What is Dhul Hijjah

Dhul Hijjah is the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar. It is expected to start on Friday June 7, 2024 (depending on when Hajj is announced in Arabia). It literally means: “the time of Hajj”.

Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It is a pilgrimage to Makkah. Every Muslim must perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. Hajj is what makes this month so special: it is the only time when the Pilgrimage takes place.

The First Ten Days

The first ten days are special in Islam. Allah created time and decided some days are better than others. Rewards are multiplied on special days. This encourages people to do more good deeds and renews their zeal to worship Allah. It is like when a farmer works extra hard to plant crops during certain seasons because those times of the year yield better results. The Messenger of Allah said about Dhul Ḥijjah:

مَا الْعَمَلُ فِي أَيَّامِ الْعَشْرِ أَفْضَلَ مِنَ الْعَمَلِ فِي هَذِهِ

“There are no other days when actions are more rewarded than these ten days.”[1]

So, you should increase your good deeds. Fast on as many of these days as possible, like the Prophet Muhammad did.[2] Pray in the masjid more often. Read more Qur’an and reflect on its meaning. Give more charity. Visit people who are sick. Be extra careful not to gossip, use profanity, or insult others.

Technically, the tenth day is the day of Eid, which is a celebration. It is not allowed to fast on this day. So when ‘ten days’ are mentioned, it actually means the first nine days of the month.

Should You Not Cut Your Hair and Nails

Some scholars say you should not cut your nails or hair during these first ten days of Dhul Ḥijjah. That is because of the report that the Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever sights the crescent for the month of Dhul Ḥijjah and intends to sacrifice an animal should cut neither his hair nor his nails.”[3] Imam Nawawī says the wisdom behind this might be that a person who is offering a sacrifice wants to resemble a person performing Hajj since it is about sacrifice, so they refrain from cutting the hair and nails to further the resemblance [since pilgrims to Makkah are also not allowed to cut].[4]

However, there is another report about the Prophet by his wife ʿĀ’ishah that: “…the Prophet sent a sacrificial animal to the Kaʿbah [while residing at Madīnah] but did not abstain from anything [that a person performing Ḥajj would abstain from]…”[5] This report led many scholars to say that it is perfectly fine to cut your hair and nails during these days. This is the opinion that I lean towards. See the Appendix below for a more detailed discussion about why scholars have differed on this issue.

Specifically Fast on the 9th Day

The 9th day of this month is called “the day of ʿArafah”. It is when the pilgrims gather in the plain of ʿArafah about 10 miles outside Makkah. It is highly recommended for people who are not performing Hajj to fast on this day. This is a special fast that the Prophet Muhammad said: “Fasting on the day of ʿArafah is an expiation for the preceding year and the following year.”[6] He meant that the fast is so rewarding that it may help absolve a person of many of the sins they committed in the past and might do in the future.

So, one day before the Eid celebration, make sure to fast.

Summarized Table of What to Do this Month

1st-9th of Dhul Ḥijjah Recommended to do good deeds & fast
9th of Dhul Ḥijjah Highly recommended to fast
10th of Dhul Ḥijjah Eid prayer and animal sacrifice

[Shaykh] Mustafa Umar

Appendix

Muslims scholars have differed over whether or not there are any restrictions on cutting the nails or hair during the first ten days of Dhul Ḥijjah. This results from different approaches to dealing with the prophetic reports on the issue. There are two main pieces of evidence which result in three different opinions about how to understand them.

A: The prophetic report narrated by Umm Salamah states: “Whoever sights the crescent for the month of Dhul Ḥijjah and intends to sacrifice an animal should not cut their hair or nails.”[7]

B: The prophetic report narrated by ʿĀ’ishah that: “…the Prophet sent a sacrificial animal to the Kaʿbah [while residing at Madīnah] but did not abstain from anything [that a person performing Ḥajj would abstain from]…”[8]

The first opinion held by scholars is to accept both reports but consider that ‘A’ should be taken in its literal sense, but ‘B’ should be confined to only those who send a sacrificial animal, not those who sacrifice an animal within their own city.[9] The scholars who took this approach said cutting nails and hair is forbidden for a person who intends to slaughter. The ones who said this were Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, Ibn Ḥazm, and Ṭaḥāwī [of the Ḥanafī school].[10]

The second opinion is to affirm both reports but consider that ‘A’ should not be taken literally as a prohibition but rather as something disliked. The scholars who took this approach are Ash-Shāfiʿī and some of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal’s students [such as Abū Yaʿlā].[11]

The third opinion is to give preference to ‘B’ over ‘A’ because it is more authentic. Report ‘A’ is also dismissed since it is contrary to analogy [qiyās] because if a person was supposed to refrain from cutting their nails and hair, they should have also been instructed to refrain from certain clothing, perfume, and intimacy, because that is what people who are performing Hajj must also do.[12] The scholars who took this approach and said there is nothing wrong with cutting the hair or nails are Abū Ḥanīfah and his students, Mālik and his students, and Sufyān al-Thawrī.[13]


[1] Al-Bukhārī #969

[2] It was reported: “Allah’s messenger used to fast the [first] nine days of Dhul Ḥijjah…” Abū Dāwūd

[3] Muslim 3:1565, Abū Dā’ūd 3:94, Tirmidhī 4:102, Nasā’ī 7:211.

[4] Sharḥ an-Nawawī ʿalā Muslim 13:138-139. An-Nawawī mentioned another possible reason as well which I will omit for brevity.

[5] Bukhārī 7:102, Muslim 2:957.

[6] Muslim

[7] Muslim 3:1565, Abū Dā’ūd 3:94, Tirmidhī 4:102, Nasā’ī 7:211.

[8] Bukhārī 7:102, Muslim 2:957.

[9] ʿAwn al-Maʿbūd wa Ḥāshiyah ibn al-Qayyim ʿalā Sunan Abī Dāwūd 7:346, al-Istidhkār 4:84.

[10] al-Tirmidhī 4:102, Tuḥfah al-Aḥwadhī 5:99-100, Sharḥ Mushkil al-Āthār 14:141-143.

[11] Tuḥfah al-Aḥwadhī 5:99-100, `Awn al-Maʿbūd wa Ḥāshiyah ibn al-Qayyim ʿalā Sunan Abī Dāwūd 7:346.

[12] ʿAwn al-Maʿbūd wa Ḥāshiyah ibn al-Qayyim ʿalā Sunan Abī Dāwūd 7:347.

[13] Tuḥfah al-Aḥwadhī 5:99-100, al-Istidhkār 4:84. Note that there is a long scholarly discussion whether this was Abu Hanifah and his students’ true position or that it is slightly disliked to cut. See Taqi Uthmani, Takmilah Fatḥ Al-Mulhim, 3:486 and Al-Mawsūʿah Al-Fiqhiyyah Al-Kuwaytiyyah, Aẓfār.

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