What is "al hajj" according to The Quran?
In Traditional Islam
is commonly taken to mean "the pilgrimage" and involves
travelling to a specific location (i.e. Makkah, Saudia
Arabia) to participate in various rituals. Some of these
traditional practices are not found in The Quran, some are,
and some, it could be argued, are loosely based on it.
In The Quran,
"al hajj" seems
to refer to something well known to the audience: a
certain undertaking/event. It does not really matter
what one calls it in English as the things taking place
due to it will be the same. Meanings such as "the
symposium/feast/homage/commemoration/enterprise" seem to
In this work,
sometimes significant points will be made, but also small
observations which by themselves may not provide
definitive insight, but taken together will hopefully
provide a coherent view. Whilst reading this article, it
is recommended to open a new
order to lookup and study each verse cited and context.
For further information, clickable links are given
throughout the article. For the
purposes of accuracy/clarity direct translations are
sometimes shown in blue font.
Before continuing, the reader is recommended to
familiarise themselves with this
article on the meaning of "al masjid al haram" as it may
make understanding "al
AQ = al quran
CAD = Classical Arabic Dictionaries
Review of HaJJ occurrences
2:158 Indeed, the safa1 and the marwah2 are from the markers/tokens (sha3air)3 of God, so whoever did
HaJJ 4 (at/of) the shelter/house5 or enlivened/visited6
there is no
blame/error on him that he go amongst by/at them both7
volunteered good/better8 then God is
root: Sad-Fa-Waw. See Project
Root List to read about possible meanings for
given roots in this article.
2 - root:
3 - root:
Shiin-Ayn-Ra. The root meanings and Quran usage
suggest the word describes
things/tokens/symbols/markers/practices (usually to do
with sustenance/benefit) that have a deeper
significance, i.e. help make us aware of something (e.g.
God and His beneficience). Honouring such "sha3air" can
(forethoughtfulness/conscientiousness/piety) of the
hearts, and can provide opportunity to be thankful
and/or magnify God for what He has guided you - see 5:2, 22:32, 22:36-37.
4 - root:
Ha-Jim-Jim. Note the perfect/past tense implies one
could have done "HaJJ"
but not necessarily encountered "safa" and "marwah" yet,
meaning they are not compulsory aspects of "HaJJ" (or "umrah") but are
to it. Also if they were an intrinsic part of "al HaJJ" then there
would be no need to state "there is no blame on him that
he should go about/amongst them". This is further
reinforced by the imperfect tense "ttawwaf" which
follows. As a side note, some Traditional commentators
also mention this point.
5 - root:
Ba-Ya-Ta. It principally means to reach the night or
spend the night in and "bayt" is that place. It can be used
for any structure that is utilised for such a purpose.
Thus, "bayt" is
closer to shelter as the conceptual meaning and within
that meaning is the house. In this context it refers to
the locality/region/area, wherein "al hajj" is being
held, and is thus acting as a shelter/house for the
people. This will be further discussed later.
6 - root:
Ayn-Miim-Ra. Also perfect/past tense.
7 - root:
Tay-Waw-Fa. Note it says "ttawwaf bi" which is the exact same
phrase in 22:29 (involving the ancient/noble
shelter/house / "al
bayt al 3tiq") which most commentators take to
mean "circuit" but they do not take it to mean "circuit"
here. Some may argue that since there are two objects
here, going to and fro is the implied meaning here
rather than "circuit".
8 - the phrase
"whoever volunteered good/better" is likely related to
what came before, i.e. "no blame on him that he go about
them". Interestingly, if it is taken as "whoever
volunteered better", as I feel the implication is, then
this can only mean: better than "going about/amongst safa and marwah". The
obvious question then is: what is better?
2:158 clearly indicates there is a difference between HaJJ and i'tamara/visited
(commonly translated as "umrah").
The additional information we have extracted about "safa" and "marwah" is as
follows, which may help narrow down the possible meanings:
1) other occurrences of "sha3air of God"
refer to provision of sustenance/food by means of the
animals, thus they could
be related to that
2) they are accessible to those
who did HaJJ or
visited the house/shelter, but are secondary to it
3) it is possible some might mistakenly assign blame if
one goes about them or one going about them could think
they are doing something negative/wrong
4) it may be
possible to volunteer better than going amongst them
When we look at CAD "al safa" can refer to
the animals which give much milk (said of she-camel/sheep/goat), and "al marwah" can refer
to a stone where a cooking fire is started or on which an
animal is slaughtered. If we opt for these meanings then
the one going about them in 2:158 would be consuming food,
not providing it. If so, this makes it easy to understand
why this could be thought of as a negative, i.e. someone
at this location could take advantage of such
offerings/availability and consume aplenty without giving
in return. This would also help explain why it says
"whoever volunteered better" because providing food is
better than consuming it, and this may tie in with verses
such as 2:196 which discusses giving an offering/gift
(e.g. an animal to be used for food provision). This is
also the case for one who did HaJJ because even though doing HaJJ involves
providing food for others, one could still consume more
than they gave.
If we do choose this meaning,
then we may need to consider why animals of milking are
not discussed under the ordinary food to give/feed others
with for one undertaking the HaJJ and this may be because it is
more difficult for one to do, as the timing needs to be
right for a female animal to give milk, e.g. shortly after
them giving birth. Giving an animal for slaughter is much
There are other possibilities for
these words from CAD, e.g. "al safa" can mean "the palm tree heavy
with fruit", "al marwah"
can mean "a type of fragrant tree".
A plausible interpretation of "no blame on him that he go
about them" is that this phrase is often used in AQ to
discuss an exception/modification to the
recommendation/rule/principle (e.g. 2:229, 2:282, 4:101,
4:102, 24:29, 24:58, 24:60), thus could refer to an
exception, e.g. regarding slaughtering of animals on a
stone (as this may be misconstrued as a throwback to
idolatrous practice, see 5:3), or "marwah" can mean a
stone from which blades are made even though there is no
hunting or fighting in this period, or sightseeing of
unique/stone landmarks at such a location could be
mistaken for their veneration. Volunteering good/better in
this case would be to help out at the event rather than
There seems to be insufficient evidence, as per Quran, to
definitively deduce the meaning of "safa" and "marwah", however we
should bear in mind that whatever they are the implication
is that they are not critical/compulsory aspects for
one who did "HaJJ"
They ask you regarding the crescent/new moons
(hilal) say: 'They are
assigned/set times for the people as well as for the HaJJ and
righteousness is not that you come to the houses from
their backs, but righteousness is one who is
forethoughtful/conscientious and comes to the houses
from their doors. And be aware of God that you may
reference suggests that these moon phases (Arabic plural,
i.e. 3 or more) can be used to time the HaJJ. This could
have various permutations. The latter half of the verse
seems to be describing an idiom about having a
sincere/honest/straightforward approach to something.
2:194 The restricted month for/with the restricted
month, and (for) the
just-recompense. So whoever transgressed upon you,
then you transgress on him in the same as he
transgressed upon you; and be
forethoughtful/conscientious of God, and know that God
is with those who are forethoughtful/conscientious.
And spend in the way of God, but do not throw
yourselves with your hands/resources to destruction, and
do good, indeed God loves the good-doers.
And fulfil the HaJJ and
is easy of the offering/gift and do not
relieve/unburden your chiefs/representatives (of this duty)
until the offering reaches its permitted/lawful place* so whoever from among
you was sick or with him harm/annoyance of/from his
chief/representative then redeem/ransom from
abstinence/fast or charity or sacrifice/observance.
So when you are
in the designated vicinty) then whoever
benefited/enjoyed with the visit to the HaJJ then
is easy of the offering/gift, so whoever couldn't find
then an abstinence/fast three days during the HaJJ and
seven when you returned, this is ten complete.
That is for one
whose people are not present (at) the
inviolable time of acknowledgement (al
masjid al haram) and be conscious of
God and know that God is severe in punishment.
The HaJJ (are/at) months (ashur)
well known. So
whoever undertook in them the HaJJ then
there shall be no sexual conduct /obscenity, nor
wickedness/transgression, nor quarreling in the HaJJ and
any good that you do, God is aware of it; and bring
provision, but the best/better provision is
forethought/conscientiousness(taqwa) and be aware of Me O
people of understanding.
Not is on you blame to seek bounty from your
Lord, so when you proceeded from
familiarisations/recognitions** then remember God in the presence of
the inviolable place of perception/markers/practices*** and remember Him as He has guided you;
for you were straying before that.
Then proceed from wherever the people proceeded,
and seek God's forgiveness; God is surely Forgiving,
So when you have completed
your acts of servitude/devotion (manasik) then remember God as you
remember your fathers or even greater. From among the
people are those who say: "Our Lord, give us from this
world!", but in the Hereafter he has no part.
And some of them say: "Our Lord, give us good in
this world, and good in the Hereafter, and spare us from
the retribution of the Fire."
These will have a benefit for what they have
gained; and God is swift in reckoning.
And remember God during days
specified/numbered/counted. Whoever hurries to two days
there is no sin upon him; and whoever delays there is no
sin upon him for the one who is
forethoughtful/conscientious/pious. And be aware of God,
and know that it is to Him that you will be gathered.
* "al bayt al atiq" [22:33], "al ka'aba" / "al bayt al haram"
** 'arafaat (pl.
being a version of 'aarif,
the active form of 'arafa
the informational noun of 'arafa) can mean 'familiarizations,
approbations, recognitions.' See 49:13 for example.
*** Arabic: "al
al haram" literally means: the
inviolable place of awareness/perception/knowledge
and/or where "sha3air"
are found/practiced, and most likely refers to the
locality. The form "maf3al"
(same as "mashAAr")
is most commonly used to denote place in AQ, see end of
article. It may be interesting to note the difference in
form between "masjid" and "mash'aar", which also
suggests a possible difference in meaning.
There is no sacred place/building/mountain required in
order to make sense of this term, as in the Traditional
variant understandings (some are of the view that it
an open level area near Makkah, see interpretation of
Al-Qurtubi. Some think it refers to a mountain which is
called Qazah in
is also interpreted to refer to the place between the
two mountains of Muzdalifah
from the narrow passage between the last two
mountains before entering Makkah for those coming from 'Arafah and the
valley of Muhassir)
Lane's Lexicon states: "mash'aar: signify a place (of the
performance) of religious rites and ceremonies of the
hajj", "a place where a thing is known to be - And
hence, A place of the performance of religious
It is theoretically possible that instead of simply
referring to the general locality, the original HaJJ had a
specific location within this area for the "sha3air", e.g.
where animals were taken and slaughtered, meat
Following on from 2:195 it is no coincidence that HaJJ allows one to
spend in the way of God and do good. This article
on 2:196 should be read to understand the above
translation. Note that "whoever enjoyed in
the visit to the HaJJ"
implies the period for HaJJ is longer than 3 days, because
one is in a position to determine enjoyment/benefit from
being there and thereafter undergo abstinence for 3
As a side note: if "shahr" in 2:197 is taken as
"full-moon", and this is coupled with "hilal" in 2:189, then this
could indicate a period for "al
be from one full-moon to crescent/new moon, which is
about 10/15 days respectively. This would result in
several fixed HaJJ periods in the inviolable months,
presumably with gaps inbetween each HaJJ period.
Indeed, the first1 house/shelter
placed/set-down2 for mankind was the one with/in/by/at bakka3 blessed and a guidance
for the beings.
3:97 In it clear signs/evidences,
the stance/position/status4 of Abraham, and whoever
entered it was securing. And for
God upon mankind (is)
the HaJJ (at/of) the house/shelter, whoever is
able to make a way to5 it,
and whoever conceals/rejects then truly God has no
need of the beings.
others are possible, also see 24:36. This would explain
well the narration interplay between Abraham's example
and the believers this time around, indicating that
Abraham's model is an example for them to follow. This
is perhaps linked to his status as an imam/model/exemplar
for mankind [2:124].
2 Arabic: "wudi'Aa" often
translated incorrectly as "set-up" or the like.
3 this could be
a proper name of a place, however it could mean
"distinguishing/ranking above others", "crowding" or some
other CAD meaning for Ba-Kaf-Kaf. Interestingly,
"crowding" is a common meaning to both BaKKah and MaKKah,
thus could explain how they became interchanged in future
Traditional Islamic sources. I personally think "makkah" means
"crowding" in 48:24.
4 Arabic: "maqam" does not
commonly mean physical standing place, see other
5 Arabic: "ila" implies motion
Note the object of it
can only be "bayt/shelter",
however most traditional translators try to explain this
away as referring to "the haram/sanctuary of Makkah" e.g. Ibn Kathir. This
peculiar issue will be discussed later.
If the "bayt"
mentioned in 3:96 is the cuboid called Kaabah in Makkah, then this has
1) a building is never described as a "guidance" elsewhere
in AQ. However a community/nation can guide (e.g. 7:159,
2) according to traditional Islamic history the cuboid
called Kaabah has
been demolished and rebuilt several times, and flooded
multiple times - if so, does its status as a
"guidance" and "securing" become temporarily suspended at
these times? Is it really a divinely chosen place if it is
prone to flooding?
3) what are the clear signs in the cuboid called Kaabah? Is there even
any? It is very rare for people to enter it today.
4) I am not aware of any non-Islamic source that states
Abraham was in the area of Makkah, nor any prophet/messenger
5) in present day Makkah,
the alleged "maqam
Ibrahim" (stone imprint of Abraham's footsteps)
is outside the cuboid called Kaabah, not inside it like the verses
6) I am not aware of any source which cites a place called
Makkah or a
cuboid called Kaabah prior
traditional Islamic sources.
Surely, those who have rejected/concealed and
hinder from the path of God and the
inviolable time of acknowledgement which We
made for mankind, equal are the
devotee/attached/resident in it and the
bedouin/visitor/traveller, and whoever intends/wishes
in it deviation (or) wrongdoing, We will
make him taste from painful retribution.
And when We appointed for Abraham
the position of the shelter/house: that do not associate
with Me anything, and purify My shelter/house for those
who: go about/among, and stand/maintain/observe, and
humble/incline, and submit/acknowledge.
And call out among the people
with/by the HaJJ,
they will come to you walking and on every transport,
they will come from every remote pass.
That they may witness benefits for
themselves and recall God's name in days known over what
He has provided for them of the animal livestock. So eat
from it and feed the suffering and the poor.
Then let them perform/complete/decide/fulfill
their: self-denial/neglect or
devotional/cleansing/comfort acts* and fulfill their vows**,
and go about in/by
noble/liberated house/shelter (al
bayt al atiq)***.
That, and whoever honours God's
restrictions/sanctions, then it is better for him with
His Lord. And the livestock are made lawful for you;
except what is being recited to you; so avoid the
foulness/impurity of idols and avoid false word.
Monotheists to God, not those who
associate partners with Him. And whoever associates
partner with God, then it is as if he has fallen from
the sky and the birds snatch him or the wind/force takes
him to a place far off.
That, and whoever honors the
markers/tokens of God, then indeed it is from
piety/forethought of the hearts.
For you in them are benefits to an
appointed term/time, then their lawful/permitted place
noble/liberated house/shelter (al
bayt al atiq)***.
And for every nation We
have made an act of servitude/devotion that they mention
God's name over what He has provided them of the animal
livestock. So your God is One God; submit to Him and give
good tidings to the humble ones.
Those who, when God is mentioned, their hearts revere, and
they are patient to what befalls them, and they uphold the
from what We provide them they spend.
And the plump livestock, We have made them for you among
the markers/tokens of God; for you in them is good, so
mention God's name upon them lined up; then when down on
their sides, then eat from them and feed the needy who ask
and those who do not. It was like thus that We have made
them in service to you, that you may be thankful
Neither their meat nor their blood reaches God, but what
reaches Him is the conscientiousness/piety/forethought
from you. It was like thus that He made them in service to
you, so that you may magnify God for what He has guided
you, and give good news to the good-doers.
first part of the verse could be interpreted several
ways. If coupled with 2:200 it seems to suggest "then
let them complete their devotional acts". Interestingly,
Traditionalist commentators say this part in
22:29 is about ending ihram/pilgrim
which would be the result if one completed their
devotional act, i.e. animal slaughter and feeding of the
** for possible examples see 2:270-271,
*** can mean
22:26 makes it clear that the only requirement for the
position of the shelter is that it is established by
someone who doesn't setup partners. Clearly, this is not
necessarily a particular location but any location where
this criterion is met.
22:34 suggests that this is an important practice all
communities/nations had in common, and thus perhaps is
the only obligatory one. 22:67 suggests similar. It may
be helpful to reflect upon the act being asked of us and
why: utilising the tokens/sha3air of God in this way, i.e. for
providing sustenance to those in need, is an act that
reiterates/mirrors what God has done for us. Thus, what
better way to show one's
God than to provide for others just as God has provided
for you (e.g. see 28:77 "...do good as God has done good
An acquittal/release from God and His
messenger to those with whom you made a treaty from
among the polytheists.
So roam the earth/land
for four months and know that you will not escape God,
and that God will disgrace the ungrateful/rejecters.
And an announcement
from God and His messenger to the people (on) the day of
the greatest HaJJ* "God is
quit/free from the polytheists and so is His
messenger". If you repent, then it is better for you,
and if you turn away, then know that you will not
escape God, and give news to those who conceal/reject
of a painful retribution.
Except for those with
whom you had a treaty from among the polytheists if
they did not reduce anything from it nor did they plan
to attack you; you shall continue the treaty with them
until its expiry. Truly, God loves the
So when the restricted
months** are passed, then you may fight the
polytheists wherever you find them...
*can also mean
"...greatest day of the HaJJ...". In terms of likelihood I
think this is the lesser likely option as there is no
indication for what day would be the greatest or why.
Whilst "greatest HaJJ"
may indicate in terms of HaJJ passed, this current one is the
greatest thus far, probably because the believers have
become the majority/authority, the establishment of
God's deen has
been realised etc.
plural, meaning 3 or more shahr/month/full-moon
The above verses indicate the HaJJ takes place within the
restricted/inviolable months, and "day of the greatest HaJJ" is prior to
at least 3 of them. The most prevalent Traditional
understanding is that HaJJ
is only done in the first of the four
inviolable/restricted months (called "Dhu-l-Hijjah") -
perhaps these verses are where this interpretation came
It is possible, and most likely in my view, that "day of
the greatest HaJJ"
is simply referring to the first day of this HaJJ period, i.e.
first day of the four restricted/inviolable shahr. This makes
most sense within the context.
It was not for the polytheists that they
develop/cultivate God's times of
acknowledgement (maSaJiD) witnessing
over their own rejection/concealment. For these,
their works have fallen, and in the Fire they will
Only will develop/cultivate God's times of
acknowledgement (maSaJiD) is one who
believes in God and the Last Day, and
upholds the bond/salat, and brings forth
betterment, and does not fear except God. Then
perhaps these that will be of the guided ones.
Have you made the watering of those doing HaJJ
and development/cultivation (of) the
inviolable time of acknowledgement (al masjid al haram) like the
one who believed in God and the Last Day and strived
in the cause of God? They are not the same with God.
And God does not guide the wrongdoers.
Those who believed and emigrated and strived
in the cause of God with their wealth and their
lives are in a greater degree with God. These are
9:19 is an interesting verse and tells the
audience to reflect upon their priorities, i.e.
occupying oneself with the worldly
benefits/provisions/considerations/supplies of such an
event are not as important as the believers individually
and collectively, or the personal journey to God. Supply of services to the
pious does not equal being pious.
This verse also suggests to me that uplifting and
bringing the believers together was an important aspect,
rather than the means used to achieve this (i.e. the
inviolable time of acknowledgement), see 2:140-151.
What is "al bayt" in these
To help answer this question, some comparable verses
are shown below, with key words colour-coordinated:
I swear by (or call to witness) this land/town
And you (are) free/lawful in this land/town
And this land/town
So let them serve
of this house/shelter
The One who fed them from hunger, and secured them
27:91 I have been
ordered to serve
the Lord of this land/town
One who made it inviolable/restricted
to Him are all things, and I have been ordered to be
of those who submit.
And they said: "If we follow the guidance with you,
we will be deposed from our soil/land (ard). Did We not establish for them a sanctuary (haram)
secure, are brought to it all kinds of
fruits, as a
provision from Us? Indeed, most of them do not know.
they not see that We have made a sanctuary (haram)
while are being taken away the people around them?
Then do in falsehood they believe, and in favour of
God they disbelieve?
when Abraham said: "My Lord, make this land/town
(balad) secure and keep me
and my sons away from serving idols."
14:36 "My Lord, indeed
they have misguided many among the people. So,
whoever follows me, then indeed he is of me, and
whoever disobeys me, then You are Forgiving,
14:37 "Our Lord, indeed I
have settled from my progeny in/by an uncultivated
valley in the presence of Your house/shelter (bayt) made inviolable
Our Lord, that they
may uphold the bond. So make the hearts of the
people move towards them and provide them of the fruits that
they may be thankful."
when We made the house/shelter (bayt) a
place of return/filling/reward for mankind and
a security, and take
(to yourselves) from the position/status of
Abraham a place/time of
We made a convenant to Abraham and Ishmael
that "You (both) purify My house/shelter (bayt)
for those who go among/about, and
stay/devote, and incline and
when Abraham said: "My Lord, make this a town/land
and provide for its
people/community of the fruits for
whoever believes in God and the Last Day."
He said: "As for he who rejects/conceals,
then I will let him enjoy for a while,
then I will force him to the retribution
of the Fire, and miserable is the
when Abraham was raising the foundations
from/of the house/shelter
and Ishmael: "Our Lord accept this from
us, You are the Hearer, the
If so, this would make sense.
- The things described as
secure in these contexts are
- Provision of fruits is
associated in these contexts with the
people of the town/land/balad and
people of the shelter/bayt.
makes clear that it is the town/land/balad that
is the part made inviolable/restricted, and
"this" clearly implies the town/land is
finite/delimited, i.e. has spatial
gives us an example of a shelter/bayt made
only thing that Abraham asked to
be made secure was the
and the only thing God
explicitly made secure, in the
context of Abraham, was the
Are we told if God answered his
prayer in AQ? Yes, if balad=bayt.
In Arabia it has been
noted by historians that there
were many areas setup as "haram/sanctuary"
location wherein no fighting takes
place so people can congregate in
safety, for trading, worship etc.
We can reasonably assume that
various "haram" had
different names, and perhaps
different regulations - and it
just so happens that AQ describes
it's particular "haram"
setup as "al bayt al haram"
(the inviolable shelter/house).
This coincides well with the
people who would be
attending/inhabiting/hosting it, i.e. "ahl-l-bayt
/ people of the house/shelter"
[see 11:73, 33:33].
is not referring to those living in a
single household of clay/bricks, but
those living in (or wishing to live in)
alternative names for "Makkah"
such as "al
bayt al atiq", and "al bayt al haram".
In addition, switch in meaning of terms has been
noted for 3:97 above and also understandings
related to "al masjid al
haram". The point being that it
is common to find "al bayt al atiq" / "al bayt al haram"
and even "bayt"
referring to regions in the Traditional
understandings, so to suggest that bayt=balad here
should not be seen as something new.
Further, there are
examples of lands/towns referred
to as "bayt" in Arabic,
e.g. Bethlehem ~ bayt
lahm (house of meat),
Jerusalem ~ bayt
al maqdis (house of the
jubrin (house of the
hanoun etc. I do not know
the extent of this practice
however, e.g. if it is mentioned
in CAD or not. This could be an
area for further research.
of the HaJJ
appears late in AQ, it is more likely
that knowledge of it was not as well ingrained
and widespread as other teachings amongst
believers, perhaps making it easier to
distort/change in future. Furthermore, as is
often the case, there was likely a movement
towards orthodoxy/formalisation of activities
Lastly, a question may arise that
if the author of AQ meant "al
bayt" to refer to "the balad/land/town"
in the HaJJ verses,
then why not just say that? It
seems to me that to say "the
town/land" would more so imply a
specific location only, i.e. that
land/town, whilst stating "al
bayt / the shelter" in my
view conveys more so a conceptual
term, i.e. a model/exemplar that
can be copied and implemented
wherever the criteria is
fulfilled. Note that in no HaJJ
verse does it say/imply it is done
at/to/in the balad/land/town.
It may be interesting to note that all
verses that discuss "al hajj"
occur in the latter half of the revelation
of AQ, not only according to Traditional
order of revelation but also independent
analysis of the likely order based on
content, style etc, e.g. see chapter 7
of "Introduction to Quran" by Richard Bell, or
chapter 2 of "Discovering the Quran" by Neal
This is potentially interesting because
according to Traditional Islamic sources "al hajj"
was a regular event, perhaps yearly, yet it
goes unmentioned until the latter half of
revelation. The possible reason for this is
discussed in the article on "al masjid al
When to end one's HaJJ?
A person undertaking HaJJ can
hurry to 2 days but usually it is more
than this [2:203]. The word "ma3doodat"
[2:80, 2:184, 2:203, 3:24, 12:20]
typically indicates a low number,
e.g. from 3-10 as it is often used
for numbers which can be counted by
one's fingers. A
maximum of 10 days may also be indicated
in 2:196 wherein it seems to make
equivalent (in terms of giving) one who
benefitted/enjoyed in a visit to the HaJJ and
one who did HaJJ. The phrase "ten
complete" in 2:196 is interesting as it is
obvious 7+3=10, thus may be a clarifying
instruction to reassure the instructed
that since there is no fixed number 10 is
There is also a theoretical scenario
wherein a visitor to the HaJJ
enjoyed/benefitted (thus should undergo 3
days abstinence during HaJJ,
and 7 upon return) but there is less than
3 days of HaJJ left thus cannot
abstain 3 days during it. The guidance
provided could indicate that one is to
make it up to 10, e.g. if only one day
left of HaJJ,
abstinence that day, then 9 upon return.
Please note that this scenario would be
rare as it is unlikely someone would on
purpose make such an important trip with
so little time to enjoy or benefit from
it, unless they were delayed unexpectedly
If the above information is coupled with
2:200, 22:29 and 22:34, it implies the
individual determines when their
obligation of HaJJ is complete -
and that is once they have performed
their obligatory act of
devotion/servitude, i.e. slaughter an
animal to share and feed those in need.
That would explain why there is no fixed
duration time explicitly stated in AQ.
Interestingly most traditional
commentators also regard one's personal HaJJ to
end after this act.
5:2 You who believe, do not
tokens/regulations of God, nor the
inviolable/restricted month, nor the
offerings/gifts, nor the
prefects/repositories* nor those persuing the inviolable shelter (al
bayt al haram)
seeking bounty from their Lord and
pleasure/approval** and when lawful then hunt. And let
not the hatred of a people because they
hindered you from/concerning***
inviolable time of acknowledgement that you
transgress. And help one another on
righteousness and taqwa/conscientiousness, and do
not help one another on sin and
transgression. And be aware of God, for
God's retribution is severe.
* Arabic: "qalaida"
. Consider the
infrastructure/management required for such an
relates to worldly benefits/provisions, see 48:29, 59:8,
2:198, 16:14, 17:12, 17:66, 28:73, 30:46,
35:12, 45:12, 73:20, 62:10, 2:265, 30:23.
a preposition and can mean: from, of, for,
O you who believe, do not kill any game while
you are restricted; and whoever of you kills it
deliberately, then recompense is value similar to
what was killed of the livestock, judging by two
equitable persons from you, an offering/gift
reaching the base/projection
(al kaabah)* or expiation feeding
needy people, or compensation/equivalent that in
fast/abstinence; that he may taste the consequence
of his deed. God forgives what has passed, and
whoever returns then God will take retribution from
him. God is Severe, Owner of retribution.
5:96 Lawful for you is the game of
the sea and its food is provision for you and for the
travelers; and forbidden for you is the game of the
land as long as you are under restriction; and be
conscious of God the one to whom you will be gathered.
5:97 God has made the
base/projection (al kaabah) the inviolable
shelter, a standing/management/support for the people, and
the restricted/inviolable month, and the
gift/offering, and the prefects/repositories; that
is so you may know that God knows what is in the
heavens and what is in the earth, and that God is
aware of all things.
5:98 Know that God is powerful in retribution, and
that God is Forgiving, Merciful.
5:99 Not on the messenger except the
conveyance, and God knows what you reveal and what you
* Note that currently in the city of
Makkah no offerings/gifts are brought to the cuboid
To clarifiy, according to the Arabic, in 5:97 it says
"God made the base/projection/kaabah: the inviolable shelter, a
for the people. (He also made) the inviolable
month, the gift/offering and prefects/repositories: (qiyaaman) for the
The word "qiyaaman"
(root: QWM) seems to have a core meaning of "to be/make
straight". If we read the
occurrences of this word in AQ we find that it can
mean either: physical standing, and, metaphorical
standing, i.e. maintain/support/establish/upstanding.
If we look at 4:5, which is similar to 5:97, as an
object (e.g. wealth) is described as "qiyaaman" for
others, it means a "means of support" / "management" /
"maintenance" then these meanings seems to fit best in
5:97. The implication is that whatever is "qiyaaman" helps
people to stand upright i.e.
The end of 5:97 gives us the reason for what came
before: "that is so you may know that God knows what
is in heavens and what is in the earth". This reminder
suggests these regulations have some insight into our
own selves, e.g. our actions during this period, our
provision requirements, the environment we live in,
and when we experience such a setup we may realise the
knowledge and insight God has into this and our
Interestingly, if the interpretation is that we have
an area wherein restrictions are enforced, either
generally and/or for the HaJJ, then that area must have a
spatial/geographical limit/boundary. This makes
logical and practical sense. Thus, my view on "al kaabah" is that it likely refers
to an area/region. Based on the CAD meanings, either a
base/valley, or an area raised (in relation to
surrounding terrain). I mainly say this because it is
clear in AQ that certain restrictions are in place in
the inviolable months and HaJJ is taking place somewhere,
thus it is a logical necessity to have such an area
demarcated, hence the "al kaabah" reference.
Where this specific area is may or may not be
important for us now. For example, 27:91 and 5:97 say
God made such an area inviolable thus one could
argue who are we to change it, thus its location
should be kept as is (this assumes this location is
known and correct, e.g. current city of Makkah).
However one could argue that the position of the
shelter in 22:26 is one wherein no partner is
associated with God, and since the messenger of Quran followed
the example of the first shelter setup by Abraham (who
is unlikely to have been in the region of Makkah) one
could re-institute this model at one's locality,
wherever that may be.
There are also other considerations, e.g. is a certain
place more special than other places, would this
create discrimination by proximity, are the actions
and goals more/less important than a special location,
does Makkah today pass the criteria of not associating
partners with God? etc. These issues issue may require
just-recompense (qisas) for violating the
restrictions/sanctions/hurrumat [2:194], but not for
violating the sha3air.
This suggests that the restriction one is under
in 5:2 and 5:95-96 refers to the restrictions
during the restricted/inviolable months, and not
only during when one is undertaking HaJJ. In
fact HaJJ is
not mentioned in chapter 5.
Summary and Discussion
al HaJJ ~ the
above review of occurrences into account, a summarised
reference list of the information extracted about the HaJJ is shown
occurs within the ashur(plural
known i.e. the four inviolable/restricted months
the crescent/new moons are
used as set times for it [2:189]
the principal requirement:
the position of the shelter and of those hosting it is
that nothing is associated with God i.e. monotheism
can take place at a shelter wherein this
criteria is met [3:96, 22:26]
done for God [3:97, 2:196]
during this time there is an amnesty/truce in
place if there are warring parties (self-defence is
still allowed however) [9:2, 2:191]
this type of event will nurture a sense of
brotherhood amongst monotheists/believers, provide
opportunity to witness benefits,
remember/mention/thank/magnify God, spend in the way
of God and do good [2:195-198, 9:18-20, 22:25-28,
it is open to all mankind
(who are willing to abide by the laws of the land) - for whoever is able to make a way to it [3:97,
if you wish to go but are
prevented then send whatever is easy of gift/offering
(with a representative) - if unable to do this then
one can redeem by way of abstinence/charity/sacrifice
for monotheists - those
wishing to uphold the salat/bond and bring forth
betterment [22:31, 22:35, 9:18, 9:28]
no sex/wrongdoing/quarreling - this may aid
the positive atmosphere and one's spiritual experience
bring provision [2:197]
one's state of mind should be
sincere/straightforward [2:189, 2:197, 2:203, 22:32,
can be done in 2 days but typically would be
3-10 days, and one's obligation is fulfilled after the
act of animal slaughter and feeding those in need
[2:200, 2:203, 22:29, 22:34]
if you enjoyed in the visit to the HaJJ then give
whatever is easy of gift/offering - if unable then
abstinence 3 days during + 7 when you return = 10
one may seek
bounty (i.e. worldly benefit, e.g. trade), get to know
one another, go about the place,
remember/mention/thank/magnify God, if doing HaJJ slaughter
an animal to eat and share with the needy [2:198,
2:200, 2:203, 22:28, 22:34, 22:36]
The HaJJ seems
to be a vehicle through which commemoration of God,
spending in the way of God, experiencing benefits for
oneself/others and brotherhood are actualised. Such an
undertaking/event would also serve as an excellent
example for visitors, and thus perhaps help spread the
message. Humans are by nature social beings and there
is nothing more powerful than seeing the truth for
oneself, and this effect could tie in with some of the
other meanings of the root Ha-Jiim-Jiim: e.g. "overcome another by/in
It should be noted that the latter stages of Quran revelation
suggest a confederation of sorts was forming amongst
monotheists/believers. The findings above also suggest
this and this momentum sets up much of what we know of
Islamic history quite well. For further reading, see
the excellent work "Muhammad
and the Believers at the Origins of Islam" by
Professor Fred Donner.
One issue that was not covered
in detail in this article was the timing of HaJJ (and/or the
inviolable/restricted months) with regard to the Quranic calendar
system, i.e. when during the year. This is an area for
The reader is recommended to
re-read and reflect upon the findings of this work.
All feedback is welcome, especially corrections. Thanks.
Root List - Quran concordance, grammar and
Quranic Arabic Corpus
of The Holy Quran' by Abdul Mannan Omar
would not have been possible without the
many people who have contributed to this
topic, and without the resources now
available to anyone wishing to study The
in detail. For these stepping
stones, I am indebted and truly
This work reflects my personal
understanding, as of November 2nd, 2013.
Seeking knowledge is a continual process
and I will try to improve my understanding
of the signs within 'the reading' (al quran)
and out with it, unless The God wills
information is correct to the best of my
knowledge only and thus should not be
taken as a fact. One should always seek
knowledge and verify for themselves when
possible: 17:36, 20:114, 35:28,
And do not follow what
you have no knowledge of; surely the
hearing, the sight and the heart, all of
these, shall be questioned about that. [17:36]