By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, and may His blessings and peace be upon the Messenger after whom there are no Messengers.
Dear brothers and sisters! Know that the ninth day of the month 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 Prophetic 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 Qur’anic verse 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.” [Qur’an, 5:3]
Arafah was the day on which Allah perfected His religion, completed His favours upon His beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and approved Islam as a way of life. Imam Ibn Kathir in his tafsir (Qur’an exegesis) says:
“Imam Ahmad recorded that Tariq Bin Shihab said, “A Jewish man said to Umar Bin Al-Khattab, ‘O Leader of the Believers! There is a verse in your Book, which is read by all of you (Muslims), and had it been revealed to us, we would have taken that day (on which it was revealed) as a day of celebration.’ Umar Bin Al-Khattab asked, ‘Which is that verse?’ The Jew replied:
“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.”
Umar replied, “By Allah! I know when and where this verse was revealed to Allah’s Messenger. It was the evening on the Day of Arafah on a Friday.”
The day of Arafah is also significant because Allah swore by this day in Qur’an, in Surah al-Buruj. It is known that Allah Almighty swears by nothing except that which is great and mighty, so the Day of Arafah is greatly significant:
“By the sky containing great stars. And [by] the promised Day. And [by] the witness and what is witnessed.” [Qur’an, 85: 1-3]
It was reported from Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The promised day is the Day of Resurrection, the witnessed day is the Day of Arafah, and the witnessing day is Friday.” [Tirmidhi]
It is a recommended Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) for those who are not pilgrims to fast on this day since the Prophet (Peace be upon him) 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 (Peace be upon him) 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]
Respected servants of Allah! Arafah falls on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah. For those wondering when is 9th Dhul-Hijjah? It is expected to fall on coming Monday, 19th July 2021, although this is subject to the sighting of the moon of the country.
• Things to Do on the Day of Arafah
- 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]
- Du’a of Arafah: Saying this Du’a very often:
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said of the Day of Arafah Du’a:
“The most excellent Du’a is the Du’a 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 Allah, 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.”
- Making much of Tahlil, Takbir, Tahmid and Tasbih:
It is a Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to recite the Tahlil, Takbir and Tahmid as many times as possible on the day of Arafah, and also on the days of Tashriq (11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah).
• Tahlil is to say “La ilaha illal-lah”
• Takbir is to say “Allahu Akbar”
• Tahmid is to say “Alhamdulillah”
• Tasbih is to say “Subhanallah.”
- Seek forgiveness from Almighty Allah:
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“On this day (Arafah), 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 as the sand or the froth of the sea, I shall forgive them.”
Dear brothers and sisters! The day of Arafah is among the most virtuous days. On that day, supplications are answered, sins are forgiven, and Allah boasts to the angels of the people of Arafah. It is a day that Allah granted a great value to and favoured over other days. It is the day of perfecting the religion and completing the favour and the day of forgiveness of sins and salvation from Hellfire.
You should know the virtues of this day, how Allah favoured it over other days and the guidance of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) therein. I ask Allah to save us from Hellfire on that great day. Ameen.
My beloved people! In sum, the day of Arafah is among the holiest times of the year in Islam. It commemorates the finality of revelation and the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage. We should increase our good deeds, prayers, and supplications during this time. If we are not present at Arafah, it is best to fast the day in remembrance. If we are on the plain of Arafah, it is best to save our strength for worship.
My Dear brothers and sisters! As the Hajj season approaches, let us also consider the story of Prophet Ibrahim, his wife Hajarah and their son Isma’il (May Allah send peace and blessings on them). This amazing family left us a great legacy that has become the foundation of the Hajj. Their story is relevant for all Muslims, for all times, and there’s a particular resonance for us today, as we shall see…
Prophet Ibrahim’s father was a devout mushrik, an idol worshipper. Despite all his son’s efforts, the father adamantly refused to stop worshipping idols. When he died he was still in denial of Allah. Prophet Ibrahim, the Khalil (Friend of Allah), the quintessential monotheist, the Patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, could not save his father. We, too, must accept that we have no real power to influence others, not even our own parents, to accept Islam. Allah chooses to guide whom He pleases.
“Anyone who is guided by Allah, he is truly guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him.” [Qur’an, 18:17]
Our duty is only to share what Allah teaches, without pressure, without clever tricks. Allah is not in need of any of His creatures. We need Him. Prophet Ibrahim destroyed the idols that his people worshipped, except for one. When the people asked him who did it, he pointed to the remaining idol. They told him the idol couldn’t have done it, so he asked them how is it that they worship something that can neither harm them nor help them! It couldn’t even defend itself from being destroyed! But such is the arrogance of misguided people, that logic and wisdom is wasted on them. Instead of using their Allah-given reason and logic, they resorted to violence.
They tried to burn Prophet Ibrahim to death. He, on the other hand, was completely calm and unafraid, relying on Allah, and reposing his trust in Allah at all times. Allah commanded the fire to be cool, and thus Ibrahim (AS), survived. When He and his wife, Hajarah arrived in the desolate valley of Bakkah, she repeated asked him why they had come there. He said nothing. Then, when she asked, is it Allah’s wish? He confirmed that it was indeed so. She immediately accepted this, without complaining. Both husband and wife knew that no matter how dire the situation, they were always safe in Allah’s hands.
“In His Hand is all Good. Allah has power over all things.” [Qur’an, 3:26]
Later, left alone with a hungry and thirsty infant child, she rushed from hilltop to hilltop in search of water, between Al-Safah and Al-Marwah. We commemorate this event during the Hajj, in Ramyi and Sa’ayi. She ran in desperation, she made the effort, and her effort and her pleading for help from Allah was well rewarded. The water came, in limitless abundance, like Allah’s mercy pouring out to his devoted servants. The Angel Jibril (AS), caused the well of Zamzam to gush pure, clean water from below baby Ismail’s feet, and for thousands of years, day in, day out, 24/7, it still flows today, refreshing and purifying millions of pilgrims.
Let us think of Zamzam as Allah’s mercy overflowing, waiting to quench our spiritual thirst, our quest for meaning, our quest for nearness to Allah. When Allah ordered Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice what he loved most, both he and Isma’il knew what that meant. Neither father nor son had the slightest hesitation. They fully understood what ‘we hear, and we obey means.’ No questions, no lame excuses. Just do it! Shaitan (Satan) attempted, thrice, to dissuade Prophet Ibrahim to change his mind. On each occasion, Prophet Ibrahim refused, and pelted Satan with stones. Today every pilgrim pelts 3 stone pillars in the very same place as our Prophetic ancestor did. We, too, symbolically reject the promptings of Shaitan within us, We too, take refuge in Allah from our own inner demons…
Prophet Ibrahim prepared to make a painful sacrifice. At the crucial moment when the sharp-bladed knife touched his son’s jugular vein, Allah caused another miracle: A ram, a sheep, appeared where Isma’il patiently awaited his fate. Instead of Isma’il, the ram was slaughtered. Ismail’s life was spared. Prophet Ibrahim’s trial was over. Allah wanted to show us, and all generations to come until the end of time, what it means to love Allah, what it means to obey his every command. Today we still remember that willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice. We offer sheep, goats, cows or camels, sacrifice/layyah might only be a small symbolic gesture, but the lesson is timeless, and awesome. As the Noble Qur’an reminds us, it is not the meat that reaches Allah, it is the taqwa, the piety, the cautious awareness of our Creator, the awe-inspired reverence, filled with love, fear and hope.
How many of us will be ready to make this kind of sacrifice? How many of us will be willing to devote our most beloved to Allah? Our wealth, our families, our possessions seem so important to us. But where does Allah fit into our scheme of priorities? Do we really love Allah as much as we should? Is our greatest love reserved for Allah, or do we have more love for what He has created? Here’s some food for thought, my dear brothers and sisters.
“Surely, my prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death is for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds. No partner has He, and I am first among the Muslims.” [Qur’an, 6:162]
This beautiful declaration was one of Prophet Ibrahim’s wonderful gifts to us. Every time we recite this prayer, at least 17 times a day, we re-dedicate our lives to Allah’s service. We remind our forgetful and infinitely distractible human nature, where our true priorities lie. Let us remember with gratitude the awesome debt we owe Prophet Ibrahim and his family. We acknowledge this debt every time we pray, asking Allah to send peace and blessings on Prophet Muhammad and his family, just as he sent peace and blessings on Prophet Ibrahim and his family.
My dear brothers and sisters! The Noble Qur’an reminds us to follow Prophet Ibrahim, who associated no partners with Allah, and whose way is described as the Hanif way. What is the Hanif way? Hanif means, to turn away from idol worship, to make no associations with Allah, to incline towards goodness, to be orthodox, to be a primordially upright person. This is the way of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), and all those who worshipped Allah, even during the time of ignorance, the time of Jahiliyyah.
Let us, during these momentous days of Dhul-Hijjah, remember Prophet Ibrahim, Allah’s peace and blessings on him. Let us remember who he was and what he lived for and died for. His great legacy is still with us today: Love Allah more than anyone or anything else, be willing to sacrifice anything in Allah’s cause, and strive your whole life to be a primordially upright person. Try to be a loyal friend, a loving wife or husband, an exemplary parent, a loving son or daughter, a helpful neighbour and a good, law abiding citizen. This is the Hanif way, the way of Prophet Ibrahim and his family, the ‘Millata Ibrahimah.’ Brothers and sisters, to conclude my Khutbah (sermon):
“Surely Allah commands justice, good deeds and generosity to others and to relatives; and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, so that you may be reminded.”
“And remember Me: I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and do not reject faith.”
“And without doubt, Remembrance of Allah is the Greatest Thing in life, and Allah knows the deeds that you do.”
I ask Allah to bless this day for us and all Muslims everywhere.
I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Qur’an and Sunnah.
I pray, He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction!
O Allah! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us.
Dear brothers and sisters! Anything good I have said in my today’s sermon is from Allah the Almighty, and any mistakes are my own and I seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.
With this I conclude the sermon and ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving and Most Merciful.
All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected] or +2348038289761.