لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَبْتَغُوا فَضْلًا مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ فَإِذَا أَفَضْتُم مِّنْ عَرَفَاتٍ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ عِندَ الْمَشْعَرِ الْحَرَامِ وَاذْكُرُوهُ كَمَا هَدَاكُمْ وَإِن كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الضَّالِّينَ

 “It will not be held against you if you seek bounty from your Lord. When you stream forth from Arafat, remember Allah at the Holy Mount. Remember Him just as He has guided you, even if previously you acted like those who are lost.” Qur’an (2:198)

 

arafah

We are now approaching the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, the day of Arafah. The day when as part of the legacy of Prophet Ibrahim the Hajj pilgrims visit Mount Arafat, otherwise known as the Mount of Mercy (Jabal ar-Rahmah), the place where the Prophet Muhammad {s} delivered his last sermon. It is on the plains of Arafat that the pilgrims spend the entire day engaged in supplication to Allah, seeking His Presence, following the Prophetic tradition that

“the best of supplications are those on the Day of Arafah.”

It is the day that “Allah hast made noble, given honour, and magnified. Within it Allah hast spread His mercy, showed kindness through His pardon, and made plentiful His giving, and by it He is bounteous toward His servants” * The Prophet Muhammad has said in a tradition that “Hajj is Arafah”, indeed those who miss the standing on the plain of Arafat have missed the Hajj.

To fast on of the day of Arafah is a highly recommended act, as we see in the narration from the Prophet:be content with the fact that Allah will expiate for your sins for a whole year before the day of Arafah and the year after the day of Arafah”

But despite the virtue behind fasting on this day it is generally not a recommendation, for the pilgrims themselves, due to the effect that it may have on them physically. In fact it has been reported that the Prophet himself did not fast this day whilst performing the pilgrimage (Muslim-Bukhari). This is indeed significant for those of us who are not pilgrims, granting a unique importance and virtue to this day.

The emphasis being placed on the fast for the non-pilgrim, not only bestows an opportunity to share in the blessings of the day without actually being present at Arafat. But by this distinction gives an opportunity to remember and connect with the pilgrims. With the challenge of the fast, they can share in some of the challenges that the pilgrims have faced during the pilgrimage. When the pilgrim by draws near to Allah by the rites of Hajj, the person fasting draws near to Allah by their breath. By means of this, the connection between our fellow Muslims expands. Indeed at the time when Muslims within the sacred precincts of Mecca transcend boundaries and bond through their pilgrimage, the ripple effect from the epicentre of their Hajj is that the circumference of the union of the Ummah is increased all over the globe in an unified ascension to Allah.

The root word of Arafat (a-r-f), gives further insight into the auspices of this holy day. A-r-f means “to know, to acquaint with, perceive, recognise, acknowledge, discern.”  So by our fasting, or by our supplication, the day of Arafah is our perfect opportunity to get know, re-acquaint ourselves with and recognise Allah in our lives. Whether we are standing on the plains of Arafat or standing on the plain of our fasting self, may we all gain the insight to bring ourselves closer to Allah, by the grace and blessings of the day of Arafah, ameen!

*Sahifah Sajjadiya