Today, at the Plain of Arafat and Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia, two to three million pilgrims congregated to perform the most important rite of the hajj, or the pilgrimage. This site is significant because it is on the Mount of Mercy that the Prophet Muhammad gave his final sermon. Many pilgrims climb the hill and try to touch the pillar that marks this place.
During this rite, pilgrims spend the entire day making supplication, reading from the Qur’an, and generally asking for God’s forgiveness. The rite of Arafat is considered to be the peak of the hajj. Without spending the day at Arafat, a pilgrim’s hajj is not complete. This day is so important that Muslims around the world who are not performing the hajj fast because it is believed to be a blessed day. A hadith of the Prophet Muhammad highlights the importance of Arafat:
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “When the Day of Arafat comes, God (says to the angels), ‘Look at my servants who have come to Me disheveled, dusty and crying out from every deep valley. I call you to witness that I have forgiven them.’ The angels say: ‘My Lord, so and so was suspected of sin, also so and so and such and such a woman.’ The Prophet said that God replied: ‘I have forgiven them (all).'”
After Arafat, pilgrims will move to Muzdalifah to complete the remaining rites of the pilgrimage. As pilgrims do this, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid Al-Adha, which this year occurs tomorrow, Tuesday, November 16th. On this day, animals are sacrificed and their meat distributed to the needy. Celebrations also include a group prayer and a day spent with family and friends.
Have you ever been to hajj? What was your experience? How do you celebrate Eid Al-Adha? Have you ever been to an Eid celebration? Please share your experiences below.