Showing posts with label Section 3. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Section 3. Show all posts

Thursday 19 December 2019

Surah Al Baqarah - The Cow: 2nd Chapter of Quran (Exegesis Section 3 - Part II)

Sūrah Al Baqarah "البقرة" is the longest Sūrah of the Qurān with 286 verses and forty ruku, spanned over Juz' 1-3. 

Please read the Summary and the Overview of the Sūrah before reading its detailed exegesis so as to have a fair idea how this Sūrah has been compartmentalized into various sections and parts to emphasize on the important subject matter of the Sūrah:
  • Introduction
  • Section 1: [verses 40 to 121 (Ruku 5-14)] and has been further divided into two parts as under:
  • Part I:  (Verses 40-61) - Completed
  • Part II: (Verses 62-121) - Completed
Section 2: [verse 122-163 (ruku 15-19)] - Completed
  • Section 3: [Verses 164 - 242 (Ruku 20-40)]  It has been further sub divided into three parts as under:
  • Part I: (verses 164-188) - Completed
  • Part II: (Verses 189-216) - This Part
  • Part III: (Verses 217-242) 
  • Section 4: (Verses 243-286) 
We have already presented the Introduction, Sections 1, 2 and 3 (Part I only). We now begin with Part II of Section-3. The translation and exegesis / tafseer is in English. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles.

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

Ruku / Section 24 [Verses 189-196]
Verse 189 The moon is to determine Time periods:
( 189 )   They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say, "They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj." And it is not righteousness to enter houses from the back, but righteousness is [in] one who fears Allah. And enter houses from their doors. And fear Allah that you may succeed.
The waxing and waning of the moon has attracted men's attentions throughout the ages and all kinds of fanciful ideas, superstitions and rituals have been, and are still today, associated with it. The moon was considered the basis of good and bad omens. Certain dates were considered auspicious and others inauspicious for starting journeys, for beginning new tasks, for weddings and so on on the ground that the rising and setting of the moon, its waxing and waning and its eclipse affect human destiny. The Arabs too had their share of such superstitions. It was therefore natural that inquiries regarding such matters should be addressed to the Prophet.

In response, God says that the waxing and waning of the moon is nothing more than a physical phenomenon. By its appearance in the firmament the moon enables man to divide his year and it can thus be considered nature's own calendar. Particular reference is made to Hajj because it occupied the position of highest importance in the religious, cultural and economic life of the Arabs. Four months of the year were specified since they were the months of major and minor Pilgrimage (Hajj and 'Umrah). During these months there was to be no warfare and the routes were completely safe for travelling. Thanks to the peace and tranquility thus established, trade and commerce prospered.

One superstitious custom of the Arabs was that once they entered the state of consecration for Pilgrimage they did not enter their houses by the door. Instead, they either leapt over the walls from the rear or climbed through windows which they had specially erected for that purpose. On returning from journeys, too, they entered their houses from the rear. In this verse this superstitious custom is denounced, as are all superstitious customs; it is pointed out that the essence of moral excellence consists of fearing God and abstaining from disobeying His commands. Those meaningless customs by which people felt bound, out of blind adherence to the traditions of their forefathers, and which had no effect at all on man's ultimate destiny, had nothing to do with moral excellence.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
There were many superstitions connected with the New Moon, as there are to the present day. We are told to disregard such superstitions. As a measure of time, where the lunar calendar is used, the New Moon is one great sign, for which people watch with eagerness. Muslim festivals, including the Pilgrimage, are fixed by the appearance of the New Moon. The Arabs, among other superstitions, had one which made them enter their houses by the back door during or after the Pilgrimage. This is disapproved, for there is no virtue in any such artificial restrictions. All virtue proceeds from the love and fear of God.

This is a Muslim proverb now, and much might be written about its manifold meanings. A few may be notes here. (1) If you enter a society, respect its manners and customs. (2) If you want to achieve an object honourably, go about it openly and not "by a backdoor". (3) Do not beat about the bush. (4) If you wish success in an undertaking, provide all the necessary instruments for it.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The actual words are: یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ عَنِ الۡاَہِلَّۃِ. The word اَہِلَّۃ is the plural of هِلَال, which is used to signify the new moon and it also signifies a month. In the plural form especially, it is used to signify months. The article ال appended to it shows that the question is regarding certain specific months and it is evident from the answer that the question was regarding the sacred months and the etiquette in conducting one’s self in these months. It is a very common style of the Qur’an that questions are stated very compactly and their real purport becomes evident through their answer. Here, the reason for this question, as will become evident from subsequent verses, is that once the Baytullah was declared the qiblah people became anxious to offer its pilgrimage and since the Quraysh would have stopped them from offering it, the question arose in the mind of people that if the Quraysh would resist this pilgrimage then a battle could ensue and this would of course desecrate the sanctity of the sacred months. So should this sanctity be maintained or were they authorized to take up arms to combat the resistance of the Quraysh?

The implication is that in the strife-ridden society of Arabia the caravans of hajj were able to make their way to offer it because of this sanctity of the sacred months and trade and business activities were also possible because of them. Consequently, this prohibition should remain the way it is.

This question has been asked after halting the main discourse. Once the Qur’an gave an answer to this question, it started to mention the directives regarding jihad, infaq, hajj and ‘umrah which were originally meant to be mentioned here. From among these, the matter of jihad and infaq are discussed originally, but this is not the case with hajj and ‘umrah. They are an established Sunnah that has been instituted before. No doubt, religious innovations had crept into them and their essence too had become alien to people but in spite of all this their rites and rituals were well known to people. That is why the Qur’an did not give us any details regarding them. It only revived certain aspects of these rituals and explained certain juristic issues regarding them.

This was a religious innovation which people had invented in relation to hajj. Probably the reason for this innovation was the superstition that one should not enter from the doors from which one exited with the burden of sins; after being cleansed of these sins, this would be against piety.

The actual words are: وَ لٰکِنَّ الۡبِرَّ مَنِ اتَّقٰی. The governing noun has been suppressed in this expression. The implied construction is: بِرُّ مَنِ اتَّقٰي وَلٰـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ.

Verse 190 Order to fight for a just cause:
( 190 )   Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.
The believers are asked to fight those who hindered their efforts in the cause of God, and acted with hostility towards them merely because they sought to fashion human life according to the revealed guidance of God. Earlier, when they were weak and scattered, the Muslims were asked merely to preach and be patient with the wrongful repression meted out to them by their opponents. However, now that a small city state had been established in Madina they were commanded for the first time to unsheathe their swords against those who had resorted to armed hostility against their movement of reform. It was some time after this injunction that the Battle of Badr took place, to be followed by several other battles.

The believers are told that material interests should not be the motivation for their fighting, that they should not take up arms against those who were not in opposition to the true faith, that they should not resort to unscrupulous methods or to the indiscriminate killing and pillage which characterized the wars of the pre-Islamic era, the Age of Ignorance. The excesses alluded to in this verse are acts such as taking up arms against women and children, the old and the injured, mutilation of the dead bodies of the enemy, uncalled-for devastation through the destruction of fields and livestock, and other similar acts of injustice and brutality. In the Hadith all these acts have been prohibited. The real intent of the verse is to stress that force should be used only when its use is unavoidable, and only to the extent that is absolutely necessary.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
War is only permissible in self-defence, and under well-defined limits. When undertaken, it must be pushed with vigour, but not relentlessly, but only to restore peace and freedom for the worship of God. In any case strict limits must not be transgressed: women, children, old and infirm men should not be molested, nor trees and crops cut down, nor peace withheld when the enemy comes to terms.
( 191 )   And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.
Here the word fitnah is used in the sense of 'persecution'. It refers to a situation whereby either a person or a group is subjected to harassment and intimidation for having accepted, as true, a set of ideas contrary to those currently held, and for striving to effect reforms in the existing order of society by preaching what is good and condemning what is wrong. Such a situation must be changed, if need be, by the force of arms.

Bloodshed is bad, but when one group of people imposes its ideology and forcibly prevents others from accepting the truth, then it becomes guilty of an even more serious crime. In such circumstances, it is perfectly legitimate to remove that oppressive group by the force of arms.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This passage is illustrated by the events that happened at Hudaibiya in the sixth year of the Hijra, though it is not clear that it was revealed on that occasion. The Muslims were by this time a strong and influential community. Many of them were exiles from Mecca, where the Pagans had established an intolerant autocracy, persecuting Muslims, preventing them from visiting their homes, and even keeping them out by force from performing the Pilgrimage during the universally recognised period of truce. This was intolerance, oppression, and autocracy to the last degree, and the mere readiness of the Muslims to enforce their rights as Arab citizens resulted without bloodshed in an agreement which the Muslims faithfully observed. The Pagans, however, had no scruples in breaking faith, and it is unnecessary here to go into subsequent events.

Suppress faith: in the narrower as well as the larger sense. If they want forcibly to prevent you from exercising your sacred rites, they have declared war on your religion, and it would be cowardice to ignore the challenge or to fail in rooting out the tyranny.
( 192 )   And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
God, in whom the believers have faith, is forgiving and ready to pardon even the worst criminals and sinners after they have renounced their arrogant defiance towards Him. It is suggested that this attribute of God should be reflected in the behaviour of the believers as well. As the saying goes: 'Mould your morals according to the attributes of God.' Hence, Whenever the believers have to resort to armed conflict, they should do so not for the sake of quenching their thirst for vengeance but in the cause of God's religion. Their conflict with any group should last only as long as that group resists the cause of God. As soon as it gives up this resistance hostility should cease.
( 193 )   Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.
Here the term fitnah is used in a different sense from the one in which it was used above see( verse 191). It is evident from the context that fitnah refers here to the state of affairs wherein the object of obedience is someone other than God. Hence the purpose of a believer's fighting is that this fitnah should cease and obedience should be consecrated to God alone.

An investigation of the usages of the word din (which occurs in this verse) reveals that the core of its meaning is obedience. In its technical usage, the word refers to that system of life which arises as a result of a person recognizing someone as his Lord and Sovereign and committing himself to following his commands and ordinances. This explanation of the word din makes it quite clear that when some human beings establish their godhead and absolute dominance over others, this state of affairs is one of fitnah. Islam seeks to put an end to this and replace it by a state of affairs in which people live in obedience to the laws of God alone.

What is meant here by 'desisting' is not the abandonment of unbelief and polytheism on the part of the unbelievers but rather their desistance from active hostility to the religion enjoined by God. The unbeliever, the polytheist, the atheist, has each been, empowered to hold on to his beliefs and to worship who and whatever he wishes. In order to deliver these people from their error, Muslims are required to counsel them and tell them where their good lies. But Muslims ought not to try to achieve this purpose by resorting to force. At the same time, these misguided people have no right to either enforce the false laws of their own contriving instead of the laws of God or to drive the people of God to bondage of others than God. In order to put an end to this fitnah, both persuasion and force be used, whenever and to the extent to which each of the two is needed, and a true believer will not rest until the unbelievers give up this fitnah.

The statement that hostility is meant only against wrong-doers seems to imply that when the true system of life replaces the false one, ordinary people should be granted a general amnesty. At the same time, however, it would be justifiable to punish those who exceeded all limits in their hostility to the Truth, at the time when they held the reins of power. Yet in dealing with such people, it becomes the true believers, after they have one final victory, to adopt a general attitude of forgiveness and tolerance towards the vanquished rather than subject them to revenge for the wrongs they committed in the past. Those criminals whose records were exceptionally bad could, however, be punished. The Prophet (peace be on him), availed himself of this permission in respect of some notorious enemies whose hostility had exceeded all limits, even though pardon and forgiveness behoved none more than him. Thus 'Uqbah ibn Abi Mu'avt and Nadr b. Harith from among the captives of the Battle of Badr were put to death and when a general amnesty, was proclaimed after the conquest of Makka four out of seventeen persons were executed. (See Ibn Hisham, vol. 1, p. 644 and vol. 2, pp. 409 ff. - Ed.) These acts were based on the permission to put to the sword those who have been conspicuously ruthless in their hostility to Islam and the Muslims.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Justice and faith. The Arabic word is Din, which is comprehensive. It implies the ideas of indebtedness, duty, obedience, judgment, justice, faith, religion, customary rites, etc. The clause means: "until there is Din for God."

If the opposite party cease to persecute you, your hostility ends with them as a party, but it does not mean, that you become friends to oppression. Your fight is against wrong; there should be no rancour against men.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation (verses 190-193):
The implication is that the directive of armed warfare which is given here must neither be undertaken to gratify one’s whims nor to obtain wealth and riches. It must also not be undertaken to conquer territories and rule them or to acquire fame or to appease the emotions of communal support, partisanship and animosity. On the contrary, it should be undertaken only and only for the cause of God and such a sacred undertaking has no relation with personal and selfish motives. This is the war of the Almighty which His servants undertake at His behest and according to the guidelines provided by Him for His cause. They themselves act as mere agents and implementers of the will of God. They have no objective of their own before them in this undertaking; rather they have to fulfill the objectives of the Almighty. Consequently, they cannot deviate in the least from this capacity.

Ie., war cannot be waged in the way of God by disregarding ethical limits. Moral values have to be given priority over every thing in all circumstances, and even in circumstances of war the Almighty has not given any person the permission to breach ethical principles.

Ie., displacing Muslims from their homes was no less a crime but the Almighty gave them respite and now if they stop the Muslims from doing hajj, then they should displace them from Makkah in the very way they themselves had done so with the Muslims. Then Muslims should kill them wherever they find them because they deserve no lenience once they have deliberately denied the truth which has been unveiled to them by Muhammad(sws).

This the basic reason for waging jihad. The implication is that no doubt warfare near the Haram and in the sacred months is a grave matterbut فِتْنَة is graver. This word here means “persecution” or to force and coerce a person to give up his religion or stop him from following and practicing it. It is used in this meaning at a number of places in the Qur’an. No doubt, it is a crime greater than murder. The Almighty has created this world to test man by giving him the right to freely choose his religion and ideology. Consequently, any person who forces someone to give up his religion is in fact rebelling against the scheme of the Almighty.

The implication is that Muslims should not initiate proceedings to violate any thing which is sacred. Consequently, war is permitted near the Baytullah and in sacred months only if the enemy takes the initiative. Muslims can in no case commence such proceedings.

Ie., such a grave punishment should be meted out to those who deliberately deny the truth revealed to them by Muhammad(sws) and then go as far as to dislodge him and his Companions (rta) and if these Muslims want to return to offer hajj, these deliberate rejecters offer resistance by unsheathing their swords in the sacred months.

To desist here does not mean that they desist from war, but that they desist from disbelief and rebellion whose punishment is stated earlier. Without this they can never be worthy of the mercy and compassion of the Almighty.

The implication is that the war Muslims have been asked to wage is not merely to crush the resistance offered by the Quraysh to offer hajj but to uproot فتنة (persecution) so that only Islam reigns supreme in the Arabian peninsula. It is for these two objectives that the Qur’an directed the Muhammad (sws) and has Companions (rta) to wage jihad. The first objective which is referred to by the word فتنه has already been explained earlier. No doubt, the age old tradition of forcing people to renounce their religion has almost been eliminated today; however, as long as human beings remain human beings, they may revert to it. Consequently, this is an eternal directive of the Qur’an. If persecution surfaces at any place on this earth of God, it is imperative upon a Muslim state to root it out if it has the strength and power to do so and help the oppressed by waging war against it. This is an everlasting directive of the Qur’an for the Muslims and no law of this world can repeal it. As for the second objective, this purpose could only have been achieved in two ways: either the followers of all other religions be put to death or they be subdued and subjugated completely. Consequently, after many phases interspersed with periods of both war and peace, when the disbelievers were totally humiliated, both these ways were adopted. Muslims were directed to kill the Idolaters of Arabia if they did not accept faith and to let the Jews and Christians live on their own religions if they accepted to pay jizyah and to live a life of total subjugation to the Islamic state established in Arabia. However, the active adversaries among them were put to death or exiled whenever it became possible.

The second type of jihad, however, is no longer operational. The reason for this is that it does not relate to the shari‘ah. It relates to the divine law of itmam al-hujjah (conclusive communication of the truth). This law always comes into action through God’s direct command and through individuals whom He selectes as His messengers. In the history of mankind, for the very last time this status was conferred on the Prophet Muhammad (sws). As per this divine law, when the Almighty conclusively conveys the truth through His messengers to their respective peoples and if they still deny it then they are punished in this very world. At times, this punishment takes place through natural calamities and disasters, while, at others, it emanates from the swords of the believers. As a result, those who have denied the truth are totally vanquished in their land and the truth reigns supreme in it. In the case of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta), the divine scourge took this second form. Consequently, just as they were asked to wage war against oppression and injustice, they were also asked to wage war to punish the rejecters of the truth once it had become totally manifest to them. This was actually a divine plan that was executed through human beings. They themselves were not authorized to even think of such an undertaking. It is to this very fact which the following Qur’anic words allude: قَاتِلُوۡہُمۡ یُعَذِّبۡہُمُ اللّٰہُ بِاَیۡدِیۡکُمۡ (14:9) (Fight them and God will punish them with your hands. (9:14))

The actual word is: عُدۡوَان. It means “cruelty” and “tyranny;” however, here it means “an offensive.” Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… In the Arabic language, words are used sometimes merely to depict the same genre and sort. Their meaning is determined by their context and placement. For example it is said: دِنَّاهُمْ كَمَا دَانُوا (We paid them back in the same coin). Obviously the word دَانُوا has been used because of its apparent similarity with دِنَّا otherwise a word such as فَعَلُوْا or some other word of similar meaning should have been used. Consider the Qur’anic expression: جَزَآءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا (The recompense of evil is a similar evil). Everyone knows that recompense of evil is not evil; however, in order to express similarity of genre with the previous word the punishment of a crime is also called سَيِّئَة (evil). Similarly, later in the given verses it is said: فَمَنِ اعۡتَدٰی عَلَیۡکُمۡ فَاعۡتَدُوۡا عَلَیۡہِ (Whoever commits excesses against you, you can also pay him back in the same coin). In this verse, what is done in response to the excesses committed by some is also called اِعۡتَدٰی (to commit excesses), although it merely means “an action equal in measure to what was inflicted.” The only reason to use it was to make it in generic conformity with the first word. As per this common usage of Arabic, in the given verse also the word عُدْوَان is used similarly and only connotes an action equal in measure to what was inflicted. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 479)
Ie., if they leave their animosity and embrace faith, then they will not be punished for their former crimes. After this, any such punishment will only be permissible for those who adhere to their denial and do not reform themselves.

Verse 194 Retaliation in the sacred months:
( 194 )   [Fighting in] the sacred month is for [aggression committed in] the sacred month, and for [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.
From the time of Abraham three months - Dhu al-Qa'dah, Dhu al-Hijjah and Muharram - were consecrated for Hajj, and the month of Rajab was consecrated for 'Umrah. For the duration of these four months warfare, killing and pillage were prohibited so that people could perform Pilgrimage and return home safely. For this reason these months were called the 'sacred months'.

The purpose of the verse is to stress that if the unbelievers respect the sanctity of the sacred months, the Muslims should do the same. If, however, they violate this sanctity and subject the Muslims to aggression, then the Muslims are also entitled to retribution even during the 'sacred months'.

The permission mentioned here was called forth by the introduction of nasi', a practice which had been introduced by the Arabs in order to have an advantage over others in their battles and raids. The manner in which the Arabs used nasi' was such that whenever they wished either to start a conflict in order to satisfy their vendetta or to loot and plunder they carried out their raid in one of the sacred months and then later on tried to compensate for this violation by treating one of the non-sacred months as a sacred month. The Muslims were, therefore, concerned as to what they should do in case the unbelievers resorted to this artifice and surprised them by an attack in one of the recognized sacred months. The verse refers to this problem.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Haram - prohibited, sacred. The month of Pilgrimage (Zul-hajj) was a sacred month, in which warfare was prohibited by Arab custom. The month preceding (Zul-qad) and the month following (Muharram) were included in the prohibition, and Muharram was specially called al-Haram. Possibly Muharram is meant in the first line, and the other months and other prohibited things in "all things prohibited". In Rajab, also, war was prohibited. If the pagan enemies of Islam broke that custom and made war in the prohibited months, the Muslims were free also to break that custom but only to the same extent as the other broke it. Similarly the territory of Mecca was sacred, in which war was prohibited. If the enemies of Islam broke that custom, the Muslims were free to do so to that extent. Any convention is useless if one party does not respect it. There must be a law of equality. Or perhaps the word reciprocity may express it better.

At the same time the Muslims are commanded to exercise self-restraint as much as possible. Force is a dangerous weapon. It may have to be used for self-defence or self-preservation, but we must always remember that self-restraint is pleasing in the eyes of God. Even when we are fighting, it should be for a principle, not out of passion.

 Verse 195 Order to give charity:
( 195 )   And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.
 'To spend in the way of Allah' signifies financial sacrifice in order to establish God's religion. Not to make any financial sacrifice but to be inclined, instead, to hold personal interests dear to one's heart will lead to one's ruin both in this world and in the Next. Allah will set the unbelievers to dominate over you in this world and condemn you in the Next world.

The root of the word ihsan is HSN, which means doing something in a goodly manner.

One standard of conduct is merely to perform the task entrusted to one. The other and higher standard is to perform that task in a wholesome manner, to devote all one's capacities and resources to its fulfillment, to do one's duty with all one's heart. The first standard is that of ordinary obedience for which it is enough that a man should fear God. The other and higher standard is that of ihsan (moral and spiritual excellence) for which it is necessary that one should have a strong love for God and a profound attachment to Him.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Every fight requires the wherewithal for the fight, the "sinews of war". If the war is just and in the cause of God, all who have wealth must spend it freely. That may be their contribution to the Cause, in addition to their personal effort, or if for any reason they are unable to fight. If they hug their wealth, perhaps their own hands are helping in their own self destruction. Or if their wealth is being spent, not in the Cause of God, but in something which pleases their fancy, it may be that the advantage goes to the enemy, and they are by their action helping their own destruction. In all things, their standard should be, not selfishness, but the good of their brethren, for such good is pleasing to God.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The actual words are: وَ لَا تُلۡقُوۡا بِاَیۡدِیۡکُمۡاِلَی التَّہۡلُکَۃِ. The word التَّہۡلُکَۃ is a verbal noun and the word اَنْفُسَكُمْ is suppressed before اَیۡدِیۡکُمۡ as per the linguistic principles of Arabic. In verse 42 of Surah al-Tawbah, the words used to convey what has been said here are يُهْلِكُوْنَ اَنْفُسَكُمْ. In the opinion of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, these words paint the picture of a person who with outstretched hands is diving in a sea or a cave. The implication is that those who evade sacrificing their life and wealth on such occasions are in fact flinging themselves into destruction because what these people of greed regard as success is destruction in the view of God.

The actual word is: اَحۡسِنُوۡا. It is co-ordinated to the word وَاَنۡفِقُوۡا. The implication is that one should spend one’s cherished wealth in the way of God with full fervour and inclination of the heart. Such spending only is dear to God. Certain other verses of the Qur’an allude to this aspect as well.

Verse 196 Hajj and Umrah (pilgrimage to Makkah):
( 196 )   And complete the Hajj and 'umrah for Allah. But if you are prevented, then [offer] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter. And whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head [making shaving necessary must offer] a ransom of fasting [three days] or charity or sacrifice. And when you are secure, then whoever performs 'umrah [during the Hajj months] followed by Hajj [offers] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And whoever cannot find [or afford such an animal] - then a fast of three days during Hajj and of seven when you have returned [home]. Those are ten complete [days]. This is for those whose family is not in the area of al-Masjid al-Haram. And fear Allah and know that Allah is severe in penalty.
If any obstruction prevents a person from proceeding with the Pilgrimage and he is forced to stay behind, he should make a sacrificial offering to God of whatever is available - for example, either a camel, a cow, a goat or a sheep

The statement: 'until the offering reaches its appointed place' has been variously interpreted by the jurists. The Hanafi jurists consider this to signify the area which lies within the boundaries of the Haram. In their view this injunction means that if a man has been prevented from Pilgrimage he ought to send to the Haram either the animal itself or the money to purchase it, and have a sacrificial offering made on his behalf. According to Malik and al-Shafi'i this verse enjoins one to perform a sacrifice at the very spot where one is prevented from going any further. (See also Qurtubi's commentary on the verse - Ed.) The injunction regarding 'shaving the head' means that one may not have one's hair cut until a sacrificial offering has been made.

 According to the Hadith, in such a situation the Prophet (peace be on him) ordered three days of fasting, or the feeding of six poor people, or the slaughter of one sheep or goat. (See Bukhari, 'Maghazi', 35; Muslim, 'Hajj', 83 - Ed.)

This refers to the change in the situation when the obstacle to proceeding with the Pilgrimage has been removed. Since, in those days, the circumstances which most commonly prevented people from proceeding with their Pilgrimage was the danger of armed attack from tribes hostile to Islam, the removal of that circumstance is described by the words: 'when you are secure'. 'To become secure' refers not only to the removal of the danger of armed attack but to the removal of all such dangers.

In pre-Islamic Arabia it was considered a serious sin to perform Hajj and 'Umrah in one and the same journey. According to the self-made law of the pre-Islamic Arabs, each of these Pilgrimages required a separate journey. God declared this law void for those coming from abroad and who were granted the privilege of performing both types of pilgrimage in the same journey. This privilege, however, was not extended to those living in the environs of Makka, within the miqat, since it is not difficult for them to proceed separately for the major and minor Pilgrimages.

'Then you who take advantage of 'Umrah before the time of Hajj' means that a person may perform 'Umrah (minor Pilgrimage) and then may interrupt the state of consecration (ihram) and free himself of the prohibitions and limitations incumbent upon him in that state. Later, when the time for the Hajj (major Pilgrimage) arrives, he should once again assume the state of consecration (ihram).

Yusuf Ali's Explanation:
See ii. 158, n. 161. The Hajj is the complete pilgrimage, of which the chief rites are during the first ten days of the month of Zul-hajj. The umra is a less formal pilgrimage at any time of the year. In either case, the intending pilgrim commences by putting on a simple garment of unsewn cloth in two pieces when he is some distance yet from Mecca. The putting on of the pilgrim garb (ihram) is symbolical of his renouncing the vanities of the world. After this and until the end of the pilgrimage he must not wear other clothes, or ornaments, anoint his hair, use perfumes, hunt, or do other prohibited acts. The completion of the pilgrimage is symbolised by the shaving of the head for men, and the cutting off of a few locks of the hair of the head for women, the putting off of the ihram and the resumption of the ordinary dress.

If any one is taken ill after putting on the ihram, so that he has to put on other clothes, or if he has trouble or skin disease in his head or insects in his hair, and he has to shave his head before completion, he should fast (three days, say the Commentators), or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice.

When this was revealed, the city of Mecca was in the hands of the enemies of Islam, and the regulations about the fighting and the pilgrimage came together and were interconnected. But the revelation provides, as always, for the particular occasion, and also for normal conditions. Mecca soon passed out of the hands of the enemies of Islam. People sometimes came long distances to Mecca before the pilgrimage season began. Having performed the umra, they stayed on for the formal Hajj. In case the pilgrim had spent his money, he is shown what he can do, rich or poor, and yet hold his head high among his fellows, as having performed all rites as prescribed.

For residents in Mecca the question does not arise. They are there every day, and there is no question of umra for them.

This closes the section about the duties of fighting and introduces the connected question of pilgrimage in a sort of transition. Fighting is connected with fear, and while it is meritorious to obey God, we are warned that we must not allow our selfish passions to carry us away, because it is in such times of stress that our spirit is tested. Verse 195 ended with a benediction for those who do good. This verse ends with a warning to those who take advantage of God's cause to transgress the limits, for the punishment is equally sure. The next verse shows us the pitfalls we must avoid in a large concourse of people.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The way hajj and ‘umrah are mentioned here shows that they were not alien to the Arabs. It is evident from their history that they were fully aware of the rites and etiquette of these worship rituals. Although they had introduced certain innovations in them, they fully knew what hajj and ‘umrah were. For this very reason, the Qur’an has not mentioned any details of these worship rituals. It has only sought to eradicate these innovations and explained certain necessary issues about their rites.

The actual words used are: وَ اَتِمُّوا الۡحَجَّ وَ الۡعُمۡرَۃَ لِلّٰہِ. The implication is that in this case no concession shall be given in observing the rites; they shall be observed as they are. The whole stress of this sentence is on the word لِلّٰہِ, implying that hajj and ‘umrah should be offered for God alone. This warning had to be sounded to the Arabs because hajj and ‘umrah had become more of a means of trade rather than worship rituals and they offered these rituals not merely for God, but their baseless deities were also included in this worship – deities whose statues they had mounted not only in the sacred mosque but also at various sites of hajj.

The succeeding words: فَاِذَاۤ اَمِنۡتُمۡ indicate that what is implied is that a person has been surrounded by enemies. Analogously, if a similar situation arises because of some other hindrance, then also the directive should be the same.

Ie., in this situation animal sacrifice shall become essential and in these compelling circumstances it will be equivalent to all the rites of hajj.

In normal circumstances, the place and time of animal sacrifice is known; however, in the circumstances referred to here the place of sacrifice is the one where a person has been surrounded. The practice of Muhammad (sws) at the truce of Hudaybiyyah also corroborates this inference.

The actual words are: فَفِدۡیَۃٌ مِّنۡ صِیَامٍ اَوۡ صَدَقَۃٍ اَوۡ نُسُکٍ. Their style and construction show that the amount of the atonement has been left to the discretion of people. As per a narrative quoted in Bukhari (No: 1814), when Muhammad(sws) was asked about it, he said that it will suffice if three fasts are kept or six poor are fed or one goat is sacrificed.

It is evident that the better option is that one should offer hajj and ‘umrah in separate journeys. In a single journey, if the ihram is taken off and worn again at the time of hajj, then this is a concession for people who live outside the boundaries of the Haram. This concession has been given to save them from the bother of journeying separately for both rituals. For this very reason, atonement has been imposed on combining them in one journey. Consequently, a Muslim should benefit from this concession whilst knowing that he is availing a concession.

Ruku / Section 25 [Verses 197-210]

Verses 197-203 Restrictions during Hajj and Performance of Hajj (pilgrimage):
( 197 )   Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. And whatever good you do - Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah. And fear Me, O you of understanding.
In the state of consecration (ihram) the husband and wife are required to refrain not only from sexual intercourse but also from lascivious conversation (and, for that matter, from any act which either stems from or is likely to stimulate sexual desire - Ed).

Even though all sinful acts are evil, the sinfulness of such acts is aggravated when they are committed in the state of consecration (ihram).

In this state it is not even permitted to rebuke one's servant.

In the pre-Islamic Age of Ignorance it was considered an act of gross worldliness for anyone to carry provisions while on the Pilgrimage. A pious man was expected to go to the House of God without any worldly goods. This misconception is removed here and it is pointed out that abstention from carrying provisions is not necessarily an act of righteousness. True righteousness lies in the fear of God, in abstaining from violating His commands, and in leading a pure and decent life. If a pilgrim's conduct is not good and he resorts to wickedness the mere fact of not carrying provisions, thus parading his detachment from worldly goods, will do him no good. For his wickedness he will suffer humiliation both in the sight of God and man, and his action will be a desecration of the religious duty for which he undertook the journey. On the other hand, if a person's heart is full of the fear of God, and his moral conduct is good, he will be exalted by God and will be held in high esteem by human beings on his return from the Pilgrimage, regardless of the amount of provisions he carried.

Yusuf Ali's Explanation:
The months well known: the months of Shawwal, Zul-qa'da, and Zul-hijja (up to the 10th or the 13th) are set apart for the rites of Hajj. That is to say, the first rites may begin as early as the beginning of Shawwal, with a definite approach to Mecca, but the chief rites are concentrated on the first ten days of Zul-hijja, and specially on the 8th, 9th and 10th of that month, when the concourse of pilgrims reaches its height. The chief rites may be briefly enumerated: (1) the wearing of the pilgrim garment (ihram) from certain points definitely fixed on all the roads to Mecca; after this the pilgrimage prohibitions come into operation and the pilgrim is dedicated to worship and prayer and the denial of vanities: (2) the going round the Ka'ba seven times (tawaf), typifying activity, with the kissing of the little Black Stone built into the wall, the symbol of concentration in the love of God; (3) After a short prayer at the Station of Abraham (Q. ii. 125), the pilgrim goes to the hills Safa and Marwa (Q. ii. 158), the symbols of patience and perseverance; (4) the great Sermon (Khutba) on the 7th of Zul-hijja, when the whole assembly listens to an exposition of the meaning of Hajj; (5) the visit on the eighth, of the whole body of pilgrims to the Valley of Mina (about six miles north of Mecca), where the pilgrims halt and stay the night, proceeding on the ninth to the plain and hill of Arafat, about five miles further north, which commemorates the reunion of Adam and Eve after their wanderings, and is also called the Mount of Mercy; (6) the tenth day, the Id Day, the day of Sacrifice, when the sacrifice is offered in the Valley of Mina, and the symbolic ceremony of casting seven stones at the Evil One is performed on the first occasion; it is continued on subsequent days; both rites are connected with the story of Abraham; this is the Id-ul-Adhha; note that the ceremony is symbolically connected with the rejection of evil in thought, word, and deed. This closes the Pilgrimage, but a stay of two or three days after this is recommended, and this is called Tashriq.

It is recommended that pilgrims should come with provisions, so that they should not be compelled to resort to begging. But, as usual, our thought is directed at once from the physical to the spiritual. If provisions are required for a journey on earth, how much more important to provide for the final journey into the future world? The best of such provisions is right conduct, which is the same as the fear of God.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
It is evident from the way the word hajj is used here that the word الْحَجُّ covers both hajj and ‘umrah (which is also called the lesser hajj).

The implication is that this period is not so extensive that people should become apprehensive of its restrictions. At most, it is a matter of few months. A believer should spend this time carefully with full resolve and while remaining fearful to the Almighty.

The actual words are: فَمَنۡ فَرَضَ فِیۡہِنَّ الۡحَجَّ. The style of the words فَرَضَ فِیۡہِنَّ is evidence enough that it connotes the time when a person puts on the ihram and makes a firm intention of offering hajj.

Here a pilgrim has been stopped from three things. While explaining the reasons for this, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

The first reason is that hajj takes a pilgrim to that limit of ascetism and of abandoning this world which is required and desired in Islam and which is essential for the purification of the soul. Beyond it is the realm of rahbaniyyah from which one has been stopped by Islam.

The second reason is that because of the restrictions of ihram, a person is internally propelled towards these three prohibitions. It is a part of human weakness that the more a person is stopped from something the more he wants to do it and Satan takes full advantage of this weakness.

The third reason is that a lot of instances arise in which a person encounters these three things because he is on a journey. If he is not vigilant enough, he will readily succumb to evil in this regard. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 485)

The actual words are: تَزَوَّدُوۡا فَاِنَّ خَیۡرَ الزَّادِ التَّقۡوٰی. Those well-versed with the subtleties of the Arabic language know that when the word فَاِنَّ is used thus, it explains the reason for what has been stated earlier. Viewed thus, the word التَّقۡوٰی is suppressed after تَزَوَّدُوۡا. No other interpretation of sentence construction is appropriate in any way.
( 198 )   There is no blame upon you for seeking bounty from your Lord [during Hajj]. But when you depart from 'Arafat, remember Allah at al- Mash'ar al-Haram. And remember Him, as He has guided you, for indeed, you were before that among those astray.
This was another misconception entertained by the pre-Islamic Arabs. They considered it objectionable to do anything relating to one's livelihood during the Pilgrimage. In their view earning one's living was an act of pure worldliness and hence it was bad to indulge in it while engaged in the performance of a religious duty. The Qur'an refutes this and expounds the view that if a person strives to earn his living while observing fully the laws of God his action is tantamount to seeking God's grace and bounty. See( 62: 10 - Ed.)It is no sin if a man sets out to seek God's good pleasure and during the same journey tries to combine that purpose with the quest for permissible worldly benefits.

The Muslims were asked to give up all those polytheistic and pagan practices that had arisen among the Arabs during the Age of Ignorance and which ran alongside the worship of God thereby adulterating the latter. They were required to consecrate their worship and adoration to God alone according to the guidance He had now revealed through the Prophet.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Legitimate trade is allowed, in the interests both of the honest trader, who can thus meet his own expenses, and of the generality of pilgrims, who would otherwise be greatly inconvenienced for the necessaries of life. But the profit must be sought as from the "bounty of God". There should be no profiteering, or trade "tricks". Good honest trade is a form of service to the community, and therefore to God.

About midway between Arafat and Mina (see n. 217 to ii. 197) is a place called Muzdalifa where the Holy Apostle offered up a long prayer. It has thus become a Sacred Monument and pilgrims are directed to follow that example on their return. A special reason for this is given in the note following.

Certain arrogant tribes living in Mecca used not to go to Arafat with the crowd but to stop short at Muzdalifa. They are rebuked for their arrogance and told that they must perform all the rites like the rest of the pilgrims. There is equality in Islam.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The actual words are: اَنۡ تَبۡتَغُوۡا فَضۡلًا مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ. The particle فِي has been suppressed here in the beginning of the expression as per linguistic principles, and the words فَضۡلًا مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ connote economic benefits, for these words have been used in the Qur’an to generally connote this meaning. The implication is that the real purpose for the journey of hajj should be hajj itself, but if a person is able to make some financial gains through this journey then this cannot be objected to.

The reason for this statement is that in the age of jahiliyyah / ignorance when people reached Muzdalifah then instead of glorifying the Almighty and expressing gratitude and remembering Him they would light up fires and would assemble for expressing superiority and would set up gatherings for reciting tales and eulogies.

Ie., the Quraysh should give due regard and be grateful to the guidance being provided to them by the Qur’an about hajj and ‘umrah. Formerly, they were guilty of converting these reverential sites into places of sport and entertainment. It is the Almighty’s grace that the real essence of these sites has been explained to them.
( 199 )   Then depart from the place from where [all] the people depart and ask forgiveness of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Since the time of Abraham and Ishmael the recognized practice of the Arabs with regard to Hajj was that on the 9th, Dhu al-Hijjah, they went from Mina to 'Arafat, returning on the morning of the 10th to stay at Muzdalifah. Later, as the priestly monopoly of the Quraysh became well established, they claimed that it was below their dignity to go to 'Arafat with the ordinary people of Arabia. As a mark of what they called their distinction, they went to Muzdalifah only (without going to 'Arafat) and returned from there, leaving it to the commoners to go to 'Arafat. Subsequently Banu Khuza'ah, Banu Kananah and those tribes which were linked by marriage with the Quraysh acquired the same privilege. Eventually, the status of the tribes allied to the Quraysh came to be considered higher than that of the ordinary Arabs, and these tribes too abandoned the practice of going to 'Arafat.

It is this pride and vainglory which the present verse seeks to undermine. It is addressed to the Quraysh and the tribes associated with them either through marriage or alliance, and to all those who might be inclined to claim for themselves special privileges and distinctions in the future. Such people are asked to go to the place to which all others go, to stay with them, to return with them and to seek pardon from God for the fact that they violated the way of Abraham.
( 200 )   And when you have completed your rites, remember Allah like your [previous] remembrance of your fathers or with [much] greater remembrance. And among the people is he who says, "Our Lord, give us in this world," and he will have in the Hereafter no share.
After the Hajj the Arabs used to hold rallies at Mind. At these rallies people from different tribes proudly narrated the achievements of their forefathers and indulged in much extravagant self-praise. Here they are asked to renounce all such things and devote the time which they formerly spent on trivialities to remembering and celebrating God.

Dhikr refers to the remembrance of God at Mina.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
After the Pilgrimage, in Pagan times, the pilgrims used to gather in assemblies in which the praises of ancestors were sung. As the whole of the pilgrimage rites were spiritualised in Islam, so this aftermath of the pilgrimage was also spiritualised. It was recommended for pilgrims to stay on two or three days after the pilgrimage, but they must use them in prayer and praise to God. See ii. 203 below.

If you hasten to get all the good things of the world, and only think of them and pray for them, you would lose the higher things of the future. The proper Muslim attitude is neither to renounce this would nor to be so engrossed in it as to forget the spiritual future.
( 201 )   But among them is he who says, "Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire."
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation (Verses 200-202):
Ie., since the Quraysh used to assemble at Mina to shower eulogies on their fore-fathers, they should now assemble to celebrate the praises of their Lord in even a more befitting manner.

The rituals of hajj and ‘umrah are a spiritually enlivening symbolic manifestation of the revival of the pledge of servitude to the Almighty and of war with Satan but it is the misfortune of man that he sees these great worship rituals in the light of his worldly benefits.

It is evident from this that it is this style of supplicating that pleases the Almighty. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… The message of this supplication is that a person should ask from the Almighty for what is good both in this world and in that to come and let Him decide whatever that might be. It is He who knows best what in reality is good for us. In particular, what is good in this world is dependent on the fact that it should become a means of our success in the Hereafter, and only the Almighty can have such knowledge. Hence, it is best for a person to leave this matter to the Almighty and not present his own suggestion in this regard; he, however, should keep asking for shelter from the punishment of Hell which indeed is severe. The greatest success of a person is that the Almighty shields him from the punishment of Hell. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 488)
The occasion of discourse at which this sentence occurs shows that it is meant for assurance to the believers. They should rest assured that there is no delay in the fulfillment of the promises of the Almighty. When a person gets the reward, he will be happy to see that he got it earlier than he had expected.

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this aspect, writes: "… Here it is essential to consider that in such issues the real thing that matters is one’s realization which one will have at the time of reward and punishment. If at this time, one realizes that no time has elapsed between one’s deed and its reward or punishment, then such a time period is not worthy of consideration. The right attitude then is that a sinner should keep before him the punishment of his sin and a believer the reward of his virtues. Neither should the former show vanity on being given respite nor should the latter become impatient on a delay. And if a person because of his foolishness does give importance to this span, then he should realize that مَنْ مَاتَ فَقَدْ قَامَتْ قِيَامَتُهُ (for a person who dies, the day of judgement is set up forthwith)."  (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an,vol. 1, 489)
( 202 )   Those will have a share of what they have earned, and Allah is swift in account.
( 203 )   And remember Allah during [specific] numbered days. Then whoever hastens [his departure] in two days - there is no sin upon him; and whoever delays [until the third] - there is no sin upon him - for him who fears Allah. And fear Allah and know that unto Him you will be gathered.
Whether a person returned on the 12th or on the 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah from Mina to Makka during the day of tashriq (i.e. from the 10th to 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah) was immaterial. What was of real importance was not the number of days spent at Mina but the intensity of one's devotion to God during the period of one's stay.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The actual words are: فِیۡۤاَیَّامٍ مَّعۡدُوۡدٰتٍ (in the appointed days). This style not only expresses that the days are small in number, but also the fact these days are known and fixed. In the opinion of this writer, here the second meaning is implied.

Ie., a person is permitted to stay till the 13th of Dhu al-Hajj or return on the 12th. Neither of the two options will incur any sin. This has been emphasized here because in matters of worship just as it is not allowed that a person take away from what has been stipulated for him, he is also not allowed to add to it.

Ie., the real importance is not of the number of days that people stay; the real importance is of the fact that the number of days he stays should be spent in the remembrance of the Almighty and while remaining fearful to him. The essence of worship is taqwa, which is the basic purpose of etiquette and customs. If this is present, two days are more than enough and if this is not present, then even a stay of ten days will yield nothing.

Here at the end, a warning is sounded: just as people are gathered here at the hajj, they shall be gathered before the Almighty on the Day of Judgement. They can get away with these sins here but on that day no one will be able to leave the presence of the Almighty without His consent.

 Verses 204-207 Hypocrisy vs True belief:
( 204 )   And of the people is he whose speech pleases you in worldly life, and he calls Allah to witness as to what is in his heart, yet he is the fiercest of opponents.
Such a person tends to claim again and again that he was merely a well-wisher and was simply striving to uphold what is true and right, and to promote the welfare of the people rather than doing things for the sake of personal aggrandizement.

The words aladd al-khisam mean 'the most fierce in enmity'. This would apply to someone who concentrates all his energies on opposing truth, and who resorts to whatever falsehood, dishonesty, treachery and breach of faith he thinks necessary to achieve his ends.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The two contrasted types of men mentioned in ii. 200 and 201 are here further particularized: the glib hypocrite who appears worldly-wise but plans harm, contrasted with the sincere believer who is prepared to suffer martyrdom for his faith. The Commentators give names of people who exemplified these types. The mischief maker has a smooth tongue and indulges in plausible talk with many oaths. He appears to be worldly-wise, and though you may despise him for his worldliness, you may not realize his frauds. Behind your back he is an implacable enemy. He stirs up quarrels, and causes all sorts of mischief to you or your friends. He can never win God's love, and we are warned against his tricks.
( 205 )   And when he goes away, he strives throughout the land to cause corruption therein and destroy crops and animals. And Allah does not like corruption.
The expression idha tawalla can be translated in two ways. First, in the manner of our translation of the text. It can also be translated to make the verse mean that when such people return from sweet and apparently genuine talk, they engage in arrogant and destructive action.
( 206 )   And when it is said to him, "Fear Allah," pride in the sin takes hold of him. Sufficient for him is Hellfire, and how wretched is the resting place.
According to the English saying, "As you have made your bed, so you must lie in it."
( 207 )   And of the people is he who sells himself, seeking means to the approval of Allah. And Allah is kind to [His] servants.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This second type of man, - firm, sincere, devoted, willing to give his life for the faith that is in him - was common in early Islam. Such men were its pillars. Through persecution, obloquy, torture, threat to their own lives or the lives of those dear to them, they stood by their leader, and many of them gave their lives. That is what established Islam. We are asked in the next verse to follow this type and shun the other or evil type. If we do that, our Cause is safe.

 Verses 208-210 O believers enter into Islam completely:
( 208 )   O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.
Allah demands that man should submit, without reservation, the whole of his being to His will. Man's outlook, intellectual pursuits, behaviour, interaction with other people and modes of endeavour should all be completely subordinate to Islam. God does not accept the splitting up of human life into separate compartments, some governed by the teachings of Islam and others exempt.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The address, though made in general words, is directed at the Hypocrites who are referred to in the previous verses. They are told that instead of following the footsteps of Satan they should follow the true believers who are willing to sacrifice everything to find favour with their Lord.

The actual word is: کَآفَّۃ (kaffah). Grammatically it is a حال (an accusative of state) from the subject-antecedent (ضمير الفاعل) of the verb ادْخُلُوا (enter all of you). The implied meaning is that since all Muslims are one community, they should behave as one community also as far as obeying the Almighty is concerned. This should not be the case that once they claim to be adherents to Islam, some of them should follow God and some Satan. Such an attitude can in no way be condoned once a person professes belief in God.
( 209 )   But if you deviate after clear proofs have come to you, then know that Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
If you backslide after the conviction has been brought home to you, you may cause some inconvenience to the Cause, or to those who counted upon you, but do not be so arrogant as to suppose that you will defeat God's Power and Wisdom. The loss will be your own.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The actual word is: الۡبَیِّنٰت. It implies those verses of the Qur’an which warn a believer from the machinations of Satan and which inform him of the requisites of faith. It is to point to this aspect that the word is translated as “warnings.”

While explaining the relevance of these two attributes of God, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

The attribute عَزِیۡز (‘Aziz) is mentioned here to signify two aspects: Firstly, it serves to caution the disbelievers that the Almighty is not weak or feeble; on the contrary, He possesses great might and power. So, if they still succumb to Satan in spite of His warnings, then He has all the power to nab them and severely punish them – something which He has forewarned them with. Secondly, this attribute points to the reality that those who become Satan’s disciples in spite of being recipients of clear guidance are in no way doing any harm to the Almighty. In fact, they are harming themselves since the Almighty is عَزِیۡز (‘Aziz), ie, He cannot be harmed or affected in any way.

Similarly, the attribute حَکِیۡم (Hakim) is also highlighting two aspects: Firstly, the Creator of this world is wise and prudent. As a natural consequence of this attribute, He will definitely differentiate between the fates of those who follow His guidance and of those who evade it. If He does not do so and leaves His creation to themselves or deals with both these factions in the same manner, then this would mean that He is not wise at all. Moreover, this would imply that this world is not a meaningful creation and that its Creator is irresponsible who has created this universe for His entertainment and enjoyment. Secondly, the delay in the results of good and bad deeds is based on His wisdom. At times, He gives respite to the followers of Satan and at other times, He puts true believers through periods of severe trial. This should neither make the evil-doers arrogant nor produce frustration in the righteous. In fact, it should be understood that the periods of respite and that of trial are based on His profound wisdom. All His laws and their consequences are indomitable and invincible. They cannot be changed by the slightest. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 499)
( 210 )   Do they await but that Allah should come to them in covers of clouds and the angels [as well] and the matter is [then] decided? And to Allah [all] matters are returned.
These words are indicative of an important fact. Man's test lies in showing whether he accepts reality even though he cannot perceive it directly through his senses; and whether, after having accepted it, he has the required moral stamina to obey God even though he is endowed with the capacity to disobey Him. In sending the Prophets, in revealing the Scriptures, indeed, even in performing miracles, God has always taken care to leave scope for testing man's power of judgement and his moral stamina. He has never disclosed reality to such a degree that man would be inevitably compelled to accept it. For if that were done, nothing would remain to be tested and the very idea of man's success or failure would be meaningless.

It is pointed out, therefore, that people should not keep waiting for God and the angels - the devoted servants of His realm - to appear before them. If that were to happen, it would mark the end of everything and there would be no occasion left for man to decide anything. To believe and to bow in submission and obedience to God are of value only so long as the reality is presented in such a way as to make its rejection possible.

For, if the Truth were to be fully disclosed and if men were to see with their own eyes God on His Throne of Majesty with the entire universe acting according to His command, what would be the worth of their faith and obedience? If all these things were physically observable not even the most stubborn unbelievers and the worst sinners would dare either to disbelieve or disobey. Acceptance of faith and obedience has value only as long as there remains a veil over reality. The moment when reality is totally unveiled would mark the end of the period granted to man to decide, and of the testing period for him. It would, in fact, be the Day of Judgement.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
If faith is wanting, all sorts of excuses are made to resist the appeal of God. They might and do say: "Oh yes! we shall believe if God appears to us with His angels in His glory!" In other words they want to settle the question in their way, and not in God's way. That will not do. The decision in all questions belongs to God. If we are true to Him, we wait for His times and seasons, and do not expect Him to wait on ours.

Ruku / Section 26 [Verses 211-216]
Verses 211-212 Believers will rank over the unbelievers:
( 211 )   Ask the Children of Israel how many a sign of evidence We have given them. And whoever exchanges the favor of Allah [for disbelief] after it has come to him - then indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.
There are two reasons why this query is addressed to the Children of Israel. In the first place, a group of living human beings provide a better source of instruction and admonition than mute archaeological findings. In the second place, the Israelites were a people who, having been endowed with Scripture and prophethood, were entrusted with the leadership of the world. By falling prey to worldliness, hypocrisy and other errors of belief and conduct they subsequently lost God's favour. A people entrusted with the task of universal leadership could derive no better lesson from another people than this one.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Israelites under Moses were shown God's glory and many clear Signs and yet they went after their own ways, and preferred their own whims and fancies. So do people in all ages. But let them not deceive themselves. God's justice is sure, and when it comes, it will be strict and unmistakable to those who reject His grace.

Cf. ii. 196 (end) where the question was of those who do not fear God. Here the question is of those who reject God's Signs.
( 212 )   Beautified for those who disbelieve is the life of this world, and they ridicule those who believe. But those who fear Allah are above them on the Day of Resurrection. And Allah gives provision to whom He wills without account.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
God's gifts in this world seem unequal, and sometimes those get them who seem to deserve them least. God's bounty is unlimited to the just as well as the unjust. In His wisdom He may give to whomsoever He pleases. The account is not taken now, but will be taken in the end, when the balance will be redressed.

 Verse 213 Mankind was one nation having one religion:
( 213 )   Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it - after the clear proofs came to them - out of jealous animosity among themselves. And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path.
When ignorant people attempt to trace the history of 'religion' they tend to the view that man began his life in the darkness of polytheism and that in the course of time, corresponding to man's progress, this darkness gradually receded and light increased till man arrived at monotheism.

The Qur'anic version, however, proclaims that man began his life in full light of the Truth. God revealed this Truth to the very first man He created, one to whom He intimated the right way of life for man. Thereafter the human race remained on the Right Way for some time and lived as one community. Later, however, people invented deviating ways. This did not happen because Truth had not been communicated to them. The cause was rather that some people willfully sought to acquire privileges, benefits and advantages beyond their legitimate limits, and thus subjected others to injustices. It was in order to enable people to overcome this corruption that God sent His Prophets. These Prophets were not sent to found separate religions in their own names and bring new religious communities into existence. Rather the purpose of the Prophets was to illuminate before people the Truth which they had allowed to be lost, and once again make them into one community.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
Ie., they contend that truth and falsehood are not so distinct and definite that they can totally adopt either one of them in a decisive manner; there exist differences in both, as a result of which it is difficult for someone to be conclusive about them. Consequently, they go on to maintain that the unbiased attitude they have adopted in the ongoing conflict between good and evil is the correct one.

The actual word is اِذْن which means permission. This permission from the Almighty is both to provide the evil-doers with the opportunity to do more evil and to support the righteous to do more good. Here, obviously, the latter aspect is implied.

The implication being that the truth has always remained manifest and now also the Almighty has fully unveiled it through His Book. However, one can only be the beneficiary of this truth if he shuns malice and envy and turns to the Book of God as a true seeker of the truth. This attitude is a pre requisite to receive guidance. It is the law of the Almighty that He gives guidance to people who adopt this attitude.

Verse 214 Way to Paradise passes through trials: 
( 214 )   Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, "When is the help of Allah?" Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.
In between this verse and the one above comes a whole story which has been left untold, a story which is alluded to in the present verse and which is mentioned in some detail in the Makkan surahs of the Qur'an (these were revealed earlier than the present surah). The point emphasized here is that whenever the Prophets came into the world they, and their followers, were confronted with severe resistance from those in rebellion against God. At grave risk to themselves they strove to establish the hegemony of the true religion over the false ways of life. To follow this religion has, therefore, never been easy; it is not merely a matter of declaring one's faith and then sitting back in ease and comfort. On the contrary, the profession of faith has always demanded that one should strive to establish the religion, which one has adopted as one's faith, as a living reality and that one should spare no effort in undermining the power of the Devil who seeks to resist it.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
when the worldly retribution of people takes place in the time of the messengers of the Almighty, it always does so when people are fully made aware of the truth and they deny it in spite of being convinced about its veracity. Believers are granted success after they are made to pass through certain very trying circumstances. Here, the aforementioned Hypocrites are prodded that the Almighty’s help will not come in a manner they want it. This is an established practice of the Almighty which He never abandons.

Verses 215-216 Charity and Fighting (for just cause) is made obligatory: 
( 215 )   They ask you, [O Muhammad], what they should spend. Say, "Whatever you spend of good is [to be] for parents and relatives and orphans and the needy and the traveler. And whatever you do of good - indeed, Allah is Knowing of it."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Three questions arise in charity: (1) What shall we give? (2) to whom shall we give? and (3) how shall we give? The answer is here. Give anything that is good, useful, helpful, valuable. It may be property or money; it may be a helping hand; it may be advice; it may be a kind word; "whatever ye do that is good" is charity. On the other hand, if you throw away what is useless, there is no charity in it. Or if you give something with a harmful intent, e.g., a sword to a madman, or a drug or sweets or even money to someone whom you want to entrap or corrupt, it is no charity but a gift of damnation. To whom should you give? It may be tempting to earn the world's praise by a gift that will be talked about, but are you meeting the needs of those who have the first claim on you? If you are not, you are like a person who defrauds creditors: it is no charity. Every gift is judged by its unselfish character: the degree of need or claim is a factor which you should consider; if you disregard it, there is something selfish behind it. How should it be given? As in the sight of God; thus shuts out all pretence, show, and insincerity.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
This and other questions which follow were arising in the minds of the Hypocrites and the Muslims weak in faith regarding the jihad and infaq the previous verses discuss. The topic of the revival of the shari‘ah that began with the directive of qisas (verse: 178) will now go on to conclude after these questions are answered.

The implication is that why do they ask from God? It is their own people whom they are spending upon and their needs are also evident to them. So they should spend as much as they can according to the grit and courage they can muster in this regard. Whatever they spend is in the knowledge of God and He never forgets anything; hence He will fully reward them for this in the Hereafter.
( 216 )   Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.
This is a statement of an obvious fact: things which morally uplift and develop a person are often disliked by him and those which morally degrade and lower him are often relished by him and he is readily drawn towards them.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
To fight in the cause of Truth is one of the highest forms of charity. What can you offer that is more precious than your own life? But here again the limitations come in. If you are a mere brawler, or a selfish aggressive person, or a vainglorious bully, you deserve the highest censure. If you offer your life to the righteous Iman, who is only guided by God, you are an unselfish here. God knows the value of things better than you do.

Although Ruku / Section 26 finishes with verse 16, but the subject of fighting that is discussed in verse 216 spills over to the first two verses of Ruku 27. Therefore we will continue the discussion here in this part for verses 217-218 of Ruku 27 which discuss matters related to Fighting in the Sacred Month and Punishment for "murtad"- who turn back from Islam:
( 217 ) They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah to deny Him to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque and drive out its members. Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be Companions of the Fire and will abide therein.
This relates to a certain incident. In Rajab 2 A. H. the Prophet sent an expedition of eight persons to Nakhlah (which lies between Makkah and Ta'if). He directed them to follow the movements of the Quraysh and gather information about their plans, but not to engage in fighting. On their way they came across a trade caravan belonging to the Quraysh and ambushed it. They killed one person and captured the rest along with their belongings and took them to Madina. They did this at a time when the month of Rajah was approaching its end and Sha'ban was about to begin. It was, therefore, doubtful whether the attack was actually carried out in one of the sacred months, that is, Rajab, or not. But the Quraysh, and the Jews who were secretly in league with them, as well as the hypocrites made great play of this and used it as a weapon in their propaganda campaign against the Muslims. (For this expedition see Ibn Hisham, Sirah. vol. 1, pp. 601 ff; Ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad, tr. A. Guillaume. pp. 286 ff.) They pointed out the contradiction between the claims of the Muslims to true religion on the one hand, and their not hesitating to shed blood in a sacred month on the other.

This verse aims to answer these objections. The essence of what is said here is that fighting during the sacred months is without doubt an evil act. It points out that those people who had continually subjected their kith and kin to untold wrong for thirteen years merely because they believed in the One God were not competent to make such an objection. Not only had the Muslims been driven from their homes, they had had the way to the Holy Mosque closed to them, a bar which had not been imposed by anyone during the course of some two thousand years. With this record of mischief and misconduct it was not for them to raise such an outcry at a minor ambush, and especially so when the incident had taken place without the approval of the Prophet. The whole incident was in fact no more than an irresponsible act on the part of some members of the Islamic community.

It should be remembered that when on their return those people went, with captives and booty, to visit the Prophet, he expressly pointed out to them that he had not permitted them to fight. Not only that, he declined to receive the public exchequer's share of their booty, which indicated that their booty was considered unlawful. The Muslims, in general, also severely reproached the people responsible for the incident, and in fact nobody in Madina applauded what they had done.

A few simple-hearted Muslims, whose minds were seized by a mistaken concept of righteousness and pacifism, were influenced by the above objections which had been raised by the polytheists of Makkah and the Jews. In this verse the believers are being asked not to entertain the hope that they might clear the air and promote understanding and goodwill by adopting an over-lenient stance towards their opponents. The objections of the latter were not motivated by the desire to find out the Truth; their true purpose was nothing but vilification. What particularly irked the adversaries of the Muslims was that they believed in a religion of their own and were inviting the whole world to accept it. Hence, as long as the Muslims continued to believe in Islam and as long as their opponents remained stubborn in their disbelief, the existing chasm between the two groups was bound to remain.

Moreover, the enemies whom they confronted were not to be considered ordinary enemies. Those who wanted to deprive a person of his belongings or land were in fact enemies of a relatively much less dangerous kind than those who sought to turn him away from his faith; while the former sought to harm his worldly interests, the latter were bent upon hurling him into the eternal torment in the Hereafter.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The intolerance and persecution of the Pagan clique at Mecca caused untold hardships to the holy Messenger of Islam and his early disciples. They bore all with meekness and long-suffering patience until the holy one permitted them to take up arms in self-defence. Then they were twitted with breach of the custom about Prohibited Months, though they were driven to fight during that period against their own feeling in self defence. But their enemies not only forced them to engage in actual warfare, but interfered with their conscience, persecuted them and their families, openly insulted and denied God, kept out the Muslim Arabs from the Sacred Mosque, and exiled them. Such violence and intolerance are deservedly called worse than slaughter.

Cf. ii. 191, 193, where a similar phrase occurs. Fitna - trial, temptation, as in ii. 102; or tumult, sedition, oppression, as here; M.M.A., H.G.S., and M.P. translate "persecution" in this passage, which is also legitimate, seeing that persecution is the suppression of some opinion by violence, force, or threats.
( 218 ) Those who believed and those who suffered exile and fought (and strove and struggled) in the path of Allah they have the hope of the Mercy of Allah; and Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.
Jihad denotes doing one's utmost to achieve something. It is not the equivalent of war, for which the Arabic word is qital. Jihad has a wider connotation and embraces every kind of striving in God's cause. A mujahid is a person who is single-minded devoted to his cause, who uses his mental capacity to reflect how best he can achieve it, propagates it by word of mouth and by the pen, uses his physical energy in striving to serve it, spends all the resources at his disposal to promote it, employs all the force he commands in confronting any power which might stand in its way, and, whenever necessary, does not shirk risking his very life for it. All this is Jihad. ' Jihad in the way of God' is that strife in which man engages exclusively to win God's good pleasure, to establish the supremacy of His religion and to make His word prevail.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation(verses 217-218):
Although the Qur’an has already answered the question of warfare in the sacred months in verses 190-95, yet these people posed it again thinking that this might save them from the obligation of warfare. This time, God not only answered them in detail but also explained the ultimate outcome of their attitude keeping in view their intention and inclination of relinquishing faith that their minds clearly possessed.

The fact that the deeds of such people go waste in both this world and in the one to come is mentioned here because in the wordily retribution of people that takes place in this world in the times of a messenger of God the consequences of belief and disbelief become evident in this very world.

The actual word is: اٰمَنُوۡا (they professed faith). The context in which it is used here shows that it denotes completeness and is translated as “they fully adhered to faith,” keeping in view this aspect.

Even after being blessed with the facility and backing by the Almighty to do deeds as great as jihad and hijrah (migration), a true believer only becomes hopeful for God’s mercy because salvation is in fact dependent on His mercy and grace. Consequently, the verses aptly end on the words: He is Most Forgiving and Ever Merciful.

Here we come to the end of Part II of Section 3. Our next will be Part III of Section 3 which will mainly cover Prohibition of intoxicants and gambling, permission of incorporating the affairs of the orphans with their guardians and prohibition of marriage among idolaters (219-21),and Marriage ,divorce, eela, khula`, radaa`at, naan-u-nafqah of the deceased among the spouses and other issues of marital life (222-42).

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Surah al-Baqarah with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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