Arafah is the ninth day of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah, the 12th and final month in the Islamic calendar. The Day usually occurs on the second day of the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah. Muslims are obligated to perform hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime, if and only if they could afford it.
The Day of Arafat is also the day when Islam as a religion was completed by Allah (SWT), from when the first revelation was sent down on the night of Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Power/Majesty) within the last ten days of Ramadan (9th month of Islamic calendar), till it was made complete, on this day, the “Day of Arafat.”
It was on the Day of Arafat Allah(swt) revealed the verse of the Quran informing Holy Prophet Muhammed(saw) about the completeness of Islam as a relgion, Allah(SWT) says:
“Today I have perfected for you your religion, and completed upon you My blessing, and I have chosen for you Islam as (your) religion.” (Qu’ran, 5:3)
And while we regard those ten days of Ramadan as great, there are none greater than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. The Prophet (saw) said:
“There are no days greater and more beloved to Allah than these ten days of Dhul Hijjah. So increase in them your declaration of the oneness of Allah (taheel), your exaltation of Him (takbeer), and your praise of Him (tahmeed).
And no day greater than The Day of Arafah, which falls within Dhul Hijjah!
“The sun does not rise or set upon a day that is more virtuous than the Day of Arafat.” [Tirmidhi]
What and where is Arafat?
Mount Arafat is a granite hill about 20km southeast of Makkah in the plain of Arafah. It is often called the “Mountain of Mercy,” because it is the hill upon which Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham-as) was prepared to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael-as) before Allah mercifully substituted a ram for sacrifice in place of the boy.
It is also the place where on this day, Hajj pilgrims pause before moving on to Makkah. They stand before God (wuquf), in contemplative vigil, offering supplications, repenting and atoning for their sins, and listening to the sermons of Islamic scholars. This vigil on Arafah is essential. Otherwise, their Hajj is considered invalid.
Without observing it in its proper place and time, there is no Hajj. This means that all other aspects and rites of Hajj have some lawful way to make up for missing or modifying them, or factors that may excuse one from them.
On the Day of ‘Arafah, from somewhat before noon until sunset, Pilgrims, observing the rules and symbolic dress of ritual pilgrim sanctity (iḥrâm), gather to the Plain of ‘Arafât and take their stand (wuqûf) of faith before God, entreating His mercy and forgiveness. From this rite, ‘Arafah takes its other popular name, Yawm Al-Waqf (the Day of Standing).
Its scene — a sea of indistinguishable humanity across a stark plain, pleading with outstretched hands for their Lord’s acceptance of their repentance, His pardon, forgiveness and mercy, and His admission of them into His Paradise — presages humanity’s standing before God on the Day of Judgment.
While resting and even sleep from fatigue are not prescribed for Pilgrims on this day, the Prophet, on him be peace, is known to have condensed and combined, the noon and midday Salah-Prayers of Dhuhr and ‘Aṣr, respectively, at the earliest time on this day. Then he beseeched God in supplicatory prayer (du’a) — with outstretched arms, upraised palms and intensity virtually continuously — from just after noon until sunset.
What should Muslims not in Hajj observe on the Day of ‘Arafah?
While Pilgrims do not fast on the Day of ‘Arafah, Muslims who are not in Hajj are strongly urged (in Islamic Law, fiqh, it is codified as mustaḥabb, highly desirable) to fast this day. The Prophet, God’s blessings and peace upon him, said of this act of worship, that is, fasting the Day of ‘Arafah for those not present at Hajj:
“It atones for the sins of the preceding and coming year” (Muslim).
Scholars say the sins meant here may not include the enormities, or kabâ’ir, the cardinal sins. Yet God knows best.
The Day of ‘Arafah — for the Pilgrims and all the believers — is the best day for worship and supplication in the entire year because the Prophet, God’s blessings and peace upon him, said of it:
“On no day does Allah emancipate people from the Fire [of Hell in the Hereafter] as He does on ‘Arafah. Near does He draw to them [the Pilgrims upon ‘Arafah]. Then does He exalt [them] before His angels, saying: ‘And what do they seek?’” (Tirmidhî)
There are five recommendations for the Day of Arafat:
1. Arafah Prayer
We should make dua(prayers) – spend as much of the day as possible in worship, with the most important times being between Dhuhr and Maghrib.
2. Arafah Fast
Fasting on the Arafat Day is recommended by sunnah, and earns great reward – the forgiveness of our sins, not only in the year just gone, but in the year to come.
“It expiates the sins of the past year and the coming year,” said the Prophet (saw)
Unlike at Ramadan, fasting at this time is optional for Muslims, but is expected for all those not performing hajj in Arafah. For we believe our fasting will reap us great benefits, and ensure our sins will be forgiven.
3. Seek Forgiveness
Asking Allah (SWT) for the forgiveness of our sins.
“There is no day wherein Allah (SWT) sets free more slaves from Hellfire than the Day of Arafat.” The Prophet (saw)
4. Make the repeated utterings of Dhikr