The picture on the left shows Mount’ Arafah on the plain of Arafat. Standing at Arafat is the fundamental requirement of Hajj and pilgrims come here on the 9th Dhul Hijjah (second day of Hajj).
The common meaning of the word Arafat is ‘to know’. After being taken out of Jannah and placed on Earth, it was here that Adam (a.s.) and Hawa (a.s.) met up.’.
Standing on Arafat is an essential part of the Hajj; whoever misses the standing on Arafat has missed Hajj, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Hajj is Arafat.” [al-Hakim]
The day of Arafah has many virtues, as was narrated in many Ahadith. Aisha (r.a) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said:“There is no day in which Allah sets free more souls from the fire of hell than on the day of Arafat. And on that day Allah draws near to the earth and by way of exhibiting His Pride remarks to the angels, ‘What is the desire of these (servants of mine)?” [Muslim]
In another Hadith the Prophet (s.a.w.) said:“Apart from the day of the Battle of Badr there is no day on which the Shaitan is seen to be more humiliated, more rejected, more depressed and more infuriated, than on the day of Arafat, and indeed all this is only because of beholding the abundance of descending mercy (on the day) and Allah’s forgiveness of the great sins of the servants.“ [Mishkat]
A man from among the Jews came to Umar (r.a.) and said: “O Amirul-Muminin, there is a verse in your Book which, if it had been revealed to us Jews, we would have taken that day as a festival.” Umar (r.a.) asked, “Which verse?”to which the Jew replied,“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [al-Maidah, 5:3]
Umar (r.a.) said: “We know the day and the place in which that was revealed to the Prophet (s.a.w.); it was when he was standing on Arafat, on a Friday.”
There once existed a masjid on the right slope of Jabal-ur-Rehmah called Masid Sakhrah. It signified the spot where the Prophet (s.a.w.), after leading the Zuhr and Asr salahs faced towards the Qibla and engaged in dua till sunset. It was at this spot where the above verse of the Quran was revealed. Note that it is stated in a Hadith that no further verses were revealed after this one with regards to halal and haram.
One of the virtues of the day of Arafah is that fasting this day expiates for the sins of the past and coming year. It was reported from Abu Qatadah that a man said:“O Messenger of Allah, what do you think of fasting on the day of Arafat?” He said: “It expiates for the sins of the previous year and of the coming year” [Muslim]
This (fasting) is mustahab (desirable) for those who are not on Hajj. In the case of the one who is on Hajj, it is not Sunnah for him to fast on the Day of Arafat, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) did not fast on this day when he was in Arafat.