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Islamic Holidays: Observing the Day of Arafah

A popular saying about the Day of Arafah goes:

There is no day on which Allah sets free more slaves from Hell than He does on the Day of `Arafah.

In this article, we’ll focus on the importance of the Day of Arafah for Muslims, go over how it’s celebrated, and introduce you to some useful Arabic vocabulary. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is the Day of Arafah?

The Religious Site of Arafah in Egypt

The word Arafah comes from the word Ta’aruf, which means “to know one another.” However, there’s no definite information about why this day was called Arafah. Some researchers say it’s because people get to know one another on this day. Others say it’s because Arafah was where Adam and Eve met for the first time and recognized each other after being sent down to reside on Earth.

The Day of Arafah, sometimes called the Day of Forgiveness, is one of the most significant holidays in the Muslim religion. It marks the second day of the Hajj, the Muslim يحج (yeḥeǧǧ), or “pilgrimage,” to Mecca. This is considered a time of repentance, forgiveness, and دعاء (duʿāʾ), or “supplication.” 

So, what happened on the Day of Arafah that gave it this status? 

Many Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad gave his final sermon on the mountain of Arafah. This sermon indicated the perfection of the Muslim religion and the completion of God’s blessings (that is, His forgiveness of their sins).

2. When is the Day of Arafah This Year?

A Crescent Moon in a Black Sky

Here’s a list of this holiday’s date on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

  • 2020: July 30
  • 2021: July 19
  • 2022: July 9
  • 2023: June 28
  • 2024: June 16
  • 2025: June 6
  • 2026: May 26
  • 2027: May 16
  • 2028: May 4 
  • 2029: April 23

3. Customs and Traditions for the Day of Arafah

A Muslim Woman Praying in Front of a Tree

As mentioned, this is the second day of the pilgrimage to Mecca. At dawn, pilgrimaging Muslims say a special prayer as they prepare to leave Mina. Before arriving at the holiest site called كعبة (kaʿbah), or “Kaaba,” in Mecca, Muslims gather at Arafah. This gathering place is so important to the pilgrimage that the entire journey is seen as invalid without this stop.

At Arafah, they say prayers, make supplications and invocations, and ask forgiveness from Allah. Supplication on the Day of Arafah, often called Dua, refers to speaking with Allah. One may speak with Allah for help in one’s own life or ask for His interference in a loved one’s life. On the Day of Arafah, Dua is often done while prostrating on the ground, facing the Kaaba. It’s also said that anyone who asks for Allah’s forgiveness on this day will receive it. Muslims listen to a خطبة (ḫuṭbah), or “sermon,” from the Pilgrim’s Imam while at Arafah, which takes place before the noon prayer. 

Those who are unable to make the pilgrimage are encouraged to fast. Fasting on the Day of Arafah is said to ensure Allah’s forgiveness for the current year and the next year, even if they didn’t participate in the pilgrimage. 

On or before the Day of Arafah, many Muslim mothers buy new هدوم خروج (hodūm ḫorūg), or “outerwear,” and pajamas for their children. They then encourage their children to wear the new pajamas for feast night on the Day of Arafah, because this provides an opportunity to teach them about the virtues and meaning of the holiday.

4. Popular Dua for the Day of Arafah

We’ve mentioned supplications (Dua) quite a few times in this article, but what exactly do these sound like? 

Well, Muslims are allowed to make supplication in their own words, but there are a few popular Dua that Muslims like to use. For example, there are many Dua for fasting on the Day of Arafah and for breaking fasts (such as the fast of Ramadan). 

Possibly the most popular Dua on the Day of Arafah, though, is:

There is absolutely no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah, Alone, without any partner. To Him belongs the Kingdom, and all praise is due to Him, and He is Powerful over everything.

You can read more about common Dua on TheRamadanKareem.com

5. Must-Know Day of Arafah Vocabulary

The Kaaba in Mecca, the Holiest Muslim Site

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words and phrases from this article!

EnglishArabicRomanizationPart of Speech + Gender
MountainجبلǧabalNoun, masculine
ResearcherباحثbāḥeṯNoun, masculine
Day of Arafahيوم عرفةyūm ʿarafahNoun, masculine
ArafahعرفةʿarafahNoun, masculine
PilgrimageيحجyeḥeǧǧVerb
LunarقمريqamarīAdjective
KaabaكعبةkaʿbahNoun, feminine
RiteمنسكmansakNoun, masculine
SacrosanctحرمḥaramNoun, masculine
SupplicationدعاءduʿāʾNoun, masculine
ForgiveيغفرyeġferVerb
InvocationابتهالebtehālNoun, masculine
SermonخطبةḫuṭbahNoun, feminine
Outerwearهدوم خروجhodūm ḫorūgNoun, feminine
FastيصومyeṣūmVerb
PajamaبيچامةbīǧāmahNoun, feminine

Remember that you can find each of these words with an audio pronunciation on our Day of Arafah vocabulary list

Final Thoughts

The significance of the Day of Arafah for Muslims can’t be overstated. This is a day of incredible forgiveness, a chance to show one’s love and devotion to Allah, and also a time to get to know fellow Muslims. 

What are your thoughts on the Day of Arafah? And what are some of the biggest religious celebrations or events in your country? Let us know in the comments! 

If you want to continue learning about Egyptian culture and Islamic holidays, ArabicPod101.com has several free resources for you, straight from our blog:

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