The sunnah, or tradition of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was to fast on this day:
The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafa. He said, "It expiates the sins of the previous year and of the coming year." ~ Sahih Muslim
This is the day the Hajj pilgrims gather in the Valley of Arafat just outside Makkah to spend the day in prayer, contemplation and finally celebration. My heart yearns to be where they are, to stand before Allah (SWT) and ask for everything I need in this world and the next and to beg for forgiveness for my sins.
Aa'ishah (radhi allahu anha) narrated the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) saying: “There is no day on which Allah frees more people from the Fire than the day of Arafat. He comes close and expresses His pride to the angels saying, 'What do these people (the Hajis) want?'” ~Saheeh Muslim
Subhan’Allah, this is the day that the Prophet (PBUH) delivered his last sermon to his Companions, with the reminder that these words should be carried to every living person. I can’t help read these words with tears in my eyes, thinking about what the Companions must have felt knowing that the Prophet (PBUH) was delivering his final message. I also feel pride at this beautiful faith and the inherent justice and mercy within its message. I feel joy at the revelation that came down at the end of the sermon:
“…This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My Grace upon you, and have chosen Islam for you as your religion…” (Quran 5:3)
Most of all I feel so very blessed to be a Muslim and a part of this beautiful ummah. Those are at Arafat today will see people from every nation and tribe, from every ethnic group imaginable, man and woman, rich and poor, old and young stand together with their arms raised in supplication as equals before Allah (SWT) and as brothers and sisters.
The Final Sermon
After praising, and thanking God, the Prophet, may God send His praises upon him said:
“O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore, listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.
O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. God has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. God has Judged that there shall be no interest, and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn Abd’al Muttalib shall henceforth be waived...
Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.
O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under a trust from God and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.
O People, listen to me in earnest, worship God, perform your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and offer Zakat. Perform Hajj if you have the means.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; white has no superiority over black, nor does a black have any superiority over white; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.
Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me, and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O people, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray.
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and it may be that the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people.”