are the most beloved land to Allah, and had it not been that I was forced to leave you, I would have never left you.”
Imaam al-Faakihi, may Allah have mercy upon him, reported on the authority of ‘Amrbin Shu’ayb, who reported from his father who reported from his father that he (‘Amr’s grandfather) said: “The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, sent ‘Itaab bin Usayd as a leader for the people of Makkah and said to him: “Do you know where I am sending you? I am sending you to the people (dear to) Allah. There is no city dearer to Allah - the Almighty, the Glorified - and to myself than this city, and had it not been that its people forced me out of it, I would never have left it.”
This is Makkah and this is its virtue. Will we win the honour of glorifying it and loving it with its due love and glorification?
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
 Jaleel: a weak plant that the residents of Makkah would use in their homes.
 Mijannah: a place that was a few kilometres from Makkah which had a market.
 Shaamah and Tafeel: Two mountains about 50km from Makkah.
 Saa’ and Mudd: measures of weight for food
 This small hill was at the lower end of the market overlooking Makkah.
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