In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, the month of the Hajj pilgrimage, are a virtuous and blessed time for performing good deeds and remembering Allah. The good deeds performed during these ten days are greater than all others, except for someone who shows exemplary bravery and is martyred in a just cause for the sake of Allah.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
مَا الْعَمَلُ فِي أَيَّامٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنْهَا فِي هَذِهِ
No good deeds are better than what is done in these first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
The companions said, “Not even jihad in the way of Allah?” The Prophet said:
وَلَا الْجِهَادُ إِلَّا رَجُلٌ خَرَجَ يُخَاطِرُ بِنَفْسِهِ وَمَالِهِ فَلَمْ يَرْجِعْ بِشَيْءٍ
Not even jihad in the way of Allah, except for a man who goes out with his life and wealth at risk and he returns with nothing.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 926, Grade: Sahih
Allah swears by the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, which indicates their great importance for us.
وَالْفَجْرِ وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍ
By the dawn and the ten nights…
Surat al-Fajr 89:1-2
It is recommended to increase our supplications, praise of Allah, and acts of charity during these first ten days.
لِّيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَاتٍ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ
That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on appointed days over what he has provided for them of animals. So eat of them and feed the poor and downtrodden.
Surat al-Hajj 22:28
Muslims should increase the declaration of the oneness of Allah (tahlil), the exaltation of Allah (takbir), and the praise of Allah (taḥmid). This is to say the following supplications:
لا إله إلا الله
La Ilaha Illa Allah
There is no God but Allah.
Allah is the greatest.
All praise is due to Allah.
Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
مَا مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أَعْظَمُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَلَا أَحَبُّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ الْعَمَلِ فِيهِنَّ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْأَيَّامِ الْعَشْرِ فَأَكْثِرُوا فِيهِنَّ مِنْ التَّهْلِيلِ وَالتَّكْبِيرِ وَالتَّحْمِيدِ
There are no days greater and more beloved to Allah than these ten days of Dhul Hijjah, so increase in them your declaration of the oneness of Allah, your exaltation of him, and your praise of him.
Source: Musnad Aḥmad 5423, Grade: Sahih
It is an obligation to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once for those who are able to do so.
وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا
Due to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House for whoever is able to find a way.
Surat Ali Imran 3:97
Proper performance of the Hajj pilgrimage will result in the complete expiation and purification from sin.
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
مَنْ حَجَّ هَذَا الْبَيْتَ فَلَمْ يَرْفُثْ وَلَمْ يَفْسُقْ رَجَعَ كَمَا وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ
Whoever performs the pilgrimage to this house without having intimate relations or committing wickedness, then he will return pure like the day he was born from his mother.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 1723, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi
It was not the regular practice of the Prophet to fast during the first ten days of the month.
مَا رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ صَائِمًا فِي الْعَشْرِ قَطُّ
I never saw the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, fasting during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1176, Grade: Sahih
However, the Prophet would sometimes fast during the first nine days of the month.
Hunaida ibn Khalid reported:
بَعْضِ أَزْوَاجِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَتْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَصُومُ تِسْعَ ذِي الْحِجَّةِ وَيَوْمَ عَاشُورَاءَ
Some of the wives of the Prophet said that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would fast for nine days during the month of Dhul Hijjah and on the day of Ashura.
Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 2437, Grade: Sahih
It is highly recommended to fast on the day of Arafat for those not performing the Hajj pilgrimage, as it is expiation and purification from sins. The day of Arafat is the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah.
Abu Qatadah reported: A man came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “What is your view about fasting on the day of Arafat?” The Prophet said:
أَحْتَسِبُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَنْ يُكَفِّرَ السَّنَةَ الْمَاضِيَةَ وَالْبَاقِيَةَ
I consider it with regard to Allah that it expiates the sins of the previous and upcoming years.
Source: Musnad Aḥmad 22115, Grade: Sahih
It is not recommended to fast on the day of Arafat for those who are performing the Hajj pilgrimage, although it is permissible to do so, in order that they have more strength to perform supplications.
Abu Najeeh reported: He asked Ibn Umar about fasting on the day of Arafat for those who are at Arafat. Ibn Umar said:
حَجَجْتُ مَعَ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَلَمْ يَصُمْهُ وَمَعَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ فَلَمْ يَصُمْهُ وَمَعَ عُمَرَ فَلَمْ يَصُمْهُ وَمَعَ عُثْمَانَ فَلَمْ يَصُمْهُ وَأَنَا لَا أَصُومُهُ وَلَا آمُرُ بِهِ وَلَا أَنْهَى عَنْهُ
I have performed the Hajj pilgrimage with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and he did not fast it. I performed it with Abu Bakr and he did not fast, with Umar and he did not fast, and with Uthman and he did not fast. I do not fast it, nor do I command it or prohibit it.
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 751, Grade: Hasan
وَالْعَمَلُ عَلَى هَذَا عِنْدَ أَكْثَرِ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ يَسْتَحِبُّونَ الْإِفْطَارَ بِعَرَفَةَ لِيَتَقَوَّى بِهِ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى الدُّعَاءِ وَقَدْ صَامَ بَعْضُ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ يَوْمَ عَرَفَةَ بِعَرَفَةَ
The practice among the majority of scholars is that it is recommended to break fasting on the day of Arafat in order for a man to have strength to supplicate, but some of the scholars would fast on the day of Arafat while at Arafat.
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 750
A Muslim should not fast on Eid al-Adha or the following three days (tashriq) because these are celebrations for eating, drinking, showing gratitude, and remembering Allah.
‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
يَوْمُ عَرَفَةَ وَيَوْمُ النَّحْرِ وَأَيَّامُ التَّشْرِيقِ عِيدُنَا أَهْلَ الْإِسْلَامِ وَهِيَ أَيَّامُ أَكْلٍ وَشُرْبٍ
The day of Arafat, the day of sacrifice, and the three following days are our celebrations for the people of Islam, so they are days of eating and drinking.
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 773, Grade: Sahih
Therefore, as Muslims we should increase our good deeds of prayer, fasting, and charity during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. If it is possible we should perform the Hajj pilgrimage, but if it is not possible then we should fast on the day of Arafat.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.