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What Is the Meaning of “Yaum Al-Hajj Al-Akbar” in Quran?

25 August, 2016
Q What does Allah mean by "Yaum Al-Hajj Al-Akbar" in surat at-tawbah, verse 3? What is Al-Hajj Al-Akbar anyway? Is there more rewards for Arafah falling on Friday? And is that what is meant by Al-Hajj Al-Akbar?


Salam Dear Brother,

Thank you for your questions and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Initially Al-Hajj Al-Akbar means the major pilgrimage, which is Hajj performed in the month of Zul-Hijjah; while the minor pilgrimage is Umrah that is performed at any other time of the year:

Ibn Masood (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“You have been ordered to establish four things – establish prayers, give alms, establish Hajj and Umrah to the House; and Hajj is the major pilgrimage while Umrah is the minor pilgrimage” (Al-Haithami in Mojmaa Al-Zawaid – Hasan)

There are many other authentic hadith relating the same information; therefore, every Hajj is Al-Hajj Al-Akbar, unlike the common misconception that when Arafah coincide on a Friday then it is called Al-Hajj Al-Akbar.

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The translation of the verse you quoted is:

{And a declaration from Allah and His Messenger to mankind on the greatest day (the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah – the 12th month of Islamic calendar)…} (At-Taubah, 9:3)

Maududi explained the above statement as follows:

Yaum Al-Hajj Al-Akbar refers to the 10th of Zul-Hijjah and is also known as Yaum-un-Nahr (day of sacrifice). This has been explained by the Holy Prophet in an authentic Tradition. On the 10th of Zul-Hijjah, during the last Haj of the Holy Prophet, he asked the people, “What is this day?” The people answered, “It is the day of Sacrifice.”

The Holy Prophet said, “This is the day of Al-Hajj Al-Akbar” (Al-Bukhari).

Here the word Al-Hajj Al-Akbar (Great Pilgrimage) has been used in contrast to Al-Hajj Al-Asghar which the Arabs used for ‘Umrah’. Thus, the Hajj which is performed in the prescribed dates of Zul-Hijjah is called Al-Hajj Al-Akbar.”

Ibn Al-Qayyim also mentioned in his book Zad Al-Miaad:

“The day of the major pilgrimage is the day of sacrifice”

As for Arafah falling on a Friday, there is nothing in authentic Islamic sources that suggests that the Hajj is more rewarding. However, scholars have concluded that because two blessed days have coincided then there is more blessings due to the following facts:

Arafah is the best day of the year and Friday is the best day of the week based on the following hadith; Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“The best day on which the sun rises is Friday. On it Adam was created, on it he was admitted to Paradise, on it he was expelled therefrom, and on it the Hour will begin. On that day there is an hour when no Muslim slave asks Allah for something good but He will grant it to him.” (Sahih Muslim)

The prophet’s only hajj also happened to have fallen on a Friday. On that day, he (peace be upon him) received one of the most important verses in the Quran; Narrated Umar Ibn Al-Khattab:

Once a Jew said to me, “O chief of believers! There is a verse in your Holy Book which is read by all of you (Muslims), and had it been revealed to us, we would have taken that day (on which it was revealed as a day of celebration.”

Umar bin Al-Khattab asked, “Which is that verse?” The Jew replied, {This day I have perfected your religion For you, completed My favor upon you, And have chosen for you Islam as your religion.} (Al-Maeda, 5:3) Umar replied, “No doubt, we know when and where this verse was revealed to the Prophet. It was Friday and the Prophet (peace be upon him) was standing at Arafah (i.e. the Day of Hajj)” (Sahih Al-Bulhari)

I hope this helps answer your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.