*Please note: the meaning of the word 'Arafah refers to the Day of 'Arafah, while the word 'Arafat refers to the Plains of 'Arafat outside Makkah.
What is the Day of 'Arafah?
The Day of ‘Arafah is the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah - this year, it is on 27th of June 2023.
The first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are the best days of the entire Islamic year. The Prophet (saw) said, 'There are no days greater and more beloved to Allah than these (first) ten days of Dhul-Hijjah'. [Ahmad]
You may know that Laylat al-Qadr is the pinnacle of the last ten nights of Ramadan, and is thus the best night of the year. Similarly, the Day of ‘Arafah is the pinnacle of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. It is thus the best day of the entire year.
What are some merits of the Day of 'Arafah?
- Allah (swt) swears by this day in the Qur'an.
'By the sky containing constellations. And (by) the promised day. And (by) a witness and one witnessed'. [Qur'an, 85:1-3]
Regarding these verses, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'The promised day is the Day of Resurrection, and the one witnessed is the Day of 'Arafah, and the witness is Friday. The sun does not rise or set upon a day that is more virtuous than it (i.e. the Day of 'Arafah)...' [Tirmidhi]
- It is a day of immense forgiveness.
The Prophet (saw) said, 'There is no day on which Allah (swt) frees people from the Fire more so than on the Day of ‘Arafah. Indeed, He draws near and then boasts of them to the angels then says, "What do these want?"' [Muslim]
Undoubtedly, it would be a wasted opportunity if we did not spend ‘Arafah in trying to be one of those people whom Allah draws near to and forgives.
- It is when the religion of Islam was perfected.
Laylat al-Qadr is the night when the Qur'an was first sent down. Meanwhile, the Day of 'Arafah is the day when Allah perfected our beautiful religion of Islam.
The final verses of the Qur'an were not yet revealed, but Allah sent down this ayah:
A Jewish man said to Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra), 'O Commander of the Faithful! There is an ayah in your Book which you recite - if it had come to us the Jews, we would have taken that day as an Eid (festival)'.
Umar (ra) said, 'Which ayah?'
He said, '"Today I have perfected for you your religion and completed upon you My blessing and I have chosen for you Islam as [your] religion"'.
Umar (ra) replied, 'We surely know that day and the place where it was revealed upon the Prophet (saw). He was standing at ‘Arafat on a Friday'. [Bukhari]
The fact that Allah chose the day of ‘Arafah to reveal this verse makes it an even more blessed day.
What do pilgrims do on Hajj on the Day of ‘Arafah?
On 9th Dhul-Hijjah, pilgrims travel to the plains of ‘Arafat, where they will combine their Dhuhr and Asr prayers and then spend the entire day making du'a. They will stand until sunset facing the Qiblah and seeking forgiveness for their sins.
This is the most important ritual of the Hajj, without which the Hajj would be incomplete. The Prophet (saw) said, 'Hajj is ‘Arafah'. [Nasa’i]
In pre-Islamic Arabia, pilgrims would travel to the plains of ‘Arafat to pray, just as we do today - with the exception of the Quraish.
Aishah (ra) said, 'The Quraish and those who followed their religion - and they were called Al-Hums - would stand at Al-Muzdalifah, and they would say, "We are the people of Allah". The others would stand at 'Arafat, so Allah (swt) revealed (in Qur'an, 2:199), "Then depart from where the people depart"'. [Tirmidhi]
The Quraish would refuse to leave Makkah, believing that they were Allah's people and the caretakers of Allah's House, and thus they would not go to ‘Arafat on the Hajj to stand amongst the other Arabs and seek forgiveness. However, the Prophet (saw), following Allah's commands, ordered everyone to travel to ‘Arafat and repent on 9th Dhul Hijjah, as no one was above this ritual. This is why the Prophet (saw) made it clear that Hajj is incomplete without standing in ‘Arafat.
SubhanAllah, on this blessed day, Shaitan will be enraged and defeated as he watches millions of pilgrims, whom he has tempted throughout their lives into sin, repent and be forgiven in an instant through Allah's infinite Love and Mercy. Whatever sins they have committed will be completely erased, so they will emerge from the Hajj as pure and innocent as new-born babies.
The pilgrims will depart from ‘Arafat at sunset and travel to Muzdalifah, where they will pray Maghrib and Isha and sleep beneath the night sky, without tents or any shelter, all of them absolutely equal to each other.
What are five recommended actions for the Day of ‘Arafah?
For those of us who are not able to perform Hajj this year, we still have plenty of opportunities to reap the rewards of this blessed day. You should spend as much of the day as possible in worship, with the most important time being between Dhuhr and Maghrib.
- Make du'a
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said of the Day of 'Arafah, 'In it, there is an hour in which no believing worshipper makes a supplication to Allah for good, except that Allah answers it for him, and he does not seek Allah's protection from evil, except that He protects him from it'. [Tirmidhi]
SubhanAllah, we should definitely not neglect making du'a on 'Arafah! While there are many beneficial du'as you can make on ‘Arafah, and you may even have a list of personal du'as, you should make sure you say this du'a on ‘Arafah:
It is highly recommended for those who are not pilgrims to fast on this day. The Prophet (saw) said, ‘It (fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah) expiates the sins of the past year and the coming year (i.e. those sins will be forgiven)’. [Muslim]
SubhanAllah, what an amazing opportunity: to be forgiven for sins we haven't even committed yet!
The pilgrims at Hajj do not generally fast as the most important worship on this day are their prayers, the remembrance of Allah (swt) and begging for His forgiveness.
'The people of knowledge consider it recommended to fast on the Day of ‘Arafah, except for those at 'Arafat'. [Tirmidhi]
- Seek forgiveness
As mentioned before, 'Arafah is a day of immense forgiveness when Allah sets many people free from the Fire. Even if you are not standing on the Plains of 'Arafat, you can still seek Allah's forgiveness from your own home, workplace or local masjid.
There is yet another powerful hadith about Allah's forgiveness on this day:
'Shaitan is not considered more abased or more cast out or more contemptible or angrier on any other day than on the Day of 'Arafah. That is only because he sees the descent of the mercy and Allah's disregard for great wrong actions.That is except from what he (Shaitan) was shown on the Day of Badr'. [Malik]
'Arafah is thus a day on which Shaitan witnesses Allah forgive even those servants who have committed great wrong actions. It is a day on which we should humble ourselves to seek Allah's forgiveness and never despair of His mercy.
- Make dhikr
For the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, the Prophet (saw) recommended reciting tahleel (La ilaha ill-Allah), takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and tahmeed (SubhanAllah and Alhamdulillah, for example).
You should also recite the Talbiyah throughout the day.
You can also say SubhanAllahi wa bi hamdihi, subhanAllahi-l 'adheem 100 times, as this particular dhikr washes away your sins.
- Give a Prophetic Qurbani
Finally, while ordering your Qurbani, you can earn even more reward by sacrificing an extra Qurbani like the Prophet (saw).
Abu Talhah (ra) reported, ‘The Prophet (saw) sacrificed for the one who could not sacrifice from his Ummah, one who bore witness to the Oneness of Allah and [his] Prophethood’. [Tabarani and Ahmad]
For those who are able to, giving an extra Qurbani like the Prophet (saw) is an excellent way to gain reward on the day of ‘Arafah. Not only will you be reviving a forgotten Sunnah, you will be also doubling your impact by feeding even more families a rare meal with meat during the days of Eid al-Adha. See all our Qurbani locations here.