The holy month of Dhul Hijjah — also written as Dhu al-Hijjah — is the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar, and is significant because it includes both the Hajj and Eid ul Adha, the holier of the two Eid festivals.
Eid ul Adha, also referred to as Eid al-Adha, is the ‘feast of sacrifice,’ and is marked by a day of celebrations with friends and family on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah.
However, before Eid celebrations can begin, there is a period of fasting, as well as a series of traditional acts of worship and sacrifice during the first 10 days of the holy month.
Read more: Eid ul Adha 2021 date announced in Saudi Arabia in Dhul Hijjah moonsighting update
But what makes the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah so important and when will fasting take place?
Why are the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah significant?
For Muslims, the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are especially significant, and are considered to be better and more virtuous than all other days in the year.
In an authentic narration, the Prophet Muhammad said: “The best days in this life are the [first] ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah”.
The Quran is also thought to refer to this 10-day period in the verse: “Remember Allah during the well-known days.”
During this time, worshippers are advised to carry out good deeds and acts of worship, including reading the Quran, remembering God, donating to charity and demonstrating their loyalty to their parents and family.
When do I fast during Dhul Hijjah?
It is widely believed that the Prophet Muhammad would spend the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah fasting, so Muslims are recommended to follow his example and perform this act of worship and devotion if they’re not partaking in the Hajj.
Muslims must not fast on the tenth day, however, as it is forbidden to fast on the day of Eid ul Adha.
Also known as the ‘feast of sacrifice,’ Eid ul Adha is an annual celebration to honour the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to obey Allah’s commands for him to sacrifice his son.
Eid ul Adha is t he second of the two Eids following Eid ul Fitr roughly two months previous, and coincides with the end of Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Like Eid ul Fitr, the date of Eid ul Adha changes each year, and is dependent on the Islamic lunar calendar and the sighting of the crescent moon, which varies between countries.
When did Dhul Hijjah start?
This year, the first of Dhul Hijjah fell on Sunday, July 11, or on Monday, July 12, depending on which moon-sighting news is followed by a particular country or community.
Some in the UK follow local moon sightings, others look to Morocco, South Africa or Saudi Arabia for announcements of dates.
Eid ul Adha falls on the third day of Hajj and the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah, meaning this year Muslims all over the world will start celebrating the feast of sacrifice either on July 20 or July 21.
Eid celebrations will last for three days, with this year’s festivities set to end on July 22 or 23.