The Blessed Day of ‘Arafah


Praise be to Allah alone, who guides His servants to worship Him and blesses them with special seasons, days and nights as opportunities to draw closer to Him and His Pleasure. The 9th Day of Dhul-Hijjah is one such day and it is known as the Day of ‘Arafah. It is the day when millions of pilgrims gather at the plain of ‘Arafah as an obligatory ritual of Haj.
Almost anyone who has performed Haj agrees that the standing on ‘Arafah is the greatest part of Haj, as it is the place where a person can begin to truly know himself, his deficiencies and weaknesses. And in acknowledging his faults he also can come to know of the presence of His Creator in his life, of His limitless forgiveness and generosity. He recognizes that all he can do at that moment is turn to Allah, seek His mercy and forgiveness.

Just as those on Haj are blessed with the opportunity to turn to Allah, repent and “come out as sinless as a newborn child” (Al-Bukhari), the ones not on Haj also get a somewhat similar opportunity.

fast-9th-dhThe Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fasting the Day of ‘Arafah (9th Dul-Hijjah) is an expiation for (the sins of) the previous year and an expiation for (the sins of) the coming year.” (Muslim)

Not all of us can perform Haj, but almost all of us can race for Allah’s pleasure and forgiveness by fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah which is the day of salvation from the Fire. Allah frees from the Fire those who gather in ‘Arafah, as well as those Muslims in their home cities who can’t gather there. However, the day which follows is an Eid celebration for all the Muslims in the world, whether they were on Haj or not, because they were still included in the salvation and forgiveness of the Day of ‘Arafah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There is no day on which Allah frees more people from the Fire than the Day of ‘Arafah. He comes close and expresses His pride to the angels, saying, ‘What do these people want?’” (Muslim)
The Almighty made the Day of ‘Arafah the best day of the year just like He made the Night of Qadr the best night of the year. While no one knows for sure which night is the Night of Qadr from the last ten nights of Ramadan, Allah has made the Best Day of the year known and this is His special favor on His believing servants and a chance for them to improve their relationship with Him by way of doing all kinds of good deeds and du’a.
‘Arafah is a day of acceptance of du’as and du’a is the cord that connects the human to the Almighty and according to a Hadith: “The best of du’a is du’a on the day of ‘Arafah.” (Hasan Al-Albaani in Saheeh Al-Jaami’1102)
1238382_10152035760762652_955815536_nThe Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “The best of du’a is du’a on the day of ‘Arafah, and the best that I and the Prophets before me  said is ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulku wa lahu’l-hamdu wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer (There is no god but Allah alone, with no partner or associate; His is the dominion, to Him be praise, and He has power over all things).” (Tirmidhi-3585)
Another Hadith also mentions that whoever says these words with a sincere heart, attesting to the truth of that with his tongue, then Allah will surely tear open the sky until He looks at the person from amongst the people of the earth who said it. And the right of the servant whom Allah looks at is that He grants him whatever he asked for.” (An-Nisaee – Saheeh Al-Albani)
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So make a list of the du’as closest to your heart and then pray to Allah on the best day of the year with sincerity and humility. Talk to Him like you would talk to a friend and confess your fears and expectations. He is Al-Sami (The Hearer) and Al-Mujeeb (The One who responds) so He will surely listen and respond to what He Knows is best for you. Imam Shawkani (rahimahuAllah) rightly said: “To know your du’a is accepted is to have your heart ready, cry and shed tears to Allah, being persistent, and after that feeling, a burden taken off your shoulders.”
The day of ‘Arafah is among the most blessed times of the year in Islam. It commemorates the finality of revelation (Qur’an 5:3) and the completion of the Ḥaj pilgrimage. It is also the day when the Prophet delivered his last khutbah — A gem and a reminder of our responsibility and accountability to Allah, so read about it, reflect and strive to implement the advice. Main guidelines from the last khutbah included:
• Sacredness of a Muslim’s life and property
• The importance of propagating this message to all others (A Muslim’s responsibility thus does not end by following the religion)
• A reminder that everyone is fully accountable for their deeds and Allah (God) will take every person into account. If everyone heeded to this fact alone, the world would be a much better place today.
• “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” These words of the prophet are self-explanatory.
• The prohibition of dealing with interest (Numerous accounts in Qur’an and Hadith prohibit taking, giving or being a part of any transaction dealing with interest).
• “You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity.” These words of the prophet are self explanatory.
• The awareness of shaitan and how he can work to deviate us from the right path and doing evil things.
• Rights of women over men and rights of men over women.
• Treatment of women with kindness.
• Modesty and chastity in women.
• The importance of worshiping Allah (offering the five daily prayers, fasting Ramadan, giving charity (Zakat) and performing Haj.
• Equality among all (blacks, white, Arabs, non-Arabs, etc.)
• The need to establish justice.
• Islam is the final divine religion (Last Prophet and Last Book).
May Allah guide us in doing our part in following the Prophet’s message and propagating the message to everyone we know and accept from us the tiniest of good deeds that we do on the best of days! Ameen.
-Mariam Anwer
Originally posted in Arab News

Special Days of Special Worship


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It is that time of the year again when we see millions of people from every corner of the world gathering together in Makkah, for Hajj which is the largest annual religious gathering that humanity knows. It is not just the sheer number of people, but also the diversity that is stunning. Indeed, the heart of every believer soars with joy and the eyes well up when they watch the live transmissions being aired from the Holy sites and every single one of them wishes that he/she was one of the blessed ones performing Hajj this year.
 
As the same feelings sweep over me, I can’t help but remember the time when it all started. The time when Allah commanded Prophet Ibraheem to build His House, purify it and then call people to it for pilgrimage. I remember and I wonder how our father Ibraheem must have felt at the honor and how he must have made the call. Allah talks about this, in Surah Al Hajj and says: “And when We designated for Ibraheem the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate. And proclaim to the people the Hajj; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.” (Qur’an 22:26-27)
 
Ibn Katheer said in his commentary on these verses: “This means: Allah says, Proclaim (O Ibraheem) the Hajj to the people, calling them to come on pilgrimage to this House which We have commanded you to build. It was mentioned that Ibraheem said, “O Lord, how can I proclaim it to the people when my voice does not reach them?” He said, “Call and We will convey it.” So he stood in his maqaam (Station of Ibraheem) – or it was said, on the rock, or on al-Safa, or on Abu-Qubays (a mountain) – and said: “O people, your Lord has taken a House, so come to it on pilgrimage.” And it was said that the mountains lowered themselves so that his voice could reach all parts of the earth, those who were still in the wombs or in men’s loins also heard. And everything that heard him, cities, nomad encampments and trees, and everyone whom Allah has decreed should perform Hajj until the Day of Resurrection responded, (saying): ‘LABBAYK ALLAHUMMA LABBAYK’ (HERE I AM, O ALLAH, HERE I AM). (Tafsir Ibn Katheer)
 
Praise be to the One Who has made His House “a place of return for the people and [a place of] security.” (2:125).The hearts of those who love Allah are naturally attached to the House of the Beloved. Every time they see its image from afar they long for it and every time they are away from it they want to return. Although this narration amazes us, it also saddens many who are unable to undertake this amazing journey, either due to financial reasons, family obligations, or any other reason that may exist. Allah knows the state of hearts and He is especially Merciful towards His believing slaves when He decrees that whenever one resolves to do an act of worship but he is unable to do it because of some excuse, he will be granted the reward of one who does it. This is proven by the incident when the Messenger (peace be upon him) came back from the campaign of Tabook and when he drew close to Madeenah he said: “In Madeenah there are some people who, whenever you marched or crossed a valley, were with you (gaining similar rewards).” The companions said: “O Messenger of Allah, but they were in Madeenah.” He said, “They were in Madeenah because some excuse kept them back.” (Al-Bukhaari-4423)
We can also get the ultimate rewards of Hajj, from right where we are. According to a hadeeth, whoever prays Fajr Prayer in congregation, then sits and remembers Allah until the sun rises, and then prays 2 rak’ahs of voluntary prayer (Al-ishraq), he will gain a reward equal to that of performing a perfect, perfect, perfect Hajj and Umrah. (Al-Albaani, Saheeh Al-Jaami’-6346)
Furthermore, Allah has made the month of Hajj, Dhul-Hijjah blessed, and the first ten days of this month have been made the best ten days of the year so all good deeds done in this season carry extra rewards. The evidence of this has been reported in both the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Allah says: “By the dawn. And by the ten nights.” (Qur’an 89:1-2) The ten nights refer to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah according to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and others. (Tafsir Ibn Katheer)
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “There are no days in which righteous actions are more beloved to Allah than these ten days…” (Al-Bukhari, 2/457)
 
Therefore, for those of us who are unable to be in Makkah right now for Hajj, let’s value these special days of the year and maximize our efforts to excel in various good deeds. We can:
• Pray all Fard prayers on time and try to pray extra nafl prayers for extra reward.
• Fast as the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah. (Saheeh Abi Dawood-2/462). And when the he (peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on the 9th – The Day of ‘Arafah, he said: “It expiates (sins) for the past year and the coming year.” (Muslim-1162)
• Keep our tongues moist with Takbeer (Allahu-Akbar), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillaah), Tahleel (La ilaha ill-Allah) and Tasbeeh (SubhanAllah)
• Try to read the Qur’an as much as possible as ‘every letter earns us more than ten rewards’ (Tirmidhi-2910).
• Increase in our worship, repentance and du’a during the day and during the night.
• Give charity and help those who are less fortunate to prepare for Eid.
• Restrain our tempers and our tongues from evil or idle talk, try being patient in upholding ties with relatives even if they are rude to us.
• Share sacrificial meat with the poor and be cheerful with everyone.
 
These ten days are truly special days of great gains and profits. The smart traders are those who make the most of this special season to increase their profits and seek nearness to their Master, whether there are at Makkah or far away. Perhaps Allah will accept from them as He accepts from the Hujjaj, because of their sincere intentions.
 
-Mariam Anwer
Originally published in Arab News
 AN DhulHijjah