The Day of Arafa
The Day of Arafa is the 9th day of the Lunar Month: Thul-Hijja. The Day of Arafat falls on the 2nd day of pilgrimage rituals. At dawn of this day, nearly 2 million Muslim pilgrims will make their way from Mecca to a nearby hillside and plain called Mount Arafat and the Plain of Arafat. It was from this site that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, gave his famous Farewell Sermon in his final year of life.
During the entire day, from dawn until sunset, Muslim pilgrims stand in earnest supplication and devotion, praying for God's abundant forgiveness. Tears are shed readily as those who gather make repentance and seek God's mercy, recite words of prayer and remembrance, and gather together as equals before their Lord. Muslims around the world who are not participating in the pilgrimage often spend this day in fasting and devotion.
The reasoning behind the name Arafa (which translates to Knowing) comes from several views:
Some say that the name Arafa is given because people gather on the mountain and get to know each other (Taaruf). It is also said that people get to know their Lord through worship and obedience (Taaruf with Allah). It is also said that Allah sent the Angel Gabriel to Ibrahim and he performed Hajj with him until they arrived at Arafa and Gabriel said to him: Now do you know? Ibrahim said: Now I know. And as such it was called Arafa (i.e. known) It has also been said that Arafa is where Adam and Eve knew each other after landing on earth. The day of Arafa coincides with the day that Allah completed the religion of Islam for His believing servants and sealed His Mercy upon them.
The Prophet said: The best of supplication is that on the day of Arafa, and the best that I and the Prophets before me supplicated is:
لا إِلَهَ إلاَّ اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لا شَريكَ لَهُ، لَهُ المُلْكُ ولَهُ الحَمْدُ وهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَديرٌ.
“There is no God, but Allah, who has no companions, to Him belongs everything, to Him is all praise and He is capable of everything” Narrated by Termithi
A’isha narrated that the Prophet said: The number of people that Allah saves from the Hell fire on the day of Arafa is greater than any other day.
It is narrated in the hadith that the Prophet said: Pilgrimage is Arafa.
It is highly recommended (mustahabb) for non-pilgrims to fast during this day for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah, so he said, “It expiates the sins (Minor) of the past year and the coming year.”(Muslim)
At-Tirmidhi comments: "The scholars prefer that the day of Arafah be fasted unless one is actually at Arafah."
It was reported from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) that a Jewish man said to him, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, there is an aayah in your Book which you recite; if it had come to us Jews, we would have taken that day as an ‘Eid (festival).” ‘Umar said, “Which aayah?” He said:
“This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Al- Al-Maeda:3) .
Umar said, “We know on which day and in which place that was revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It was when he was standing in Arafah on a Friday.”
Also, Allah, the Almighty, swears by these days.
By the dawn
By the ten nights (i.e. the first ten days of the month of Dhul-Hijja)
And by the even and the odd (of all the creations of Allah). (Al-Fajr 1-3)
The standing at Arafat praying and seeking forgiveness is of paramount significance. The standing huge crowds remind us of the Day of Resurrection, of how we will all stand equal before Allah on the Day of Judgment.
The name Arafat was mentioned in Surat al-Baqara 2:198
“It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage). Then when ye pour down from (Mount) Arafaat, celebrate the praises of Allah at the Sacred Monument, and celebrate His praises as He has directed you, even though, before this, ye went astray”
There are different interpretations on why that day was called Arafah or Arafaat,:
1. Arafah was the place where Adam and Eve met once again when they were sent down to reside on earth. They came down on two different spots but eventually were able to meet and recognize each other on this plain. Arafah here means “to get acquainted”, so based on this opinion Adam and Eve got acquainted to each other on that very same land we call today Arafah.
2. When angel Jibreel came down to Prophet Ibrahim (alayhis salam), he taught him the rituals of Hajj and took him around the Holy Sites. For every ritual explained Jibreel would say to Ibrahim “A’raft?” or “Did you learn (this one)?” and Ibrahim would reply with “Araft” or “I did”. Thats why it was called Arafah i.e. he got to know or learn.
3. It is a place where people get to know “ عرف or arafa” each other. Since the hujjaj or pilgrims spend most of that day on the same place and perhaps spot, many will get to know new people and learn more about them. So it is a place of تعارف or getting to know one another, and because of the great number of people who get to know each other the word عرفات or Arafaatcame about.
4. The word عَرْف or A’rf means fragrance, and because the plains of Arafah are sites on which Allah’s mercy (rahmah) and forgiveness descend, the people would describe the day, the place and its dwellers of being perfumed with this spiritual and mystical fragrance “Arafah”. Moreover because of the rahmah or mercy descending upon the gathering, the small mountain on the plain on which many hujjaj desire to stand was called the mountain of Rahmah “Mercy”.
Despite the difference of opinion on why the day was called so, no scholar would argue the importance and significance of Arafah for the hajj and hujjaj.
Abu Ad-Darda reported that the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said,
“On no other day does the Satan feel so belittled, humiliated, and angry as he does on the Day of Arafah.”
The reason for this is the mercy of Allah that descends this day and the forgiveness that He grants to people for major sins, except the day of the battle of Badr, which witnessed a far greater mercy of Allah descending upon people, which caused great sadness to Satan.
Narrated Abu-d-Darda’, Imam Malik and Al-Hakim.: The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Satan is never seen pettier, more defeated, or more furious on any day than that of Arafa. This is because he sees the sending down of (Allah’s) Mercy and His Forgiveness of great sins, except for that which he was made to see on the day of Badr.”
They asked: “What did he see on the day of Badr?”
He (PBUH) said: “He saw Gabriel leading the Angels (in support of believers in the fight against the infidels).”
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“There is no day on which Allaah ransoms more of His slaves from the Fire than the day of ‘Arafah. He draws close then He boasts about them before the angels and says, ‘What do these people want?’”