This Surah is called Surat Al-Hajj, because it mentions the rites of Hajj in it. It is the only Surah that is named by one of the Pillars of Islam and is characterized by consisting of two prostrations.

The Main Theme of the Surah

The theme of the Surah revolves around the command of Taqwa (fear of Allaah and keeping one’s duty towards Him), Tawheed (Islamic monotheism), the mentioning of the Hour and its dreads and preparation for it, in addition to mentioning the rites of Hajj. 

There is a strong link between the title of the Surah and its theme, and that is because the pilgrim prepares for Hajj by lawful expenditure. He removes his normal clothes, symbolizing his detachment from the Dunya. Then he joins the great gathering in ‘Arafah, Muzdalifa, and Mina, and circumambulates the Ka’bah with one type of clothes, pronouncing the Talbiya “Labbayk Allaahuma Labbayk” all together, which symbolizes Tawheed. All pilgrims seek Allaah’s forgiveness and acceptance of their deeds for the sake of salvation from the earthquake of the Hour.

The Surah emphasizes the role of Hajj in building up the Ummah with Taqwa and Tawheed.

The greatest matter that one should consider when he is journeying to Allaah is to establish Tawheed and avoid Shirk.

The Relation between the Beginning of the Surah and its End

The Surah starts with the command to have Taqwa and belief in the earthquake of the Hour and the horrors of that Day. Allaah (Ta’ala) says: 

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَيْءٌ عَظِيمٌ

“O mankind! Fear your Lord and be dutiful to Him! Verily, the earthquake of the Hour (of Judgment) is a terrible thing.” [22:1]

The horrors of the Day of Resurrection necessitate that one prepares for it by Taqwa.

At the end of the Surah, Allaah (Ta’ala) clearly explains the aspects of Taqwa, saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ارْكَعُوا وَاسْجُدُوا وَاعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ۩ 2       

“O you who believe! Bow down, and prostrate yourselves, and worship your Lord and do good that you may be successful.”

وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ ۚ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ 

هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِيهَٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ ۚ

 فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ

“And strive hard in Allaah’s Cause as you ought to strive (with sincerity and with all your efforts that His Name should be superior). He has chosen you (to convey His Message of Islamic Monotheism to mankind by inviting them to His religion, Islam), and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship, it is the religion of your father Ibraheem (Abraham) (Islamic Monotheism). It is He (Allaah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this (the Qur’an), that the Messenger [Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)] may be a witness over you and you be witnesses over mankind! So perform As-Salaat (Iqamat-as-Salaat), give Zakaat and hold fast to Allaah [i.e. have confidence in Allaah, and depend upon Him in all your affairs]. He is your Maula (Patron, Lord, etc.), what an Excellent Maula (Patron, Lord, etc.) and what an Excellent Helper!” [22:77-78]

The Surah ends with the command to worship Allaah and do good deeds. It commands Jihaad in His Cause [with one’s wealth, tongue, and body], by performing Salaat and giving Zakaat, i.e. to fulfil the duties towards Allaah by doing that which has been enjoined, and to avoid that which He has forbidden, in addition to holding fast to Allaah by seeking His help and support and putting one’s trust in Him.

Taqwa is an action of the heart which is expressed by the actions of the limbs.

The Relation between the Title of the Surah and the First Verse

1 – Al-Hajj linguistically means to proceed to the One Who is revered and magnified; i.e. to betake oneself to a Revered One, and the greatest One Who is sought and betaken to is Allaah. All of mankind is walking (journeying) to Him. This Surah shows the way the person should walk and how he should walk, and what his provision should be, and what he should beware of. 

2 – Hajj also means – in legal terminology – to worship Allaah by performing rituals in a specific way, at a specific time, and in a specific place.

3 – In the beginning of the Surah, Allaah (Ta’ala) commands with Taqwa of Him. This great act of worship is one of the greatest goals of Hajj that one seeks to attain.

4 – In verses 26-27, Allaah (Ta’ala) commands Ibraheem (‘Alayhis-salaam) not to associate anything in worship with Him, to sanctify and purify the House from the filth of Shirk, and to call the people for Hajj. All this signifies that the purpose of legislating Hajj is to worship Allaah.

5 – Hajj is considered a minor form of gathering all Muslims, whilst the Day of Resurrection is the major gathering. Taqwa will benefit the person in the minor gathering as well as in the major gathering.  

The Main Topics of the Surah

1 – The command with Taqwa of Allaah and the different categories of people in receiving this command and their recompense on the Day of Resurrection. This is shown clearly in verses (1-24) of the Surah.

2 – The Surah presents intellectual evidences which affirm the existence of the Creator, and that Allaah is the One Who gives life and causes death; He is the One Who will resurrect those in the graves; the Hour is coming, there is no doubt about it; and the Ability of Allaah over all things. It is incumbent upon the Muslim Da’iyah to give heed to intellectual evidences and sensible visible evidences because the disbelievers do not believe in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Thus, one should discuss with them intellectually.

3 – The story of building the Sacred House and the invitation of Allaah to all His servants to head towards it to perform Hajj.

4 – The Surah mentions rulings concerning Hajj, its benefits, its etiquettes, and the wisdom behind all that in establishing the feeling of Taqwa in the hearts, which is the main goal of Hajj.

5 – The permission given for fighting in the Cause of Allaah to protect the rites of Islam and acts of worship from the transgression of the enemies.

6 – The Surah shows examples of the belying of the beliers and their evil end.

7 – Different types of hearts are mentioned in this Surah:

a) The sick heart [22:53]

b) The hardened heart [22:53]

c) The heart which is Mukhbit (humbly submits) [22:54]

d) The blind heart [22:46]

8 – The Surah clearly shows the state of the disbelievers, their doubts, and their wavering which never separates from them.

9 – The virtue of migration in the Cause of Allaah for the sake of supporting the Religion of Allaah. Allaah (Ta’ala) promised the immigrants provision in this worldly life and another one in the Hereafter [as mentioned in verses 22:58-59].

10 – Allaah (Ta’ala) sets the proof against the disbelievers by setting forth parables and examples, such as verse [22:31] and verse [22:73]

Benefits, Lessons, and some Subtle Meanings of the Surah

1 – One of the wonders of this blessed Surah is the emphasis it places on the role of Hajj in establishing Taqwa in the hearts.

“In verses (1-2), Allaah (Ta’ala) addresses all of mankind, commanding them with Taqwa, which is to fear Him and keep their duty to Him by obeying Him, and to avoid His prohibitions. He is our Lord, Who has created us, disposes our affairs, and nurtures us with His blessings – the apparent and the hidden. He is the One Who deserves to be feared by abandoning Shirk, disobedience, and sins, and to carry out His commands as much as we can.” [Tayseer Al-Kareem]

Taqwa has three components:

a) Knowledge

b) Love, fear, and hope

c) Acting or Avoiding

This means, when one acquires knowledge about Allaah, His laws, what He loves, what He hates, and so forth, one is going along the path of Taqwa, and his heart moves with fear, hope, and love for Allaah. Accordingly, he expresses all these feelings by acting upon His commands and avoiding His prohibitions.

  • So, have Taqwa,beware and avoidbeing of those whom Allaah grants blessings and thank other than Allaah.
  • Have Taqwa and avoid being of those whom Allaah grants favors to strengthen them and help them to worship Him, and they use His blessings in disobeyingHim instead of being obedient to Him.
  • Have Taqwa and avoid being ungrateful for Allaah’s blessings.
  • Have Taqwa and avoid being of those whom Allaah granted well-being and ‘Aafiyah (in body, wealth, etc.) and they defame and criticize those who are deficient and have defects.
  • Have Taqwa and avoid being of those who give others thinking that the favor is from them.
  • Have Taqwa and avoid being of those who venerate and magnify other than Allaah or are attached to other than Allaah.
  • Have Taqwa and avoid following your desires and pleasures, preferring that over the pleasure of Allaah.

Rather you should be an obedient slave of Allaah, seeking His Pleasure, and directing all your efforts for His Sake and in His Cause.

Accordingly, two matters help and urge one to have Taqwa:

a) Knowing that Allaah is his Lord Who nurtures him with His blessings

b) Knowing about the earthquake of the Hour. Indeed, the earthquake of the Hour is a terrifying crisis.

So the Muttaqi knows that the means of one’s salvation on that Day is Taqwa of Allaah. When the horror of the Day of Judgment occurs, it is the time of reaping the recompense of one’s Taqwa.

Shaikh As-Sa’dee (Rahimahullaah) said: “Allaah (Ta’ala) mentions what helps on Taqwa and warns against abandoning it and that is by mentioning the terrors of the Day of Judgment. He (Ta’ala) says:

إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَيْءٌ عَظِيمٌ

“Verily, the earthquake of the Hour (of Judgment) is a terrible thing.”

No one can determine its horror or know its reality. This is because when the Hour is established, the earth will be shaken with its (final) earthquake, the mountains will rent asunder and be crushed with one blow and become a heap of sand poured out and flowing down, then become floating dust particles, and all the people will be separated into three groups. Thereon, the heavens will cleave asunder, and the sun and the moon will lose their light (or they will be folded up or joined together by going into each other) and the stars will fall and scatter. There will be terrors and crises which will cause the hearts to fall apart and tremble, and that Day will make the children white-haired, and cause solid matters to melt. Allaah (Ta’ala) describes that Day in verse 2, saying:

يَوْمَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَذْهَلُ كُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ عَمَّا أَرْضَعَتْ

“The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling,”

She will be distracted by the terror of what she is seeing which will make her forget the one who is dearest of all to her and to whom she shows the most compassion. Her shock will make her neglect her infant at the very moment of breastfeeding.

وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا

“and every pregnant one will drop her load,”

Before the pregnancy has reached full term, because of the intensity of the horror.

وَتَرَى النَّاسَ سُكَارَىٰ 

“and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state,”

Because of the severity of heir situation they will lose their minds, so that whoever sees them will think that they are drunk.

وَمَا هُم بِسُكَارَىٰ وَلَٰكِنَّ عَذَابَ اللَّهِ شَدِيد ٌ

“yet they will not be drunken, but severe will be the Torment of Allaah.”

The severe torment of Allaah has taken away their minds and the hearts have reached the throats and the eyes fixedly stare in horror. On that Day, no father will avail his son, nor will a son avail his father at all. [Surat Luqman (31:33)]

‘On that Day, a man will flee from his brother, and his mother, and his father, and his wife, and his children. For every man, that Day, will be a matter adequate for him; (i.e. he will only be concerned with himself) thus forgetting all others.’ [Surat ‘Abasa (80:34-37)]

And on that Day, the wrongdoer will bite on his hands (in regret), and say, ‘Oh, I wish I had taken with the Messenger a way [i.e. followed the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) on the path of guidance]. Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one (the person who misguided me) as a friend.’ [Surat Al-Furqaan (25:27-28)]

‘On that Day (some) faces will turn white and (some) faces will turn black.’ [Aal-‘Imran (3:106)]

‘And the Balances will be set, with which deeds equal to the weight of atoms (good or evil) will be weighed with.’ [Surat Al-Anbiyaa’ (21:47)]

The records will be spread (i.e. made public) of all their deeds, utterances, and intentions, whether minor or major.

The Siraat will be set over Jahannam (Hellfire).

Paradise will be brought near that Day to the righteous and Jahannam (Hellfire) will be brought forth for the deviated as Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat Ash-Shu’araa (26:90-91), such that when it (i.e. Hellfire) sees them from a distant place, they will hear its fury and roaring. And when they are thrown into a narrow place therein bound in chains, they will cry out thereupon for destruction. (They will be told) ‘Do not cry this Day for one destruction but cry for much destruction.’ [Surat Al-Furqaan (25:12-14)]. And if they called unto their Lord to bring them out of it, He says: ‘Remain despised therein and do not speak to Me.” [Surat Al-Mu’minoon (23:108)]

The Merciful Lord will become angry with them and they will be in painful torment, having despaired of every good. They will find all what they did in this world in front of them, nothing will be missing from it.

On the other hand, the pious will be in gardens of Paradise, in different kinds of enjoyment and delight, and they will find all what their selves desire there.

Truly, the mindful person who knows all what he is going to face tomorrow will prepare for it and not be deceived and diverted by false hopes and abandon taking action. Let the Taqwa of Allaah be his provision, love of Allaah and His remembrance be the soul of his deeds, and fear be his clothes.” [Tayseer Al-Kareem]

2 – Another benefit of the Surah is that Hajj reminds people of the Day of Resurrection when all the pilgrims head towards one place with one garment in the heat of the sun. 

3 – Hajj also reminds people of the resurrection when pilgrims get up for the Fajr prayer when they hear the Adhaan of the Mu’adhdhin after they were tired, exhausted, and sleeping after standing at ‘Arafah. 

4 – Hajj reminds people of Jihaad, when people abide to the timing of the rituals, its places, going and coming, sleeping at night in Mina, and their coming out from one place to another. Therefore, the verses of Jihaad are mentioned following the verses of Hajj. When Allaah (Ta’ala) mentions about the rites of Hajj and what it comprises of benefits in this world and the Hereafter, He mentions the disbelievers who prevent people from the Sacred Masjid and from their Religion and from entering Makkah, that Allaah (Ta’ala) defends the believers and He (Ta’ala) mentions the wisdom of legislating the fight in His Cause: 1) Defending the sacred places of Allaah is one of its wisdoms, 2) Stopping the disbelievers from preventing people from the Masjid, 3) Protecting the weak people, and 4) Enabling the believers to worship Allaah (Ta’ala). 

5 – Hajj finally reminds people of servitude to Allaah. This is shown clearly in the beginning of the Surah and its end. [Verses 18 and 77]

6 – The whole universe prostrates to Allaah (Ta’ala); however, Allaah (Ta’ala) particularized the sun, the moon, the stars, and the moving creatures because they are worshipped besides Allaah (Ta’ala). Allaah (Ta’ala) showed clearly that these are all created, subjected, and prostrate to their Creator, as Allaah (Ta’ala) mentions in verse [22:18].

7 – In verse 27, Allaah (Ta’ala) commands Ibraheem (‘Alayhis-salaam) to proclaim to the people, the Hajj (pilgrimage), and He (Ta’ala) mentions those who will come on foot before those who come for Hajj riding on every lean camel, to console their hearts and in that people should not look down upon them, and in order to show that Hajj includes them all, so they show humbleness and submission to Allaah.

8 – The people who most deserve the support of Allaah are the truthful believers who establish the Salaat and give Zakaat, and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. [Verses 40 and 41]

9 – Allaah (Ta’ala) sets forth a parable of the fly in verse [22:73] to clarify the futility of Shirk and indicate the ignorance of its people and uglify their intellect. The fly is mentioned particularly because of its meekness, contempt, its disgust, and because of its great number. If this creature is the weakest and most insignificant of all creatures, then if the false deities which are worshipped besides Allaah were to come together to create a single fly, they would not be able to do that. Moreover, they are unable to avert its harm or resist it or take revenge against it if it were to take anything when it lands. Then how can they be worshipped and be obeyed? This is one of the strongest proofs against them. [Tafseer Al-Qurtubi]

“They have not recognized the might and power of Allaah when they worship alongside Him, those who cannot even ward off a fly because they are weak and incapable.” [Ibn Katheer]

10 – Whoever is touched with harm in any trial or calamity should stay firm and increase his trust in Allaah’s Mercy and Help and His Ability to remove the affliction, as Allaah promised His Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with support and victory. However, whoever loses his trust in Allaah’s support in this world and the Hereafter and despairs of Allaah’s help for him when the calamity is intensified; let him do whatever he wills with his self, as nothing will change the affliction that befalls him.

11 – Honoring and defending the symbols of Allaah, His rites, and the sanctified matters is a part of intensive Taqwa in the hearts.

12 – Allaah (Ta’ala) enjoined commands upon the believers, in which lies their success. Allaah (Ta’ala) connected success with establishing the Salaat and giving the Zakaat particularly and performing all good deeds generally.

13 – The command with prostration indicates complete submission to Allaah as is mentioned in verse 18, that all creatures prostrate to Allaah except many people. Therefore, Allaah calls them to prostrate again at the end of the Surah.

14 – One should exert his utmost with his money and self in defending the Islamic ‘Aqeedah and raising up the standard of Islam. 

Sources

📚  Awwal Marra Atadabbur al-Qur’an (First time I ponder over the meaning of the Qur’an) by Adel Muhammad Khalil

📚  At-Tafseer Al-Mawdoo’i li Suwar al-Qur’an al-Kareem by a group of ‘Ulama of Tafseer

📚  Tayseer Al-Kareem by Shaikh As-Sa’dee (Rahimahullaah)

📚  Tafseer Ibn Katheer

📚  Lecture conducted by Shaikha Anaheed

 

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