Should the visit to Arafat during Hajj only be done with a group?


I have been told that Hajj, and specifically the visit to mount Arafat, cannot be observed if one is on his/her own. They quote 2:198 where God says “and when you file down from Arafat”, saying that the command is for the plural and not to a single person, and also that the words “file down” indicates leaving Arafat among a group, please advise the truth in this, wasalam.


: The implication of the word “affadtum” in 2:198

The word used in 2:198 is “afadtum”. This has been translated by some as “file”, others have translated it as “disperse” and others have translated it as “return from” or “hasten from”. As a result, the interpretations of this word are varied and are not conclusive.
Hence, we must analyse the whole verse within the framework of Hajj in general in order to arrive at a satisfactory rational meaning.

: The implication of various Quranic commands which are addressed to the plural

In 2:198 God is indeed addressing all the believers who would be observing Hajj and not one single person. But we also note that this collective address is not only confined to the visit to Arafat, but if we read the verses to follow 2:198, or other verses which speak of Hajj, we read that God is still using the collective address. As an example, in 2:200 God says, “when you have completed your rituals”, which is again a collective address. This confirms that this collective address is not only related to Arafat.
The question here becomes whether the use of the plural, in 2:198 or in numerous other Quranic verses, denotes that the ritual in question can only be observed in a group or not so. To investigate this matter, we look at the following:

In 5:6 God says: "O you who believe, when you get up to observe the Salat, wash your faces and your arms to the elbows."
In 5:6 God is speaking to the plural "O you who believe". So should we equally say that Wudu (ablution) cannot be observed on our own but must always be performed with a group of people?

Another example is in 4:43 where the words start with, "O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while you are intoxicated".
Should we again say that since God speaks to the plural, then the prohibition of Salat falls only on those who are intoxicated as a group? Would a single person who is intoxicated on his own thus be allowed to observe his Salat?

In 2:183 once again God speaks to the believers and says, "O you who believe, fasting is decreed upon you". Once again the plural is used, does this mean that we can only fast in a group and not on our own?

There are many other examples where the plural is used yet it does not mean in any way that the ritual (spoken of) can only be observed in a group.
This is not any different in 2:198, God speaks to all people who perform Hajj and not just one person, and thus the use of the plural. God speaks to all people, but the ritual can be observed by any person on his/her own.

If we look at 2:198 yet again, we read the words:

There is no blame upon you for seeking favour from your Lord. Then when you 'afadtum' (disperse) from Arafat, commemorate God at the Mashaar Al-Haram. You shall commemorate Him for having guided you, for before that you were among the misguided. 2:198

The words
"there is no blame upon you for seeking favour from your Lord" address the plural. So should we also say that we cannot seek favour from God except if we are in a group?


: Should the Hajj and the visit to Arafat only be observed with a group?

When God wants us to follow a specific law which He decreed, God tells us so clearly, God does not give us His law in the form of puzzles which we have to decipher in order to know what God wants us to do!
There is nowhere in the Quran where God says in clear words that to go to Arafat we must be with a group!
God in His infinite wisdom knows that there will come a time when very few people will be following the Quranic allowance to observe Hajj at any time during the 4 ‘Hurum months’ (2:197). As a result, many believers who would be going to observe Hajj after the first 10 days, but still within the 4 months, may be on their own. Would God deprive them of observing Hajj till they go and find a whole group to go with?

Editor's Note

When I observed my Hajj, I visited Arafat and it was during the month of Rabi Al-Awwal. The month of Rabi Al-Awwal is the last of the four ‘hurum months’.
I was hoping to see some ‘Quran alone’ believers there observing their Hajj like myself, but sadly all I saw during the couple of hours I was there on that day were a handful of souvenir sellers with their merchandise laid on mats on the ground! But at the time I was there, I was the only person performing Hajj!
I could not go at any other time as I was tied to specific times due to my flight arrangements and my visa. There was no way, even if I wanted to, for me to file down from Arafat with any others, there were no others! Would God thus deem my Hajj as void and obsolete because I was not in a group?