‘Let’s go to Arafah to listen to the Prophet’s Sermon’
In the name of the Almighty, the Beneficent, the Merciful
When you return from Arafat, (stop at Muzdalifah and) praise the Almighty … (Quran 2: 198).
Such a genuine spiritual spectacle does not exist anywhere except in Makkah: a spectacle which is devoid of charlatanism and vacuous pretense to closeness to the Almighty; no other place on earth provides such an uncanny union of the human with the spiritual except the Arafah-a plain which is situated to the east of Makkah at a distance of about nine miles. Such a pilgrim would miss the hajj- he who misses the assemblage at the plain of Arafah. “Al-Hajj Arafah” –Hajj is Arafah- so says the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).
The word Arafah is derived from the Arabic triliteral verb “Arafah” which means “he knows”. It refers to the knowledge of the known by the subject whose existence derives from the Known. It incarnates the necessity for humans to know the Almighty through the agency of the entities and subjects created by Him, the Almighty.
On the 9thday of the month of Hajj, which happens to be next Thursday, pilgrims in Makkah would evacuate their tents in Minnah at noon and proceed to the plain of Arafah on time to say the Zuhr and Asr prayers together. Thereafter they will listen to the imam as he delivers the khutbah from the pulpit of Rahmah (Jabal al-Rahmah).
The whole period, that is between early afternoon and sunset, would be spent there. The pilgrims would immerse themselves in His eulogy; they would be chanting the Gloria: “Labayka Allahuma labayka”- I have answered your call Oh! Almighty, I have answered your call”.
After sunset, pilgrims shall proceed to Muzdalifah, another place of high spiritual importance, say the Maghrib and Isha prayers together and pass the night in the open camp. Early in the morning of the following day, which is the 10thday of the month of Hajj (next Friday), the day of sacrifice, they would proceed to Mina again to perform series of hajj rites. These include the sacrifice of animals, the clipping of the hair, the throwing of the pebbles against the effigies of shaytan otherwise known as Ramy al-jimar and the Tawaf al-Ifadah.
The day of Arafah is important for many reasons in Islamic spiritual-communal reality. The day awakens the pilgrims to the historical and the eschatological. Here the historical references the standing, by Prophet Muhammad, on the same plain, many years ago to deliver the famous speech, the speech that changed the world. He said: “O People ! Lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today. O People! Just as you regard this month, this day, this city as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. He has forbidden you to take usury (interest); therefore all interest obligations shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity… Beware of Satan for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hopes that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things. O People! It is true that you have certain rights in regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives, only under His trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.
O People! Listen to me in earnest, worship the Almighy, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to. All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white- except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim, which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not therefore, do injustice to yourselves.
Remember one day you will appear before Him and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well therefore, O people, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and the Sunnah (Hadith), and if you follow these you will never go astray… Be my witness, O Almighty, that I have conveyed your message to your people.”
Brethren, the above is the historical. What about the eschatological? The day of Arafah reminds us all of the impending day of resurrection when humanity shall stand in front of Allah to give account. The ritual of throwing stones equally links the pilgrims to the spiritual patriarch in monotheism namely Prophet Ibrahim (upon him be peace). The pilgrims remember that they should disconnect from Shaytan the same way Prophet Ibrahim, his wife, Hajar and their son disconnected, and permanently too, from the latter in order that they may reconnect with the Almighty. When the pilgrim sacrifices a ram, he symbolically puts an end to the iniquitous propensities and proclivities in him which often goad him to commit infractions against his creator; he is attentive to the necessity for him to submit to He who has made the sacrificial animal submissive to him.
Remember Sister, that the rites of Hajj is supposed to be the peak of the pack of our faith. So whether you are on Hajj or at home, the Owner of Makkah and Madinah goes nowhere. When those other gods you call aside from the Almighty go to sleep at night, always remember that He is constantly on “call”; ever attentive, ever giving. He never dies.
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