Verses from Surah Al-Hajj (no. 22) [29 – 33]

[29] Then let them accomplish their cleansing,44 fulfill their oaths45 and circumambulate46 the Ancient House.47


44. The textual “tafath” is for impurity, filth or dirt. But authorities have explained it here as meaning hajj rituals. Ibn `Umar, Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah and others have said in reference to the words “li-yaqdu tafatha-hum” means, ‘complete the rest of the rituals’ such as, shaving off the head, trimming the moustache, throwing the pebbles, circumambulation of the House, and rest of the hajj rites. However, another opinion has it that the allusion is to cleanliness by way of shaving off the head, trimming of moustaches, removal of arm-pit hair etc. (Ibn Jarir).

`Ata’, Mujahid, `Ikrimah and others were also of the opinion, writes Ibn Kathir, that the allusion by “tafath” is to the shaving of the head, removal of pubic hair, clipping the nails, and removal of the Ihraam (pilgrim garb).

Relying on the linguists, Qurtubi agrees with the above meaning.

45. Some of the ancient scholars, such as Mujahid and `Ikramah have thought that the textual “nadhr” here, at this point, is in the sense of intention. Therefore this part of the text may be understood as, “let them fulfill their intention,” meaning, “let them now complete the rest of the rites of Hajj.” Sufyan and Imam Malik were also of the same opinion (Ibn Kathir).

At all events, it might be remembered, adds Shafi`, that nadhr is proper nadhr if a person vows to do something good, such as, that he will offer so many supererogatory prayers, or will expend so much money etc., if such and such a good thing happens. If that thing happens, then, fulfilling the vow is obligatory (wajib). However, if it was an evil deed that was vowed, (e.g., he would do something prohibited in Islam, if such and such a things happened), then, technically it is not binding to fulfill the vow. In fact, it must be avoided and forgiveness sought through expiation which is now binding on him for breaking an oath. Further, one might also remember that a vow is not a vow proper with merely the intention in the heart. It has to be vocalized in words to become a vow proper, entailing expiation, if not fulfilled. Also see n. 574 of Al-Baqarah

46. There is no difference in opinion that the allusion is to the Tawaf al-Ziyarah, the obligatory circumambulation of Hajj (Tabari, Qurtubi).

47. The translation of “`ateeq” as ancient reflects the literal meaning. (Although the hadith in Tirmidhi to this effect is not sound: Ibn Kathir). Another is that it is in the sense of “freed” since Allah has freed the House of all tyrants. As for its destruction at Hajjaj’s hands, he was actually after `Abdullah ibn Zubayr and not the House which received incidental damage (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi and others). In fact, there is a hadith to this effect in Tirmidhi who rated it Hasan Sahih (Ibn Kathir and others).

Hajj commandments have appeared at two places in the Qur’an: earlier in Surah al-Baqarah, verses 196-203, and here at this point. A cursory glance reveals that a certain order has been followed. In Surah al-Baqarah they were: Standing at `Arafaat, night-stay in Muzdalifah, followed by three days stay at Mina. And, at this point: sacrifice, cleansing (removal of hair etc.), and then the Final Tawaf al-Ifadah (Au.).

Mufti Shafi` points out that according to the Hanafiyyah and Malikiyyah, it is obligatory (wajib) to follow this sequence, since this is the Qur’anic sequence. Imam Malik declared it Sunnah, not following which entails a decrease in rewards, but expiation is not necessary. Ibn `Abbas has however narrated, “whoever changed the sequence must expiate with a sheep in sacrifice.” This report is in Ibn Abi Shaybah, and, following Hadith Principles, although Ibn `Abbas does not attribute it to the Prophet, it has to be considered as being in fact a statement of the Prophet. (For details, see Tafsir Maz-hari). Imam Tahawi has narrated this report through different chains. This also happens to be the opinion of Sa`id b. Jubayr, Qatadah, Nakha`i and Hasan al-Busri. Other scholars however, hold different opinions.

[30] That, and whosoever honors the sacred rites of Allah,48 then, that is better for him in the sight of his Lord. And, declared lawful unto you are the cattle save for what is being recited to you (as unlawful).49
Shun therefore the abomination of the idols50 and shun the false word.51


48. The allusion is not only to the sacred sites, but also to the rites of Hajj, as well as to all that is prohibited by Allah (Ibn Jarir).

49. Such as those stated elsewhere in the Qur’an (5: 33):  “Forbidden unto you are carrion, blood, swine’s flesh, what has been consecrated to other than Allah, a (beast) strangled (to death), or (died) by a violent blow, or by a fall from a height, or one gored with the horns (to death), and (that killed and) devoured by the wild beasts – unless you have sacrificed them duly – and what is slaughtered on the altars, (or) that you seek the shares (in disputed divisions) by the divining arrows” (Ibn Kathir).

50. The textual word “wathan” is applicable to anything that is carved out, whether from wood, stone or metal. Arabs used to fix them up at some prominent place and worship them. The Cross that the Christians carve out is also a “wathan.” When `Adiyy b. Hatim presented himself to the Prophet, with the Cross hanging by his neck, he told him, “Throw that wathan away.” (Qurtubi)

51. The Prophet is reported to have said, “False oath has been declared equal to association with Allah.” He said that three times, and then added, “Recite if you will, ‘Shun then, the abomination of the idols and shun the false word’” (Ibn Jarir).

The hadith is in Tirmidhi, about one version of which he said that it is more trustworthy than others of its kind (Au.).

However, there is another in Ahmad of similar meaning. Moreover, we have one in the Sahihayn which says,

“‘Should I not tell you about the greatest of the great sins?’ (He said that three times). We said, ‘Sure, do it, Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘Declaring partners unto Allah and abusing the parents.’ Then he straightened up from his reclining position and said, ‘and false oaths.’ He kept repeating until we wished he would cease.” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

Mawdudi adds: “According to Islamic Law, false testimony is a cognizable offence. Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani (two of Abu Hanifa’s disciples: au.) are of the opinion that if anyone is convicted of false testimony by a court, this should be made public and the person so convicted should be sentenced to a long term of imprisonment. `Umar ibn al-Khattab also held this opinion and applied it. According to Mak-hul, `Umar ibn al-Khattab said, ‘He [i.e., the culprit] should be flogged, his head should be shaved, his face should be blackened, and he should be subjected to long-term imprisonment.’ (See Jassas, Bab Shahadat al-Zur, vol. 3, p. 241).”

[31] Remaining ever inclined to Allah, associating not (aught) with Him.52 And, whoso associated with Allah is like someone who fell from the heavens so that the birds snatch him up, or the winds sweep him off to a distant place.53


52. Associating partners with Allah has been specifically mentioned here because the pagans used to specifically mention “other than Him” during Hajj by saying, “There is no partner unto You, save the ones we suggest” (Thanwi).

53. The allusion is to the mind and thoughts of an unbeliever. He is unsure, unsettled, blown about unanchored to any point of reference (with a point from Alusi).

[32] That, and whoso holds in honor Allah’s Symbols,54then, that is a source of piety for the hearts. 


54. “Sha`a’ir” could also be rendered as rites, rituals, as well as sacred sites but at this point, more appropriate seems to be what Mujahid and others have suggested as alluding to the animals of sacrifice. They must be fed and treated well. This opinion is strengthened by the verse that follows (Ibn Jarir). Bukhari in fact recorded the words of Umamah b. Sahl, “We – and the Muslims in general – used to fatten our sacrificial animal at Madinah.”

Several other reports tell us that the animals should not suffer from any bodily defect such as, broken horns, severed earlobes, lame, or seriously sick. Also, one marked for sacrifice may not be sold out to another for slaughter or for any other purpose. According to a hadith in Tirmidhi who rated it Sahih, as well as in others, the Prophet said, “Four kinds (of animals) are disqualified for ritual sacrifice: those that are obviously one-eyed, obviously sick, obviously lame, and those that which is broken down out of weakness.”

It seems that by the addition of the adjective “obvious” the allusion is to major defects. That is, although one whole and healthy is preferable, one with minor defects would do. According to Abu Da’ud and Ibn Majah, the Prophet sacrificed two castrated, fat, horned rams. It has been conjectured however that the rams must have been castrated without the removal of testicles (Ibn Kathir).

[33] In them55you have benefits for an appointed term.56 Then their sanctioned place of sacrifice is at the Ancient House.57


55. That is, in the animals of sacrifice.

56. That is, you can draw benefits of ride, milk, wool, etc., so long as they are not marked off as animals for sacrifice. Once you have done that, these benefits are lost. Hence the words, “In them you have benefits for an appointed term.” This was the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others (Ibn Jarir).

Had-yu” is that animal that a pilgrim carries with him at Hajj or `Umrah to the Haram for sacrifice in the Haram area (Shafi`).

However, riding the beast (if there is no other beast available for ride: Shafi`) seems to be allowed. According to a report in Bukhari the Prophet saw a man leading a camel. He told him, “Mount her.” The man said, “It is for sacrifice.” The Prophet said somewhat impatiently, “Woe unto you, mount her.” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir)

Asad gives the last touch: “This stress on the symbolic character of all the rites connected with the pilgrimage is meant to draw the believer’s attention to the spiritual meaning of those rites, and thus to warn him against making, unthinkingly, a sort of fetish of them.”

57. The allusion by “Bayt al-`Ateeq” at this point is to the Haram (and not the House). It is within the boundaries of the Haram alone that ritual animals are to be sacrificed (Thanwi).

Qurtubi, however, states that the pronoun in “mahillu-ha” refers to the sha`aair (rites, sing. sha`eer) of Hajj. And the meaning of the verse then is, “Then the termination of the rituals (sha`aair) should be at the Sacred Mosque.” That is, the Hajj rites should end with the Final Tawaf (Tawaf al-Ifadah). This is how Imam Malik understood it, while the understanding as in the translation was that of (the Hanafiyyah: Shafi`) and Imam Shafe`i.

(To be continued)

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