Hajj 2024: Why is the day of Arafah one of the holiest days in Islam? Meaning of 9th Dhul Hijjah

Millions of Muslims gather on Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia on Arafah Day for the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage – one of the world’s largest annual gatherings – even with temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius Under the desert sun, worshipers climb the hill east of Mecca where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his last sermon some 14 centuries ago. The day of Arafah is considered the most crucial day of Hajj when pilgrims gather in the plains of Arafah where they engage in prayer, supplication and contemplation.

Muslim pilgrims pray on the rocky hill known as the Mountain of Mercy, in the Arafat Plain, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 27, 2023. Hajj 2024: why is Arafat Day one of the holiest days in Islam? Meaning of 9th Dhul Hijjah. For many, a spiritual highlight of the Hajj is the presence on the Plain of Arafat, where pilgrims praise God, beg His forgiveness and make supplications. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, file)

The day of Arafah is important as it emphasizes forgiveness, mercy, repentance, spiritual purification, unity and the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is a day of immense importance and a time for Muslims to draw closer to Allah, ask for forgiveness and reflect on their faith and actions.

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It is believed that on the day of Arafah, Allah forgives the sins of those who sincerely repent and ask for forgiveness. This is why Muslims around the world strive to maximize their supplications and ask for mercy on this day. The day of Arafah is considered a golden opportunity for Muslims to purify their hearts, seek spiritual purification and draw closer to Allah.

The day of Arafah is the central day of the Hajj pilgrimage, which is one of the five pillars of Islam and this day is considered the pinnacle of the Hajj journey. Pilgrims gather on 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 the Prophet Muhammad delivered his last 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 purification and spiritual renewal and Muslims are encouraged to engage in personal reflection, introspection and repentance. It is a day to ask for forgiveness, rectify one’s behavior and make positive changes in one’s life. The day is marked by devotion, humility and a sincere commitment to personal and spiritual growth.

Arafah symbolizes the unity and equality of all Muslims before Allah as pilgrims from various backgrounds, nationalities and social statuses gather at Arafat, dressed in the same simple ihram attire. This gathering emphasizes the unity of the Muslim Ummah (community) and universal brotherhood within Islam. The Day of Arafah is a powerful reminder of the importance of unity, empathy and compassion.

It is essentially the final chapter of the Hajj when Muslim pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat and offer a day-long prayer with recitations from the Quran. Since Mount Arafat is located about 15 km from Mecca, Muslim pilgrims spend a day there performing rituals and live in tents from dawn to dusk.

It was on Mount Arafat that the Prophet Muhammad delivered his last sermon on Islam. This is why pilgrims stand united here in dignified ritual, to seek forgiveness through reflection and prayer. It is this moment that can be described as “standing before God”. Although fasting on the day of Arafah is prohibited for pilgrims, it is a Sunnah highly recommended for non-pilgrims as it involves great reward with the belief that Allah forgives the sins of two years.

Since the day of Arafah is considered by Muslims as a day of gratitude, the next day is celebrated as Eid-ul-Adha, which marks another sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim. This joyous occasion marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage and lasts for three days during which Muslims around the world commemorate the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) 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.

This year, countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, other Arab and Gulf countries, as well as the United States and the United Kingdom, will mark Arafah Day on June 15, while that Muslims in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries will observe it in June. 16, 2024 due to a difference in the crescent moon sighting for Dhul Hijjah.

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