By Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (rahimahullah)
And accomplish the Hajj and the ‘Umrah for Allah, but if you are restricted, then whatever available of the animal offering. And shave not your heads until the offering reaches its place. But if anyone of you is ill, or has some trouble with his scalp, then there is a ransom through fasting or alms giving.
And when you are safe, then, whoever avails the advantage of the ‘Umrah alongwith the Hajj, shall make whatever available of the animal offering.
And whoever finds none shall fast for three days during Hajj, and for seven days when you return; thus they are ten in all. This is for him whose family are not residents of Al-Masjid al-Haram. And fear Allah and be aware that Allah is severe at punishment. The Hajj is (in) the months well-known. So whoever undertakes Hajj therein, then there is no obscenity, no sin, no quarrel in the Hajj. And whatever good you do, Allah shall know it.
And take provisions along, for the merit of provision is to abstain (from asking). And fear Me, O men of understanding. There is no sin on you that you seek the bounty of your Lord (by trading).
Later, when you flow down from ‘Arafat, recite the name of Allah near Al-Mash’ar al-Haram (the Sacred Monument) and recite His name as He has guided you while before it, you were among the astray. Then flow down from where the people flowed, and seek forgiveness from Allah. Certainly Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.
And once you have fulfilled your rites, recite the name of Allah, as you would speak of your forefathers or even with greater fervor. Now among the people there is one who says: “Our Lord, give to us in this world…;” and he, in the Hereafter, has no share. And there is another among them who says: “Our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter and save us from the punishment of Fire!’ For them there is a share of what they have earned, and Allah is swift at reckoning. And recite the name of Allah during the given number of days. Then whoever is early in leaving after two days, there is no sin on him and whoever remains behind, there is no sin on him, if he is God-fearing. And fear Allah and be sure that you are going to be gathered before Him. [Surah Baqarah 2:196-203]
Injunctions concerning Hajj and ‘Umrah
The Hajj, with the strong consensus of the entire Muslim Ummah, is a pillar among the cardinal pillars of Islam and an important obligation. It has been clearly emphasised in the many verses of the Holy Qur’an and in numerous authentic ahadith.
According to the majority opinion, the Hajj became an obligation in the third year of Hijrah, that is, in the year the battle of Uhud was fought, through the verse (and as a right of Allah, it is obligatory on the people to perform hajj of the House) of Surah Aal ‘Imran (Ibn Kathir). In this verse, conditions of the obligation of Hajj have been stated and a stern warning has been given to those who do not perform Hajj in spite of having the ability to do that.
Out of the eight verses before us, the first verse: And accomplish the Hajj, and the ‘Umrah for Allah was revealed, as agreed upon by the commentators, pertaining to the event of Hudaybiyyah which took place in the year 7 A.H. This teIls us that the purpose of the verse is not to declare the initial obligation of the Hajj; that has been stated already. Instead, the intention here is to convey some special injunctions governing Hajj and ‘Umrah.
The Injunction about ‘Umrah
However, Surah aal ‘Imran which declares Hajj as an obligation restricts itself to Hajj alone; ‘Umrah is not mentioned there, while the present verse mentions ‘Umrah, but does not state whether it is basically ‘necessary’ or ‘obligatory’. It rather says that a person who begins Hajj or ‘Umrah by going into Ihram, then, it becomes wajib or necessary for him to complete that, very much like voluntary prayers or fasting where the rule is that after one starts them, their completion becomes necessary. Therefore, we do not find out from this verse the answer to the question: Is ‘Umrah wajib, or is it not? It simply tells us that once one starts it, it becomes wajib or necessary for him to complete it.
Ibn Kathir cites, with reference to al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi, a report from the blessed Companion Jabir that he asked the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam): ‘Is ‘Umrah wajib?’ He said: ‘Well, not wajib, but that you do it is better and meritworthy.’ (According to al-Tirmidhi, this hadith is hasan sahih). This is why Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik and others say that ‘Umrah is not wajib, but a sunnah. Looking back at the statement in the present verse that completing Hajj and ‘Umrah after one has gone into Ihram becomes wajib or necessary, we face the question as to what happens if, after entering into the state of Ihram, there comes up some sort of compulsion which makes it impossible to complete the Hajj and ‘Umrah. What has to be done in such cases has been clarified in the succeeding sentence which begins with “but if you are restricted.”
Rules concerning Ihram
As this verse pertains to the event of Hudaybiyyah where the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and his Companions were in a state of Ihram and the disbelievers of Makkah had stopped them from entering Makkah and performing ‘Umrah, thereupon came the injunction that the fidyah or ransom to get released from the Ihram is to offer the sacrifice of an animal, such as, a goat, cow or camel whichever is easy to get. After the sacrifice has been offered, Ihram can be removed, but within the next sentence (And shave not your heads) it has also been pointed out that removing the Ihram, which is legally possible only after having shaved or close-trimmed the hair on the head, is not permissible until the sacrificial animal of the person in a state of Ihram reaches its destined spot and is actually slaughtered.
The expression ‘reaching its place’, according to Imam Abu Hanifah, means that it should be taken into the sacred precincts of the Haram and slaughtered there. If one cannot do it personally, he can authorise someone else to do it on his behalf. The situation of being ‘restricted’ by an enemy is clearly mentioned in this verse. Imam Abu Hanifah and some other jurists are of the view that if somebody is unable to complete Hajj or ‘Umrah (after wearing Ihram) because of sickness, he can also avail of the concession given by this verse, because the words ‘if you are restricted’ are so general that they include the restriction imposed by sickness also.
The manner in which the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has practiced the instructions given in the Holy Verse is sufficient to disclose that although it is allowed in such an emergent situation to remove the Ihram after offering a sacrifice, yet it will remain obligatory to perform the Hajj or the ‘Umrah afresh as a qada’ (whenever the circumstances allow to do so). That is why the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and his Companions did perform the ‘Umrah next year as a qada’ for the ‘Umrah missed by them at Hudaybiyyah.
In this verse, the shaving of the head has been indentified as the signal for removing the Ihram which proves that shaving the head (halq) or trimming the hair (qasr) in a state of Ihram is forbidden. In view of this, the next injunction tells us the way out for one who faces a compelling need to shave his head in a state of Ihram.
Shaving in the state of Ihram
In the text of the Holy Qur’an, it is said: if one is forced to shave hair on the head, or any other part of the body, because of some ailment or irritating lice, one can do so in proportion to the need, but it has to be redeemed by giving fidyah in the form of fasting, charity or sacrifice. The place for sacrifice is fixed; it has to be offered within the limits of Haram. There is no such fixed place for fasting and charity; these obligations can be accomplished anywhere. The number of fasts and the amount of charity find no mention in the words of the Holy Qur’an, but in a hadith of Sahih al-Bukhari, the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prescribed in a similar situation faced by the noble Companion Ka’b ibn ‘Ujrah that he should fast for three days or give 1/2 sa’ of wheat as charity to six needy persons. This 1/2 sa’ comes to approximately 1.632 kilograms of wheat or its price in cash.
Combining Hajj and ‘Umrah during Hajj months
Before the appearance of Islam, the Arabs in Jahiliyyah would not combine Hajj and ‘Umrah during Hajj months, that is, after the advent of Shawwal. They thought it was a sin. Towards the end of this verse, their misconception was corrected by restricting the prohibition on combining Hajj and ‘Umrah during the months of Hajj to only those who live within the limits of Miqat because it is not difficult for them to return for ‘Umrah after the Hajj months. But, for those coming from outside the Miqat limits, it was declared permissible because it is not easy for them to make a special trip exclusively for ‘Umrah all the way from such distances. Miqat is one of the several stations appointed by Allah Almighty on every route leading to Makkah from all over the world and it has been made obligatory on everyone proceeding to Makkah to wear Ihram at this point to perform Hajj or ‘Umrah. Going beyond this appointed place without Ihram is a sin. That is, combining Hajj and ‘Umrah’ is permissible only for a person whose family does not live within the environs of al-Masjid al-Haram, or in other words, within the limits of the appointed stations known as Miqat.
However, those who combine the Hajj and ‘Umrah during the Hajj months are obligated to demonstrate their gratefulness for having been allowed to combine two acts of ‘Ibadah. This gratitude is expressed by offering a sacrifice, if one is capable of that. This sacrifice may be offered by slaughtering a goat, cow or camel whichever is easy. But, one who is financially incapable of doing so, he is obligated to fast for ten days, the first three within the Hajj days completing them by the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, the rest of seven fasts he can complete after the Hajj at a place and time of his choice. He could do so while living in Makkah or when he returns home. If a person fails to fast for three days during the Hajj days, for him, in the view of revered Companions, and Imam Abu Hanifah, offering a sacrifice is mandatory. As soon as it is possible, he can have the sacrifice offered in the Haram through someone he knows [Jassas].
Al-Tamattu’ and Al-Qiran; the two kinds of Hajj
Combining the Hajj and ‘Umrah during Hajj days takes two forms. The first method is to enter into Ihram for Hajj and ‘Umrah both right from the Miqat. This is known as Al-Qiran in the terminology of hadith. Under this method the release from the Ihram is tied with the release from the Ihram of Hajj. The pilgrim has to stay in a state of Ihram until the last day of Hajj. Under the second method it is possible to enter into Ihram exclusively for ‘Umrah from a Miqat and after reaching Makkah al-Mukarramah, and performing the fixed rites of ‘Umrah one can get out of the Ihram. After that, when getting ready to go to Mina on the eighth of Dhul-Hijjah, he should enter again into the Ihram of Hajj right within the Haram. This is technically known as Al-Tamattu’. Literally, the word Tamattu’ covers both methods since it means ‘to have the benefit of combining Hajj and ‘Umrah both’ which is equally applicable to both the methods detailed above. The wordings (Then, whoever avails of the advantage) in the present verse of the Holy Qur’an have been used in this general sense.
The warning against violation of rules
The verse 196 ends up with the words ‘Fear Allah’ which is a command to adopt Taqwa – a Qur’anic term which has no equivalent in the English language, and denotes the attitude of fearing and abstaining from doing anything against rules set by Allah Almighty. This command has been followed by a warning: and be aware that Allah is severe at punishment which means that anyone who knowingly acts against the injunctions revealed by Allah Almighty, for him the punishment of Allah is severe. The people who go in our days for Hajj or ‘Umrah are widely negligent of this warning. To begin with, they do not make the necessary effort to find out the rules of Hajj and ‘Umrah. Then a good many do not follow the rules strictly, even if they have the knowledge. Bad guides or careless fellow pilgrims sometimes make one miss the obligatory acts, let alone the sunnah and the proper etiquette of the pilgrimage. May Allah bless all of us with the ability to correct what we do.
The Hajj Months: Prohibitions
We now move to the second verse out of the eight that deal with the rules of Hajj, which is: ‘The Hajj is (in) the months well-known’. The word, ashhur is the plural of shahr meaning the month. It will be recalled that in the previous verse it was said that one who enters into Ihram with the intention of doing Hajj or ‘Umrah must complete it as prescribed. Out of these two, there is no fixed date or month for ‘Umrah which could be done anytime during a year. But, for Hajj, the months and the dates and timings of what one must do are all fixed. It is for this reason that the verse opens with the clarification that the Hajj (unlike ‘Umrah) has some fixed months which are already known. The months of Hajj have been the same from Jahiliyyah also; they are Shawwal, Dhul-Qa’dah and the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah as it appears in the hadith as narrated by the blessed Companions Abu Umamah and Ibn ‘Umar [Mazhari].
That the Hajj months begin from Shawwal means that it is not permissible to enter into the Ihram of Hajj before it. According to some Imams, the Hajj would simply not be valid with a pre-Shawwal Ihram. Imam Abu Hanifah rules that the Hajj thus performed will be considered valid, but it will be makruh (reprehensible) [Mazhari]. The verse 197, stresses upon the etiquette of Hajj and makes it necessary for everyone in the state of Ihram to strictly abstain from three things: rafath, fusuq and jidal, which are being explained here in some detail.
A comprehensive word, Rafath includes marital intercourse, its prelimineries, including an open talk about love-making. All these things are forbidden in the state of Ihram. However, an indirect or implied reference to the act of love-making is not prohibited.
Literally fusuq means “transgression”. In the terminology of the Holy Qur’an, it means ‘disobedience’, the general sense of which includes all sins. Early commentators have taken it here in this general sense of the word but the blessed Companion ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar has interpreted the word ‘fusuq’ here to mean only the acts which are prohibited and impermissible in the state of Ihram. It is obvious that this interpretation is more suitable to the occasion because the prohibition of sins as such is not peculiar to Ihram; they are forbidden under all conditions.
Things which are not sins in themselves but do become impermissible because of the Ihram are six in number.
(1) Marital intercourse, its prelimineries, even lovetalk.
(2) Hunting land game, either hunting personally or guiding a hunter.
(3) Cutting hair or nail.
(4) Using perfume.
These four things are equally impermissible for men and women both when in a state of Ihram. The remaining two baslcally concern men:
(5) Wearing stitched clothes.
(6) Covering the head and the face. According to Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Malik, it is also not permissible for women to cover their face while in a state of Ihram, therefore, this too is included in the common Ihram prohibitions.
The first of the above six things, that is, intercourse and its correlatives, though included under fusuq, has yet been separated from it, and has been introduced separately through the word Rafath, stressing thereby the importance of abstaining from it when in a state of Ihram. This is because ‘amends’ can be made for the contravention of other Ihram prohibitions through kaffarah (expiation). But, should one fall into the misfortune of indulging in intercourse before the Wuquf of ‘Arafat (stay in ‘Arafat) Hajj itself becomes null and void and a fine in the form of a sacrifice of a cow or camel becomes obligatory and the Hajj will have to be performed all over again. Because this aspect was so important, the text has mentioned it expressly.
The word ‘jidal’ means an effort to upturn the adversary, therefore, a rough altercation or quarrel is known as jidal. This word being very general, some commentators have taken it in the usual general sense, while others, keeping in view the place of Hajj and the importance of Ihram, have particularized the sense of jidal here with a specific quarrel. In the age of ignorance, people differed about the prescribed place of Wuquf (staying). Some thought staying in ‘Arafat was necessary, while others insisted that Muzdalifah was the prescribed place to stay and, therefore, did not consider going to ‘Arafat as necessary. They even claimed that it was where Sayyidina Ibrahim (alayhissalaam) had stayed. Similarly, they differed in the timings of the Hajj as well. Some would do their Hajj in Dhul-Hijjah while some others would do it earlier in Dhul-Qa’dah and then, they would all quarrel among themselves around the subject and charge each other of having gone astray. The Holy Qur’an said La jidal, no quarrel, and put an end to all quarrels. What was proclaimed was the truth – the obligatory stay has to be made in ‘Arafat, then, the necessary stay in Muzdalifah, and Hajj has to be performed in no other days but those of Dhul-Hijjah. Once the divine command is there, quarreling is forbidden.
According to this interpretation, the prohibition given in the verse is restricted to those acts only which are normally permissible, yet, they have been forbidden because of the Ihram, just as the permissible acts of eating and drinking are forbidden in the state of Fasting and Salah only.
But some commentators have taken fusuq and jidal in the general sense. According to them even though the fisq and jidal are sins, and deplorable at all places and under all conditions, but their sin becomes all the more grave in the state of Ihram. If one could think about the blessed days and the sacred land of the Haram where everyone comes to perform ‘ibadah at its best with fervent chants of Labbayk, telling their Lord ‘Here we are at Your call’, with the garment of Ihram reminding them all the time that the pilgrim is devoted to his act of ‘ibadah within the sight of Allah, how could one stoop to do what is prohibited by Allah; obviously, under such condition, any act of sin or any act of entanglement with dispute turns into sinfulness at its worst.
Taking this general sense into account, one can see the wisdom behind the prohibition of obscenity, sin and quarrel as the place and time of Hajj have their peculiar conditions in which one might fall a victim to these three. There are times when one has to stay away from his family and children for a long time in a state of Ihram. Then, men and women perform Hajj rites at Mataf (the place around the Ka’bah where tawaf is made) and Mas’a (place between Safa and Marwah were Sa’y is made) and at ‘Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina with hundreds and thousands of people coming in contact with each other. In such an enormous gathering of men and women, it is not so easy to control one’s inner desires, therefore, Allah Almighty has first taken up the prohibition of obscenity. Then, since so many people are around at a given time, all deeply devoted to performing their prescribed rites, there are also occasions where sins such as theft creep in, therefore, came the instruction: La fusuq (no sin). Similarly, during the entire Hajj trip, there are many incidents where people could get to quarrel with each other because they are cramped for space or for some other reason. The injunction: la jidal (no quarrel) is to eliminate such possibilities.
The eloquence of the Qur’an The words in the verse: translated literally as ‘then there is no obscenity, no sin, no quarrel…’ are all words of negation, that is, all these things are not there in Hajj, although the object is to forbid them, which could have taken the form close to saying – do not be obscene, do not be sinful and do not quarrel. But, the possible prohibitive lmperative has been replaced here by words of negation and thereby the hint has been given that such doings have no place in Hajj and cannot even be imagined in that context.
After proclaiming basic Ihram prohibitions, the sentence: And whatever good you do, Allah shall know it instructs that abstaining from sins and the contravention of the Ihram during the blessed days of Hajj and at sacred places is not enough. Taking a step farther, one should consider this occasion to be something that comes once in a lifetime, therefore, it is all the more necessary that one should make an effort to stay devoted to ‘ibadah, the Dhikr (also transliterated as ‘Thikr’, or ‘Zikr’, meaning ‘remembrance’) of Allah and good deeds. The assurance given is that every act of virtue and every demonstration of goodness from a servant of Allah shall be in the knowledge of Allah and, of course, shall be rewarded generously.
The sentence that follows immediately: ‘And take provisions along, for the merit of provision is to abstain (from asking)’ aims to correct those who leave their homes for Hajj and ‘Umrah without adequate preparation claiming that they do so because they have trust in Allah. Obviously, they have to ask for help on their way, or worse still, they themselves go through privation and suffering and in the process, bother others as well. Hence, the instruction has been given that provisions needed for the proposed trip for Hajj should be taken along. This is not against tawakkul or trust in Allah; it is rather, the very essence of tawakkul, which conveys the sense that one should first acquire and collect the means and resources provided by Allah Almighty to the best of one’s capability and, then, place his trust (tawakkul) in Allah. This is the exact explanation of tawakkul reported from the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Forsaking all efforts to acquire means of subsistence (tark al-asbab) and calling it tawakkul is sheer ignorance.
Trading or earning during the Hajj
Verse 198: ‘There is no sin on you that you seek the bounty of your Lord (by trading)’ was revealed in a particular background of the Jahiliyyah when the people of Arabia had distorted all rules of worship and social dealings by injecting in them all sorts of absurd customs rendering acts of devotion into amusement. They would not even spare the sacred rites of Hajj when they added to them ridiculous doings out of their wild imagination. In the great gathering at Mina they would set up special bazaars, hold exhibitions, and put up trade promotion devices. But after the appearance of Islam when Muslims were obligated with Hajj, all these absurd customs were eliminated. The noble Companions, who would stake anything to seek the pleasure of Allah and to follow the teachings of His Messenger, started suspecting the validity of even the acts of trading or working for wages during Hajj days. They thought that earning in this manner is an outgrowth of the age of ignorance, may be Islam shall forbid it absolutely, so much so, that a certain person came to the blessed Companion ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar and asked. ‘We are in the business of renting our camels. We have been doing it since long. People hire our camels to go for their Hajj. We go with them and perform our Hajj. Is it that our Hajj will not be valid?’ Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar said: ‘Some one came to the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and asked the same question you are asking me. The Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) not reply to his question at that particular time until the verse: And take provisions along, for the merit of provision is to abstain (from asking). And fear Me, O men of understanding. There is no sin on you that you seek the bounty of your Lord (by trading). was revealed. Then, he called for that person and said, ‘Yes, your Hajj is valid.’
In short, this verse makes it clear that a person, who earns some profit by trading, or wages by working, incurrs no sin. However, the practice of the disbelievers of Arabia whereby, they had turned the Hajj into a trade fair was reformed through two simple words of the Qur’an to the effect that they can earn if they have to, but let them earn what they do as a favour and blessing of Allah Almighty, and be grateful for it, never making it a material exercise of minting money. The words, Fadhlumir Rabbikum, ‘the bounty of your Lord’ point out to this factor.
Then, the expression: La Junaaha Alaykum preceding the words referred to above means that ‘there is no sin on you’ in this indulgence in earning which has a built-in hint that avoiding this indulgence too, if possible, is still better because it affects the ideal of perfect sincerity so desirable in the Hajj.
This whole issue, in fact, revolves round the original intention of a person. If his basic intention is to earn money through trading or employment but he has decided to perform the Hajj as an adjunct, or both the intentions are equally kept in mind, then, this is contrary to the ideal of sincerity and it will reduce the reward of Hajj and the blessings of Hajj would not fall to his lot as they normally would. And should it be that he leaves his home with the basic intention to perform his Hajj, but runs into unforeseen problems accidentally resulting in a shortage of Hajj expenses or needs of subsistence, he then, could go for a little earning through trading or employment to offset his shortage of need-oriented funds. This is, in no way, contrary to the ideal of sincerity. However, for one who has to do so, it is much better that he leaves the five special days of Hajj rites free of any engagement in trading or employment. Instead, he should devote these days to nothing but ‘ibadah and dhikr of Allah. This is the reason why some ‘ulama’ have ruled that trading or employment during these special days of Hajj are forbidden.
Staying in ‘Arafat and Muzdalifah:
The next statement in the same verse (198) is:
Later, when you flow down from ‘Arafat, recite the name of Allah near al-Mash’ar al-Haram (the Sacred Monument) and recite His name as He has guided you, while before it, you were among the astray.
The verse tells us that, on the way back from ‘Arafat, it is necessary (wajib) to stay overnight in Muzdalifah and to recite the name of Allah there, specially as taught.
Literally, ‘Arafat is plural in number. This is the name of a particular plain. Its geographical boundries are well-known. This plain is located outside the limits of Haram. All hujjajj (Hajj pilgrims) must reach and stay there between noon (zawal) and sunset (ghurub) hours. This is the most important obligation of Hajj for which, if missed out, there is no alternative in the form of kaffarah (expiation) or fidyah (ransom).
Several causes have been cited for the name, ‘Arafat. Out of these, the clearer explanation is that ‘Arafat is a plain where man gets to know his Lord and, through his ‘ibadah and dhikr, learns how to get closer to Him, and in addition to that, Muslims from the East and the West meet and know each other by direct contact.
Emphasis has been laid in the text on the stay near al-Mash’ar al-Haram on the way back from ‘Arafat after having spent the day there and after having departed the plain soon after sunset. Al-Mash’ar Al-Haram is the name of a mountain which is located in Muzdalifah. The word, ‘al-mash’ar’ means ‘sign’ or ‘symbol’, and ‘haram being ‘sacred’, the name signifies that this mountain is a sacred monument to Islam. The plain adjacent is called Muzdalifah. It is necessary (wajib) to spend the night on this plain and offer the combined prayers of Maghrib and ‘Isha’ at one time in Muzdalifah. The Qur’anic expression: ‘recite the name of Allah near al-Mash’ar al-Haram’ certainly includes all kinds of the remembrances of Allah, but here it particularly means the offering of two prayers at one time, that is, offering Maghrib with ‘Isha’. This is the special act of ‘ibadah peculiar to the plain of Muzdalifah. Perhaps, the sentence that follows: “recite his name as He has guided you” is indicative of this aspect. It is said that one should remember Allah and recite His name in the manner He has taught without adulterating it with personal opinions because personal deduction would have demanded that the Salah of Maghrib be offered at the time set for it and the Salah of ‘Isha’ at its own time. But, on that day, Allah Almighty favours that the Salah of Maghrib be delayed and offered along with ‘Isha’. From the Qur’anic statement cited above, recite His name as He has guided you’, we see the emergence of yet another basic ruling that man is not independent in worshipping and remembering Allah, that is, he cannot worship Him as he wishes and he cannot remember Him as he chooses. Instead, every ‘ibadah and dhikr of Allah demands the observance of special rules of etiquette. These have to be performed as stipulated; doing it otherwise is not permissible. Then, Allah Almighty does not like any substraction or addition, nor any change in its prescribed time or place, even though the change may lead to an increase in the act of worship. It is observed that people tend to add some features in voluntary prayers and acts of charity from their side without having any reason approved by the Shari’ah, and going a step farther, they take it upon themselves as something necessary while Allah and His blessed Messenger did not declare it as necessary, and last but not the least, such people have the audacity to regard those who do not do all that as in error. This verse exposes their false position by saying that such additional forms of worship reflect the practice of Jahiliyyah when the disbelievers had used their personal opinions and choices to concoct forms of worship and had limited the serious act to few customs.
The third verse (199): Then, flow down from where the people flowed, and seek forgiveness from Allah. Certainly, Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful was revealed in a particular background. The Quraysh of Arabia being the custodians of the Ka’bah enjoyed a unique position of influence and distinction in the country. During the days of Jahiliyyah, while everyone went to ‘Arafat, the Quraysh would, in order to demonstrate their unusual importance, stop at Muzdalifah and stay there. They said that, being the custodian of the Ka’bah and the care-takers of the Haram, it was not proper for them to go out of the limits of the Haram. Since Muzdalifah is located within the sacred limits of the Haram and ‘Arafat is out of it, they would seize upon the excuse, stay in Muzdalifah and it was from there that they came back. The truth was that they loved to show off their pride and arrogance and made it a point to keep common people at a distance. Their erroneous conduct thus apprehended, Allah Almighty commanded them to go where everyone goes, that is, into the plain of ‘Arafat, and then, return from there with everyone else (it will be noted that in the accompanying translation of the text, the Qur’anic word afidu has been rendered into English literally with the word, ‘flow’ which succinctly suggests mingling with the multitude, something shunned by the Quraysh of Jahiliyyah).
To begin with, behaving special and staying disconnected from others is a standing act of arrogance which must almost always be avoided, particularly during the days of Hajj where the garment of Ihram and the homogeneity of place and purpose teach the lesson that all human beings are equal, the distinction of rich and poor, learned and ignorant, big and small does not exist here, therefore, such display of assumed distinction, and that too in a state of Ihram, further increases the degree of crime.
Human equality in practice
This statement of the Holy Qur’an teaches us an important principle of social living which demands that the people of a higher status should not cut off their relations with those of a lower status; they should rather behave like members of a large family in their different forms of subsistence, stay and movement. This creates mutual brotherhood, concern and love, removes the walls between the rich and the poor, the employer and the employee. It was during his last sermon of Hajj that the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) openly declared for all times to come that no Arab is superior to non-Arab and no white person is superior to a black person. Superiority depends on Taqwa and Itibah (the fear of Allah and the obedience to His command). Therefore, those who wanted to establish a distinct status for themselves by staying at Muzdalifah, contrary to the rest, were told that this act of theirs was a sin and they must seek forgiveness for it so that Allah Almighty may forgive them and bless them with His mercy.
The Prohibition of Jahili customs at Mina
In the verses 199 to 201, some Jahili customs have been corrected. One of these was that the Arabs of the Jahiliyyah would, once they had finished their rites at ‘Arafat and Muzdalifah and performed their tawaf and sacrifice and stay in Mina, hold gatherings to recite poetry and to eulogize the achievements of their forefathers. Such gatherings were obviously devoid of the remembrance of Allah. It was strange that they elected to waste such blessed days in activities which were of no consequence in relation to what they were supposed to do there. Therefore, they were told that, as soon as they have completed their Ihram rites and come to stay at Mina, they should dedicate their stay to the remembrance of Allah and leave out the practice of indulging in the reminiscences of their forefathers, specially the boastful claims about their achievements. Better still was to remember Allah, not them, and that too with greater attachment and fervor. There was nothing like being engaged in the dhikr of Allah. So, the Holy Qur’an guides Muslims to shun the customs coming from the age of ignorance, specially in the great days of Hajj they have been blessed with, which are exclusively reserved for ‘ibadah and dhikr and have merits and blessings of their own, a gift from Allah which may not be available again if lost through carelessness.
In addition to that, the Hajj is a special act of worship which one gets to perform only after a long and generally exacting journey, separation from family and business and great expense of money and time. That unforeseen circumstances prevail is not a far-out prospect. It is quite possible that one fails to achieve the long-cherished objective of Hajj, inspite of all efforts and expenses. Now, if Allah Almighty has, in His infinite grace, removed all impediments and one has accomplished his Hajj obligation by successfully performing all required rites, then, the occasion calls for gratitude whlch further demands that one should keep busy in remembering Allah, avoid wasteful gatherings, engagements or conversations. Compared with the time spent by the people of Jahiliyyah in forefather tale-telling which brought them no benefit here, or there, the thing to do here is the dhikr of Allah which is all radiance and benefit for this world, and for the Hereafter. No doubt, contemporary Muslims do not follow the custom of Jahiliyyah any more by holding poetic recitals to eulogize their family trees, but there are thousands of Muslims from all over the world who still spend out these precious days of Hajj in wasteful gatherings, entertainments, amusements, shoppings and similar other pursuits of personal satisfaction. This verse is enough to warn them.
Some commentators have explained this verse by dwelling upon the analogy of ‘father’ used here, in some detail. They say that one should remember Allah as one remembered his father during his childhood when he was dependant on his father for everything. If man were to think when he is young, adult and rational, is he not far more dependant on Allah Almighty at all times and under all conditions, certainly much more than a child was on his father? As for the boastful claims about the honour of their fathers, something the people of Jahiliyyah used to make, this verse eliminates that too by saying that real honour comes through the dhikr of Allah. [Ruh al-Bayan]
Moderation in religious and worldly pursuits
Besides what the people of Jahiliyyah used to do during their stay at Mina, some of them had another habit during the Hajj. Normally, they would be engaged in acts of devotion to Allah, yet when it came to making a prayer, they would focus all their attention to praying for worldly needs, such as, comfort, wealth, honour and their likes, showing no concern for the life to come. It was to correct this sort of approach in supplication that it was said that there are people who would use the great occasion of Hajj to pray for the insignificant gains of the present life and forget the Hereafter. For such people the Hereafter holds nothing because their conduct shows that they have gone through the obligation of Hajj merely in a formal manner, or have done it to earn prestige in their society. To please Allah and to earn salvation in the Hereafter are objectives alien to them.
It may be noted at this point that the verse mentions: Our Lord, give to us in this world…. which does not include the word, “good”. This indicates that they do not care to have what is really good even in this mortal world, on the contrary, they are so drunk with their craze for material things that nothing short of a constant fulfilment of their desires would satisfy them. They just do not bother to check if it is good or bad, procured rightly or wrongly or what people think about them.
This verse extends a serious warning to those Muslims as well who prefer to pray for their material ends only even at the unique time of Hajj and at places so sacred, devoting most of their concerns towards that goal. There are many rich people who themselves pray, or request others they hold in esteem to pray for them, not for deliverance from the accounting of the Akhirah, but for increase in their wealth, growth in business, and for other worldly concerns. There are many who, by their profusion in waza’if and nawafil (voluntary acts of worship), come to believe that they are very devoted, pious and special. In reality, hidden behind this facade is the same love of the mundane life. Then, there are respected people who maintain relations with pious elders of their time, as well as show their regard for deceased saints and walls, but the prevailing aim of such relationships is the vague hope that their du’a and ta’widh (prayers and spiritual charms) will work for them, wordly hardships will stay away, and their belongings shall be blessed. For such people too, this verse has special instructions. Stressed here is the fact that this whole affair rests in the hands of Allah who is All-Knowing and All-Aware. Everyone must assess his or her deeds, specially the intention behind whatever is done during the Hajj or Umrah, which includes all waza’if, nawafil, du’a and salah. Then, towards the later part of the verse, Allah Almighty refers to His virtuous and favoured servants – may be some of them are less prosperous in a material way – by saying:
And there is another among them who says: “O our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter and save us from the punishment of Fire.”
The word: hasanah used here is inclusive of all that is good, inwardly or outwardly. For instance, hasanah or ‘good in this world’ shall include personal and family health, increase and benedictory sufficiency (barakah) in lawful livelihood, the fulfilment of all needs, virtuous deeds, desirable morals, beneficial knowledge, honour and prestige, strength of faith, guidance into the straight path and perfect sincerity in ‘ibadat. Similarly, hasanah or ‘good in the Hereafter’ shall cover everything from the Paradise, with its countless and endless blessings to the pleasure of Allah Almighty and the privilege of seeing Him.
In short, this du’a is a compedium of all prayers in as much as it encompasses the entire range of man’s wordly and other-worldly objectives. Apart from enjoying peace in the world, and peace in the Hereafter, the verse, refers in the end to the safety from ‘the punishment of Fire’ as well. It was for this reason that the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) used to pray with these words very frequently:
Rabbana Atina fid-dunya hasanah, wa fil-‘Akhirati hasanah, wa qina ‘adhaban-nar.
Our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter and save us from the punishment of Fire.
It is masnun to make this prayer particularly while making tawaf. This verse also corrects those ignorant dervishes (so called mystics) who think that real ‘ibadah lies in praying for the Hereafter alone and claim that they do not, on that count, care much about the mortal world. In reality, such a claim is false, for man depends on fulfilling his worldly needs not only for his life and sustenance, but also for performing the acts of worship and obedience. Without these, serving the objectives of faith would become impossible. Therefore, the blessed practice of the prophets of Allah has been that they prayed to Allah for the good of both the worlds. One who thinks that praying to Allah for the fulfillment of his worldly needs is against the norms of piety and spiritual dignity is unaware of the great station of prophethood, and ignorant of man’s own role in this mortal world. So, what is required is that one should not focus all his attention on his material needs as if they were the very purpose of life, but he should, along with it, show far more concern for what would happen to him in the Hereafter, and pray for it.
In the concluding part of this verse, the end of the other class of people who pray for the good of the dunya (mortal world) and Akhirah (Hereafter) both has been stated by saying that they will be rewarded in both the worlds for their correct and righteous conduct and for their prayers. Following that, it has been said: And Allah is swift at reckoning because His all-pervading knowledge and most perfect power is sufficient to access the life-long deeds of each and every person who ever breathed in His creation; for this He needs none of those computing mechanisms and means on which only man depends. So, the time will soon come when He shall make man account for what he did, and it will be on the basis of that accounting that he will spread out His reward and punishment.
The emphasis on remembering Allah in Mina
In the last of the eight verses relating to injunctions about Hajj, 1 that is, And recite the name of Allah in the given number of days, the Hajj pilgrims have been asked to engage themselves in the remembrance of Allah so that their Hajj meets a perfect ending and their post-Hajj life becomes correct and fruitful.
These ‘given number of days’ refer to ayyam al-tashrik during which it is necessary (wajib) to say takbir (which is, Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Laa Ilaha Illallaahu Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Wa Lillah Ilhamd)
Immediately following is a clarification of the duration of stay at Mina and the deadline for throwing pebbles at the three Pillars. This was an issue debated by the people of Jahiliyyah. Some thought it was necessary to stay at Mina upto the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah and throw pebbles at the three Pillars. According to them, to come back from Mina on the 12th was impermissible and those who did so were sinners. Similarly, others regarded coming back on the 12th necessary, and staying there through the 13th, a sin. Both were corrected in this verse by saying: ‘Then whoever is early (in leaving) after two days there is no sin on him and whoever remains behind, there is no sin on him …’ thereby proving that both parties calling each other sinners are involved in excess and error.
The correct position is that Hajj pilgrims have the option of acting on either of the two permissions. However, it is better and preferable to stay there through the third day (that is, 13th of Dhul-Hijjah). Jurists say that one who leaves Mina before sunset on the second day (i.e. 12th of Dhul-Hijjah), it is not necessary for him to do his ramy (throwing of pebbles on the three Pillars) for the third day. But, should the sun set while he is still in Mina, it does not remain anymore permissible for him to leave Mina until he has done his ramy for the third day. However, the ramy for the third day has a special concession that it can also be done between the post-morning and pre-noon hours.
If we look at the manner in which the choice of returning from Mina has been given to the Hujjaj – no sin if they return on the second day and no sin if they return on the third day – we shall realize that all this is for the convenience of one who fears Allah and obeys His commands, for he really deserves the Hajj, as said elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an: Allah Almighty accepts, (acts of prayer and worship) only from those who are God-fearing and obedient. Now, one who has been involved in sins much before Hajj, continued being negligent even during the Hajj and was callous enough not to abstain from sins even after Hajj, his Hajj is certainly not going to be of any good to him, although, the formal obligation has been validly fulfilled, releasing him from the possible crime of not having performed the Hajj.
Closing this eight-verse unit, it was said: “And fear Allah and be sure that you are going to be gathered before Him”, where He shall make you account for all your open and hidden deeds and give you the reward and punishment for these. This last line is really the essence of all Hajj injunctions given in these verses. It means that one should keep fearing Allah during the special days of the Hajj guarding oneself from any shortcoming in the prescribed acts of Hajj, as he should keep fearing Allah after the Hajj guarding himself against any pride of performance, and keep abstaining from sins because, on the day human deeds shall be weighed on the Balance, his sins will eat away his good deeds, that is, they will nullify the effect and weight of those good deeds. In a hadith about the great ‘ibadah of Hajj, it has been said that one who returns after having accomplished his Hajj, is so cleansed of his sins as if he was born on that day. This is why those performing Hajj have been instructed to maintain the quality of Taqwa, (that vital sense of responsibility before Allah). Being one who has been purified from sins, it is necessary to take all possible precautions against what tempts man to fall into sin so that one can earn the best of both the worlds, the dunya and the Akhirah. If this is not done and the performer of Hajj goes back to a life of sin, even after such a cathartic experience, he shall find that the elimination of his past sins by forgiveness is not going to be of any use to him. Contrary to this, the ‘ulama have said that one who returns from his Hajj with his heart free from the love of dunya and attracted to the concern for the Akhirah, his Hajj is accepted and his sins are forgiven and his prayers are answered. From place to place during the Hajj, people pledge their obedience to Allah before His House, how can these pledges be thoughtlessly broken after the Hajj? If those who are lucky to perform their Hajj are a little more mindful of this factor, they might stay by their solemn pledge later on.
A pious elder said: ‘When I returned from Hajj, it was by chance that a suggestion of sin crept into my heart whereupon I heard a voice from the Unseen: Didn’t you perform the Hajj? Didn’t you perform the Hajj? This voice became a wall between me and that sin. Allah Almighty protected me.
As against this, there is the case of another pious man from Turkey, who was a disciple of the famous Maulana Jami’. He was in such an unusual state of spiritual excellence in his normal life that he used to observe a halo of radiance over his head. He went to perform his Hajj, but after his return he discovered that he has lost that unusual state totally. He talked about it to his master, Maulana Jami’. He said: ‘Before your Hajj, you had the gift of humbleness, you wept before Allah thinking of yourself as a sinner. After your Hajj, you became proud and picked up the airs of someone righteous, spiritually elevated. Therefore, this very Hajj of yours became the cause of your pride and that is why you lost that state of radiance.’
The emphasis on Taqwa (the fear of Allah) towards the conclusion of Hajj injunctions has yet another secret. It goes without saying that Hajj is a great act of ‘ibadah. Once it has been accomplished, that eternal adversary of man, the Satan, generally injects into man’s heart the thought of self-righteousness which simply ruins all his deeds. Therefore, the final word said was about the need to fear Allah and the necessity to obey Him, not only before the Hajj and during the Hajj, but also after the Hajj when one must become much more particular in fearing Allah and alert in abstaining from sins by conscious effort, lest all that one has done in the form of the ‘ibtidah of Hajj goes waste.
O Allah, give us the ability to do what You love and are pleased with – in word, deed and intention.