The Prosperity of the day of Arafa

While millions of people in the holy land declare their feelings of thanking, gratitude and loyalty to their Lord with takbirs and talbiyas before the eid al-adha, Muslims who are getting ready for the magnificent eid in the other Islamic countries are in an utterly different atmosphere of excitement and joy. They join the takbirs of their brothers in Makkah with the takbirs of tashriq that they start in the morning of the day of Arafa.

Arafa is the ninth day the month of Dhul Hijjah. Our Prophet (pbuh) gave great glad tidings and encouraged believers about the first ten days of this month. The Arafa of the eid al-adha (Festival of Sacrifice) has a different place among those glad tidings. The verse that means, “This day have I perfected your religion for you” (1) was sent down on that day.

The talk between a Jew and Hazrat Umar (r.a.) shows the place of Arafa in our spiritual world in a clear way:

The Jew said to Hazrat Umar, "O Umar, there is a verse that you read in your book; if it were sent to us, the Jews, we would celebrate that day as an eid."

Hazrat Umar asked, "Which verse is it?" The Jew read the following verse:

“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion."

Then, Hazrat Umar said,

"We appreciate the day and the place that the verse was sent. That verse was sent down on a Friday when the Messenger of Allah was on Arafa."

In another narration, Hazrat Umar is reported to have said the following:

"That verse was sent on the day of Arafa, which was a Friday. Praise be to Allah that both Friday and Arafa are eid for us."(2)

Why is that day called “Arafa”? Lexically, Arafa has a few meanings: To know each other, to learn, to confess and scent.

The reason why that day is called “Arafa” is explained based on those four meanings as follows:

According to the first meaning, since Hazrat Adam and Hawwa (Eve) met on the day of Arafa and on Arafat, that name was given to the day and place.

According to another view, Gabriel (may Allah be pleased with him) taught Hazrat Adam (pbuh) how the perform hajj and asked him, “Have you learnt it?” Hazrat Adam said, “Yes, I have.”; thereupon, that place was called Arafat and that day was called Arafa.

According to another narration, after Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham) left his son, Ismail, and his wife, Hagar, in Makkah and returned to Damascus, he had not seen them for years and finally they met in Arafat. Therefore, that place was called Arafat and that day was called Arafa.

According to the meaning ‘confession’, when hajjis stand for waqfa on the day of Arafa, they confess the lordship, majesty, greatness and divinity of Allah and their own slavery, poverty, and need. As a matter of fact, when Hazrat Adam (pbuh) met his wife Eve, they confessed together, “Our Lord! we have wronged our own souls: if Thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy Mercy we shall certainly be lost" (3).

Those who accept the meaning of scent say that believers ask for forgiveness due to their sins and their sins are forgiven, they are freed from their spiritual sins and put on scents instead.

As a matter of fact, it is stated in a hadith that a person who performs hajj properly and returns to his hometown is regarded to have been as spotless as the day he was born of his mother (4) and it is indicate that believers are freed from their spiritual sins and they put on scents which are nice spiritually. (5)

The following is stated in the Quran:

“Then when ye pour down from (Mount) Arafat, 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."(6)

The day mentioned and the day whose importance is indicated in this verse is the day of Arafa. And, Allah orders people to mention the name of Allah and glorify him a lot on that day.

In another verse, Allah orders us to mention His name:

“Celebrate the praises of Allah during the Appointed Days (say takbirs and talbiyas)."(8)

It is stated that, “the appointed days” mentioned above are the days between the morning of the day of Arafa and the evening of the fourth day of the eid. Takbirs are uttered loudly on these days. The takbirs that are attributed to Hazrat Ibrahim (pbuh) are called “takbirs of tashriq”.

Based on this verb, it is wajib to utter takbirs of tashriq after fard prayers beginning from the morning prayer of the day of Arafa to the afternoon prayer of the fourth day of the eid. It is definite by the sunnah of Prophet (pbuh).

Hazrat Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the Companions narrate:

"The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) led the morning prayer on the day of Arafa. Then, he turned to us and started to utter takbirs by saying, “Allahu akbar”. He continued uttering takbirs until the afternoon prayer of the fourth day."(8)

The takbirs in the form of saying “Allahu akbar” twice, according to Imam Shafii three times, and “La ilaha illallahu wallahu akbar” uttered by believers after the fard prayers in the eid al-adha are wajib.

According to a narration in Bukhari, Ibn Umar and Abu Hurayra uttered takbirs loudly in the streets on the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah and people uttered takbirs together with them. (9) The day of Arafa is the best one of those ten days.

The takbirs uttered on those days change the spiritual face of the universe. The whole world and the skies resound to the sounds of takbir of the people, all of the creatures, mountains and stones. The following observation of one of the valuable guests of the world about those magnificent takbirs is so significant:

"One fifth of mankind, three hundred million people, together declaring: “Allah is Most Great! Allah is Most Great! Allah is Most Great!”; and in relation to its size the globe broadcasting to its fellow planets in the skies the sacred words of Allah is Most Great!; and the more than twenty thousand pilgrims performing the Hajj, on ‘Arafat and at the eid, together declaring: “Allah is Most Great!” are all a response in the form of extensive, universal worship to the universal manifestation of Divine dominicality through Allah’s sublime titles of Sustainer of the Earth and Sustainer of All The Worlds, and are a sort of echo of the Allah is Most Great! spoken and commanded one thousand three hundred years ago by Allah’s Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) and his Family and Companions. This I imagined and felt and was certain about."(10)

It is sunnah to worship on the night of Arafa and tarwiya (the previous night).

Muadh bin Jabal narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"Paradise becomes wajib for a person who worships on five nights: The night of Tarwiya (Two nights before the eid al-adha, the eight night of the month of Dhul Hijjah), the night of Arafa, the night of eid al-adha, the night of eid al-fitr and the fifteenth night of the month of Shaban (Laylatul Barat)."(11)

Fasting on the day of Arafa

Fasting on the day of Arafa is encouraged by hadiths. The meanings of the hadiths reported from our Prophet about the reward of fasting on the day of Arafa are as follows:

Abu Qatada narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"The fasting performed on the day of Arafa eliminates the sins of a year in past year and the following year."(12)

Ata al-Horasani narrates:

Abdurrahman, the son of Abu Bakr, went to the presence of Hazrat Aisha. She was fasting. Somebody was sprinkling water on her because of the heat. Abdurrahman said to her,

“Break your fast.”

Hazrat Aisha said,

“Shall I break my fast though I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say, ‘fasting on the day of Arafa eliminates the sins of the year before it’?”(13)

According to a narration by Bayhaqi, Hazrat Aisha says the following:

The messenger of Allah said:

“Fasting on the day of Arafa is like fasting one thousand days.” (14)

However, to fast on the day of Arafa is for those who are not on hajj that year; that is, it is for those believer who are not on Arafat for waqfa. The hadith regarding the issue is as follows:

Abu Hurayra narrrates:

"The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) prohibited fasting on Arafat on the day of Arafa."

The explanation of the hadith scholars regarding the issue is as follows:

Hafiz says: "Scholars had different views on fasting on Arafat on the day of Arafa.”

Ibn Umar said: "The Messenger of Allah, Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman did not fast on the day of Arafa; therefore, I do not fast, either."

Imam Malik and Imam Thawri preferred fasting.

Abdullah Ibn Zubayr and Hazrat Aisha tended to fast.

Ata said, "I will fast in winter; I will not fast in summer.”

Qatada said, “There is no drawback to fasting on Arafat unless it makes a person too weak to pray (dua).”

Imam Shafii said, "Fasting is recommended for those who are not on Arafat on the day of Arafa; as for hajjis, in my opinion, it is better for them to eat than fast because they need strength for prayer on Arafat ."

Imam Ahmad said, "If a person is strong enough to fast on Arafat, he can; if he eats it is alright because it is a day that one needs strength." (15)

The following can be said after those citiations: If hajj is on hot days and the weather on the day of Arafa is very hot, it is better not to fast; however, if hajj is on cool and short days, one can fast.

(1) – al-Maida, 3.
(2) - Bukhari, Iman: 34.
(3) – al-Araf, 23.
(4) - Bukhari. Hajj:4.
(5) - Tafsir Kabir, 5:173-4.
(6) – al-Baqara, 198.
(7) – al-Baqara, 203.
(8) - Tafsir Kabir, 5: 193.
(9) - Bukhari, Iydayn. 10.
(10) - Sualar, p. 196.
(11) - at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib Trns, 2:330.
(12) - at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib Trns, 2:457.
(13) - at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib Trns, 2:458.
(14) - at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib Trns, 2:460.
(15) - at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib Trns, 2:460-461.

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