In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 198 – 199 (Part 2)
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And remember Him as He has guided you, and verily, you were, before, of those who were astray.”
It is said that one should remember Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala 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 subhanahu wa ta’ala favors that the Salah of Maghrib be delayed and offered along with ‘Isha.
From the statement, “And remember Him as He has guided you,” we see the emergence of yet another basic ruling that man is not independent in worshiping and remembering Allah. One cannot worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as it pleases one’s self. Instead, every ‘ibadah and thikr of Allah demands the observance of special rules of etiquette.
These have to be performed as stipulated; doing it otherwise is not permissible. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala does not like any subtraction 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 on their own without having any reason approved by the Shari’ah. Going a step farther, they take it upon themselves as something necessary while Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His blessed Messenger did not declare it as necessary. Last but not the least, such people have the audacity to regard those who do not do all that as in error.
This ayah 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.
In ayah 199, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us of the law of equality in His Court. He says, “Then depart from the place whence all the people depart.”
This ayah was revealed in a particular background. The Quraysh of Arabia being the custodians of the Ka’abah 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’abah and the care-takers of the Harum, it was not proper for them to go out of the limits of the Harum.
Since Muzdalifah is located within the sacred limits of the Harum and ‘Arafat is out of it, they would seize upon the excuse, stay in Muzdalifah and return from there. 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. Apprehending their erroneous conduct, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded them to go where everyone goes i.e. the plains of ‘Arafat and return from them with others.
The word afidu [أَفِيضُوا] is from the root which succinctly suggests mingling with the multitude, something shunned by the Quraysh. Acting 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 ihraam 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 ihraam, further increases the degree of crime.
This statement of the 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. 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 Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam 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 [Allah consciousness] and the obedience to His commands.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends the ayah by reminding us to seek His forgiveness. It must be noticed that this is a reminder that we get after almost each act of worship along with taqwa. It is because after performing an act of worship we should not allow haughtiness to seep into our hearts. We should never assume that our prayers and deeds have been accepted. No matter, how much we pray and obey Him, we can never repay His favors upon us. We are faulty and our deeds are erroneous. Therefore, as soon as we complete our Salah we recite istighfar and seek Allah’s forgiveness.
The words istighfiru [اسْتَغْفِرُوا] and Ghafoor [غَفُور] both are from the root ghayn-fa-ra which means to protect, cover, hide, shield and pardon. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Ghafoor, when the servant does istighfar Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala conceals his faults. This tells us how important it is for us to be conscious of our deeds and never despair from the forgiveness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
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