Why is the Day of Arafah the most important day of the year?
The Day of Arafah is the most important day of the year.
1. The completion of the revelation
It has many virtues and one of these is that it was the day on which the revelation was completed. the first thing is that this is the day on which the revelation was completed. Laylatul Qadr – the most blessed night of the year was when the first revelation descended and the day of Arafah was when the revelation was completed. Hence we have the most blessed day and the most blessed night of the year.
The very last ayah which was revealed is:
This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. (5:3)
Imam Ibn Kathir in his tafsir says:
A Jewish man said to `Umar bin Al-Khattab, `O Leader of the Believers! There is a verse in your Book, which is read by all of you (Muslims), and had it been revealed to us, we would have taken that day (on which it was revealed) as a day of celebration.’ `Umar bin Al-Khattab asked, `Which is that verse?’ The Jew replied:
‘This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.’
Umar replied, ‘By Allah! I know when and where this verse was revealed to Allah’s Messenger. It was the evening on the Day of Arafah on a Friday.’
We see from this narration, that the Prophet (peace be on him) was in Arafah when this very last ayah was revealed. What a great honour it is for us to recall this memory and acknowledge the favour of Allah, who completed His revelation to us on this day, and chose to send us Muhammad, His beloved prophet (peace be on him) as a mercy to us.
Scholars, because of this ayah, also call the Day of Arafah, Yaumat Tamam – the Day of Completion.
2. Blessed day
One of the is that Allah Almighty forgives us beyond our expectations and imagination and frees a huge number of people from hell fire. Inshallah we will all be included in His forgiveness and mercy.
Aisha reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:
There is no day upon which Allah frees more of his servants from the Hellfire than the day of Arafat. He draws near and then he boasts of them to the angels, saying, ‘What do these servants want?’ (Sahih Muslim)
Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah. He replied:
Fasting on the day of Arafah is an expiation for the preceding year and the following year. (Sahih Muslim)
3. One of the days of Dhul Hijjah and Hajj
Another significance of this day is the fact it lies in the ten blessed days of Dhul Hijjah, which is one of the four sacred months (al ashhur al hurum).
It is also during the days of Hajj, referred to in the Quran as the ‘specified months’, (ayyamin ma’lumat), which are Shawwal, Dhul Qa’dah and the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Therefore it is belongs to both a sacred month and the days of Hajj.
4. Allah’s special mercy descends
Ibn Hajar al Asqalani, the scholar, noted that a special feature of this day, is that Allah Almighty descends to the heavens. Usually when we read such statements, we do not attribute any similarity of Allah’s creation to Allah, so we understand that though He descends this bears no resemblance to movement as we understand it. Rather it is His extra mercy and forgiveness which descend.
This is something we usually associate with Allah’s descent from the heavens to sky during the last third of every night, which we know from the famous hadith reported by Abu Hurairah:
The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said, ‘Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven in the last third of every night, and he says: Who is calling upon me that I may answer him? Who is asking from me that I may give him? Who is seeking my forgiveness that I may forgive him?’ (Bukhari and Muslim)
There is no other hadith which mentions this descent of extra mercy during the day.
All other narrations relate to the night.
At this time, Allah is so pleased that He boasts to His angels that His servants have arrived from all over the world, dusty and tired to seek His forgiveness, mercy and blessings.
5. The 5 pillars in one day
Ibn Hajar also commented that this day, it is possible to perform all major acts of worship (ibadah) in one go – salah, fasting (siyam), charity (sadaqa) and Hajj which is not possible on any other day but this day. No other day can contain all of these at the same time.
6. Increase connection with Allah
This day is very special and Allah Almighty gives extra mercy, forgiveness and reward for those who are seeking it. It is an opportunity to ask Allah for everything you are hoping for. To increase your supplications and beg for whatever you want. Allah Almighty facilitates our connection with Him.
- Great Hajj is on Friday
As the last ayah ‘This day have I perfected for you your religion’ was revealed on a Friday, people often think that if the Day of Arafah falls on a Friday, it will be ‘Great Hajj’ but this is a misconception. Every Hajj is ‘great’, regardless which day it falls, as compared to Umrah which is considered a minor Hajj (Hajj al Asghar).
- Arafat was where Adam and Hawwa re-met
There is no authenticity that Adam was reunited with Hawwa on the mountain of Arafat. (The place is known is Arafat and the day is known as the Day of Arafah.)
- The name of Arafat derives from Jibil teaching Ibrahim how to perform Hajj.
Another story which has no basis is that the mountain is called Arafat because when Jibril taught Ibrahim (peace be on him) to perform Hajj, he said ‘Arafta? Arafta? Arafta?’ (Do you understand? Do you understand? Do you understand?’ And he replied ‘Arafat’ (I understand).
7. The significance of the barren landscape and lack of rituals
Most rituals of Hajj are connected to activity – for instance doing tawaf around Ka’bah, moving between Safa and Marwah during sa’ee. However, when you come to Arafat you are not required to perform any ritual as such. No tawaf. No sa’ee. No stoning. There is nothing there. It is bare. Just soil and sky and some small mountains, barely any trees. Just your tent and nothing else. And here you spend the whole day, soon after sun rises til sunset. What are we supposed to do? It is purely a time of reflection, prayer and supplication.
I reflected on this many times during various Hajj trips. It seems to me that Allah wants us to think about nothing but Him. Not even the Ka’bah. There are no distractions and barriers between us and Him. This is deep and difficult. But we can train ourself – our mind and heart to focus on supplication.
Train your mind
Always ask Allah to make you closer to Him. Train your mind and heart to focus on supplication, and on Him. Ask Allah Almighty to make you closer to Him and make you among those who can recognise His majesty and beauty, whether you are near the Ka’bah, or at Arafah or at home. It is something to reflect on.
How can we prioritise Allah Almighty in our thoughts and put Him first in our lives? We do not know how to prioritise Allah Almighty above all else.
We are not able to do this. Worldly distractions usually get in the way. For instance, I remember a particular Hajj trip, when I suddenly heard shouting coming from a neighbouring tent. A fight had broken out among some hajjis and the organisers of their trip because they had paid for 5 star trip and food but they had not received it on Arafah Day. I was appalled. Even if they were 100% right, and the organisers were 100% wrong, this was not the day you argue. This is ghaflah. They were thinking about the food and the money they paid. If you have 10 star food but Allah does not accept your Hajj what will you do? Though there are many rituals in Hajj, the most significant part of it, the core of it, is Arafah.
8. Opening treasures
When you talk about Arafah, it is the treasures of Allah being opened and offered to help ourselves. His treasure are there for us to take whatever we want. Imagine if a rich person said I will open my safe filled with gold and silver for ten minutes, ‘Help yourself. You can have anything you want’. Similarly Allah Almighty has given us ten days and offered us whatever we want. How generous He is!
9. The day with two nights
There is another unique feature which is that Arafah Day is day with two nights. As per the Islamic concept of time, the next day begins at maghrib. So Sunday evening we say is the eve of Monday. Tuesday evening is the eve of Wednesday. Except on the Day of Arafah. It is preceded by evening before it, but when it is maghrib of the Day of Arafah it does not become the eve of Eid al Adha, but it is the second evening of Arafah, as extended it beyond 24 hours. He gave us 12 hours extra. How so? Because Allah said that Whoever catches Arafah before Fajr, his Hajj is accepted. If any hajji failed to reach Arafat before maghrib, but arrived before Fajr his Hajj would still be valid. This is like a riddle. Which day has two nights? Arafah Day. And which day has no night? Eid al Adha, because it begins at Fajr and ends at maghrib.
This fills our heart with pleasure that Allah Almighty extend our time to ask for more favours and blessings and mercy. Who else can give this except Allah? He bestows these favours.
Make the most of the Day of Arafah
It is a special occasion when Allah Almighty offers His visitors gifts. These are large or small depending on your sincerity. It is up to you. Ask Him with sincerity.
When you supplicate, supplicate Allah with certainty in your heart that He will respond to you.
Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
Call upon Allah with certainty that he will answer you. Know that Allah will not answer the supplication of a heart that is negligent and distracted. (Tirmidhi)
If you doubt His ability to answer your dua, He will not respond to you.
Say ‘Ya Allah accept me. Have mercy on me.’ Allah is the Lord of mercy.
Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim on the Day of Arafah 2020.
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