Tafsir Zone - Surah 22: al-Hajj (The Pilgrimage )

Tafsir Zone

Surah al-Hajj 22:0

Overview (Verses 1 - 2)

A Fear-Striking Opening 

Mankind! Have fear of your Lord. The violent convulsion at the Last Hour will be awesome indeed. On the day when it comes, every suckling mother will utterly forget her nursling, and every woman heavy with child will cast her burden; and it will seem to you that all mankind are drunk, although they are not drunk. But severe indeed will be God’s punishment. (Verses 1-2) This is how the sūrah begins: an awesome opening that makes hearts tremble. It addresses all mankind, calling on them to fear their Lord and warning them against what may happen on the eventful and terrible Day of Judgement. There is a clear element of mystery about it, one that is frightening and cannot be expressed in words. Thus we are told of a ‘violent convulsion’ which is then described as ‘awesome indeed’, but we have no clear indication as to its nature or substance.

When the details are given, we find them even more frightening. We have a picture of every suckling mother completely unaware of the child she is nursing: she looks but does not see, moves but only aimlessly. Every pregnant female miscarries because of the great shock that engulfs her. All people look drunk, but they are not. They only seem to be as they look into a void and walk unsteadily in all directions. It is a very busy scene, with a huge moving crowd. We almost see it with our eyes as the verses are recited, and we paint it in our imagination. Yet we hardly get the full view, because of the horror it describes. It is a horror that cannot be measured by volume or extent, but rather by its effect on human beings. Its measure is the suckling mother oblivious of the child on her breast. No mother can be so oblivious unless the horror she is encountering commands all her senses and faculties. It is also measured by the miscarrying pregnant women, and by the people behaving as if they are drunk yet who have not had a drink. All this is because God’s punishment is severe indeed.