Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research

Episode 2: The Best Good Deeds

How blessed are the good deeds of Dhul Hijjah and how should we engage them? In this episode, Dr. Omar Suleiman explores the famous Hadith on virtues of good deeds in this month and how the pious predecessors responded to it.

Episode Transcript

(Note: the transcript has been edited for clarity)

0:00 – 0:10 Introduction

Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wabarakatuh. Welcome back to the Virtues of the Dhul-Hijjah.

0:11 – 0:50 The famous hadith about the good deeds in Dhul Hijjah

So the famous hadith in which the Prophet SAW, peace be upon him, mentions the best good deeds is one that really gives us a time to reflect and why the best good deeds are the ones that are performed in these 10 days.

The Prophet (pbuh) said that there is no deed better in the sight of Allah SWT, or more greatly rewarded than a good deed that is done in the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah.

And they asked the Prophet SAW, “not even striving in the path of God?”. He said “not even striving in the path of Allah, unless someone goes out with themselves and with their wealth and they don’t come back with anything of it.”

0:51 – 2:12 The example of Musab ibn Umair (ra)

Now let’s give some context to this. First of all, for those that are tuning in, jihad does not mean terrorism. This does not mean killing innocent people. This is referring to a noble struggle. The Prophet SAW is mentioning here a person that went out and lost everything, meaning they sacrificed their lives, they sacrificed their wealth, they sacrificed everything, in this noble cause. 

Some of the scholars say that this hadith is referring to Musab ibn Umair, may Allah be pleased with him, who became Muslim and as he became Muslim, was persecuted in Makkah and this was the richest and most wealthiest man, the trendsetter of Makkah. A young man that everyone looked to, who had the most expensive smelling scents, who had the most expensive clothes, and he was persecuted, run out of Makkah, migrated to Medina with the Prophet SAW – in fact was the one that introduced Islam to the people of Madinah.

Then Musab (ra) was killed in the Battle of Uhud, and they could not even find enough cloth to cover Musab’s entire body. So this man who literally sacrificed everything (ra) and he is the manifestation of this.

In another hadith, the Prophet SAW was asked about what the best form of struggle is, what the best form of jihad fi sabilillah is. He, SAW, mentioned a person who goes out and in the process of battle loses absolutely everything. 

2:13 – 3:36 The best form of striving in the path of God

So what does this mean for us when we’re talking about the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah? Well the Prophet SAW is saying that the good deeds that are done in these 10 days are better than not just al-jihad fi sabilillah, but what he said in another narration was, the best form of al-jihad fi sabilillah. 

In this situation the Prophet SAW is saying that the good deeds of these 10 days surpassed the good deeds done in any other 10 days of the year. This is another interpretation of the hadith or another benefit that the scholars extracted from it. They said that the Prophet SAW is saying any good deed done in these 10 days is better than a good deed done in any other 10 days of the year. 

This is similar to the Prophets SAW mentioning the superiority of dhikr, of the superiority of remembrance of Allah SWT, to al-jihad fi sabilillah in certain contexts and narrations.

In another hadith the Prophet SAW was asked what the best deeds are. He mentioned, “to have faith in Allah”. Then he was asked, “then what?” He mentioned “jihad fi sabilillah”. Then he was asked, “then what?” He said “al-Hajj”.

So here the Prophet SAW is saying that there is a superiority of these good deeds, any good deed, that you do in these 10 days would surpass even the best of good deeds, even at the best of times.

3:37 – 4:44 The example of Sa’id ibn Jubayr

That’s really what you start to see with the Companions of the messenger SAW and the pious predecessors, is that they took these 10 days very very very seriously. They pushed themselves in ways that we would not typically push ourselves today.

Ramadan kind of creates this feeling where everyone is together, everyone is performing all types of things together. But in these 10 days you typically don’t see people exerting themselves the way that they would in Ramadan because there isn’t a community exertion. 

However you find from the Companions, Sa’id ibn Jubayr, he says that ibn Abbas who narrates the hadith – and typically you look to those that narrated the hadith and you see how they implemented the hadith – that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father who narrated his hadith, used to disappear in these 10 days. He was so busy with his good deeds in these 10 days that no one could reach him in these 10 days. 

It’s really beautiful that he’s the one who narrates the narration, the hadith from the Prophet SAW, about the virtues of these 10 days and that he was the person that you could not reach in these 10 days because of how much he would busy himself.

4:45 – 6:10 Why are good deeds special in these 10 days?

So the question is, why? What makes these 10 days so special? What makes good deeds in these 10 days so special?

Scholars mention a few reasons. One of them is that they say that Allah SWT completed the religion in these 10 days. Allah SWT says, “today I have completed your religion for you, perfected your religion for you.” “And I have completed my favor upon you, and chosen Islam for you as your religion.”

Because Allah SWT perfected the religion within these 10 days, that in and of itself signifies its virtue.

Ibn Hajar, may Allah be pleased with him, he also said that all of the good deeds are combined in these 10 days in a way that they are not in any other time. So in all of the five pillars of Islam you have an element within these 10 days. You have hajj. You have the prayer. You have fasting. You have sadaqah. 

You get the Shahada, which is the testimony of the oneness of Allah SWT and following the messenger SAW. Then you’ve got the hajj which can’t be done any other time. You’ve got the charity which is constantly done in these 10 days. You’ve got the fasting which is constantly done in these 10 days as well. 

So all of the good deeds, all of the pillars of Islam have a manifestation within these 10 days. You can’t find that in any other 10 days of the year.

6:11 – 6:37 The best things to do in these blessed 10 days

So what do we take from this? Imam Hasan al-Basri (ra) was asked, “what are the best things that we can do in these 10 days?” He said, “the first thing is, don’t lose your obligations. Don’t lose your obligations because these 10 days celebrate the obligations, the pillars of Islam. So don’t lose your obligations.”

“And then the second thing is, increasing your good deeds because in these 10 days the good deeds that are done are unlike good deeds done at any other time.”

6:38 – 7:07 Du’a

So we ask Allah SWT to allow us to fulfill our obligations, avoid those forms of disobedience and to increase those good deeds in a way in these 10 days that we would not in any other time of the year without neglecting those good deeds and the other times of the year. Allahumma Ameen.  



Dr. Omar Suleiman

Dr. Omar Suleiman

President | Imam Dr. Omar Suleiman is the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, and an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at Southern Methodist University.