By now, the many millions of pilgrims who are already in Mecca would have started their hajj journey. Clad in ihram, they will now head for Arafah; the plains located east of Mecca for Wukuf. Wukuf or the Grand Essembly marks the climax of the annual hajj pilgrimage.
The Prophet Muhammad SAW stressed that "Hajj is [the essembly at] ‘Arafah."
I remember very well, a few years ago, I was a part of that massive crowd traveling in orderly manner, heading to the sacred plains of Arafah. Talbiyah "labaik allahuma labaik, labaik la sharika laka labaik, Innal hamda wann’imat laka wal mulk, la sharika lak" was chorused by pilgrims in my bus during the entire 24 km journey between Mecca and Arafah.
View of Arafah plains from Jabal Rahmah (Mount of Mercy); the place where Adam and Eve met after being overthrown from heaven.
Wukuf begins from Zuhur prayers on 9th Zulhijjah until the fajar of 10th Zulhijjah. During the entire day at Arafah, from dawn until sunset, my time was preoccupied with continuous dzikir, doas and tasbih.
The Arafah experience was indescribable. Tears were shed easily when I performed my solats and during the intense moments of seeking forgiveness and mercy from God Almighty. That night when we did solat tahajjud, taubat and tasbih, the desert air was pleasantly cool. As we bowed our heads during our sujuds and rukuks, it felt as if, we might not see tomorrow anymore. Everything felt stationary, providing the solemn assurance of greatness of our Creator.
Arafah was so sacred. I just wanted to be there forever, submissive to God AlRahman. As evening enveloped, after my solats, I raised my two hands asking from Him and praying for his abundant forgiveness. And, it was in Arafah that I saw the most beautiful sunset on the horizon far ahead. Subahanallah…….