*You will note the different spellings of ‘Arafah/t in this article. This is intentional as ‘‘Arafah’ is the singular, referring to the Day of Arafah and ‘‘Arafat’ is the plural, referring to the Plains of ‘Arafat.
What is the day of 'Arafah?
The day of ‘Arafah is the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah and it is the best day of the year.
The Prophet (saw) said, 'There are no days greater and more beloved to Allah than these ten days of Dhul Hijjah' (Ahmad) - just as we increase our prayers, du'as and righteous deeds on the last ten nights of Ramadan, we should also maximise our efforts to please Allah on the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
Also, just as Laylatul Qadr is the pinnacle of the last ten nights of Ramadan, the day of ‘Arafah is the pinnacle of the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, upon which millions of Muslims gather to seek repentance.
Why is the day of 'Arafah important?
Firstly, it is a day where millions of sins are forgiven by Allah. 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’. (Muslim)
Undoubtedly, it would be a wasted opportunity if we did not spend ‘Arafah in trying to be one of those people whom Allah will forgive.
Secondly, while Laylatul Qadr is the night on which the Qur'an was first revealed, the day of ‘Arafah is when the religion of Islam was perfected. The final verses of the Qur'an were not yet revealed, but Allah sent down this ayah on the day of ‘Arafah:
‘It was reported from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) that a Jewish man said to him, “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 a blessed day, and we should maximise our efforts to draw closer to Him on ‘Arafah.
What do pilgrims (those performing Hajj) do 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, as 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, Shaytaan 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 newborn 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 some recommended actions and du'as 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:
1. Make Du'a
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 not neglect to make this du'a on ‘Arafah:
It is highly recommended for those who are not pilgrims to fast on this day as 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)
3. Make Dhikr
Saying Allahu akbar, SubhanAllah and Alhamdulillah frequently on 'Arafah would allow you to benefit from its blessings. You should also recite the Talbiyah throughout the day, and say SubhanAllahi wa bi hamdihi, subhanAllahi-l 'adheem 100 times.
4. Give a Prophetic Qurbani
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, following the example of the Prophet (saw) and giving this extra Qurbani 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-ul-Adha.
We hope this article was of benefit to you. Check out our blog to learn more about how you can make the most of Dhul Hijjah, or visit our new YouTube series The Prophetic Steps for EXCLUSIVE footage of the Hajj, including visiting the Prophet Muhammad's (saw) grave and the Mount of Mercy.