Verses from Surah al-Hajj (74 – 78)

[74] They esteem not Allah with the estimation that is His due. Surely, Allah is All-powerful, All-mighty.127

Commentary

127. What Hasan and Farra’ have said about this ayah can be put paraphrased in the following words: The worshippers of false gods did not give Allah, their Creator His due in terms of honor, respect, obedience, and attribution to Him what He should alone be attributed to. Akhfash has said, however, that it means that the people have not known Him in the manner He should be known. Alusi then discusses the issue of humans trying to know, understand and comprehend Allah’s existence, Essence and Attributes, and states at the beginning `Ali’s opinion that to make an attempt of this sort is Ishraak (to be suggesting gods other than Allah). Indeed, Imam Ghazali, Juwayni, the Sufis and philosophers have all agreed that it is impossible for humans to know Allah. Alusi then follows up with a long discourse too complicated to be presented here and maybe out of place in a simple work of this nature. We register this for the specialists.

[75] Allah chooses messengers from among the angels, and from among men;128 surely, Allah is All-hearing, All-seeing. 

Commentary

128. That is, Allah chooses of the men and angels for conveyance of His messages whom He will; as He said elsewhere (6: 124), “Allah knows where to place His Messages.” (Ibn Kathir)

[76] He knows what is before them and what is behind them. And to Allah return the affairs.129

Commentary

129. To paraphrase ayah 75 and 76: To the objection raised about choosing Muhammad for delivering the Message, the answer is, it is Allah who chooses messengers from among the angels, as well as from among men. He is All-hearing, All-seeing, who knows all about them and all about His creations including the chosen Messengers, through His Powers and Attributes. In fact, He knows what went before the rejecters as well as what is to follow. Further, it is to Allah that the affairs are returned for decision, judgment, and issue of new commands (based on Thanwi).

[77] Believers! Bow down, prostrate yourselves, worship your Lord,130 and do good (deeds), haply you will prosper.131

Commentary

130. That is, worship Allah, and none other than Him (Razi).

131. Difference in opinion has prevailed over a second Sajdah at this point. A hadith – in Abu Da’ud and Tirmidhi – has been, in fact, reported. It says, “Surah al-Hajj has been given preference over (others) with two prostrations. So, whoever did not offer two prostrations, might not recite the two.” However, Tirmidhi has rated the hadith as unsound, although there doesn’t seem to be a strong reason for treating it so (Ibn Kathir).

The Hanafiyyah, however, do not see a Sajdah at this point. That is because (apart from the weakness of the hadith: Au.), their point is, whenever Allah mentioned Ruku` and Sujud together, then the Sajdah is Sajdah of Salah and not Sajdah of Tilawah (recitation) – Zamakhshari. An example is the ayah (3: 43) which says, “O Maryam! Stand (in Prayers), prostrate yourself, and bow down with those who bow down” where, too, no Sajdah Tilawah is required (Shafi`).

[78] And strive in Allah,132 with a striving due to Him.133He chose you.134 And He has not placed in the religion135 any constriction136: the faith137 of your (fore-)father Ibrahim.138 He139 named you Muslims earlier,140 and in this (Qur’an also); so that the Messenger might be a witness over you and you witnesses over mankind.141 Therefore, observe the Prayer (assiduously), Pay the Zakah and hold fast to Allah.142 He is your Guardian, an excellent Guardian and an excellent Helper.143

Commentary

132. This includes all kinds of Jihad: Jihad with one’s self, with one’s possessions, with the pen, Jihad against one’s own base self, Jihad against Satan, Jihad against the unbelievers, Jihad against the rebels, and Jihad against the deviants (Shabbir).

Mawdudi comments: “Jihad does not simply mean fighting and war. The word denotes: ‘to strive, to exert to the utmost.’ The words Jihad and Mujahid imply the existence of forces of resistance against whom it is necessary to wage a struggle. Moreover, the stipulation that Jihad should be Fi Sabil Allah (in the way of God) makes it clear that there are forces of resistance which obstruct people from serving God and pursuing His good pleasure, and that it is necessary to engage in strife and struggle to overcome them.

“As for the purpose of Jihad, it is to remove the forces obstructing man from following the Way of God so that one may be able to serve God in an adequate manner, exalt His Word, and subdue unbelief and rebellion against Him. The first and foremost target of this struggle should be one’s own self which always prompts one to rebel against God’s commands and distracts one from belief and obedience. Unless one conquers one’s own self within, one cannot fight against the forces without.”

133. Ibn `Abbas has said that battling in Allah’s cause without fear of the critic is to be striving in His cause in the manner required (Ibn Jarir). Others have said that to fight the enemies of Islam in the manner the first generation Muslims fought, is to be striving in the manner required.

In other words, strive to the best of your strength and ability: the exact amount depending upon every man’s abilities, knowledge, propensities, etc. Hence Allah said in the following ayah: “He has not placed any constriction in the religion.”  (Ibn al-Qayyim in Badaai` al-Tafsir)

134. That is, Allah chose you for His religion, in order that you help Him (in its establishment on the earth) – Zamakhshari. In the words of Majid, “(He chose you) as the testifiers, promulgators and standard-bearers of the Divine message.”

135. “Religion” has been used here in its widest Islamic sense. Majid quotes from one of Asad’s books: “Whereas all other religions failed in becoming cultures and became cults instead, Islam succeeded, because it did not content itself with defining the relations between man and the unseen but boldly stepped into the sphere of practical life and its everyday problems, – of bread and sexual relations, of politics and trade and finance – and thus removed the barriers between Caesar’s and God’s domain.”

136. The translation of the word haraj as “constriction” has the authority of Ibn `Abbas as in Ibn Jarir.

What it means is that the religion of Islam has been made easy. For example, Prayers have been shortened in journeys, or at times of fear, or allowed without facing the Qiblah when on a vehicle, or offering from a sitting posture when overtaken by illness, etc. Hence, the Prophet’s words to Abu Musa al-Ash`ari and Mu`adh ibn Jabal while sending them to Yemen, “Give good news and make it easy; teach and do not repel.”

He also said, “I have been sent with the easy monotheistic way.” (Ibn Kathir)

Mawdudi adds: “This proclaims that the believers are free from all the unjust shackles forged by the theologians, priests, and lawyers of previous religious communities. It is declared here that no longer are there any restrictions that obstruct intellectual progress, nor any restraint in the practical affairs of man’s life which impede the growth of culture and civilization. This because they have been provided with a body of practicable laws. While adhering to this one may make as much progress as one wants.”

Asad also has a useful note to offer: “The absence of any ‘hardship’ in the religion of Islam is due to several factors: (1) it is free of any dogma or mystical proposition that might make the Qur’anic doctrine difficult to understand or might even conflict with man’s innate reason; (2) it avoids all complicated rituals or system of taboos which would impose undue restrictions on man’s everyday life; (3) it rejects all self-mortification and exaggerated asceticism, which must unavoidably conflict with man’s true nature. .. ; and (4) it takes fully into account the fact that ‘man has been created weak.’”

We can end with Yusuf Ali’s remark: “The Jews were hampered by many restrictions, and their religion was racial. Christianity, as originally preached, was a hermit religion: ‘sell whatsoever thou hast’ (Mark x. 21), ‘take no thought for the morrow’ (Matt. VI: 34). Islam, as originally preached, gives freedom and full play to man’s faculties of every kind.”

In the above statement, we might note the words, “Islam, as originally preached…” (Au.)

137. The Fat-ha on Millah gives rise to two possible meanings in conjunction with the previous verses. (1) “(He has not placed any constriction in your religion), but rather, has placed ease and comfort just as it was in Ibrahim’s faith.” (2) “(Bow down, prostrate yourselves… and) hold fast unto Ibrahim’s faith.” (Ibn Jarir)

138. According to Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Mujahid and Dahhak, as in Ibn Jarir, and with his backing, the pronoun “huwa” is for Allah. That is, “Allah named you Muslims.”

The above is supported by a hadith in Nasa’i. The Prophet said, “Whoever invited by appealing to pre-Islamic era, will be a crawler on his knees in Hellfire.” A man asked, “Even if he prayed and fasted?” He replied, “Yes, even if he prayed and fasted. Therefore, call by Allah’s Call who named you in this as Muslims: believers, Allah’s slaves.” (Ibn Kathir)

The report about the crawler is in Tirmidhi, who rated it sound, as well as in Ibn Hibban, Tabarani, Hakim, Ibn Khuzaymah and others. (Shawkani)

An off chance exists that the pronoun “he” is for Ibrahim. He had prayed to Allah at the time of the construction of the Ka`bah that He create out of his progeny “a nation, Muslimah (surrendered) unto Him” (2: 128) – Shabbir and others.

139. It might be noted, Thanwi writes, that although followers of other Prophets were also on the religion of Islam, no other but the followers of Prophet Muhammad have been called as Muslims in the Qur’an. Others were referred to as Jews, Christians, nation of Nuh, nation of Saleh, etc.

140. Mujahid said that the word “earlier” alludes to earlier Scriptures. (Ibn Jarir)

141. The allusion is to the Muslims bearing witness on the Day of Judgment against the previous peoples, to the fact that Prophets and Messengers were sent to them, and Prophet Muhammad then testifying that he delivered his own message to them, i.e., the Muslims. (Ibn Jarir)

One might look for more details at verse 143 of Surah al-Baqarah. (Au.)

Sayyid comments: “So long as this Ummah adhered to these principles and applied them to its life, it remained an example to the rest of the world. But when it deviated and rejected the principles, it lost the position of leadership. Allah pushed it back to become a tail-follower of the caravan of nations where it will remain until it returns to the role that Allah chose for it.”

142. That is, when Allah blessed you with such blessings as above, you should, in response, observe the Prayer assiduously, pay the Zakah and hold fast to Allah. (Thanwi)

143. That is, whenever you hold fast unto Him, He will help you against yourself and against Satan, the two enemies that never depart from a person, – whose enmity is more harmful than that of external enemies. (Ibn al-Qayyim, Badaai` al-Tafsir)

(The Surah ends here)