وَالْفَجْرِ .وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍ
“By the ten nights.” [Al- Fajr, v:2]
The “ten nights” which Allaah subhaanahu wa ta3alaa is swearing here, are the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah.  Allaah [subhaanahu wa ta3alaa] swears an oath by them, and swearing an oath by something is indicative of its importance and great benefit.
Ibn 3Abbas radi Allaahu 3anhu narrated that Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allaah than these ten days”.
He was asked: “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah?” He said: “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.” 
So, my sisters [and brothers] take note of the following:
Have the intention to spread this important information.
It is a great chance to collect uncountable hasanaat [rewards].
It is a great chance to renew your relation with Allaah [subhaana wa ta3alaa].
Prepare now so you can start from the first night/day of the month [i.e. as soon as Dhul-Hijjah is announced]. You don’t want to miss a moment of the best days in the sight of Allaah [subhaanahu wa ta3alaa].
Since the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam referred to the 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah as: “…no days better than these days in the sight of Allaah.” , the scholars have said that these are better than Ramadan. 
Therefore, be very vigilant and don’t waste these precious moments. Ask Allaah to help you to benefit from this period of His special Grace.
Ask yourself these questions [non-rhetorical]:
Did you intend to benefit from these days?
What have you done to prepare for these 10 days?
Did you prepare a program?
What is your plan of action?
Here is a brief guide to help you to prepare for the best days of the year:
1. Read the Qur’aan:
Plan to complete the reading of the Qur’aan within this period.
If you read three juz (parts) a day, it can be accomplished. It is not difficult. Ask Allaah to make it easy for you. We know reciting one letter is equal to ten hasanaat [rewards]. If you read three juzz’ everyday, it translates to thousands of millions of hasanaat.
And this calculation is just based on the 1=10 ratio. These are special days of His Grace. Therefore, don’t even think about how much Allaah can/will increase & add it for you. You cannot fathom it. He is Al-Kareem. He knows that you have ikhlaas [sincerity]; He will not count it as 1=10. He could raise it to 1=700 or even more. And this is what you can earn every day of these special days.
Keep in mind that reciting the Qur’aan is a good deed and Allaah specially loves the good deeds done in these days: “And if He [subhaanahu wa ta3alaa] loves the good deeds, He will love the doer of those good deeds.”  If Allaah loves someone, He will not punish them.
Remember this concept so that the deeds you do come from your heart [don’t be like a machine].
Honor the rights of the Qur’aan when reciting it.
2. Increase in Nawaafil Prayers:
Increase your supererogatory prayers.
Ask yourself these questions and make sure that your heart gives you sincere answers:
Do you have an aim?
Do you really want to be closer to Allaah?
Do you live with this craving?
Do you really love Allaah and seek His closeness?
If, you want this, then know that Allaah teaches you the means to gaining His qurb [closeness].
Allaah says: (interpretation of meaning)
“Fall prostrate and draw near to Allaah!” [soorah Al-3Alaq, v:19]
This is the way! Prostrate in sujood to Him [subhaanahu wa ta’alaa] and you will be closer to Him.
The Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa Sallam said: “The closest that a person is to his Lord is when he is prostrating, so say a great deal of du’aa then.” 
He sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa Sallam is commanding us to make a lot of du’aa while in sujood. Are we obeying his order? Yes? We need to do more. For he sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa Sallam said to: “…make lots of du3aa.”
Remember, the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa Sallam loved us and he knew that we have a lot of needs from Allaah. This is why he taught us the way to get those needs fulfilled. Therefore, if you have needs, then you cannot leave sujood. Any sajdah without khushoo3 [focus] & without du3aa’ [like your forehead is touching the ground and your mind is in the kitchen or the office] is a big khasaara [regretful loss].
Let us not be losers from now on bi-idhnillaah.
When the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa Sallam instructed us to do a lot of sujood, it means to perform a lot of salaah [prayer]. “With each sajdah for Allaah, He will raise you a level with it. And cancel a sin with it.” So, the more you increase in your sujood, the closer you are to being a winner.
Examples for increasing nawaafil salaah [voluntary prayers]:
a] Salaat Duhaa: Also known as al-Awwaabeen, may be offered as 2, 4, 6 or 8 rak3aat, prayed after the sun has risen and before the time for Dhuhr approaches. 
“Al-Awwaab’ (الاوّاب) means one who is obedient, or one who turns to obedience. Bi-idhnillaah, we want to show Allaah that we are of those who are obedient.
b] 4 rak3aat before and 4 after Dhuhr: Prophet SallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa Sallam said: “Whoever regularly performs four rak3aat before Dhuhr and four after it, Allaah will forbid him to the Fire.” 
c] 4 rak’aat before 3Asr: The Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa Sallam said: “May Allaah have mercy on those who pray four rak’aat before ‘Asr prayer.” 
Bi-idhnillaah, you stand to gain the mercy of Allaah because of the du3aa’ of Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa Sallam.
Do you want the mercy of Allaah to reach you?
Don’t leave these 4 rak3aat.
d] Tahhiyyatul Masjid: Greet the masjid with two rak3aat: “If any one of you enters a masjid, he should pray two rak3aat before sitting.” 
e] Salaat at-Tawbah: It could be any bad deed, any sin, you hear something bad [backbiting], you see something bad, you feel your heart constricted because of something you have done and you didn’t mean it, etc, you can erase it immediately with your prayer of repentance. Make a good wudhoo’ and offer two sincere rak3aat of repentance. Ask Allaah to forgive you. If it’s from your heart, then know that Allaah will cancel your sin.
g] Qiyaam al-Layl: With this prayer, we hope that Allaah will illuminate our graves; will bestow Noor on our faces; will cancel our bad deeds, bi-idhnillaah.
Pray at least two rak3aat. If you are able to follow the Sunnah, then pray all 11 rak3aat [including witr].
Remember that in these special days and nights, Allaah is sending His special mercy.
Do you think that this special mercy will reach everybody?
Do you think that it will reach the one who is in front of the TV watching a movie?
Or listening to music?
Or do you think it will reach the one who is making sujood, rukoo3, tilaawah, making istighfaar, etc.?
We have to show Allaah that we want this special mercy. We need to make ourselves eligible for it.
Allaah subhaanahu wa ta3alaa swears by the night [Soorah Fajr]. Therefore, take care of the nights. Don’t be among the losers.
Write this in bold and make it your motivational factor for the special days: “We won’t be among the losers!”
Remember: “Our Lord, may He be blessed and exalted, comes down to the lowest heaven every night when the last third of the night is left, and He says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’.” 
And, now that it is winter, we get really long nights. So it’s a good chance to maximize our hasanaat. Don’t forget while you are praying qiyaam that Allaah subhaanahu wa ta3aalaa loves this deed. Therefore, He subhaanahu wa ta3alaa loves the doer of this deed also.
If we were lazy before, we will be active and good from now on bi-idhnillaah. We will not be among the losers. If these days and nights are a king who is distributing gifts of gold while announcing: “Come take these gold nuggets”, wAllaahi, you will find people standing in long queues and hordes to collect them.
Subhaan-Allaah!! Allaah is sending [special] mercy during these days. He subhaanahu wa ta3alaa is accepting supplications. He subhaanahu wa ta3aalaa is offering unimaginably wonderful blessings that we don’t even know of.
So will we not work to get in those lines to gather Allaah’s gifts?
…to be continued
Original source Shaykh Muhammad Hussain Yaqoob’s lecture.
 Ibn 3Abbas, Ibn az-Zubayr, Mujâhid and others of the earlier and later generations said that this refers to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. Ibn Katheer said: “This is the correct opinion.” [Tafseer ibn Katheer, 8/413]
 Al-Bukhaarî, 2/457
 Ahmad, 7/224 – Ahmad Shaakir stated that it is saheeh
 The verses [Al-Fajr 89:1-2] and various hadîth indicate that these 10 days are better than all the other days of the year, with no exceptions, not even the last ten days of Ramadaan. But the last ten nights of Ramadaan are better, because they include Layl al-Qadr [“the Night of Power”], which is better than a thousand months. Thus the various reports may be reconciled. [See: Tafseer ibn Katheeîr, 5/412]
 Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen
 Muslim, 482
 Muslim, 1238
 At-Tirmidhî, 428 – classed as sahîh by al-Albânî in Sahîh al-Nasaaî
 At-Tirmidhî, 395 – classed as hasan by al-Albânî in Saheeh al-Jâmi 3493
 Al-Bukhaarî & Muslim
 Al-Bukhaarî, 1094 and Muslim, 758