8th Dhul Hijjah – Yawm-ut-Tarwiyah
The first day of Hajj is the 8th day of Dhul-Hijjah, known in Arabic as Yawm-ut-Tarwiyah (the day of fetching water and quenching thirst).
It is known as Yawm-ut-Tarwiyah because in the past there was no source of water on the actual plains of ‘Arafah and Mina. The plains for the most part are wide, open valleys, dry and barren.
Because of the scarcity of water in the area, the pilgrims were instructed to prepare for the long days ahead by feeding and supplying their animals and riding beasts with sufficient water. The pilgrims would also fetch water for themselves and fill their water skin bags. It is for this reason the day was given the name Yawm-ut-Tarwiyah (the day of fetching water and quenching thirst).
Yawm-ut-Tarwiyah is a preparation for the days to follow and in particular the 9th day—the anticipated day on which The King of the worlds Forgives. The pilgrim looks forward to and hopes for that meeting. He is eager to meet Allah and is rewarded with the like. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah will love to meet him, and whoever dislikes to meet Allah, Allah will dislike to meet him.” [Bukhari]
What do the pilgrims do on the 1st day of Hajj?
1. Regardless of their location, whether they are in a hotel, in Mina or at Makkah, the hujjaj (pilgrims) prepare themselves to enter the state of ihraam: taking a thorough shower. Men put on perfume and wear the two white garments. As for women then they wear their regular clothes.
2. Once they are ready to travel to Mina, they pronounce the words of ihraam, “Labbayk Allahumma Hajj,” which epitomizes the purpose of this journey, “Here I am O Allah, for the Hajj.”
3. In Mina, the pilgrims generally remain there for the entire day and night until after Fajr the next day.
9th Dhul Hijjah – Yawmul-‘Arafah
The second day of Hajj is the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, known in Arabic as Yawm-ul-‘Arafah (the day of ‘Arafah). There are different explanations as to why that day was called ‘Arafah or ‘Arafāt. Three are as follows:
1. The root letters of ‘Arafah linguistically mean ‘to be acquainted with, to know.’ It is said that ‘Arafah was the place where Adam and Eve re-united when they were sent down to reside on earth. They came down on two different spots but eventually were able to meet and recognize each other on this plain.
2. Since pilgrims spend most of that day on the same plain, some become acquainted with others. So it is a place of ta’aruf (getting to know one another), and because of the great number of people making ta’aruf, the word ‘Arafat was coined.
3. It is the place where pilgrims acquaint themselves with their King and Master. They raise their hands beseeching Him, asking for their needs and wants. They empty their hearts to Him, speaking of every fear and regret, seeking His forgiveness and counsel, asking for His grace and favour.
The Day of ‘Arafah is certainly a tremendous day; a blessed day chosen by Allah; an immense gathering of goodness, iman, and taqwa. A day wherein the King draws close to His faithful subjects; He speaks of them with happiness and satisfaction, rather He boasts of them. A day when many tears are shed and prayers pour forth in succession, one after the next; an abundance of mercy descends, and mistakes and errors are pardoned. It is a grand occasion of worship and obedience, of joy and happiness for both the King and His honoured slaves and visitors.
It is a day of hope, devotion, and humility. It is a lofty, blessed day, and the sun has not risen on a day better than it. Its special, noble, distinguishing qualities are too numerous to count.
On this promising and sacred day, Allah frees many from the Hell-fire, purifying them and breaking the shackles that once bound them, and then generously gives His believing slaves from His kingdom, and speaks proudly of them to an audience who have especially gathered to witness their every statement and action, the angels, “There is no day on which Allah frees more servants from the Fire than the Day of ‘Arafah. He indeed draws near and He then speaks of them proudly in the assembly of the angels saying, ‘What do they seek?’” [Muslim]
Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr commented, “This shows that they have been forgiven, since He does not boast about sinful people except after they repent and are forgiven.”
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allah descends to the lowest sky (in the manner He know best) and speaks proudly, boasting to His angels about the pilgrims at ‘Arafah saying, ‘Just look at my servants! They have come to Me with dishevelled hair and covered in dust.’” [Ahmad]
“As for the standing at ‘Arafah, Allah descends to the lowest sky and boasts of the people at ‘Arafah to the angels saying, ‘Here are My slaves! They have come to Me with dishevelled hair and covered with dust, from every distant pass. They seek My Mercy and fear My Punishment, although they have not seen Me. And what would be their state if they had seen Me!’ (Even) if you have sins like the number of grains of sand, the number of days of the worldly life or the number of drops of rain, Allah will nevertheless forgive them for you.” [Musannaf ‘Abd Al-Razzaq]
‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak said, “I went to Sufyan ath-Thawri on the afternoon of the day of ‘Arafah and found him down on his two knees with his eyes shedding tears, and I began to cry. He turned to me and asked, ‘What is the matter?’ I said, ‘Who is the worst in this gathering?’ He replied, ‘A man who thinks that Allah will not forgive him.’” Thus, it is imperative for the pilgrim to remain eager of profiting on this hallowed day; to be humble, submissive, and remorseful before his King, hoping for His mercy, generosity and forgiveness, fearing His wrath and punishment; repentant to Him from all sins which his hands earned him or his feet may have led him to; not wasting his time on this auspicious occasion by wandering here and there or talking about random things. Instead, he should devote himself to his King and Guardian; remembering and mentioning Him much; earnestly and humbly entreating Him and seeking His forgiveness.
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “The best supplication is the one made on the day of ‘Arafah, and the best thing I and the other Prophets before me have said is, ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah alone, having no partner. To Him belong all dominion and praise, and He is over all things Omnipotent.’” [Tirmidhī]
Thus, the day of ‘Arafah is one of du’a, and the best dhikr is ‘la ilaaha illallah.’ He (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) would make plentiful mention of the best dhikr on the most virtuous of days, since the day of ‘Arafah is the best of days and ‘la ilaha illallah’ is the best dhikr, and repeating it often on that day is most pleasing and proper.
What do the pilgrims do on the 2nd day of Hajj?
1. On that day, most pilgrims will be in Mina. They pray Fajr in their camps at Minq. After sunrise, they start their final preparation for the journey ahead.
2. As they all head to ‘Arafah, they chant the talbiyah (Labbayk) continuously.
3. Once the pilgrims reach ‘Arafah, they take their places in their pre-assigned camps and wait until the call for the prayer is announced.
4. When the time for prayer approaches, the imam, who delivers the sermon, stands to remind the congregation and those in the surrounding areas with what is known as the sermon of ‘Arafah. The call for the prayer is then announced, the imam then leads his congregation in the Zuhr and ‘Asr prayers, combined and shortened, each performed in units of two with one adhan and two iqamahs.
5. Once the prayer is complete, the pilgrims spend the rest of the day in active devotion, performing many acts of worship.
The pilgrims are obliged to stay within the boundaries of ‘Arafah until pass sunset. Anyone who violates this, risks invalidating his entire Hajj.
After ‘Asr, the plains of ‘Arafah transform into a completely different sight. Hundreds of thousands of people are now realizing the imminence of the end of this blessed day, and engage in a passionate and vigorous du’a.
People will be standing and sitting everywhere, on the side of the road, on different hill-tops, and on the top of their cars and buses, raising their hands and voices with du’a, and shedding tears and voicing their worries in a hope that they will be forgiven all their sins.
6. Once the day comes to an end and right after sunset, the pilgrims head back towards Mina. On their way to Min, they will stop for the night at the plains of Muzdalifah. They pray Maghrib and ‘Isha’, where Maghrib is offered in the full three units whilst ‘Isha’ is shortened into two.
It is the sunnah of the Prophet, and therefore for the pilgrims, to spend the entire night in Muzdalifah, resting. Subsequently, the best act of worship at Muzdalifah is to rest and sleep.
It is permissible for people of legitimate excuses to leave the plains of Muzdalifah after half of the night has passed, in order to avoid being caught in the crowd and the heavy traffic. Elderly men and women, the sick and disabled, and those who work to serve the pilgrims are permitted to leave early and continue with the rituals of Hajj before the great crowd arrives.