While Eid-ul-Adha or Bakra Eid on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Zul Hijjah is the second most important festival celebrated by Muslims across the world, the Day of Arafah i.e. the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah is considered as the most important day as it is the day of repentance and is the climax of Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj. Here’s all you need to know about the date, history and significance or the importance of the Day of Arafah, ahead of Eid-ul-Adha or Bakra Eid amid Hajj or the Muslims’ pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Arafah Day falls on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah and commemorates the finality of the religion of Islam and of Divine revelation but due to difference in crescent moon sighting in different regions, countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE, other Gulf countries, USA and UK are marking the Day of Arafah on June 27 this year while Muslims in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will observe it on June 28.
The Day of Arafah has historical and religious significance within Islam as it commemorates several important events and milestones. Here are some key historical aspects associated with the Day of Arafah –
- Repentance of Adam and Eve: According to Islamic tradition, it is believed that Adam and Eve, the first human beings, sought forgiveness from Allah for their disobedience and were reunited on the Day of Arafah. This event highlights the significance of repentance and seeking forgiveness on this day.
- Prophet Ibrahim AS (Abraham) and the Origins of Hajj: The Day of Arafah is connected to the story of Prophet Ibrahim AS (Abraham AS) and his family. It is believed that Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael) were instructed by Allah to build the Kaaba, the sacred house of worship in Mecca. The Day of Arafah symbolises the culmination of their journey and their steadfastness in fulfilling the divine command.
- Revelation of the Verse of Completion: On the Day of Arafah, in the year 10 AH (632 CE), the revelation of the final verse of the Quran took place. This verse, known as Ayat al-Deen or the Verse of Completion, was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the plain of Arafat. It signifies the completion of the message of Islam and the perfection of faith.
- Farewell Sermon: The Day of Arafah marks the occasion when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered his final sermon during his farewell Hajj pilgrimage in the year 632 CE. The sermon took place at the Mount of Mercy (Jabal al-Rahmah) in Arafat, where the Prophet addressed a vast gathering of Muslims. The sermon covered various aspects of faith, social responsibility, and guidance for the Muslim community.
Overall, the Day of Arafah encompasses historical events related to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his final sermon, the completion of the Quran, the origin of the Hajj pilgrimage through Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), and the concept of repentance as exemplified by Adam and Eve. These historical elements contribute to the spiritual and historical significance of the Day of Arafah within the Islamic faith.
The Day of Arafah is significant for its emphasis on forgiveness, mercy, repentance, spiritual cleansing, unity and the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is a day of immense importance and a time for Muslims to seek closeness to Allah, seek forgiveness and reflect on their faith and actions.
It is believed that on the Day of Arafah, Allah forgives the sins of those who sincerely repent and seek forgiveness hence, Muslims around the world strive to maximise their supplications and seek mercy on this day. The Day of Arafah is seen as a golden opportunity for Muslims to purify their hearts, seek spiritual cleansing and gain closeness to Allah.
The Day of Arafah is the central day of the Hajj pilgrimage, which is one of the five pillars of Islam and the day is considered the pinnacle of the Hajj journey. Pilgrims gather in the plain of Arafat and engage in acts of worship, such as prayer, recitation of the Quran, supplication and reflection. Standing on the Mount of Mercy is particularly significant, as it is believed to be the place where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered his final sermon. The Day of Arafah is an integral part of fulfilling the obligations of the Hajj pilgrimage.
The Day of Arafah is seen as an opportunity for spiritual cleansing and renewal and Muslims are encouraged to engage in self-reflection, introspection and repentance. It is a day to seek forgiveness, rectify one’s behaviour and make positive changes in one’s life. The day is marked by devotion, humility and a sincere commitment to personal and spiritual growth.
Arafat symbolises the unity and equality of all Muslims before Allah as pilgrims from diverse backgrounds, nationalities and social statuses come together in Arafat, dressed in the same simple attire of ihram. This gathering emphasises the oneness of the Muslim Ummah (community) and the universal brotherhood/sisterhood in Islam. The Day of Arafah serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of unity, empathy, and compassion.
It is basically the climax of Hajj when Muslim pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat and offer a day-long prayer with recitations of the Quran. Since Mount Arafat is approximately 15 kms away from Mecca, the Muslim pilgrims spend a day there to perform the rituals and live in tents from dawn to dusk.
It was on Mount Arafat that Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon of Islam hence, pilgrims stand here united as a dignified ritual, to seek forgiveness through reflection and prayer and it is this moment that may be described as “standing before God”. While fasting on the Day of Arafah is prohibited for the pilgrims, it is a highly recommended Sunnah for non-pilgrims as it entails a great reward with the belief that Allah forgives the sins of two years.
Since Arafah Day is viewed by Muslims as a day of gratitude, the next day is celebrated as Eid-ul-Adha which marks another sacrifice by Prophet Ibrahim. This joyous occasion marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage and lasts for three days where Muslims worldwide commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah. Eid al-Adha is a time of community, charity, sharing meals and spreading happiness.