The truth behind the Day of Arafah and its nomenclature
Monday , 07/19/2021 - 9:12
The truth behind the Day of Arafah and its nomenclature
The 9th day of Dhul-Hajjah marks the Day of Arafah. This day is the culminating event of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The Day of Arafah falls on the 2nd day of pilgrimage rituals. At dawn of this day, nearly 2 million Muslim pilgrims make their way from Mecca to a nearby hillside and plain called Mount Arafah and the plain of Arafah. It was from this site that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, gave his famous Farewell Sermon in his final year of his life.

During the entire day, from dawn to dusk, Muslim pilgrims stand in earnest supplication and devotion, praying for God's abundant forgiveness. Tears are shed readily as those who gather make repentance and seek God's mercy, recite words of prayer and remembrance, and gather together as equals before their God. Muslims around the world who are not participating in the pilgrimage often spend this day in fasting and devotion.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Hajj is Arafah”. This implies a very important concept of the meaning of Hajj. This short statement means that the whole Hajj and its validity is confined in the actual Day of Arafah, i.e. Hajj becomes valid only when the day of Arafah is observed and witnessed by those who undertake the journey, the pilgrimage. Regardless of how long the pilgrims stay in Mecca, if they miss that single day, they will then miss the whole Hajj.
The name “Arafah” appears in many hadiths. Also the name Arafah was mentioned in Surah al-Baqara (2:198): “It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage). Then when ye pour down from (Mount) Arafah, celebrate the praises of Allah at the Sacred Monument, and celebrate His praises as He has directed you, even though, before this, ye went astray”
There are different interpretations on why that day was called Arafah or Arafaat, none of these opinions was authenticated by a solid textual evidence that can be traced to the Prophet (pbuh). Nevertheless, the scholars of the past recorded them in their books as akhbar or stories of the past.
Also, the Prophet (pbuh) has said: “There is no day on which Allah frees people from the Fire more so than on the Day of Arafah. Indeed, He draws near and then boasts of them to the angels then says, “What do these want?“’
The Day of Arafah, also called the Day of the Standing (Yawm Al-Waqf), is significant because it is the holiest day of the Islamic Hijri lunar year (just as Laylat Al-Qadr, the Night of Empowering Decree in Ramadan, is the holiest night of the Islamic year).
Its scene — a sea of indistinguishable humanity across a stark plain, pleading with outstretched hands for their Lord’s acceptance of their repentance, His pardon, forgiveness and mercy, and His admission of them into His Paradise — presages humanity’s standing before God on the Day of Judgment.
While pilgrims do not fast on the Day of Arafah, Muslims who are not making Hajj are strongly urged (in Islamic Law, fiqh, it is codified as mustaḥabb, highly desirable) to fast this day. The Prophet, God’s blessings and peace upon him, said of this act of worship, that is, fasting the Day of Arafah for those not present at Hajj: “It atones for the sins of the preceding and coming year”.
Finally the Day of Arafah has certain virtues: It is the day God perfected the religion of Islam; It is the day God bestowed the completion of His divine favor upon the Muslims, and for humanity; It is the day God said He chose and was pleased with Al-Islam — The Peace — as the religion of the believers unto the end of the world; It is the day God revealed these three virtues of Islam to His Prophet, God’s blessing and peace upon him, as part of the Quran (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:3); It is the day of the Prophet’s Farewell Pilgrimage and his celebrated Farewell Address to all the believers until the end of time, on him be peace, which took place on a Friday, the Muslim weekly communal day of Congregational Prayer, during which the previously cited revelation came down; It is the day the Prophet, on him be peace, bore witness three times before the believers and God that he had successfully completed his Divine mission: To convey God’s message of the Quran and Islam to humanity.