All Praise be to Allah S.W.T, who has enabled us to be approaching the blessed days of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the Blessed House of Allah S.W.T. May Allah S.W.T accept the hajj of those who have gone and make it a Hajj-e-Mabroor. Aameen Ya Rabbal Aalameen!
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ “ الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةُ مَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَالْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةُ ”
It is narrated by Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Prophet S.A.W said: ‘An Umrah to an Umrah, is an expiation of the sins which were committed between them, and for a Hajj-e-Mabroor, there is no less a reward for it than paradise’ 
The Ulamaa tell us that a Hajj-e-Mabroor is, when a person from the time he enters into his Ihram, until the time he exits from his Ihram, he doesn’t commit any sins at all. It is the consensus of the Ulamaa that both, the major and minor sins will be wiped by a Hajj-e-Mabroor .
Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam, upon which it is Fardh-e-Ayn (a personal obligation) upon every Muslim to complete at least once in their lifetime. It was during the Hajj in which Allah S.W.T had revealed the verse:
الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ
‘Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My Grace upon you, and I have approved for you Islam as your religion’ 
Hajj was the practice of all the previous nations, The Prophet S.A.W did many pilgrimages before it was made obligatory. However, after it was made obligatory, The Prophet S.A.W only did it once. This is to show the people that he should try to complete his Hajj with utmost perfection, as thought it could be his first and last Hajj. Hajj is a time in which the abundant mercy of Allah S.W.T is descending upon the pilgrims, as well as upon the blessed lands of Makkah and Madinah.
There are also many virtues of Hajj, The Prophet S.A.W said:
عن ابي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ مَنْ حَجَّ لِلَّهِ فَلَمْ يَرْفُثْ وَلَمْ يَفْسُقْ رَجَعَ كَيَوْمِ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ
‘He who makes Pilgrimage to the House of Allah S.W.T, abstaining from indecent behaviour, emerges from his sins like a new-born baby’ 
The Day of ‘Arafah
Out of the many virtuous days of Hajj is the blessed day of ‘Arafah. When the pilgrims gather at the plains of Arafah, with their heads uncovered, under the open sky, praying and supplicating to their Lord.
The great Shafi’I jurist, Imam Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad Al Ghazali says in his book ‘Inner dimensions of Islamic Worship’:
‘It is said that Iblees had once appeared to a man at Arafat in human form, he was thin, exhausted and tearful. When asked regarding why he was weeping, he said ‘the fact that the pilgrims have come only for the sake of Allah S.W.T and not for any other worldly affairs makes me sad’ When he was asked regarding his thinness, he replied, ‘The neighing of the horses in the path of Allah S.W.T, it would please me if they were in my service’ When asked regarding his tired complexion, he replied, the way the pilgrims help each other in obedience, it would be better if they would help each other to disobey’.
‘It is also said that when Allah S.W.T forgives a sin of one servant at the plains of ‘Arafah, He also forgives it for every single pilgrim present there who is guilty of that same sin.’
The day of Arafah is also a very significant day as Allah S.W.T swore by this day as mentioned in the Qur’an in Surah Al-Burooj:
‘And By the witness and what is witnessed’ 
Regarding this verse, Abu Hurairah narrates that The Prophet S.A.W said:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ الْيَوْمُ الْمَوْعُودُ يَوْمُ الْقِيَامَةِ وَالْيَوْمُ الْمَشْهُودُ يَوْمُ عَرَفَةَ وَالشَّاهِدُ يَوْمُ الْجُمُعَةِ وَمَا طَلَعَتِ الشَّمْسُ وَلاَ غَرَبَتْ عَلَى يَوْمٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنْهُ فِيهِ سَاعَةٌ لاَ يُوَافِقُهَا عَبْدٌ مُؤْمِنٌ يَدْعُو اللَّهَ بِخَيْرٍ إِلاَّ اسْتَجَابَ اللَّهُ لَهُ وَلاَ يَسْتَعِيذُ مِنْ شَرٍّ إِلاَّ أَعَاذَهُ اللَّهُ مِنْهُ ”
‘Al-Yawmul-Maw’ood (the Promised Day) is the Day of Resurrection, and Al-Yawmul-Mash-hood (the Attended Day) is the Day of ‘Arafah, and Ash-Shahid (the witness) is Friday.” He said: “The sun does not rise nor set, upon a day that is more virtuous than it. In it, there is an hour in which no believing worshipper makes a supplication to Allah S.W.T for good, except that Allah S.W.T answers it for him, and he does not seek Allah’s aid for something, except that He aids him in it.” 
What should be done on this day?
It is a recommended sunnah of The Prophet S.A.W for the non Haajis to fast on this day, because of the hadith in which Abu Qatadah R.A narrates that the Messenger of Allah S.A.W said:
عَنْ أَبِي قَتَادَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ “ صِيَامُ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ إِنِّي أَحْتَسِبُ عَلَى اللَّهِ أَنْ يُكَفِّرَ السَّنَةَ الَّتِي قَبْلَهُ وَالَّتِي بَعْدَهُ ”
‘Fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah, I hope from Allah S.W.T, expiates for the sins of the year before and the year after’ 
The best dua to make on the day of Arafah has also been taught to us by The Prophet S.A.W:
عَنْ طَلْحَةَ بْنِ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ كَرِيزٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ أَفْضَلُ الدُّعَاءِ دُعَاءُ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ وَأَفْضَلُ مَا قُلْتُ أَنَا وَالنَّبِيُّونَ مِنْ قَبْلِي لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ ”
Talha ibn Ubaydullah ibn Kariz R.A narrates that the Messenger of Allah S.A.W said, “The best dua is dua on the day of Arafah, and the best thing that I or the Prophets before me have said is ‘There is no god but Allah, alone, without any partner’
Also, this is a day in which we should be increasing in our Adhkaar and supplications to Allah S.W.T, Laa Ilaaha Illallah, Subhaanallah, Alhamdulillah, Astaghfirullah.
Also, this is a day in which we should be seeking forgiveness from Allah S.W.T from all our sins. Regarding this, Ibn Musayyab narrates, Aisha RA said, Indeed the Prophet S.A.W said:
عَنِ ابْنِ الْمُسَيَّبِ، قَالَ قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ مَا مِنْ يَوْمٍ أَكْثَرَ مِنْ أَنْ يُعْتِقَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ عَبْدًا مِنَ النَّارِ مِنْ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ وَإِنَّهُ لَيَدْنُو ثُمَّ يُبَاهِي بِهِمُ الْمَلاَئِكَةَ فَيَقُولُ مَا أَرَادَ هَؤُلاَءِ ”
‘There is no day on which Allah S.W.T 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 praises them to His Angels saying, ‘What are these people seeking.’ 
As well as this, it is also encouraged for the non-pilgrims to make dua to Allah S.W.T under the open sky in order to mimic the pilgrims who are standing at the plains of Arafat, making dua to Allah S.W.T. Ibn Umar narrates that the Prophet S.A.W said:
عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ ”
‘Whoever resembles a group of people, will be counted amongst them’ 
Insha’Allah, by acting upon this hadith, those who were unable to perform their hajj can be included amongst those pilgrims standing at the plains of Arafat.
May Allah S.W.T accept the hajj of those who have gone to the blessed lands, accept all of our duas made during these blessed days and ease the suffering around the world.
Aameen Ya Rabbal Aalameen!
1 – Sunan Ibn Maajah, Book 25, Hadith 3000
2 – Surah Al- Maaidah, Aayah 3
3 – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 25, Hadith 9
4 – Surah Al-Burooj, Aayah 3
5 – Sunan At-Tirmidhi Book 47, Hadith 3661
6 – Sunan Ibn Maajah, Book 7, Hadith 1802
7 – Muwatta Malik, Book 15, Hadith 504
8 – Sahih Muslim, Book 15, Hadith 492
9 – Sunan Abi Dawood, Book 34, Hadith 12