The Day of Arafat or Arafah is an Islamic holiday that falls on the 9th day of Dhu Al Hijjah of the lunar Islamic or Hijri Calendar. It marks the day before the first day of Eid Al Adha. This year, the Day of Arafat falls on 19 July 2021, followed by the first day of Eid Al Adha on 20 July.
The Day of Arafat falls on the second day of the Hajj pilgrimage. At dawn on this day, nearly two million Muslim pilgrims will make their way from the town of Mina in Mecca, Saudi Arabia to a nearby hillside and plain called Mount Arafat and the Plain of Arafat, which is located about 20 km from Mecca – the final destination for the pilgrimage. The obligatory pilgrimage itself is considered incomplete unless the stop at Mount Arafat is made.
Muslims around the world who are not participating in the pilgrimage often spend this day in fasting and devotion. In most Muslim countries, private and public offices generally close on the Day of Arafat to allow employees to observe it along with Eid Al Adha. The Day of Arafat is, therefore, one of the most important holidays in the Islamic year. It is said to offer expiation for all sins of the prior year, as well as all sins for the upcoming year. In addition to the Day of Arafat, some Muslims fast nine days before the day so 10 in total days. These are the 10 Dhu Al Hijjah fasting every day of them is equivalent to fasting a year, and standing every night of them (in Salaah) is equivalent to standing on the Night of Qadr.
Fasting in Islam:
- The holy month of Ramadan: Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muslims are obligated to fast every day from dawn to sunset.
- Six days of Shawwal
- Mondays and Thursdays: Some Muslims fast on Mondays and Thursdays – twice a week as it is sunnah, a tradition of the Prophet.
- Fridays: Fridays are the most blessed day of the week. Rewards of good deeds are multiplied, however, one should not fast on Friday alone, but in combination with Thursday or Saturday.
- The White Days (Ayam Al-Beedh): The white days refer to the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the lunar calendar, so it may not be the same days each month of the solar Gregorian calendar. The days are named as such due to the moon being full and the light it reflects is at its maximum. It’s not necessary to fast all three days.
- Day of Ashura – 10th of Muharram: The 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, commemorates the day Allah saved Prophet Musa (Moses, PBUH) and his followers from their adversaries. There’s no day better to fast in after Ramadan than Muharram. Muslims either fast the 10th day of Muharram, 10th day and 11th of Muharram, or 9th, 10th and 11th of Muharram. It is believed for those fasting on the 10th day of Muharram gives expiation for the sins of a whole year.
- Day of Arafah – 9th of Dhul-Hijjah: The day before the first day of Eid Al Adha is known as the Day of Arafah. For those not performing Hajj, fasting the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah (the 10th being Eid Al-Adha) is recommended. In particular, fasting on the Day of Arafah, Allah promises that all sins of a year before and after that day will be forgiven InshAllah due to the virtue of this fast.
- Shaban: The month of Shaban is the month before Ramadan, and is an ample opportunity to prepare for Ramadan, both spiritually and physically. It was narrated that Aishah, the third wife of the Prophet Muhammad, reported that the Prophet liked the month of Shaban more than any other month as far as supplementary fasting is concerned [Bukkhari].
Please note that the only compulsory fast takes place during the holy month of Ramadan.
Author: Ola Diab
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