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The First Ten Days of Thul-Hijjah & The Sacrifice

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC in 1986)

The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "There are no days of good deeds more loved by Allaah (S.W.T.) than these days" - meaning the first ten days of the month of Thul-Hijjah. Some of his companions asked: "Not even Jihaad?" (Fighting for the sake of Allaah) The prophet (S.A.W.) replied, "Not even jihaad, except that of a man who went to (Jihaad) with all of his wealth and never returned." [Reported by Imaam Bukhaari and others]

There are many seasons throughout the year when our reward for a righteous deed is multiplied many times; this is a blessing from Allaah (S.W.T.) to His believing servants. Allaah has given us so many opportunities throughout the year to take advantage of increasing our efforts toward doing righteous deeds. During these seasons of the year, we will gain great rewards for the small, but positive deeds. One of those seasons, that we will learn about today is the season of Thul-Hijjah, more specifically, the first ten days of it. Allaah (S.W.T.) swears by the greatness and importance of these ten days in the beginning of surat Al-Fajr, what can be translated as, “By the dawn; By the ten nights…”

What is a good and righteous deed?

A good and righteous deed is any action that pleases Allaah (S.W.T.), and the best of these deeds is to perform the obligated deeds (Al-Furud) first, and then perform the extra, recommended deeds next. Some actions that are both obligatory and recommended are: Praying, fasting, giving charity, reciting Qur’aan and Dhikr (remembering Allaah), learning the branches of deen 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.

The companions of the prophet (S.A.W.) felt that the best deed is Jihaad or fighting for the sake of Allaah. So when the prophet (S.A.W.) mentioned that the righteous deed in the first ten days of Thul-Hijjah are the most loved by Allaah, the companions asked right away, whether Jihaad is better than those ten days or not. So the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) replied, even fighting for the sake of Allaah is not better than these days, except for a man who went fighting for the sake of Allaah with his soul and his wealth, and then he fought until he spent all of his wealth and died for the sake of Allaah. This is a very clear indication of the greatness of these 10 blessed days.

The underlying reason for the greatness of these 10 days may be due to the fact that the pilgrims visit the sacred place, the house of Allaah (in Makkah) and get prepared to perform one of the pillars of Islaam (Al-Hajj). Also, pilgrims get ready to gather in Arafaat [a place southeast of Makkah about 25 km from it] on the ninth day of this month. On the day of Arafah, Satan will be belittled and humiliated more than any other day of the year. He will be humiliated when he sees how much Allaah forgives His servants. The prophet was asked about fasting on the day [of Arafah], and he replied, “It wipes off the sins of the last year and this year.” [Reported by Imaam Muslim] This is another reason behind the greatness of the day of Arafah.

Al-Hamdu-Lilaah, we will soon welcome the blessed Eid of Al-Adhaa so I would like to mention briefly the rules of sacrifice and its rewards.

Sacrifice was legislated in the second year of migration (from Makkah to Al-Madinah). It was authenticated that the prophet (S.A.W.) made sacrifice and so did his companions. The prophet (S.A.W.) said, "There is no good deed more lovable by Allaah on the day of Eid than the deed of slaughtering-i.e. A slaughtered animal will come on the Day of Judgment with its horns, its paws, its hairs, and its blood will fall in a high great place- expressing how fast Allaah accepts it- before it (the blood) falls on the ground, so be happy with your sacrifice." [A good Hadith; reported by Imaams At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah]

The sacrifice is a strongly recommended (Sunnah) according to the majority of the Muslim scholars, and it is obligatory (Waajib) according to Imaam Abuu- Haniifah, for every one who possesses its price or value after they meet their basic necessities like food, clothes, shelter, and utility bills. So the man should make sacrifice for himself and his family. It is allowed that the sacrifice be made on a sheep that is at least six months of age and on a goat that is at least one year of age. The sacrifice of one lamb or goat is sufficient for one family.

Sacrificing a cow that is at least two years of age or a camel that is at least five years of age is acceptable. The sacrifice of a cow or a camel is sufficient for seven families to share. It is also a requirement that the animal is not sick, blind, lame, or very weak.

The time of sacrifice starts when Eid prayer is over up until the sunset on the third day of At-Tash-Shriiq (13th day of Thul-Hijjah). It is recommended that whoever is making a sacrifice to slaughter it with his hand saying: “Bissmillah, Allaahu Akbar, O Allaah this is on my behalf and whoever he intends to sacrifice for, i.e., his family, relatives, or friends. This is what the prophet (S.A.W.) did.

It is also allowed that you appoint a Muslim to initiate the process of sacrifice for you because the prophet (S.A.W.) said to his daughter Fatimah (R.A.), “Come Faatimah and witness your sacrifice because your sins will be wiped off at its first drop of blood and say: “Verily, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of all worlds, there is no associate with Him, and of this I have been ordered, and I am the first of the Muslims.” One of the companions said: O’ Messenger of Allaah, is this special for you and for your family, or for all Muslims? The prophet (S.A.W.) replied, “It is for all Muslims.” [Reported by Imaams Al-Haakim, Al-Bayhaqi and At-Tabaraani]

It is also allowed that the person making the sacrifice to eat from his sacrifice, give away some of it to the needy and give some of it as a gift.

It is also highly recommended, and some scholars said it is Waajib (obligatory), that whoever wanted to make sacrifice not to cut his hair and not to clip his nails from the first day of the month of Thul-Hijjah until he makes the sacrifice. This is from the following saying of the prophet (S.A.W.): “If one of you has seen Hilaal (the new crescent) of the month of Thul-Hijjah, and wanted to make sacrifice, then let him refrain from cutting his hair or clipping his nails.” [Reported by Imaam Muslim] The order to abstain from cutting the hair or nails is directed to the person who makes sacrifice, and not to his wife or children unless they sacrifice on their own.

Brothers and sisters, Allaah gave us the opportunity to get a larger reward for any good deed that we do in the season of Thul-Hijjah, or more specifically the first ten days before Eid Al-Adha. At this time, you should increase your righteous deeds with sincerity so that you can gain the optimum reward.

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