Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 198

لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَبْتَغُوا۟ فَضْلًا مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۚ فَإِذَآ أَفَضْتُم مِّنْ عَرَفَٰتٍ فَٱذْكُرُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ عِندَ ٱلْمَشْعَرِ ٱلْحَرَامِ ۖ وَٱذْكُرُوهُ كَمَا هَدَىٰكُمْ وَإِن كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلِهِۦ لَمِنَ ٱلضَّآلِّينَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
There is no blame upon you for seeking bounty from your Lord [during hajj]. But when you depart from ‘Arafāt, remember Allāh at al-Masha’ar al-Harām. And remember Him, as He has guided you, for indeed, you were before that among those astray.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The sūrah outlines more pilgrimage rules. It explains that it is permitted for pilgrims to engage in trade or employment during the pilgrimage period. It also adds further elaboration of rituals.

Al-Bukhārī reports that Ibn Abbās said that this verse was revealed because people used to feel uneasy about conducting trade during the pilgrimage as they did in pre-Islamic days in such markets as `Ukāż, Mijannah and Dhu’l-Majāz. Abū Dāwūd also quotes Ibn Abbās as saying that the verse was revealed because people used to avoid trading during the pilgrimage season, as they considered it a time for worship and devotion.

Abū Umāmah al-Taymī asked Abdullāh ibn `Umar: “While on pilgrimage we offer transport services for hire. Is our pilgrimage valid?” Ibn `Umar said, “Do you not make ţawāf around the Ka`bah, do good deeds, throw the stones, and shave your heads?” When Abū Umāmah replied that they did all those things, Ibn `Umar said, “When the Prophet was asked the same question, he gave no answer until the angel Gabriel conveyed to him the verse which states: “It is no sin for you to seek the bounty of your Lord.”

Abū Şāliĥ, an attendant of `Umar, the second Caliph, is reported to have asked him whether people used to conduct trade during the pilgrimage season. `Umar replied, “Indeed! People had no other way of earning a living!

This reluctance to conduct trade and business during the pilgrimage season is but one aspect of the new sensitivity and awareness that Islam had brought to people’s minds, giving them a new attitude towards their pre-Islamic way of life. Muslims would seek to know the view of Islam, or await instructions, before performing certain actions or adopting certain modes of behaviour, as explained earlier with reference to the ritual of sa`ī between the two hills of Şafā and Marwah.

Thus, trading and commercial activity, including letting and leasing, are permitted during pilgrimage. In fact, the Qur’ān describes such activities as a means of seeking “the bounty of your Lord”. Thus, anyone who seeks to earn some income through trade and business in pilgrimage should feel that he only seeks God’s bounty and that whatever he receives is given to him by God. It is not his own efforts that give him his earnings. It is God, the generous giver who gives us all we have. Once this is appreciated by the pilgrim, he will realise that even as he is trading, he is in a state of devotion to God which in no way violates or defiles his observance of the pilgrimage duties. Once this principle is established in believers’ hearts and minds, Islam allows them total freedom to pursue their interests, every one of which would in itself be considered a valid act of worship.

It is not by chance, therefore, that a verse dealing with the rituals of pilgrimage should also include instructions on earning through trade and commercial activities.

“When you surge downward from `Arafāt, remember God at al-Mash`ar al-Ĥarām. Remember Him who has given you guidance. Before this you were certainly in error.” Attendance at `Arafāt is the central duty of the pilgrimage. It is authentically reported on the authority of `Abd al-Raĥmān al-Daylamī that the Prophet Muĥammad said: “The pilgrimage is attendance at `Arafāt. [He repeated this three times.] He who arrives at `Arafāt before the break of dawn [on the tenth day of Dhu’l-Ĥijjah] will have fulfilled this duty. The days of Minā are three; those who depart after only two days incur no sin, nor do those who stay longer.'

The scheduled time for attendance at `Arafāt begins at noon on the Day of `Arafāt, the ninth day of the Muslim lunar month of Dhu’l-Ĥijjah, and ends at the break of dawn the following morning, the Day of Sacrifice. Aĥmad ibn Ĥanbal, however, is of the opinion that the time begins at the break of day, rather than at noon, on the Day of `Arafāt. This is based on the report by `Urwah al-Ţā’ī that he had gone up to the Prophet, as he was going to prayer at Muzdalifah, and explained to him that having come from a long way away both he and his camel were on the point of exhaustion, and that he had done his best to stand at every hill he had passed, and wanted to know whether his pilgrimage would still be valid. The Prophet replied: “Anyone who has joined us in the prayer today and stands with us until we move on, having already been present in `Arafāt at any time, night or day, has completed the pilgrimage and fulfilled his obligations.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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The scholars are unanimous that Surah al-Baqarah is Madani and that it was the first Surah revealed in Madinah. [Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in Fath al-Bari no. 160/8].

Despite it being the first Surah to be revealed in Madinah, it contains Ayaat from a later period also. In fact, according to Ibn Abbas [as mentioned in Ibn Kathir] the last Ayat revealed to the Prophet was Ayat no. 281 from Surah al-Baqarah and this occurred 8 days or so before his death [which corresponds to the year 11 Hijri].

8. Reasons for Revelation

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In order to understand the meaning of this Surah, we should know its historical background:

1. At Makkah, the Quran generally addressed the polytheist Quraysh who were ignorant of Islam, but at Madinah it was also concerned with the Jews who were acquainted with the creed of Monotheism, Prophethood, Revelation, the Hereafter and Angels. They also professed to believe in the law which was revealed by God to their Prophet Moses, and in principle, their way was the same (Islam) that was being taught by Prophet Muhammad. But they had strayed away from it during the centuries of degeneration and had adopted many un-Islamic creeds, rites and customs of which there was no mention and for which there was no sanction in the Torah. Not only this: they had tampered with the Torah by inserting their own explanations and interpretations into its text. They had distorted even that part of the Word of God which had remained intact in their Scriptures and taken out of it the real spirit of true religion and were now clinging to a lifeless frame of rituals. Consequently their beliefs, their morals and their conduct had gone to the lowest depths of degeneration. The pity is that they were not only satisfied with their condition but loved to cling to it. Besides this, they had no intention or inclination to accept any kind of reform. So they became bitter enemies of those who came to teach them the Right Way and did their utmost to defeat every such effort. Though they were originally Muslims, they had swerved from the real Islam and made innovations and alterations in it and had fallen victims to hair splitting and sectarianism. They had forgotten and forsaken God and begun to serve material wealth. So much so that they had even given up their original name “Muslim” and adopted the name “Jew” instead, and made religion the sole monopoly of the children of Israel. This was their religious condition when the Prophet went to Madinah and invited the Jews to the true religion. That is why more than one third of this Surah has been addressed to the children of Israel. A critical review of their history, their moral degeneration and their religious perversions has been made. Side by side with this, the high standard of morality and the fundamental principles of the pure religion have been put forward in order to bring out clearly the nature of the degeneration of the community of a prophet when it goes astray and to draw clear lines of demarcation between real piety and formalism, and the essentials and non-essentials of the true religion.

2. At Makkah, Islam was mainly concerned with the propagation of its fundamental principles and the moral training of its followers. But after the migration of the Prophet to Madinah, where Muslims had come to settle from all over Arabia and where a tiny Islamic State had been set up with the help of the ‘local supporters’ (Ansar), naturally the Quran had to turn its attention to the social, cultural, economic, political and legal problems as well. This accounts for the difference between the themes of the Surahs revealed at Makkah and those at Madinah. Accordingly about half of this Surah deals with those principles and regulations which are essential for the integration and solidarity of a community and for the solution of its problems.

After the migration to Madinah, the struggle between Islam and disbelief (Kufr) had also entered a new phase. Before this the Believers, who propagated Islam among their own clans and tribes, had to face its opponents at their own risk. But the conditions had changed at Madinah, where Muslims from all parts of Arabia had come and settled as one community, and had established an independent city state. Here it became a struggle for the survival of the Community itself, for the whole of non-Muslim Arabia was bent upon and united in crushing it totally. Hence the following instructions, upon which depended not only its success but its very survival, were revealed in this Surah:

a. The Community should work with the utmost zeal to propagate its ideology and win over to its side the greatest possible number of people.

b. It should so expose its opponents as to leave no room for doubt in the mind of any sensible person that they were adhering to an absolutely wrong position.

c. It should infuse in its members (the majority of whom were homeless and indigent and surrounded on all sides by enemies) that courage and fortitude which is so indispensable to their very existence in the adverse circumstances in which they were struggling and to prepare them to face these boldly.

d. It should also keep them ready and prepared to meet any armed menace, which might come from any side to suppress and crush their ideology, and to oppose it tooth and nail without minding the overwhelming numerical strength and the material resources of its enemies.

e. It should also create in them that courage which is needed for the eradication of evil ways and for the establishment of the Islamic Way instead. That is why God has revealed in this Surah such instructions as may help achieve all the above mentioned objects.

At the time of the revelation of Al-Baqarah, all sorts of hypocrites had begun to appear. God has, therefore, briefly pointed out their characteristics here. Afterwards when their evil characteristics and mischievous deeds became manifest, God sent detailed instructions about them. [REF: Mawdudi]

9. Relevant Hadith

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  • Hajj is `Arafat, (thrice). Hence, those who have stood at `Arafat before dawn will have performed (the rituals of the Hajj). The days of Mina are three, and there is no sin for those who move on after two days, or for those who stay. [Imam Ahmed]

 

  • Prophet said All of `Arafat is a place of standing, and keep away from `Uranah. All of Al-Muzdalifah is a place for standing, and keep away from the bottom of Muhassir. All of the areas of Makkah are a place for sacrifice, and all of the days of Tashriq are days of sacrifice. [Imam Ahmed]

 

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11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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