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Why the world needs Islam's Day of Arafat. Now.


The day of Arafat, though the most excruciating for the millions of pilgrims performing Hajj in Saudi Arabia today, marks the peak of the pilgrimage, but it comes as no surprise to know it provides the most poignant lessons for current events.

Pilgrims of Hajj, or 'Hujjaj' as they are widely known in Arabic, ascend upon the 'Mount of Mercy' – a small hill on the plain of Arafat east of Mecca – where they spend much of the day both supplicating and pondering over words said on this exact site 1400 years earlier.

It is on this mount, according to Islamic text, where the Prophet Muhammad stopped to deliver what would be his final yet most lasting sermon, soon after he finished his own Hajj pilgrimage.

The Prophet, surrounded by thousands of his followers, began with acknowledging the importance of the day, stating "O people just as you regard this month, this day as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust".

Standing under the scorching desert sun, he went on to utter words that have resonated through the sands of time and remain significant for much of the world today.

"All mankind is from Adam and Eve," he said.

"An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab. Also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over white, except by piety and good action."

Now – and by sheer coincidence, the world seems to be near-breaking point and in dire need of the supplications of the Hujjaj.

More than 40 million people have been displaced from their homes due to conflict and poverty and millions of others across the region, in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, wake up to the sounds of bombs and airstrikes by fighter jets roaming their once peaceful skies.

In places like the US and Britain, black voices (still) calling for equal treatment are drowning behind the sounds of police gunshots that so frequently seem to target them.

Likewise, Muslims across much of the world, and most recently in Europe, continue to face Islamophobic rhetoric from government institutions which they say discriminate against their faith.

Extremists groups – from the Islamic State to right-wing fanatics – parade across the world threatening human life, once described as sacred by the Prophet that the prior ironically quotes and which the latter so openly criticises.

Hajj is the most important pilgrimage in the lifetime of a Muslim, and it is no coincidence that this speech - which incorporates all the values we stand by and are in dire need of today - was uttered here. As Muslims, we have been divinely ordered to revisit this spot to revisit, revitalise and comprehend the importance of justice.

So one can only hope that when this year's Hujjaj return home to all corners of the earth, they disperse the Prophet's final message of mercy, to a world which has quite obviously forgotten.

#Islam #Arafat

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