The Day of Arafah (or Arafat) is the ninth day of the Islamic lunar month — July 29 this year. It’s on the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar, Dhul- Hijjah and is also on the second day of Hajj. Muslims view this as the best day of the year. The day is the culminating event for Muslims on pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia who gather at the mountain plain of Arafah to pray, and supplicate for forgiveness. Pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of Islam, so the Day of Arafah holds much weight for Muslims. The Day of Arafah is known as the day where if sought after, millions of Muslims’ sins are forgiven by Allah. Arafah is known as the day Allah perfected the religion of Islam. It is also momentous because it was the day an important verse of the Qur’an, Surah al Maa’idah 5:3, was revealed. In the UAE, the Day of Arafah is celebrated as a public holiday.
History of Day of Arafah
The Day of Arafah is known as a very sacred and virtuous day for Muslims. It is the day the Prophet Muhammad gave his farewell sermon upon Mount Arafah to the many Muslims with whom he completed Hajj, near the end of his life. While the Prophet Muhammad stood on the plain of Arafah, verse 5:3 of the Qur’an was revealed to him.
Another name for the Day of Arafah is ‘Freedom from Fire.’ The meaning of Arafah is ‘to know.’ In Islam, it is believed that when removed from heaven and separated, Adam and Eve (known as Hawa) were placed on Earth and both met up on the plains of Arafah. It is said that the Prophet Muhammad reinforced the importance of standing on Arafah as an essential part of performing Hajj.
Though fasting for those not on pilgrimage is desirable, most Muslims fast on this day as it is a day known to discard sins. The day commemorates finality of the religion of Islam, and of Divine revelation.
Islam teaches Muslims to view the Day of Arafah as a day of gratitude, hence the celebration of Eid the day after. It’s also a day of immense forgiveness with opportunity for great reward. Pilgrims doing Hajj, are not required to fast on this day. This follows the Sunnah of the Prophet, as he himself did not fast during this day because he was performing pilgrimage.
Today, it is possible to find up to 1.5 million Muslims headed toward the desert plains of Mecca to pray and supplicate to God. They can spend hours on the mountain, repenting and praying just as the Prophet Muhammad did. The entire day is usually spent in supplication, devotion and worship, prayer.