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

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Jun 14, 2024 02:43 PM IST

Hajj 2024: Here's all you need to know about the importance of 9th Dhul Hijjah for Muslims and why is Day of Arafah one of the holiest days in Islam.

Millions of Muslims gather on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat, on the Day of Arafah, for the highlight of the Hajj pilgrimage - one of the world’s largest annual gatherings - and even with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius under the desert sun, the faithful climb the hill East of Mecca where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave his last sermon some 14 centuries ago. The Day of Arafah is considered the most crucial day of Hajj when pilgrims gather on 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, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on June 27, 2023. Hajj 2024: Why is Day of Arafah one of the holiest days in Islam? Significance of 9th Dhul Hijjah. A spiritual highlight of Hajj for many is the standing on the plain of Arafat, where pilgrims praise God, plead for his forgiveness and make supplications. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

The Day of Arafah is significant for its emphasis on forgiveness, mercy, repentance, spiritual cleansing, unity and the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is a day of immense importance and a time for Muslims to seek closeness to Allah, seek 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 seek forgiveness hence, Muslims around the world strive to maximise their supplications and seek mercy on this day. The Day of Arafah is seen as a golden opportunity for Muslims to purify their hearts, seek spiritual cleansing and gain closeness to Allah.

The Day of Arafah is the central day of the Hajj pilgrimage, which is one of the five pillars of Islam and the day is considered the pinnacle of the Hajj journey. Pilgrims gather in 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 Prophet Muhammad delivered his final 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 spiritual cleansing and renewal and Muslims are encouraged to engage in self-reflection, introspection and repentance. It is a day to seek forgiveness, rectify one's behaviour 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 symbolises the unity and equality of all Muslims before Allah as pilgrims from diverse backgrounds, nationalities and social statuses come together in Arafat, dressed in the same simple attire of ihram. This gathering emphasises the oneness of the Muslim Ummah (community) and the universal brotherhood/sisterhood in Islam. The Day of Arafah serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of unity, empathy and compassion.

It is basically the final chapter of Hajj when Muslim pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat and offer a day-long prayer with recitations of the Quran. Since Mount Arafat is approximately 15 kms away from Mecca, the Muslim pilgrims spend a day there to perform the rituals and live in tents from dawn to dusk.

It was on Mount Arafat that Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon of Islam hence, pilgrims stand here united as a dignified ritual, to seek forgiveness through reflection and prayer and it is this moment that may be described as “standing before God”. While fasting on the Day of Arafah is prohibited for the pilgrims, it is a highly recommended Sunnah for non-pilgrims as it entails a great reward with the belief that Allah forgives the sins of two years.

Since Arafah Day is viewed by Muslims as a day of gratitude, the next day is celebrated as Eid-ul-Adha which marks another sacrifice by Prophet Ibrahim. This joyous occasion marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage and lasts for three days where Muslims worldwide commemorate Prophet Ibrahim's (Abraham) willingness 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 including Saudi Arabia, UAE, other Arab nations and Gulf countries along with the USA and UK will be marking the Day of Arafah on June 15 while Muslims in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian nations will observe it on June 16, 2024 due to difference in crescent moon sighting for Dhul Hijjah.

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