9th Dhul Hijjah: Going from Mina to Arafat in the morning
Going to Muzdalifah by nightfall
This is absolutely the most important day of hajj. You will be packing a small backpack again, as you will spend the night in Muzdalifah (and it can get chilly out in the open). Arafat is to be reached before Zuhr prayers. Again, since all the pilgrims will be leaving the same day, and scrambling to get there by noon, you might be stuck in traffic for the better part of the morning.
The good news is that the government of Saudi Arabia has started a train service between Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat. The train ride to Arafat took about 15 minutes. However, because of the huge crowds, it can take a few hours before you can get on.
There are tents in Arafat, but as everywhere else, hajis also line every inch of the streets, some in their own tents, some without even those. Bathrooms facilities are very limited. Try to watch how much you eat and drink.
If your package does not include a tent in Arafat then take an umbrella. It gets very hot out in the open.
When you reach Arafat, pray like you have never prayed before. Ask for Allah’s forgiveness, His mercy, His blessings and the resolve to become good, strong Muslims. Thank Him for everything He has given you. Pray that not a single spark of hell fire reaches you or your loved ones and you come to deserve the highest place in heaven. Pray for your family, friends, all the innocent and oppressed, your country and the entire Muslim ummah.
Famous landmarks are the Mount of Rahmah and the Nimra Mosque. You can try to go to these places, but it is not necessary. Is it really wise to be battling the crowd to get to a place you are not even required to go to when you could be spending that time praying?
Zuhr and Asr are prayed together. Sundown is believed to be the most important part of the day, and that is when you do a summation of every reason that you are standing before Allah that day and that brought you to perform this hajj and ask for anything and everything that you could possible desire, but keep in mind that Allah knows best what is good for us. Immediately at sundown, the pilgrims pack up their things and leave for Muzdalifah. Do not worry about Maghrib prayer. It is to be prayed together with Isha at Muzdalifah.
Take snacks and water with you.
Again, we took the train to Muzdalifah and the train trip took about 7 minutes. Bus rides can take hours. Try to go with the flow. No need to get worked up about things you have no control over.
Muzdalifah is basically wide open land where the pilgrims stay for all or part of the night. There won’t be any food, tents or any kind of accommodation. You might be advised to bring sleeping bags by your company. Don’t. They are big and bulky, and you may have to walk a lot carrying your stuff. Secondly, you do not know when you might reach there and when you might have to leave, resulting perhaps in you spending no more than a couple of hours there. Thirdly, there is no room for a full sleeping bag in Muzdalifah. You will be lucky to find enough space to curl into a ball to lie down at all, while having people step on you. A haji mat is a much better choice, available in the markets of Mecca and Medina. The night can get chilly. I actually covered myself with my prayer rug.
There are few public bathrooms, and none of the travel companies have reserved facilities.
There is no separation of the sexes here. You might be lying next to a complete stranger. You will be too exhausted to care.
This next part is very important to clarify and to understand.
Pilgrims are to spend all night in Muzdalifah and leave for Mina right after Fajr. However, the Prophet (pbuh) allowed women, children, the elderly and their companions to leave for Mina early, after spending only part of the night in Muzdalifah. This made the night easier for them and allowed them to complete the next steps of hajj in good time, avoiding the crowds. Conclusion: Women, the elderly and their companions may leave Muzdalifah before Fajr. There is no penalty for doing so.
Before leaving Muzdalifah, don’t forget to collect at least 49, or 70 pebbles (depending on how many days you will be in Mina) for each person (no larger than a kidney bean).