ALL praise is due to Allaah, and may He render our Prophet Muhammad safe from every derogatory thing, and exalt his 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 ten 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-Bukhaari)
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 ten days. So recite more often the Tahleel (Laa Ilaaha Illallah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah). (Imam Ahmad) Jaabir reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: The best day is the Day of Arafah. There are no days during which good deeds are greater or more beloved to Allaah than these ten days. So recite more often the Tahleel (Laa Ilaaha Illallah) , Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah).
Ten Kinds of Observances In These Days
With regard to the types of worship to be performed during these ten days: one must understand that these days are a great blessing from Allaah to His slave, which is appreciated properly by the actively righteous. It is the duty of a Muslim to appreciate this blessing and make the most of the opportunity, by devoting these ten days to paying more attention to striving hard in worship. Among His blessings to His slaves, Allaah has given us many ways in which to do good and worship Him, so that the Muslim may be constantly active and consistent in his worship of his Lord.
Among the good deeds which the Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are:
First: Performing Hajj and Umrah, which are the best of all observances. Its excellence is signified by many Prophetic traditions. The Prophet (sallallaahualaihi wa sallam) said: Performing Umrah and following it with another expiates sins that are committed in between. And the perfect Hajj 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 Saeed 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 seventy 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 ten 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 torecite during the first ten 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 Allaah: That you may exalt Allah for having guided you, and that you may be grateful to Him. [Al-Baqarah 2:185]
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 Allaah. Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu) reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Verily Allah feels jealous, and the jealousy of Allaah is aroused when man violates what Allaah prohibits. (Agreed upon)
Fifth: Accomplishing more good deeds of voluntary observances, such as: salaat, charity, Jihad, Qur'ânic 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 Allaah 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 Allaah exalt his mention, in commemoration of the occasion when Allaah ransomed Ibraheems 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 Allaah 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. Allaah, 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 its 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 Allaah, 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.