Proceeding to Arafat on the eighth day of Dhul-Hijjah instead of going to Mina
We have reviewed request no. 3334 for the year 2005, which includes the following inquiry:
Is it permissible for a pilgrim to proceed to Arafat on the eighth day of the month of Dhul Hijjah instead of going to Mina because of the crowding that occurs while climbing up to Arafat?
The eighth day of Dhul Hijjah is the day of Tarwiyah [the eight day of Dhul Hijjah]. It was given this name because the pilgrims would rest themselves, their animals, and their voluntary sacrifices, and they would water them on their way to Arafat. They did this in order to prepare for that great day and the other ceremonies of Eid following that day, on the Day of Immolation, and on the three days following the Eid [ayam al-tashreeq].
The Sunnah is to go there during mid-morning and to pray the Noon, Midafternoon, Sunset, and Night Prayers while there, and to shorten them from four raka’ prayers to two raka’s, but without combining them. It is also a sunnah to stay the night in Mina, pray Fajr, and then set out to Arafat at mid noon. If the pilgrim did any thing in contrast to this, and went to Arafat on the eighth day to avoid the crowdedness, there is nothing (no sin) on him and his pilgrimage is valid. What matters is that he has left a recommended act for an excuse, perhaps he will be rewarded for the thing he would have done if not for the excuse. Expiation is due in case of omitting obligations, not Sunnan.
God the Almighty knows best.