It's 8.05 a.m in Mombasa. The city is awake and buzzing with activities. The coastal town is up and about and if you are keen, then you won’t miss the goats that are grazing by the roadside. It is the day of Arfa, the 9th day of Dhulhijja the 12 and final month of the Islamic Calendar. The day of Arafa also happens to be the eve of Eid-Ul-Hijja, iddi ya kuchinja (the Eid of slaughter) as the locals refer to it.
The ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah is the Day of ‘Arafah, since it is on this day the pilgrims gather at the mountain plain of ‘Arafah, praying and supplicating to their Lord. In fact, one hadith says that ‘Hajj is Arafah’ (Abu Dawud). This means Arafah is the sum and substance of Hajj.
The day of Arafah is also significant because this amazing ayah was revealed on this day:
“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” (Surah al Maa’idah 5:3)
It is a recommended sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) for those who are not pilgrims to fast on this day since the Prophet (PBUH) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah, so he said:
“It expiates the sins of the past year and the coming year.” (Muslim)
The Prophet (pbuh) also said:
“There is no day on which Allah frees people from the Fire more so than on the day of ‘Arafah. He comes close to those (people standing on ‘Arafah), and then He reveals before His Angels saying, ‘What are these people seeking.” (Muslim)
Things to Do on the Day of Arafah
1. Fasting on the Day of Arafah:
Fasting is highly encouraged and recommended for those not going on hajj.
“Fasting on the Day of Arafah expiates the sins of the past year and the coming year.” (Muslim)
2. DU’AA OF ARAFAH: Saying this du’aa very often:
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said of the Day of Arafah dua:
“The most excellent dua is the dua on the Day of Arafah, and the best of what I and the prophets before me have said, is “There is nothing that deserves to be worshiped in truth except Allaah, He is Alone and has no partner, to Him belongs the dominion and to Him belongs all praise, and He is All-Powerful over all things.’” (Muwatta)
لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له ، له الملك ، وله الحمد ، وهو على كل شيء قدير
3. Making Tahleel, Takbeer, Tahmeed and Tasbeeh:
It is a sunnah of our Prophet (PBUH) to recite the Tahleel, Takbeer and Tahmeed as many times as possible on the day of Arafah, and also on the days of Tashreeq (11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah).
Tahleel is to say “Laa ilaaha il-lal-laah”
Takbeer is to say “Allahu Akbar”
Tahmeed is to say “Alhamdulillaah”
Tasbeeh is to say “Subhanallaah”.
4. Seek forgiveness from Almighty Allah:
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“On this day, Allah, the most Exalted, descends to the nearest heaven, and He is proud of His servants on the earth and says to those in heavens, look at My servants, they have come from far and near, with hair disheveled and faces covered with dust, to seek my Mercy. Even if their sins are as much the sand or the froth of the sea, I shall forgive them.
This is the history and background of the day of Arafa and the reason why Muslims fast and supplicate for forgiveness from Allah.
Why do Muslims slaughter animals you ask? every year during the festival of Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world sacrifice an animal — a goat, sheep, cow or camel — to reflect Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail (Ishmael), after Allah (God) instructed him to in a dream. Before he could do so, Allah stopped Ibrahim and gave him a lamb to sacrifice instead. Commemorating this act of obedience to Allah on Eid al-Adha is known as udhiya (or qurbani), the Arabic word for sacrifice.
So tomorrow, In Sha Allah, we will be celebrating Eid, Taqaballahu Wa Minna Wa minkum.