Among the reports transmitted regarding the sanctity of the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, the following has been related on the authority of Hadrat Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas (Radi Allahu Anhu) that the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “There are no days in which actions are superior than in these days.” It was asked, “Not even fighting for the sake of Allah?” He replied, “Not even fighting for the sake of Allah, except that a person sets out with his life and his wealth and returns with neither.” [Musnad al-Imam Ahmad,Vol. 1, Page 346]
On the authority of Hadrat Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (Radi Allahu Anhu), the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “There are no days more beloved to Allah that He be worshiped in them than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Each day of fasting in it is equivalent to the fast of an entire year. And each night standing in prayer is equivalent to standing in prayer on the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr).” [Jaami' al-Tirmidhi, Vol. 3, Hadith 758]
Also due to the stature and merits of these days, Allah swore by them when He said: “By oath of the (particular) dawn. And by oath of ten nights. [al-Fajr: 1-2],” and in them, He bestowed many of His bounties on His Prophets. Hadrat Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas (Radi Allahu Anhu) relates that in the ten days of Dhul Hijjah, Allah accepted the repentance of Prophet Adam (Ala Nabiyyina wa Alayhis Salam), and in it Prophet Ibrahim (Ala Nabiyyina wa Alayhis Salam) became the intimate friend (khalil) of Allah “…And Allah made Ibrahim His close friend. [al-Nisa: 125].” Hence, he submitted his wealth to the two noble guests (i.e. the angels sent to the people of Lut [Hud: 69-79]), his soul to the flames, his son to sacrifice, and his heart to the Most-Merciful One (al-Rahman). In it the Prophet Musa (Ala Nabiyyina wa Alayhis Salam) was also honored with the following call, “Said Allah, “O Moosa! I have chosen you from mankind by (bestowing) My messages and by My speech; so accept what I have bestowed upon you and be among the thankful.” [al-A'raaf: 144],” and Prophet Dawud (Ala Nabiyyina wa Alayhis Salam) was granted forgiveness, “We therefore forgave him this; and indeed for him in Our presence are, surely, proximity and an excellent abode. [Saad: 25].”
It is said that the chief of all the months is Ramadan and the most sanctified of the sacred months (Ash'hur al-Hurum) is Dhul Hijjah and the most beloved days of this month to Allah is the first ten. Good works in them are multiplied. It is also said that whoever honors these ten days, Allah honors him with ten bounties: blessing in his life, increase in his wealth, protection of his family, atonement for his sins, multiplication of his good deeds, ease in his last days of life, light for his darkness, weight on his scale, salvation from descending , and ascension into .
It is reported that al-Awza'i said: “It has reached me that good works in the ten days have the worth of fighting for the sake of Allah. fasts its day and worships during its night, except that Allah records for him martyrdom for the sake of Allah.”
For this reason, it is encouraged for one to strive to worship and perform good deeds during these days; including acts such as fasting, prayer, remembrance (dhikr), visiting the sick, showing kindness to orphans, attending gatherings of knowledge, and turning one’s focus towards Allah. It is also reported that Hadrat Sayyiduna Umar bin al-Khattab and Ibn Abbas (Radi Allahu Anhuma) used to go out to the marketplace and exalt Allah through saying Takbir and that the people used to join them in their exaltation of Allah. Among the distinct days of these ten, is the eighth of Dhul Hijjah known as the Day of “Watering” (Yawm al-Tarwiyah) because on this day the pilgrims in Makkah al-Mukarramah are given drink and they fill their vessels in preparation for the Day of 'Arafah.
However, the most distinguished and significant day of these ten days of Dhul Hijjah is the Day of 'Arafah which is considered amongst the most important days of the year. There are various reports as to how this day acquired its name. One report is that on this day, Allah presents (yu'arrifu) his worshipful servants to His angels and exalts them. Another report is that this was the day that Adam (Ala Nabiyyina wa Alayhis Salam) became reunited (ta'arrafa) with his wife Hawwa.
The Day of Arafah is a day of immense significance to the Muslim community. In it, Muslims are reminded of the many blessings bestowed upon them by Allah, including their brotherhood and their dissimilarity to divided peoples who possess neither bonds of unity nor a common belief system that brings their hearts together. They are also reminded of the completion of the Qur’an and the fulfillment of Allah’s blessings upon them, as it was on the Day of Arafah that the verse, “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion; [al-Ma'ida: 3]” was revealed.
In regards to the merits of this day, the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “There is no day more venerable to Allah than the Day of Arafah. Allah's mercy descends to the Heavens of the earth and exalts the people of the earth to the inhabitants of the Heavens. He says: ‘Look at my servants disshelved, dustied, and fatigued. They have come from every far off corner of the earth. They have not witnessed my mercy and they have not witnessed my punishment. And I do not see a day in which more people are saved from the Hellfire than the Day of Arafah.’” [Majma' al-Zawa'id, Vol. 3, Page 253]
And in another transmission it is worded, “You have come to me disshelved, dustied, and fatigued from every far off corner of the earth. Bear witness that I have forgiven you .” [Shu'ab al-Iman, Vol. 3, Page 25, Hadith 4068]
It is reported on the authority of Hadrat Sayyiduna Ibn Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) saying: “The Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: ‘When the evening of Arafah arrives, nobody with a mustard seed’s weight of faith (Iman) in their hearts is left, except that they are forgiven.” It was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, is this restricted only to the people on Arafah?’ He said: ‘No, it is for all of the Muslims.’” [Majma' al-Zawa'id, Vol. 3, Page 252]
Meanwhile on this day, in the midst of all of these spiritual openings and the cascade of divine mercy, the devil is in the ultimate state of humiliation and disgrace. It is reported on the authority of Hadrat Talha bin Ubayd Allah bin Kariz (Radi Allahu Anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “The Devil has not been seen more abased, repelled, humiliated, and furious than on the Day of Arafah. This is due to what he has seen from the descent of mercy and Allah’s forgiveness of grave sins. With the exception to what he was shown on the Day of Badr.” It was said: “And what did he see on the Day of Badr, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “He saw Jibril preparing the angels .” [Al-Muwatta', Page 291]
From among the commendable acts on this day is fasting (for the non-pilgrim), and being abundant in supplication, remembrance (Adhkar), particularly in repeating La ilaha Illa Allah with sincerity and contemplation. The Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) encouraged us to fast and engage in remembrance by citing their merits and significance. It is related on the authority of Hadrat Sayyiduna Abi Qatadah (Radi Allahu Anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “The fast on the Day of Arafah is counted by Allah as a expiation that came the year before and the year after it.” [Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, Hadith 196]
And on the authority of Hadrat Sayyidatuna Ayesha (Radi Allahu Anha) the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) used to consider fasting the Day of Arafah as fasting one thousand days. [Majma' al-Zawa'id, Vol. 3, Page 189]
It has also been reported on the authority of Hadrat Sayyiduna Ali bin Abi Talib (Radi Allahu Anhu) saying: “The Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: ‘The most abundant supplication of mine and supplication of the Prophets who came before me on Arafa was: La Ilaha Illa Allahu wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahul mulk wa lahul hamd, wa huwa ala kulli shay'in qadeer (there is no God but Allah, the One Who has no partners, to Him is the dominion and to Him is gratitude, and he is All-Powerful over all things).’” [Al-Sunan al-kubra, Vol. 5, Page 117]
Also it has been transmitted on his (Radi Allahu Anhu) authority saying, “The best supplication is the supplication of the Day of Arafah. And the best of what I have said and what the Prophets before me have said is: La Ilaha Illa Allahu wahdahu la sharika lahu.” [Al-Muwatta': Page 291] This pertains both to the pilgrim and the non-pilgrim.
As for the hadiths regarding the merits of fasting on the Day of Arafah, they are intended for the non-pilgrim since the person performing the Hajj is forbidden to fast. This is to ensure that he preserves his energy to perform the rites of pilgrimage in the best fashion as well as to worship and supplicate rigorously on this rare opportunity. This is also reflective of the realism and moderation with which the great Islamic tradition has been endowed.