The Virtues of The Day of Arafat: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

  notes

Imam Zaid Shakir


Posted Posted on 2012-10-26

2 Comments

The following excerpt is from “Lata’if al-Ma’arif” by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali concerning the virtue and some of the actions to be undertaken on the Day of Arafa (pp. 487-495) I wanted to get this out today for the benefit of the believers so I have not taken the time to edit and proofread it. Therefore, if you find some typos and a few glitches, I will tighten it up after ‘Id, Insha Allah.

It is related in the sound compilation of al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, that a Jewish man said to him: “O Commander of the Faithful! There is a verse in your Scripture, were it revealed to us Jews we would have taken it as a holiday.” ‘Umar asked, “Which verse?” The man said, “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favor unto you, and I am pleased to have Islam as your religion. (5:3)” ‘Umar said, “I know the day and place this [verse] was revealed. It was revealed as the Messenger of Allah, peace upon him, was standing on the Mount of Arafa on the Day of Jumu’ah. A similar narration is mentioned by Imam al-Tirmidhi on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas. That version mentions, “It was revealed during the ‘Id Day, on Jumu’ah, during the Day of Arafa.” [1]

‘Id is an occasion of joy and happiness. The joy and happiness of the believers in this world is with their Lord, when they gain the victory of completing acts of obedience, and when they gain in full measure the reward of their actions by trusting in the promise of His grace and forgiveness to them for undertaking those actions. This is consistent with what He, Exalted is He, says [in the Qur’an], Proclaim! In the grace of Allah, and in His mercy, in this let them rejoice. It is better than any worldly thing they gather. (10:58)

One of the spiritual elect mentioned, “No one rejoices in other than Allah, except owing to his heedlessness of Allah. Therefore, the heedless one rejoices in his sport and play, while one mentally alert rejoices in his Lord.” When the Prophet, peace upon him, came to Madina there were two festive days the people were making merry in. He said, “Indeed, Allah has substituted for you two days better than those two, the Day of Fitr [2] and the Day of Adha [3].” [4] Allah has substituted for this community two days of remembrance, thankfulness, forgiveness, and divine pardon; for two days of sport and play.

In this worldly life the believers have three holidays: a holiday that reoccurs every week, and two holidays that both occur annually. As for the weekly holiday. it is the Day of Jumu’ah. It is associated with the completion of the daily prayers [during the previous week], as Allah has ordained for the believers completing five obligatory prayers during the night and the day. The days of this world revolve around seven days. When one of these weekly cycles is completed, and the believer completes the obligatory prayers during it, one of the worldly expanses bringing the termination of the world closer has been completed. At this time there is a gathering to listen to divine remembrance, admonition, and the Jumu’ah prayer. This is made a holiday for them [the believers].

In attending the Jumu’ah prayer there is a similarity to the Hajj. It is related that it is the Hajj of the poor people. [5] Sa’id bin al-Musayyab mentioned, “Attending Jumu’ah is more beloved to me than a voluntary Hajj, and arriving early for the prayer takes the place of the sacrificial animal one slaughters [during the pilgrimage rites]. The first arrivals are like those who sacrifice a camel, then a cow, then a ram, then a chicken, then an egg.” [6]

Attending Jumu’ah also atones for one’s sins until the next Jumu’ah, as long as one refrains from the major sins, just as a righteous Hajj atones for the sins of that year until the next Hajj. It is related, “If one’s Jumu’ah is free from sins, all of one’s days will be free of sins.” [7] It is also related, “Allah forgives every Muslim on Jumu’ah.” [8] In a rigorously authenticated narration from the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, it is related that he said, “The sun neither rises nor sets on a day better than Jumu’ah.” [9] In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad it is related that the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, mentioned, concerning Jumu’ah, “It is better with Allah than the Day of Fitr and the Day of Adha.” This is the weekly holiday which is associated with the completion of the obligatory prayers, which is the greatest pillar of Islam an its foundation, after the Declaration of Faith.

As for the two holidays that do not reoccur during the year, but they occur once every year, the first of them is the holiday that is associated with the fast of Ramadan, which is the third pillar of Islam. When the Muslims complete fasting the month that has been made obligatory for them they gain forgiveness and liberation from Hellfire. Its fasting necessitates these two, as fasting Ramadan atones for previous sins, and its latter days involve liberation from the Hellfire. During it those deserving to be punished owing to their sins are liberated from the torment of Hell. Hence, Allah has made for them in the aftermath of their completing their fast a holiday where they gather to thank Allah, remember Him, and to extol His greatness for what He has guided them to. He has mandated for them during that holiday prayer and charity. It is the Day of the Prizes (Yawm al-Jawa’iz) when the fasting people take the full measure of their reward, and they go away from their holiday with forgiveness their lot.

As for the second holiday, it is the Holiday of the Sacrifice; it is the greatest and most virtuous of the two holidays. It is associated with the culmination of the Hajj, which is the fourth pillar of Islam. When the Muslims complete their Hajj they are forgiven.The Hajj is complete with the Day of Arafa and standing on the Mount during it. It is the greatest pillar of the Hajj, as the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him mentioned, “The Hajj is Arafat.” [10]

The Day of Arafat is the day of liberation from the Hellfire. Allah liberates from Hell those who stand upon Arafat and those who do not from the population of the distant towns. Hence, the following day is made a holiday for all of the Muslims in all of their homelands. Those who participated in the rites of the Hajj season and those who did not, as they share in the liberation from Hell and the forgiveness that pervaded on the Day of Arafa.

The fact that not all of the Muslims are required to go to Hajj every year is a mercy and source of ease from Allah to His servants. He has made Hajj binding once in a lifetime and not binding every year. However, it is a communal obligation occurring every year. [11] This is different from fasting, which is an individually binding obligation on every Muslim, every year. When the Day of Arafa is completed, and Allah has liberated His believing servants from Hell, all of the Muslims then celebrate a holiday. Then there is a common rite that they all undertake [the pilgrims and those back home] to draw near to Allah, slaughtering the sacrificial animal. [12]

As for the specific virtues of the Day of Arafa, they are many. Among them:

It is the day the religion was perfected and the favor completed. It is a holiday for the people of Islam as was mentioned by ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas. It is said that it is the Shafi’ (even) that Allah swears by in His Scripture, the Witr (odd) being the Day of the Sacrifice. It has been related from the Prophet, Blessings and peace upon him, from the narrations of Jabir, in a narration mentioned by Imam Ahmad [13]and al-Nasa’i in exegesis.

It is also said that it is the Shahid (witness) that Allah swears by in His Scripture. He says, be He exalted, By the witness and the witnessed. (85:3) In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, it is related on the authority of Abu Hurayra, both from himself and on the authority of the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, “The witness is the Day of Arafa and the witnessed is the Day of Jumu’ah.” [14] This has been mentioned by Imam al-Tirmidhi on the authority of the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him. It has also been related as a saying of Imam ‘Ali. Imam al-Tabarani mentions, from the narrations of Abu Malik al-Ash’ari, on the authority the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, “The witness is the Day of Jumu’ah and the witnessed is the Day of Arafa.” [15] In this regard, when the Day of Arafa falls on Jumu’ah the witness and the witnessed have been combined.

It is related that it is the best of days. Ibn Hibaan mentions in his Sahih, from the narrations of Jabir, on the authority of the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, that he said: “The best of days is the Day of Arafa.” [16] This is the opinion of a group of scholars. However, among them are those who opine that the best of days is the Day of the Sacrifice, based on a Hadith narrated by ‘Abdullah bin Qurt, on the authority of the Prophet, blessing and peace of Allah upon him, that he said, “The greatest days with Allah are the Day of the Sacrifice then the following day (Yawm al-Qarr).” [17] This Hadith has been mentioned by Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i, and Ibn Hibban in his Sahih. This is his wording.

It is related from Anas bin Malik that he used to say, “The Day of Arafa is equivalent to ten thousand days,” –meaning in its virtue. It is related by ‘Ata that he said, “Whoever fasts the Day of Arafa will have the reward of fasting two thousand days.”

It is the day of the Great Hajj in the opinion of a group of early scholars. This is the opinion of ‘Umar and others. However, others differ. They say the day of the Great Hajj is the Day of the Sacrifice. This latter opinion has been related from the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him.

Also, fasting the Day of Arafa atones for the sins of two years. We will mention the Hadith substantiating this shortly, Insha Allah.

It is a day that sins are forgiven, passed over, liberation from the Hellfire occurs, and it is a source of pride for the people standing on the Mount of Arafat. These statements are consistent with a Hadith mentioned by ‘Aisha on the authority of the Prophet, blessing and peace upon him, that he said: “There is no day when Allah liberates more people from the Hellfire than the Day of Arafa. He draws near (not in a physical sense, but in a way befitting His incomparable essence and majesty), and they are a source of pride with the Angels. He says, ‘What a great thing these [worshipers] are seeking.’” [18]

In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad it is related by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As, on the authority of the Prophet, Blessings and Peace upon him, Allah sees the people assembled on Arafa as a source of pride with the Angels. He says, look at my servants, they have come to me disheveled and dust-covered.” [19] It is also mentioned by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih.

Fasting the Day of Arafa [has a great reward]. It is mentioned in Sahih Muslim, from Qatadah, on the authority of the Prophet, peace upon him, that he said: “I anticipate Allah expiating the sins of the previous and coming year for one who fasts the Day of Arafa.” [20]

[There is a great reward] for one refraining from sin on that day. It is mentioned in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, from Ibn ‘Abbas on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, “The Day of Arafa is a day that one controlling his hearing, vision, and tongue will be forgiven.” [21]

[Among the virtues of the day of Arafa] is constantly proclaiming the Declaration of Allah’s Oneness with sincerity and honesty, for it is the foundation of the religion that Allah completed this day and its base. It is related in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As, that he said, “The supplication the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, would repeat most often on the Day of Arafa was, “There is no god but Allah, He is alone without partners. His is the dominion and unto Him is all praise, in His hand is all good, and He over all things has power.” [22]

It is also related by al-Tirmidhi with the wording: “The best of supplications is the supplication of Arafa, and the best thing I have said, and that said by the Prophets preceding me, peace upon them, is, “There is no god but Allah, He is alone without partners. His is the dominion and unto Him is all praise, and He over all things has power.’” [23] It is also mentioned by al-Tabarani from the Hadith of Imam ‘Ali and ibn ‘Umar.

One should be excessive in supplicating for forgiveness and liberation from the Hellfire [during the Day of Arafa]. It is hoped that during it the supplications will be answered. Ibn Abi al-Dunya, relates from Imam ‘Ali that he said, “There is no day on earth except that during it Allah liberates sinners from the Hellfire. And there is no day when more people are liberated from Hell than the Day of Arafat. So repeatedly say, ‘O Allah! Liberate me from Hell, and expand my lawful income, and ward off from me the perverse jinn and humans. This is the most comprehensive prayer uttered this day.”

One should seek to avoid the sins that prevent forgiveness and liberation from the Hellfire. Among these sins is arrogant conceit. We have related from the Hadith of Jabir on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him that he said: “There is no day when more men and women are liberated from the Hellfire than the Day of Arafa. However, Allah does not forgive the arrogant, conceited one.” Al-Bazzar and al-Tabarani mention this narration, as do others. Al-Mukhtal is one full of himself, arrogant. Allah mentions in the Qur’an, Allah does not love any conceited, vainglorious boaster. (57:23) the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, mentioned: “Allah does not look at one who drags his garment on the ground behind himself out of pride.” [24]

[Among those sins] is persisting in the commission of major transgressions. Ja’far bin Siraj relates from Yunus bin ‘Abd al-‘Ala that he made Hajj one year and saw the leader of the pilgrimage in his dream announcing that Allah had forgiven everyone on the pilgrimage except a man that had molested a young boy. He thereafter ordered that that be announced to the people. Ibn Abi al-Dunya relates, [25] along with others that a man saw in his dream that Allah had forgiven all of the Hajj pilgrims except a man from Balkh. He was sought out until he was located. He was asked about his situation. He said that he was an alcoholic. One night he was drunk. His mother rebuked him for that as she was firing up the oven. He grabbed her and flung her into the oven where she burned to death.

O one longing from liberation from the Hellfire, yet prevents himself from the mercy of Allah by persisting in major sins and transgressions! By Allah! You have not been sincere with yourself! No one stands in your way except you. You prevent your own salvation with your sins. Then, when you are denied forgiveness you say, “How did this happen?” Say, “It is from yourself.” A poet mentioned:

Blame yourself for going there and not the beast you used,
...and die in a dejected state for you have no excuse.

End of translation from Lata’if al-Ma’arif by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

May Allah bless us to take advantage of this day, the Day of Arafat, and all of our days to do righteous deeds, especially those mentioned above, and to work for our salvation and eternal bliss.

Notes:

[1] Tirmidhi, 3046
[2] The holiday commemorating the breaking of the fast of Ramadan.
[3] The holiday of the 10th of Dhu’l Hijjah, commemorating the culmination of the Pilgrimage to Mecca.
[4] Nasa’i, 3:179; Ahmad, al-Musnad, 3:103; 
[5] Al-Hindi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, 21,031
[6] This saying of Sa’id, concerning the earlier arrivals being like those who sacrifice a camel and so on, agrees with a Hadith related in Bukhari, Muslim and elsewhere. See a summary of these narrations in Targhib wa’l Tarhib, 1:498-500.
[7] Suyuti, Jami’ al-Saghir, 685.
[8] Al-Hindi, 21,046
[9] Tirmidhi, 3336
[10] Tirmidhi, 2975 Arafa and Arafat عرفة / عرفات refer to the same hill where the pilgrims gather. Hence, we find the occasional variation in its English spelling.
[11] Meaning some Muslims have to undertake it on behave of others or the entire community will be guilty of sin.
[12] Many westerners misunderstand the Qurbani, or the rite of sacrificing that is associated with ‘Id al-Adha. It is not a blood offering to God, who states in the Qur’an that He has no need for meat or blood (22:37). It is an opportunity for the poor members of the community, who in some instances pass the entire year with no meat, to enjoy this great blessing. I have been in Syria during the time of ‘Id al-Adha and participated in taking meat from the sacrificial animals to the poor villages around Damascus. In some instances, people were in tears as they received the gift of meat. I have also spent the ‘Id in Morocco and witnessed the streets fill up with impoverished villagers who descend from the mountains rural districts into the towns, lining the streets, to receive the gift of meat from the wealthy folks in the cities. The meat of the animals is also shared with family members and neighbors. In these western societies where meat is readily available and plentiful –with devastating ecological consequences, it is easy to take the blessing of meat for granted and to misunderstand the importance along with the social and economic impact of the ‘Id al-Adha.
[13] Ahmad, 3:367
[14] Ahmad, 2:298
[15] Tabarani, al-Kabir, 3:298
[16] Ibn Hibban, 6:26
[17] Ahmad, 4:350
[18] Muslim, 1348
[19] Ahmad, 3:224
[20] Muslim, 1162
[21] Ahmad, 1:329
[22] Ahmad, 2:210 His wordking is:  لا إله  إلا الله وحده لا شريك له له الملك و له الحمد بيده الخير و هو على كل شيء قدير
Laa ilaaha illa Allah, Wahdahu laa sharika lah, lahu’l Mulk wa lahu’l Hamd biyadihi Khayr wa huwa ‘Ala kulli Shay’in Qadir.
[23]Tirmidhi, 3585   لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له له الملك و له الحمد و هو على كل شيء قدير
Laa ilaaha illa Allah, Wahdahu laa sharika lah, lahu’l Mulk wa lahu’l Hamd wa huwa ‘Ala kulli Shay’in Qadir.
[24]Bukhari, 10:258
[25]Ibn Abi al-Dunya, Dhamm al-Muskir, 58.


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