In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 200 – 202 (Part 1)
In these ayaat, some customs of the days of ignorance have been corrected.
One of these was that the pre-Islamic Arabs, after finishing their Hajj rites would hold gatherings to recite poetry and 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 subhanahu wa ta’ala 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 is nothing like being engaged in the thikr of Allah. The Qur’an guides Muslims to shun the customs of the days of ignorance especially during Hajj. These days should be exclusively reserved for ‘ibadah and thikr as these days are a gift from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and may not be available again. One should not lose the blessings and merits of these days through carelessness.
The word qadaitum [قَضَيْتُم] is from the root qaf-daad-ya and it means to finish entirely by word or deed. The word manasikakum [مَّنَاسِكَكُمْ] is from the root noon-seen-kaf and it means acts of worship, rite of devotion or sacrifice.
Sa’eed bin Jubayr said that Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “During the time of jahiliyyah, people used to stand during the (Hajj) season, and one of them would say, ‘My father used to feed (the poor), help others (end their disputes with his money), pay the diyah [blood money],’ and so forth. The only thikr that they would make was that they would remember the deeds of their fathers. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then revealed this ayah.”
One’s speech is a reflection of their heart and character. Changing ourselves from outside (wearing Hijab or growing a beard) has no meaning if our hearts do not change. If we still find interest in free-mingling with the opposite gender (remember that cousins are not siblings nor are the brothers-in-law. They are non-mahrams so treat them that way), watching senseless media, sharing dirty jokes, listening to music, gossips, slander or abusing others, then knowledge has not really reached our hearts. Therefore, it is not just important to change our attire in the month of Ramadan or after coming from pilgrimage but one must also study Deen. Our hearts cannot change if Words of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala do not reach them.
Through this ayah we learn that remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is always encouraged. It is the best speech. If you and your friends do not remind each other of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then you have to look at your interests. Why is talking about makeup, fashions trends, opposite gender, and money so important for us than sharing beneficial knowledge?
We also need to check how much do we praise ourselves or our families than praising Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. It is from the refinement of one’s character that one gives more importance to others than putting one’s own self in the limelight. And Who is the best to be remembered than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?
Show Gratitude for Being Invited to Hajj
Hajj is a special act of worship which only a few chosen ones get to perform. Despite the advancements of today, it is still a strenuous journey. One has to endure separation from their loved ones and business and incur great expense of money and time.
Despite all the preparation, there is no guarantee that one will fulfill the objectives of Hajj. As we have read earlier, there is a possibility that one falls sick or is prevented from performing the pilgrimage in some other way. If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has, in His infinite grace, removed all impediments and one accomplishes his Hajj obligation by successfully performing all required rites, then, this calls for immense gratitude.
One should keep him/herself busy in remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, 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, the thing to do is the thikr 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, shopping and similar other pursuits of personal satisfaction. This ayah is enough to warn them.
Moderation in Religious and Worldly Pursuits
One must not just remember Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala but also supplicate to Him. We learn through the teachings that one of the best times for getting one’s du’a accepted is right after a righteous deed. Remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is one of the righteous deeds, therefore, one should not miss out on its advantages. Supplicate to Him after making thikr.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala criticizes those who only supplicate to Him about the affairs of this life, while ignoring the affairs of the Hereafter. Allah said, “But of mankind there are some who say: ‘Our Lord! Give us in this world!’ and for such there will be no portion in the Hereafter.” This criticism serves to discourage other people from imitating those mentioned.
The word dunya [دُّنْيَا] is from the root dal-noon-wau and it means less or low. This is the real status of this world. It is far lesser and lower than what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has for the believers in the Hereafter. May He enable us to correct our perspective, aameen. The word khalaq [خَلَاق] is from the root kha-laam-qaf and it means to measure or proportion a thing.
Sa’eed ibn Jubayr said that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Some Bedouins used to come to the standing area (‘Arafat) and supplicate saying, ‘O Allah! Make it a rainy year, a fertile year and a year of good child bearing.’ They would not mention any of the affairs of the Hereafter. Thus, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed about them this ayah.”
They would focus all their attention to praying for worldly needs, such as, comfort, wealth, honor and their likes, showing no concern for the life to come. 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 subhanahu wa ta’ala or to earn salvation in the Hereafter are objectives alien to them.
It may be noted at this point that the ayah mentions those who pray by saying: ‘Our Lord! Give us in this world!’ does not include the word hasanah [good]. This indicates that they do not care to have what is good even in this mortal world. On the contrary, they are so intoxicated with their craze for material things that nothing short of a constant fulfillment of their desires would satisfy them. They do not check if it is good or bad, procured rightly or wrongly or what people think about them.
This ayah extends a serious warning to those Muslims as well who prefer to pray for their material ends only even at the time of Hajj, devoting most of their concerns toward dunya. 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 voluntary acts of worship 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, but the prevailing aim of such relationships is the vague hope that their prayers and spiritual charms will work for them, worldly hardships will stay away, and their belongings shall be blessed. For such people too, this ayah has special instructions.