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Yawm ul ‘Arafah – the witnessed day

By the sky containing great stars. And the promised Day, And [by] the witness and what is witnessed…condemned are the makers of the ditch! [Surah al Burooj 1-4]

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The promised day is the Day of Resurrection, the witnessed day is the day of Arafah, and the witnessing day is Friday (85:2-3). The sun does not rise or set over a day better than it. In it is a moment in which a believing servant does not supplicate to Allah for good but that Allah will answer him, and he does not seek refuge from any evil thing but that Allah will grant him refuge.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3339]

‘Arafah is the core of Hajj

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The Hajj is Arafat. Whoever reaches the night of Arafat before the rising of the sun at dawn the next day, he has completed his pilgrimage.” [Sunan al-Nasā’ī 3016]

 The word ‘Arafah in Arabic is derived from the word ‘to know’, or to be introduced. According to some narrations, it is the place where Adam (AS) and Hawa’ (AS) were reunited after being sent down from Jannah, and after they had repented to Allah.  

The words of the talbiyah – Labbaik Allahumma labbaik remind us of our ultimate purpose in life – to wake up to and submit to Allah(SWT), the One who sustains and nourishes each and every one of us. 

Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No days are better to Allah than the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.” A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, are they better or time spent waging jihad in the way of Allah?” The Prophet said, “They are better than time spent waging jihad in the way of Allah. No day is better to Allah than the day of Arafat. Allah descends to the lowest heaven and He boasts to the inhabitants of the heavens about the inhabitants of the earth, saying: Look at My servants, appearing disheveled and dusty. They came from every mountain pass hoping for My mercy. They do not see My punishment, yet they do not see that on no day are more saved from Hellfire than the day of Arafah.” [Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 3853]

When Allah(SWT) created Adam(AS), the angels said “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.” [Surah al Baqarah 2:30] This day is the annual response to that question – look at how the slaves of Allah(SWT) return to their Master.

Imam Maalik records in al-Muwatta’ (944) that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: Iblees is never seen on any day smaller, more humiliated, more defeated and more angry than on the day of ‘Arafah, because of what he sees of the descent of mercy and forgiveness for sins, except what he saw on the day of Badr.” They said: O Messenger of Allah, what did he see on the day of Badr? He said: “He saw Jibreel organising the angels.”

Hafidh Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) says in Fath al-Bari: “The most apparent reason for the ten days of Dhul Hijjah being distinguished in excellence is due to the assembly of the greatest acts of worship in this period, i.e. salawat (prayers), siyam (fasting), sadaqah (charity) and the Hajj (pilgrimage). In no other periods do these great deeds combine.”

The start and the end

Just as Ramadan and its last 10 nights was honoured with the first revelation of Qur’an, so Dhul Hijjah and its first 10 days were honoured with the final revelation of Qur’an.

Umar ibn al-Khattab reported: A man from the Jews said, “O leader of the believers, there is a verse you recite in your book and, had it been revealed to us as Jews, we would have taken that day as a celebration.” Umar said, “Which verse is it?” The man recited the verse, “Today I have completed your religion for you, perfected My favor upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion.” (5:3)

Umar said, “I know the day and place in which this verse was revealed to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. It was while he was standing on the day of Arafat on Friday.” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 45, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 3017]

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said during his farewell sermon, 

Which month do you know has the greatest sanctity?” They said, “No doubt, this month of ours, Dhul Hijjah.” 

The Prophet said, “Which city do you know has the greatest sanctity?” They said, “No doubt, this city of ours, Mecca.” 

The Prophet said, “Which day do you know has the greatest sanctity?” They said, “No doubt, this day of ours, Arafat.” 

The Prophet said, “Verily, Allah Almighty has sanctified your lives, your wealth, and your honor, except by right of justice, like the sanctity of this day of yours, in this city of yours, in this month of yours. Have I not delivered the message?” 

The Prophet said all of that three times and they said, “No doubt, yes.” The Prophet said, “Be warned! Do not turn back to unbelief after me by striking the necks of each other.” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6403, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 66]

The Prophet’s farewell message also acts as a reminder that none of us knows how long we still have on this earth. Just as all the hujjaj have to arrive at ‘Arafah before it is too late, we too have to make the most of this day before the sun sets – and make the most of our lives before it too slips away.

Factory reset

‘Arafah symbolises the fact Muslims seek to renew their relationship with God on this day. A brother reminded me yesterday that this opportunity is the chance for a ‘factory reset’ with Allah(SWT) – a recognition that we need to return to base and be refined and reformed.

The gathering of the people on Hajj at ‘Arafaah reminds the Muslim of the gathering of all of mankind for the Reckoning and requital (reward or punishment). When the pilgrims stand before Allah on yawmul Arafah, they inevitably remember that the next time they stand with humanity like this will be on Yawmul Qiyamah, when there will no longer be an opportunity for tawbah (repentance).

How to make the most of it

The Prophet (SAW) taught us:

  1. “The best of du’aa’ is du’aa’ on the day of ‘Arafah, and the best that I and the Prophets before me said is ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer (There is no god but Allah alone, with no partner or associate; His is the dominion, to Him be praise, and He has power over all things).” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3585]

    There is no day in which Allah saves more people from the fire than the Day of `Arafah.” (Muslim, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

It was narrated on the authority of Saalim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him that he saw someone begging on the Day of ‘Arafah, so he said to him, “What a strange thing! On this day you are asking someone other than Allah?”

  1. For those not on Hajj its highly recommended to fast: Abu Qatadah reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was asked about fasting the day of Arafat and he said, “It will expiate the sins of the previous and upcoming years.” Then, the Prophet was asked about fasting the day of Ashura and he said, “It will expiate the sins of the past year.” [Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1162]

    Three supplications will not be rejected, the supplication of the parent for his child, the supplication of the one who is fasting, and the supplication of the traveller. [Tirmidhi] 
  2. Aisha(Ra) related to us that the Prophet(SAW) said “There is nothing dearer to Allah during the days of Qurbani than the sacrificing of animals. The sacrificed animal shall come on the Day of Qiyamah with its horns, hair, and hooves (to be weighed on a persons good deeds). The sacrifice is accepted by Allah before the blood reaches the ground. Therefore sacrifice with an open and happy heart.” [Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 1493]

    The word ‘Qurbani’ in Arabic, is derived from the Arabic word ‘qurb’ – meaning ‘nearness’. The purpose of offering Qurbani is to draw near to Allah. 

    The Prophet (SAW) also used to look for rams similar to the one Habil (rh) and Ibrahim (as) sacrificed – white-horned rams – to offer as Qurbani on Eid al-Adha (Ahmad) and he (saw) also reflected on his present Ummah when he was performing Qurbani.

In addition to his obligatory sacrifice, the Prophet (saw) also sacrificed an animal on behalf of someone from the Ummah who couldn’t afford to sacrifice an animal. (Tabarani and Ahmad) The Sahabah used to follow this Sunnah, as Anas bin Malik said, ‘The Prophet (saw) used to sacrifice two rams, and I also sacrifice two rams’ (Bukhari).

  1. Have hope in Allah(SWT): Ibn Al-Mubaarak said: “I came to Sufyaan At-Thawree (rahimahullaah) on the evening of the day of ‘Arafah and he was kneeling upon his knees and his eyes were shedding tears. So I said to him: ‘who is in the worst condition from this gathering?’ so he said: ‘the one who thinks that Allaah will not forgive them.’”[ Lataa-if al-Ma’aarif p.384]

    Abdullah ibn Al-Mubarak narrates: I went to Sufyan ibn al-Uyaynah as the day of Arafat was setting. He sat on his knees, his hands raised to the Heavens, and tears moistened his cheeks and beard. He turned and looked at me, so I asked him, “Amongst the people who have gathered here for Hajj, who is in the worst state?” Sufyan ibn al-Uyaynah said, “He who thinks that Allah will not forgive him.” 
  2. Repent: How long will you search for happiness and joy without Allah(SWT)? It’s like trying to make a cake without flour or sugar.

    Do not leave your repentance till Ramadan. Do not wait until you go for Hajj. Do not even wait till tomorrow. Do it now and prepare for this journey. Come back to Allah before it is too late. Now.

Ali (RA) once stood at the head of a grave and said to his companion, “If he had a chance to return to this life, what do you think he would do?” His companion replied, “He would do nothing but good deeds.” Ali – Radi Allahu ‘anhu – then said, “If it is not going to be him, then let it be you.”

  1. The Prophet said, “Be warned! Do not turn back to unbelief after me by striking the necks of each other.” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6403, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 66] Don’t let these days and the days of Eid and sacrifice, be days of conflict and backbiting. This message in itself should be the only reminder we need 

It was narrated by Aisha (ra) that the Prophet ﷺ stated that “There is no day in which Allah sets free more souls from the fire of Hell than on the day of Arafat.”

‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Azeez  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him delivered a Khutbah (sermon) at ‘Arafah and said, “O people, you have come from near and far distances, exhausted your camels, and worn out your clothes. The winner today is not the one whose camel is ahead, but rather it is the one whose sins are forgiven. Praise be to Allah – the Lord of the worlds.”

In the Islamic history books it was narrated that on the day of Arafah, a man from Turkmenistan stood on the plains of Arafat in Hajj. To his left all he could see was Muslims crying and praying to Allah. To his right all he could see was Muslims crying and praying to Allah. Because of his native tongue, he could not imitate the lengthy prayers of the others. At this realization everything blurred in front of him. His face reddened, his eyes poured tears as he raised his hands, “O Allah! Grant me everything that they are asking for! Grant me everything that they are asking for!” And Allah accepted his Du’a.

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