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The Significance of Eid ul Adha, Day of ‘Arafat and Hopefulness

As the season of the Hajj pilgrimage comes to an end, it is anything but anticlimactic. The Day of ‘Arafat and Eid Al-Adha alike are a reminder to Muslims to remember God with full hope despite the circumstances. 

When Prophet Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his oldest son Ismail (Ishmael), it wasn’t until the last second that God saved Abraham from killing his own son and replacing Ismail with a sheep. The devout Abraham thanked God and remained steadfast throughout his prophetic mission with hope in his Lord. 

Hundreds of thousands of worshippers gathered on Mount ‘Arafat this year, as they do every year, in the scorching desert heat to seek God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness for their sins and excesses. The religious observances of the Day of ‘Arafat are not confined to those performing Hajj but are also observed by millions of Muslims around the globe.

On ‘Arafat day, many may fast, pray separatory prayers, and partake in the famous reading of Dua al-Arafat , a prayer Imam Husayn ibn-Ali, grandson of the Holy Prophet if God peace be upon him, infamously recited on his way to Karbala where he was ultimately martyred with his family and companions. The prayer is so highly regarded and recommended in the traditions (ahadith) that should a person be afraid the weakness of fasting will prevent him or her from reading the prayer, then they should opt-out of fasting to ensure the reading of the prayer is completed with presence and vitality.

In the prayer, Imam al-Husayn says:

O He toward whom my gratitude was little, yet He deprived me not! My transgression was great, yet He disgraced me not! He saw me committing acts of disobedience, yet he made me not notorious! O He who watched over me in childhood! O He who provided for me in my adulthood! O He whose favors toward me cannot be reckoned and whose blessings cannot be repaid!

And elsewhere, he also says:

O He Who had guided me to faith before I learnt showing gratitude! O He Whom I besought in sickness; so, He restored me to health, in bareness; so, He covered me, in hunger; so, He satiated me, in thirst; so, He quenched my thirst, in humility; so, He granted me dignity, in ignorance; so, He taught me, in loneliness; so, He increased my number, in foreignness absence; so, He returned me home, in poverty; so, He enriched me, in victory-seeking; so, He supported me, and in richness; so, He did not deprive me.

When I withheld praying to Him in all these situations, He took the initiative. So, all praise and thanks be to You; O He Who overlooked my slips, relieved my agonies, responded to my prayer, covered my flaws, forgave my sins, settled my need, and supported me against my enemy. If I count Your bounties, favors, and liberal gifts, I will never number them.

The Day of ‘Arafat is a day of hope, mercy, and forgiveness. Seeking God’s forgiveness should be the worshipper’s main priority and ultimately, they should feel assured they have been forgiven by the day’s end. When the sun begins to set and worshippers on Mount ‘Arafat begin their descent, they will feel refreshed as the forgiveness of the All-Merciful God has been showered upon them. The certainty of God’s forgiveness on this day (especially) is so iron-clad that it is said the only sin that is unforgivable is the sin of doubting whether God has forgiven the believer by the day’s end. Similarly, the millions of Muslims observing from their homes ought to strive for the same goal: seeking God’s forgiveness and feeling certain of having achieved it.  

Through the lessons of Eid ul Adha and the Day of ‘Arafat and its practices, Muslims are reminded that hopefulness in God is powerful, encouraged, and unlimited. They are only guilty of false hopes when they place too much hope in others or in themselves, but not in God. There is no limit to how much hope one should have in Him.

Just as Prophet Abraham submitted to God’s Will and relied only on His Lord, it is a lesson for others to do the same; personally between themselves and their sins through God’s forgiveness, and socially when they see the Palestinians resisting their oppressor. 

No matter how bleak things seemed, or how close the dagger really was to Ismail’s neck, Ismail was saved by God after full submission to God had been achieved.

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