In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 196 (Part 1)
After Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentioned the rulings for fasting and Jihad, He explained the rituals by commanding the Muslims to complete Hajj and ‘Umrah.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. According to the majority opinion, Hajj became an obligation in the 3rd year of Hijrah, in the year the Battle of Uhud was fought, through an ayah of Surah Aal-Imran. In the present ayah, 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.
In the ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And complete the Hajj and ‘Umrah for Allah.” It means that when one begins Hajj or ‘Umrah by going into ihram then it becomes wajib [necessary] for him to complete it.
From this we learn two things: first, that all our worship should be sincerely for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and not to gather praises of the people. One should not go for Hajj to be called a Hajji. People who go to Hajj or ‘Umrah and take their selfies with the Ka’abah should ask themselves who are they showing off to? Isn’t it enough that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows you are visiting His House? It is such a distraction for other pilgrims. Why can’t we learn to become private people? Why do we have to inform to the world what we are doing at this very moment?
The second thing that we learn from the ayah is completing what we have started. The word attimu [وَأَتِمُّوا] is from the root ta-meem-meem and it means completing something. When we begin something we must complete it and not abandon it in between. For example, when we begin our prayers we complete the number of units obligatory. We cannot leave the prayer in between that I have offered two and now I am tired. Likewise, when we begin a Qur’an course or memorizing of the Qur’an we should not leave it in between. Islam motivates us to be a disciplined and committed person. A hadeeth tells us deeds are according to their end. In a marathon, a person might start strong but in between he gives up or becomes over-confident and praises himself, thereby losing focus of the end. What will become of such a person? If he does not make it to the finish line first then it does not matter how good he was in the start. We should begin one project at a time, complete it, and then move on to the next project.
If Hajj and ‘Umrah are for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then we need to see what do we during pilgrimage. Before a person leaves his home country, he is given a grand farewell and treated as a celebrity. When he reaches the precincts of harum, he starts updating his status, posting pictures, etc. When he is in the Masjid, he busies himself with idle chatter. You paid so much amount to come here, take pictures, update your social media and talk? Why can’t we temporarily isolate ourselves from the dunya and choose the companionship of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?
It should be remembered that only a handful of people get an invite to visit the House of Allah. While the pictures might show us huge crowds, how many people do you know who have visited the Ka’abah? Some people die having this wish in their hearts. They never get a chance. And those who do get a chance, treat is as a honeymoon or vacation. The same usual casual attitude is seen, malls are flooded with people, eateries are full and people are exploring the city instead of being busy in worship in the House of Allah. Some people even offer their prayers in the hotel because they cannot endure the hardship of standing in heat or in crowds. Then why did you come for pilgrimage?
Our teacher said: Jiske liye ja rahe hou Ussi k bun kr raho [the One for whose sake you undertook this journey, show your servitude to Him].
The Way Out When there is a Blockade
But what if you are prevented from completing the task? Then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gives us the way out, “then (offer) what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals,” meaning give sadaqah.
The word uhsirtum [أُحْصِرْتُمْ] is from the root Ha-saad-ra and it means to be strait, restricted or hindered. The word istaysara [اسْتَيْسَرَ] is from the root ya-seen-ra and it means becomes easy.
Ibn Katheer writes that this ayah was revealed in the 6th year of Hijrah, the year of the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah when the polytheists prevented Allah’s Messenger from reaching the House. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed Surah Al-Fath (Chapter 48 in the Qur’an) and allowed the Muslims to slaughter any hady [sacrificial animal] they had. The Muslims had seventy camels for that purpose. They were also permitted to shave their heads and end their ihram. When the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded them to shave their heads and end the state of ihram, they did not obey him, as they were waiting for the order to be abrogated. When they saw that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went out after shaving his head, they imitated him.
Being prevented from the House includes more than just being sick, fearing an enemy or getting lost on the way to Makkah. Imam Ahmad reported that Al-Hajjaj ibn ‘Amr Al-Ansari said that he heard Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying,
مَنْ كُسِرَ أَوْ عَرِجَ فَقَدْ حَلَّ وَعَلَيْهِ حَجَّةٌ أُخْرَى
“Whoever suffered a broken bone or a limb, will have ended his ihram and has to perform Hajj again.” Ath-Thawri also said, “Being prevented entails everything that harms the person.”
We see a repeated encouragement to give sadaqah, and there are many benefits of this act. If you find a blockade in a task that you intend to perform then give something in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and ask Him to make the matter easy for you. For those who truly desire to raise their scales in the Hereafter will not be complacent if they do not get opportunities to do much good. Rather, they would look for ways to help. Despite their good intention, if they face hurdles it will grieve their heart. Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us to offer sacrifice.
What Kind of An Animal can be Sacrificed?
Notice the words that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala chose, “then (offer) what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals.” Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented that hady [sacrificial animal] includes eight types of animals: camels, cows, goats and sheep. If one can afford a camel, then they should sacrifice it. If not, then they can sacrifice a cow or sheep.
Ibn Katheer writes: The proof that sacrificing only a sheep is allowed in the case of being prevented from continuing the rites, is that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has required sacrificing whatever is available as a Hady. And the Hady is any type of cattle; be it camels, cows or sheep. It is reported in the Two Saheehs that ‘A’ishah radhiAllahu ‘anha said, “The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam once offered some sheep as Hady.”
Shaving the Heads
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter.” One cannot shave their heads and get out of ihraam unless they have slaughtered the sacrificial animal. Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani writes: In this ayah, the shaving of the head has been identified as the signal for removing the ihraam which proves that shaving the head or trimming the hair in a state of ihraam is forbidden.
It is recorded in the Two Saheehs that Hafsah radhiAllahu ‘anha said, “O Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam! What is wrong with the people, they have finished their Ihram for ‘Umrah but you have not?” The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
إنِّي لَبَّدْتُ رَأْسِي وَقَلَّدْتُ هَدْيِي، فَلَا أَحِلُّ حَتَّى أَنْحَر
“I matted my hair and I have garlanded my Hady, so I will not finish my ihram till I offer the sacrifice.”
But what if someone has a need to shave their head such as due to an ailment or lice? Then they must give fidyah [ransom] for it either by fasting (for three days), giving charity (*equivalent to feeding six needy people) or making sacrifice. The place for sacrifice is fixed; it has to be performed within the limits of Harum. But if someone is unwell and they cannot fast, then there is an option for them to give something in charity.
*the feeding of six needy people has been drawn from a hadeeth in Saheeh Bukhari [Maarif ul Qur’an]
Al-Bukhari reported that ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Asbahani said that he heard ‘Abdullah ibn Ma’qil saying that he sat with Ka’ab bin ‘Ujrah in the mosque of Kufah (in Iraq). He then asked him about the fidyah of the fasting. Ka’ab said, “This was revealed concerning my case especially, but it is also for you in general. I was carried to Allah’s Messenger (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the lice were falling in great numbers on my face. The Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘I never thought that your ailment (or struggle) had reached to such an extent as I see. Can you afford a sheep (for sacrifice)?’ I replied in the negative.) He then said:
صُمْ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ أَوْ أَطْعِمْ سِتَّةَ مَسَاكِينَ، لِكُلِّ مِسْكِينٍ نِصْفُ صَاعٍ مِنْ طَعَامٍ، وَاحْلِقْ رَأْسَك
‘Fast for three days or feed six poor persons, each with half a Sa’ of food (1 Sa’ = 3 kilograms approx.) and shave your head.’
So this is a general judgment derived from a specific case. [Ibn Katheer]