Dhu'l-Hijjah or alternatively Zulhijja (Arabic: ذو الحجة; also transliterated Zil-Hajj) is the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar. It is a very sacred month in the Islamic calendar, one in which the Hajj (pilgrimage) takes place as well as the Festival of the Sacrifice.
"Dhu al-Hijjah" literally means "Possessor of the Pilgrimage" or "The Month of the Pilgrimage". During this month Muslim pilgrims from all around the world congregate at Mecca to visit the Kaaba. The Hajj is performed on the eighth, ninth and the tenth of this month. Day of Arafah takes place on the ninth of the month. Eid al-Adha, the "Festival of the Sacrifice", begins on the tenth day and ends on sunset of the 13th.
According to Islamic traditions, the first 10 days of Dhu al-Hijjah are the most blessed days in which to do good deeds:
حدثنا هناد حدثنا أبو معاوية عن الأعمش عن مسلم هو البطين وهو ابن أبي عمران عن سعيد بن جبير عن ابن عباس قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما من أيام العمل الصالح فيهن أحب إلى الله من هذه الأيام العشر فقالوا يا رسول الله ولا الجهاد في سبيل الله فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولا الجهاد في سبيل الله إلا رجل خرج بنفسه وماله فلم يرجع من ذلك بشيء وفي الباب عن ابن عمر وأبي هريرة وعبد الله بن عمرو وجابر قال أبو عيسى حديث ابن عباس حديث حسن صحيح غريب
Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these (first ten days of Dhu al-Hijja)." Then some companions of the Prophet said, "Not even Jihad?" He replied, "Not even Jihad, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger (for Allah's sake) and does not return with any of those things." (Reported by Tirmidhi)
Muhammad used to fast the first nine days of this month, owing to their perceived virtue:
حدثنا مسدد حدثنا أبو عوانة عن الحر بن الصباح عن هنيدة بن خالد عن امرأته عن بعض أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قالت كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يصوم تسع ذي الحجة ويوم عاشوراء وثلاثة أيام من كل شهر
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Dhu al-Hijjah migrates throughout the seasons. The estimated start and end dates for Dhu al-Hijjah, based on the Umm al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia, are:
|AH||First day (CE/AD)||Last day (CE/AD)|
|1439||12 August 2018||10 September 2018|
|1440||2 August 2019||30 August 2019|
|1441||22 July 2020||19 August 2020|
|1442||11 July 2021||8 August 2021|
|1443||30 June 2022||29 July 2022|
|1444||19 June 2023||18 July 2023|
The following acts have been prescribed for the first nine days of Dhu al-Hijjah
The Prophet of Allah said: There are no days more beloved to Allah that he be worshipped in them than the ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah, fasting every day of them is equivalent to fasting a year; and standing every night of them (in Salaah) is equivalent to standing on the Night of Qadr. [Tirmizi 758]
The reason for the 10 days being distinguished is due to the combination of worship in this period of prayer, fasting, charity, Takbir and Hajj.
From the first nine days of Dhu al-Hijjah, it is particularly recommended to fast the Day of Arafah (9th Dhu al-Hijjah) as expiation of the sin of two years:
Abu Qatada narrates that Muhammad was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafah. He said: as for the fasting on the Day of Arafah, I anticipate that Allah will forgive the year (i.e. the sins of the year) after it and the year before it [Tirmizi 749].