Arafah: A gateway to Jannah

Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam

Imagine accomplishing in a single day what one would spend their entire lives striving to achieve. Picture yourself deepening your connection with your Creator in just one day. The Day of Arafah offers this unique opportunity – a day when Allah frees more people from Hell than on any other (​​Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-hajj, Hadith 1348). It’s a time when He draws near, praises the devoted to the angels, and asks: “What do these people desire?” (​​Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-hajj, Hadith 1348)

What is Arafat?

Arafat is a plain or valley situated near Mecca where pilgrims gather during the latter part of the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah. The area spans about a mile and a half in circumference, with sloping sides that rise almost two hundred feet above the surrounding plain. Located nine miles from Mecca, this gathering, known as wuquf, is a key component of the Hajj pilgrimage. The name Arafat comes from the Arabic word ‘arafa, which means “he knew” or “recognised.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol.1, p. 321)

What is the significance of the Day of Arafah?

9th Dhul-Hijjah is known as the Day of Arafah. A day of great significance for Muslims, particularly for those performing Hajj. On this day, pilgrims gather in the plain of Arafat, near Mecca, to perform the key ritual of standing (wuquf) at Arafat, as the Holy Prophet is reported to have said: “This is the station of standing, and all of Arafat is a station of standing.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-manasik, Hadith 3010)

He also stated that it is considered the pinnacle and core of the Hajj:

الْحَجُّ عَرَفَاتٌ الْحَجُّ عَرَفَاتٌ الْحَجُّ عَرَفَاتٌ

“Hajj is Arafah, Hajj is Arafah, Hajj is Arafah.” (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab tafsiri l-qur’ani ‘an rasulillahsa, 2975)

Fasting on the Day of Arafah 

For Muslims who are not on Hajj, the Day of Arafah is also important. It is recommended to fast on this day, as the Holy Prophetsa stated that it expiates sins from the previous year and the coming year. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab as-siyam, Hadith 1162b) The day is marked by prayers, supplications, and seeking forgiveness from Allah. It falls in the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah which is known for the days in which worship is most beloved to Allah. (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab as-siyam, Hadith 1728)

Abu Qatadah narrated that Allah’s Messengersa said: “By fasting on the Day of Arafah, I hope for Allah’s forgiveness for the sins of the previous year and the coming year.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab as-siyam, Hadith 1730)

Once, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa said that fasting on Arafah (9th Dhul-Hijjah) expiates the sins of the previous and following years, and fasting on Ashura (10th Muharram) expiates the sins of the previous year. (Bulugh al-Maram, Kitab as-siyam, Hadith 31)

Seeking forgiveness on the Day of Arafah 

With all the blessings God gives us, another crucial blessing is the ability to seek forgiveness. It is out of the sheer mercy of Allah that the desire to seek forgiveness is instilled in our hearts, fueling our supplications. Therefore, know that when you seek forgiveness, it is Allah who has placed that desire in your heart.

Additionally, we are provided with specific days during which Allah has informed us He is most forgiving. As Muslims, we believe that Allah is always forgiving, as His mercy encompasses everything and is not limited to any specific place or time.

Hazrat Aishara Sadiqa reported that Allah’s Messengersa said: 

“There is no day on which Allah frees more people from Hell than the Day of Arafah. He draws close to them and then proudly speaks of them to the angels, saying: ‘What do these people desire?’” (​​Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-hajj, Hadith 1348)

So, on this day, let us make it a vital point to seek His forgiveness.

What is the best supplication (du‘a) on the Day of Arafah?

The Holy Prophetsa declared said:

“The best supplication is the supplication made on the Day of Arafah. The best of what I and the Prophets before me have said is: 

لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, alone, without partner. To Him belongs all that exists, and to Him belongs all praise, and He is powerful over all things.” (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab ad-da’wat ‘an rasulillahsa, Hadith 3585)

Arafah: The day the religion of Islam was complete

It is essential we also recognise the profound significance of the Day of Arafah, as it is not only a day of immense blessings but also the day when the religion was perfected.

The famous verse of the Holy Quran:

اَلۡيَوۡمَ اَکۡمَلۡتُ لَکُمۡ دِيۡنَکُمۡ وَاَتۡمَمۡتُ عَلَيۡکُمۡ نِعۡمَتِيۡ وَرَضِيۡتُ لَکُمُ الۡاِسۡلَامَ دِيۡنًا

“This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.” (Surah al-Ma’idah, Ch.5: V.4)

Thus, we find in a hadith narration that the Jews remarked to Hazrat Umarra: “You Muslims recite a verse, and had it been revealed to us, we would have designated the day of its revelation as a day of celebration.” Hazrat Umarra responded: “I am well aware of the precise time and location of its revelation, as well as where Allah’s Messengersa was at that moment. It was revealed on the Day of Arafah (the Hajj Day), and indeed, I was present at Arafah.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab at-tafsir, Hadith 4606)

Stand on this Day of Arafah

And so, as the pilgrims stand on this day at the site of Arafat, let us all stand, wherever we may be on this earth, in prayer and supplicate to the One who enabled us to see this blessed day. Make a list of all that you wish to seek from God and further make efforts to achieve those goals. One cannot pray to Allah to make them a true servant if they do not make the effort themselves. Thus, embody the religion and use this day and the rest of our lives to become an embodiment of all that you seek from Allah. For we know that the Imam Mahdi, Hazrat Ahmadas, stated: “Seeking forgiveness from God is the key to spiritual progress.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 3,  p. 99)

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