One of the features of a believing Muslim is that he/she always wants to grow closer to Allah and constantly seeks His satisfaction. For this reason, there are numerous narrations from the infallible Imams (A.S) indicating the right time and place for seeking closeness to Allah.It is clear that God is the Most Gracious, and his Mercy is always bestowed upon humankind wherever they are. However, there are special times and places at which God’s benevolence towards His creatures becomes even greater. One of these occasions is the Day of Arafah.
The ninth day of Dhu al-Hijjah (the final month of the Islamic lunar calendar) is the day of Arafah when Hajj pilgrims stand on the plain of Arafat (a vast desert about 20 km southeast of Mecca) to pray. Arafah can be translated as knowing, understanding or theosophy .
According to historians, it was on the plain of Arafat where Adam and Eve met each other once again after their descent from heaven and long separation upon the Earth, and their sins were forgiven by Allah.
It also recalls how Gabriel taught the prophet Abraham (AS) all the Hajj rituals on the plain of Arafat.
The day of Arafah is so important that Imam Hussain (AS), the third infallible Shia Imam, recited the famous supplication of Arafah one year during his pilgrimage to Mecca on this day.
Arafah is one of the most blessed days in Islam that carries a lot of merits for the ones who are present on the plain of Arafat and other people elsewhere. This day in its blessedness and sacredness weighs the same as the Night of Qadr. It has been narrated, “People who were not able to achieve their purpose in the Night of Qadr or those who were not forgiven on that day, Arafah is the last opportunity for them” .
So, many Muslims occupy themselves with reciting the Holy Quran, prayer, and supplications hoping that there would be more opportunities for them to be forgiven by Allah on this special day. One of the best deeds performed by Shia Muslims is reciting Imam Hussain’s (AS) supplication of Arafah, which best represents the spirit of this day. Contemplation on this amazing supplication which encompasses facts about monotheism and its degrees will ultimately bring us closer to Allah.
In this supplication, we first praise God in a loving and friendly manner. Then we count the blessings God has bestowed upon us, and after confessing our misdeeds and sins, we ask Allah to forgive them. That is when we put forth our request to God. Now let’s recite and think about some of the most beautiful verses from this supplication (Dua): (You may also find the audio and the English subtitle of this supplication here.)
“Praise be to Allah Whose determination cannot be repelled by anything, whose gifts cannot be stopped by anything, and Whose making cannot be resembled by the making of anyone. He is the All-magnanimous, the All-liberal.”
“Even before that (before you showed me the right path), You had compassion on me, through Your excellent conferral and Your affluent bestowals. So, You fashioned my creation from semen that gushed forth and put me up in triple darkness among flesh, blood, and skin. You have not made me witness my creation, and You have not referred any part of my creation to me.”
“So, Exalted be You, O All-merciful, O All-beneficent. When I commenced (my life) by pronouncing words, You perfected for me the affluent bestowals and brought me up to an increase every year. When my creation was accomplished, and my power became straight, You put me under the obligation of Your Claim, which is that You inspired me with recognition of You and alarmed me by the wonders of Your wisdom.”
“As You created me from the best of soil, You, my God, have not wanted for me to have a certain favor (and to be deprived of another) and You, therefore, provided me with the various kinds of living and types of wealth, out of Your great and grand conferral upon me, and Your eternal kindness to me.”
“And I bear witness, O my God, with my true belief, and the fortitude of the determinations of my conviction and the purity of my open belief in Your Oneness and the essence of the secret of my conscience, and the ties of the canals of the light of my sight, and the lines of my forehead and the hallows of the courses of my breath, and the (nasal) cavities of my nose, and the courses of the meatus of my hearing, and whatever my two lips hide and cover up, …”
“I bear witness) that if I try my best and strive throughout all ages and at all times, if I live them, to thank properly only one of Your favors, I will not be able to do that, except through a favor of You, which also requires me to thank You for it, once again with new thanking and with praise that is newly acquired and newly prepared.”
“It is I who did wrong. It is I who had evil intention…I now acknowledge of my sins; so, (please) forgive them to me.”
Arafah is one of the best days to turn to God with sincere repentance. Allah, on this day, accepts the repentance of His servants and grant them forgiveness if they are truly regretful and determined to give up their sins.
“O Allah, (please) make me fear You as if I can see You. Make me happy by fearing You. Do not make me unhappy by disobeying You. Choose for me through Your decree. so that I will not long for hastening that which You have delayed or delaying that which You would hasten.”
Eventually, you will find yourself immersed in the ocean of Allah’s mercy, which is what a true believer always seeks.
“O Allah, Verily, You are the nearest of those who are prayed, You are the promptest of those who may respond, the most generous of those who may pardon, and the most responding of those who are asked. O All-beneficent of the world and the Hereafter, and All-merciful!”
In different cultures or religions, people pay special attention to some specific numbers. For example, numbers 7, 40, and 70 are amongst lucky numbers, and number 13 is known to be a cursed number in some cultures. However, the significance of the number 40 among many cultures and religions is very noticeable. Therefore, this question may arise that what is so special about this number? Can number forty bring luck and happiness to people? Is it a fact or just a superstition? Let’s have a quick look at the background of the number forty in different religions.
Number forty has been mentioned in the Bible in different verses:
1- Jesus (PBUH) fasted "forty days and forty nights" in the Judean desert. (Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2).
2- Forty days was the period from the resurrection of Jesus to the ascension of Jesus (PBUH). (Acts 1:3).
3- Rain fell for "forty days and forty nights" during the Flood (Genesis 7:4). 
Number forty is mentioned in the Quran four times:
1 & 2- Prophet Moses (PBUH) spent 40 days on Mount Sinai, where he received the ten commandments (2: 51, 7: 142).
3- Prophet Moses (PBUH) and his people were lost in the desert for forty years. (5: 26)
4- As mentioned in the Quran, It seems that the age of forty should be the time when a human being is supposed to reach his/her intellectual perfection and understanding of life. This is the time when one can plan the rest of his/her life in a way to gain the most from this world for the hereafter:
“… When he comes of age and reaches forty years, he says, ‘My Lord! Inspire me to give thanks for Your blessing with which You have blessed my parents and me, and that I may do righteous deeds which please You, and invest my descendants with righteousness. Indeed I have turned to you in penitence, and I am one of the Muslims.” (46: 15)
It is narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) that “When one becomes forty years old, Allah tells his two guardian angels, ‘From now on, be strict on him and note every small and big deed he does’” . The narration emphasizes that the age of forty shapes the personality of a person, and if he/she is still unable to manage his/her life, it is his/her fault for having wasted his/her life in the wrong way.
There are so many narrations from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) that mention number forty. Here we list a few of these narrations:
1- “He who purifies his faith for Allah for forty days, Allah will flow the springs of wisdom from his heart to his tongue” .
2- “The prayers of the one who drinks wine are not accepted for forty days unless he repents”  [i].
3- “The prayers of a person who gossips would not be accepted for forty days and nights” .
Some scholars say that number forty is used to emphasize the significant amount of something.
4- “One who leaves his house to gain a gate of knowledge by which he deviates the wrong towards righteous, or deviance to guidance, his deed is equal to forty years worship of a worshipper” .
In some cultures, it is a tradition that forty days after a passed-away person’s burial, close relatives and friends gather in a place with the family of the late person and remember the passed-away person and wish peace and patience for his/her family. In this manner, they show the family of the deceased person that they are not alone, and people will help them and support them when required.
It is based on this tradition, taken from the conduct of the Prophet (PBUH & HP) and his Progeny (AS) that Muslims travel to Karbala on the 40th (Arba’een) martyrdom commemoration of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions; Not only to sympathize with the household of Prophet (PBUH & HP) on this event, but to show their gratefulness for their courage in preserving the true Islam and the conduct of the Prophet (PBUH & HP). More importantly, Muslims show that the aim of Imam Hussain (AS) is still observed and taken care of.
Based on the importance that some verses of the Quran and narrations of the Prophet (PBUH & HP) give to number forty, Muslim scholars, especially those who are fond of Islamic mysticism and self-purification, pay special attention to number forty in their conducts and life-style.
Therefore, there is nothing wrong with trying to benefit from the blessings that the number forty may have. And it is trustworthy because Allah and the Prophet (PBUH & HP) have mentioned it. However, normal human beings do not have a real knowledge of numbers and the wisdom behind them.
As mentioned in a narration earlier, the Prophet (PBUH & HP) says that if you purify your faith for forty days, you will see a great result.  The reason is that if one works so hard on his/her spirituality to be able to purify his faith for forty days, it will become a habit for him. Allah says in the Quran, “Be wary of Allah, and Allah will teach you, and Allah has knowledge of all things” (2: 282), which is very much relevant to the mentioned narration. Therefore, one interpretation of doing something for forty days is that whatever you do for this long period, with persistence, will become your habit, and after something becomes a habit, you can easily go on with it for the rest of your life.
To sum up, there is no such thing as lucky or cursed numbers. And instead of trying to find luck in numbers, one should work hard to develop his personality, spirituality, knowledge, and wisdom.
But the reason number forty has been mentioned by the Prophet (PBUH & HP), and Islamic scholars might be a symbol of enormousness, meaning that if you persist in doing something for a considerable amount of time, it will become your habit. However, the reason why they insisted on number forty might be because they wanted to spread unique conduct and a specific discipline among the believers.
[i] Some may think that if praying and fasting are not accepted for forty days after drinking, then it will be OK if they do not pray or fast for forty days after they drink. It should be noted that praying and fasting are still compulsory for the person who drinks. However, the sin is counted so huge that they should repent from it, deciding not to commit it again, and say their prayers and perform fasting and other obligations.
- number in religion
Al-kafi, Vol 8, P. 108
Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 67, p. 242
Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, vol. 17. P. 57
Al-Kafi, Vol. 6, p. 400
Amali- e Tousi, p. 118
Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 67, p. 242
Fasting in Ramadan is an essential Muslim Ritual. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, meaning that they try to stand against all human temptations. They do not eat and drink from dawn to dusk, besides trying not to do all the evils which they are ordered no to do, like telling lies, backbiting, etc. Quran insists on the importance of fasting in many verses. The most relevant Quranic reference to Fasting in Ramadan is as follows:
"O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be God-wary. That for known days. But should any of you be sick or on a journey, let it be a [similar] number of other days. Those who find it straining shall be liable to atonement by feeding a needy person. Should anyone do good of his own accord, that is better for him, and to fast is better for you, should you know." (2: 183-184)
But what are the effects and the outcomes of Fasting in Ramadan? Why does the holy Quran insist on Fasting, calling it a ritual for the believers to come to Allah's way? Let's study a few purposes and effects of fasting together.
Fasting in Ramadan is a great help in growing patience. Tolerating hunger and thirst for long hours makes one more tolerant. It augments the power of self-control, be it physically or mentally, control over habits and putting aside bad and wrong behaviors. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) calls Ramadan the month of patience: "O people, surely there is a month in which exists a night, worthier than a thousand nights, and that's the month of Ramadan. Allah obliges us to fast, and that is the month of patience." 
According to the verse above (2: 183), the purpose of Fasting is getting closer to Allah, and being more devoted to Him. This verse is referring to the reality behind those hardships, which is finding a better self and a more Allah-knowing creature. And this is the path of perfection for each of us. It brings us good, both here and in the afterlife  Besides, through submitting to Allah's will, despite its challenges and hardships, we learn to serve Him under any circumstances and lay our trusts on whatever He had destined for us. Fasting in Ramadan is a chance to remind us that Allah's command is above any of our desires and wishes, and at the same time, His will undoubtedly results in our own benefit.
Fasting is a ritual that is done just for Allah. One who fasts is only considering the satisfaction of Allah, and that is their ultimate goal. As a result, Allah gives extra values to those who fast. He considers his/her sleeping worship, his/her silence a remembrance of Allah. He accepts his/her rituals and responds to his/her Dua . Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) narrates that Allah said: "fasting is for me, and I AM the one who praises that."  This has a lot to say; it shows the greatness of the strives of human beings to keep themselves away from sins and also eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse. He has created us and knows the difficulty, and He is the one who best knows how to praise the efforts of His own creatures.
According to a research done on the effects of fasting on growing self-esteem, reducing stress and depression and better mental health on 60 medical students, it's been concluded that the test takers who fast had higher self-esteem, less depression, and anxiety, obsession, phobia, paranoid thoughts, hostility, etc. 
Besides its beneficial mental effects, Fasting has great impacts on physical health. Our body uses the sources of unused energy inside during Fasting, and that causes the repulse of many toxic combinations in our body. Some medical practitioners believe that Fasting is a great cure for cancer. It also cures many digestive diseases in the stomach, intestines, and bladder. In another study on medical students, the results showed that Fasting had a significant effect on the immunity of their cells and total better cell activity .
These are just some of the purposes of Fasting. One needs pages to write about the positive effects of this ritual. In our other articles, we will discuss Fasting more.
- Thavab-al-Ammal, p 143
- Kanzol Ammal, Hadith 564
- Savvab ol Ammal, p 77
- Saduq, "While there is no Faqih," Vol. 2. P 43
- Javanbakht, Maryam (2010) Study on the effects of fasting in the month of Ramadan on self-esteem and mental health of medical students Fundamentals of Mental Health, Pp 73-266
- The effects of Fasting from the Medical Practitioner's point of View, Zanjan University at