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The Day of Arafah (or Arafat) is the ninth day of the Islamic lunar month — July 18 this year. It’s on the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar, Dhul- Hijjah and is also on the second day of Hajj. Muslims view this as the best day of the year. The day is the culminating event for Muslims on pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia who gather at the mountain plain of Arafah to pray, and supplicate for forgiveness. Pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of Islam, so the Day of Arafah holds much weight for Muslims. The Day of Arafah is known as the day where if sought after, millions of Muslims’ sins are forgiven by Allah. Arafah is known as the day Allah perfected the religion of Islam. It is also momentous because it was the day an important verse of the Qur’an, Surah al Maa’idah 5:3, was revealed. In the UAE, the Day of Arafah is celebrated as a public holiday.
When is Day of Arafah 2021?
The Day of Arafah, signifying the time when the religion of Islam was perfected and approved as a way of life for all Muslims, is on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah on the Islamic calendar — which is July 18 this year on the Gregorian calendar.
History of Day of Arafah
The Day of Arafah is known as a very sacred and virtuous day for Muslims. It is the day the Prophet Muhammad gave his farewell sermon upon Mount Arafah to the many Muslims with whom he completed Hajj, near the end of his life. While the Prophet Muhammad stood on the plain of Arafah, verse 5:3 of the Qur’an was revealed to him.
Another name for the Day of Arafah is ‘Freedom from Fire.’ The meaning of Arafah is ‘to know.’ In Islam, it is believed that when removed from heaven and separated, Adam and Eve (known as Hawa) were placed on Earth and both met up on the plains of Arafah. It is said that the Prophet Muhammad reinforced the importance of standing on Arafah as an essential part of performing Hajj.
Though fasting for those not on pilgrimage is desirable, most Muslims fast on this day as it is a day known to discard sins. The day commemorates finality of the religion of Islam, and of Divine revelation.
Islam teaches Muslims to view the Day of Arafah as a day of gratitude, hence the celebration of Eid the day after. It’s also a day of immense forgiveness with opportunity for great reward. Pilgrims doing Hajj, are not required to fast on this day. This follows the Sunnah of the Prophet, as he himself did not fast during this day because he was performing pilgrimage.
Today, it is possible to find up to 1.5 million Muslims headed toward the desert plains of Mecca to pray and supplicate to God. They can spend hours on the mountain, repenting and praying just as the Prophet Muhammad did. The entire day is usually spent in supplication, devotion and worship, prayer.
Day of Arafah timeline
The Prophet Muhammad is born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
The Prophet Muhammad reveals the message of Islam verse by verse, calling for equality and unity within the Muslim community.
A Muslim army of 10,000 men marches on Mecca, which surrenders, establishing it as the center for Islam.
Shortly before his death, Prophet Muhammad performs his pilgrimage, guiding his followers on the rites of performing Hajj.
Prophet Muhammad addresses 114,000 pilgrims with his farewell sermon and reveals that the religion of Islam is now complete.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh cannot deliver his usual Hajj sermon on the Day of Arafah for the first time in 35 years.
2.5 million Muslims all around the world gather at Mount Arafat, dressed in white garments to perform the ‘stoning of the devil’ ritual.
Day of Arafah Traditions
The yearly pilgrimage of Hajj is compulsory for all Muslims. Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and is the holiest time of the year in the religion of Islam. The pilgrimage has seven rites and traditions that are followed in order. The House of Allah — The Holy Kaaba, is circulated around seven times. Next, Muslims spend a day praying on Mount Arafat, followed by an overnight stay in Muzdalifah. A ritual of throwing stones symbolizing ‘stoning of the devil’ is performed, then the distance between Al-Safa and Al-Mawra is covered seven times. Lastly, the farewell Tawaaf is performed in a counterclockwise direction. The Hajj rituals are much more elaborate than this, but these steps are the basics.
Those who cannot travel to Mecca for the pilgrimage spend the day intensely supplicating, praying, and fasting. The Day of Arafah carries a great spiritual reward for Muslims.
Day of Arafah By The Numbers
3 million – the number of people who performed Hajj in 2016.
64% – the percentage of people who performed Hajj in 2016 who were men.
55% – the percentage of people who performed Hajj in 2016 who were from outside Saudi Arabia.
5th – the final pillar of Islam.
8th – the date of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah when the pilgrimage begins every year.
12th – the date of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah when the pilgrimage ends every year.
2nd – the day of the pilgrimage when Muslims travel to Mount Arafat.
3rd – the day of the pilgrimage known as the ‘Day of Sacrifice.’
7 – the number most associated with the rituals of Hajj.
650 kilograms – the weight of the silk black cloth covering the Holy Kaaba.
Day of Arafah FAQs
What else is said to happen on the day of Arafah?
It is said that on this day, the devil is the most humiliated due to the excessive forgiveness of humans by God.
Where is Mount Arafah?
Mount Arafah is located on a plain of land, 20km southeast of the holy city of Mecca. The mount itself is 230ft tall and it’s a granite hill.
What do the pilgrims do on the Day of Arafah?
Muslims on pilgrimage usually make their way to the mount of Arafah. After Fajr prayer until sunset, they stand in devotion, praying and supplicating for mercy and forgiveness.
How is it decided when the Day of Arafah is each year?
The day is decided for each country according to the sighting of the new moon of Dhu’l-Hijjah.
How to Observe Day of Arafah
Fast from dawn to dusk
Attempt to fast for the day. Muslims who are not on pilgrimage on this day are encouraged to fast from sunrise to sunset. They wake up before the sun, and stock up on hearty foods to get them through the day.
Contemplate going to Mecca to join millions of Muslims who are completing Hajj on the Mount of Arafat. Muslims usually recite prayers, supplicate and spend the day in worship.
Consider donating to charity
Try and give money to charity and actively go out of your way to help others. Charity in Islam is seen as an act of worship, so it’s just as vital as other acts of worship.
5 Facts About The Day Of Arafah
A time to celebrate
It’s on the day after the start of pilgrimage, and Eid is celebrated the day after that.
Strength in numbers
It is said that on this day, the devil is enraged watching millions who he tempted to sin, repent and supplicate.
On Fridays, we pray
The Prophet Muhammad stood on the plain of Arafah on a Friday and this is one of the reasons Friday is a sacred day in Islam.
This day gives Muslims the opportunity to be forgiven for the sins of last year and of the coming year.
When you believe
The Day of Arafah is so rich in blessings it is said to be a day equal to 10,000 days in virtue.
Why Day of Arafah is Important
After the day of Arafah, Eid is celebrated by all Muslims, not just the ones on pilgrimage. This is a chance to eat, dress up, meet family and be thankful.
Total eclipse of the heart
There are so many lovely meanings behind this day, but Arafah is also known as the mount of mercy. It is an opportunity for Muslims to repent and start over.
This is a day in Islam with much significance of meaning. If on pilgrimage, this is the part of Hajj that is said to be the most memorable.
Day of Arafah dates