Lessons from Surah Al-Hajj Part 4 (Verse 28)

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This article is a summary of takeaways from Ustaz Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram’s Tafsir Online Lecture on 2nd August 2020. Summaries of previous lectures on Surah Maryam and Surah Taha and Surah Al-Ambiya’ can be found here. This lecture is a continuation of the previous lecture on Surah Al-Hajj.

Du’a Taught During Hajj

In the previous lecture, we discussed Surah Al-Hajj up to verse 27, where Allah SWT commands Prophet Ibrahim AS to call mankind to perform Hajj. As we begin today’s lesson, I would like to have a look at one of the du’as that is often recited during Hajj, be it in the Tawaf, during the Sa’ie between Safa and Marwa:


اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ حَجًّا مَبْرُوْرًا وسَعْيًا مَشْكُوْرًا وذَنْبًا مَغْفُوْرًا وعَمَلاً صَالِحًا ﻣَﻘْﺒُﻮﻻً وتِجَارةً لَنْ تَبُور

Allahummaj’alhu hajjan mabrura, wa sa’yan masykura, wa dzanban maghfura, wa ‘amalan solihan maqbula, wa tijaaratan lan tabuur.

O Allah, make this Hajj one that is Mabrura (valid or accepted), and this Sa’ie one that is Masykura (valued and accepted), and these good deeds Maqbula (accepted), and make these a business which does not incur loss.


Is Hajj a Business?

There are a few questions raised regarding the fifth part of this supplication – the one regarding a business. When we perform an Ibadah, especially when it comes to Hajj, it is as though we are doing a business with Allah SWT. Why is this a business?

When someone does a business or a trade, there is something that they have and something that they would like in exchange for it. The item is purchased with the intention of reselling it to someone else in the hopes that they may get a profit from it.

The word “Tijaarah” here, meaning business is often said to not be meant to be taken literally. It is used as a metaphor. Ibadah or worship is likened to a business. In Hajj, there are certain things you need to invest; you invest energy, health, and time in the hopes that you earn a worthwhile profit from it. When we pay $10-12,000 to the travel agency to perform Hajj, we hope to get a profit that is way beyond how much we invested. We hope for a profitable business.

What you might notice is that we have shifted from a literal language to one that is metaphorical. Oftentimes, when we read du’as such as this, we find that the literal language does not bring an appropriate meaning; we are unable to see the link between Hajj and business for example.

So, what our mind automatically does is that it interprets the word metaphorically, just so it “makes more sense”. What is interesting is that in this context, “business” may not actually be a metaphor; this word could in fact be taken literally. There could be a profitable business transaction in terms of wealth. Do not worry, I will get into it soon enough.

That They May Witness Benefits

لِّيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ

So that they may witness (the numerous) benefits for themselves… [22:28]

In the previous verse, Allah SWT had ordered Prophet Ibrahim AS to call upon mankind to come and perform Hajj. He SWT had said that people from every corner of the world will come to answer the call. This verse tells us why they will come. These people will come to witness much goodness for themselves.

Scholars have discussed what this phrase means. Some say it means that people will come to participate together in the prescribed rituals of Hajj. These people will come to see the Kaaba and perform the Tawaf together. They will see Safa and Marwa, think about the incident of Sayidatina Hajar, Sayidina Ismail and the water of Zamzam, and perform the Sa’ie.

They will get to see the land of Arafah and gather with thousands of people. They will realise that behind the many shades of skin colours and many languages spoken, that we are all the same, gathered as servants of Allah SWT. The only difference that sets us apart is our Taqwa and how willing we are to seek Allah SWT’s forgiveness.

Everything else is the same. They will then get to throw stones at the Jamrah, feeling the hatred in their hearts for everything that displeases Allah SWT. So, this is the first interpretation – people come together in order to witness and participate in the worship rituals of Hajj together.

The second interpretation states that this phrase means that people will come to receive forgiveness from Allah SWT. Scholars say in that the word “manaafi’”, meaning goodness or benefit, the advantage that is hoped for is receiving Allah SWT’s expansive forgiveness.

This is why Prophet Muhammad SAW says that an accepted Hajj has no other recompense except Paradise as it is, because a successful Hajj means having all of your sins eliminated completely. A person who returns from a successful Hajj is said to return home completely purified, as though he had just been born from his mother’s womb. The goodness that Hajj pilgrims get is the honour and blessing of forgiveness from Allah SWT.

The third interpretation is that those who respond to the call will achieve benefits of business. Scholars say this and they mean it literally – business as in trade by itself – not in the metaphorical sense of that word. This opinion is not one that is held by two or three scholars.

Rather, there are many scholars who hold onto this opinion. They say that the benefit that is to be gained is to trade at the Holy Land. Is this true? Well, this is where I will explain the story.

The History of Business in Hajj

The Arabs used to be involved in trade even way before the coming of Prophet Muhammad SAW. It had been a common practice for people of that time, regardless of their religious beliefs, to come to Makkah bringing with them their trading goods. Makkah was a business crossroad; it was the centre for trade.

People from all over the Arab peninsula would always stop by Makkah on their way to whatever their destination. Even when the Arabs would come to worship at the Kaaba, they would bring with themselves their trading goods in hopes that they will return from Makkah bringing with them profit from their business sales.

When Prophet Muhammad SAW was sent to his people, the practice of Hajj was established after the incident of Hudaibiyah. Rasulullah SAW himself only perform Hajj once in his life. We call that Hajj “Al-Hajj Al-Wada’”, meaning “The Farewell Pilgrimage”, because it was his final Hajj before his death SAW.

The companions who accompanied Rasulullah SAW on that Hajj felt a bit apprehensive about their Hajj. They were used to always bringing with them goods to trade whenever they visited the Kaaba. They knew that as Muslims now, they had to go for Hajj with sincerity, having the intention of going only to worship Allah SWT and to seek His pleasure, rather than to make a business profit.

They wondered if it was possible for them to do both, to achieve an accepted Hajj and a profitable trade. The companions were uncertain what to do. Some of them had trade caravans prepared and they decided to cancel it, others were wondering if they should do the same. It was then that verses were revealed in Surah Al-Baqarah in the section on Hajj (starting from verse 196 onwards). Verse 198 specifically addresses the issue of doing trade during Hajj:

لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَبْتَغُوا فَضْلًا مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۚ

There is no blame upon you for seeking (additional) bounty from your Lord (during Hajj) … [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:198]

Allah SWT reassures the companions that it is not a problem for them to be seeking business profit during Hajj. It does not go against the principles of Islam. What is disallowed are acts that clearly defy Islamic theology, such as going to the Kaaba to worship idols, or to perform tawaf stark naked as had been done during the times of ignorance. These are clearly forbidden. However, trade is not a problem. This is why the third interpretation of Verse 28 of Surah Al-Hajj is that people who go for Hajj get business profit.

Business Does Not Invalidate Hajj

We know that this sounds strange in today’s world. Have you seen fellow Singaporeans going for Hajj bringing trading goods with them? No. However, this was in fact a practice that used to happen in the past.

When our forefathers used to get onto ships to go for Hajj, they would bring with them goods to trade in addition to their own necessities. There were people who brought Batik cloth and other goods from their homelands in order that they may sell them at the Holy Land. Allah SWT tells us that there is no issue with that.

So, it does not become a problem for you, for example, if you arrange to meet an international business partner during Hajj to sign a business deal together in Makkah. It does not invalidate your Hajj. What is important is that the primary intention is to worship Allah SWT through Hajj. The secondary interests are not a problem.

So, going back to the first du’a mentioned today, you can see how the fifth request in the du’a also makes sense. Someone who goes for Hajj goes in the hopes that his (1) Hajj is accepted, (2) Sa’ie is accepted, (3) Sins are forgiven, (4) Worship and good deeds are accepted, and (5) business is profitable.

This is something that I just discovered for myself. Even though I have recited this du’a for years, I have always only considered the fifth phrase metaphorically. Now I truly realise the Generosity of Allah SWT. Subhan Allah!

Ibn Umar’s Response to the Business Question

This question of the permissibility of trade during Hajj has been repeatedly asked to the Prophet SAW and to the companions of the Prophet SAW. One of these companions was Abdullah ibn Umar RA, the son of Umar Al-Khattab RA. He RA narrated that a man once came to him saying, “O Abdullah, I do my business during Hajj.

I rent out animals for the purpose of riding to pilgrims. In doing my business, I am often told off by people who tell me that I am sabotaging my Hajj by getting profits in my business. They say I will not get any rewards for my Hajj. Is this true?”.

Abdullah asked the man a series of questions, “Did you make the intention to perform Hajj? Did you put on your Ihram? Did you perform Tawaf? And Sa’ie? And Wuquf at ‘Arafah? And throw stones at Jamrah? Did you end with a Tahlul? Did you slaughter an animal at the end?”. To each of these, the man replied in the affirmative. Abdullah then said to him, “Then you got a Hajj. This was a question that had been asked to the Prophet SAW and that had been his response to the question.”

There is, however, an exception. A person who goes for Hajj with the primary intention of only doing business will not receive the Hajj. If he goes to Makkah under the pretence of wanting to do Hajj, just so that he may be in the position to perform business, then his primary intention is off. He will merely get the profits of his business and nothing more.

Someone who goes to Makkah for Hajj, and in the meantime also does his business, for him will be the reward of both Hajj and a profitable business. The latter is neither forbidden nor discouraged.

Sincerity in Worship

In performing worship, sincerity is important. This does not mean that worship should never have a secondary interest. We cannot say that worship that is not 100% only for Allah is invalid. The exception is if the side interest is something that is forbidden.

Someone who performs Hajj and decides to sell drugs at the same time – of course both his Hajj and his business will not be accepted! But when we look at most situations, where the side interest is one that is good, then there is no issue with it.

Here is another example: someone who teaches the Qur’an. We know of the hadith of the Prophet SAW which states:

خَيْرُكُمْ مَنْ تَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ وَعَلَّمَهُ

“The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” [Bukhari]

Learning and teaching the Qur’an is something that is encouraged and valued in Allah SWT’s eyes. So when we look at a Qur’an teacher, we ask them, “Should you teach sincerely for Allah’s sake?”. They will reply, “Yes, of course.”. Allah SWT will not accept from us a good deed that is not done sincerely.

However, does sincerity mean that there is no room to fulfil halal personal benefit? No. If someone teaches the Qur’an and asks for a compensation, there is no problem to that. His intentions remain sincere and his deeds remain accepted.

This is a common misunderstanding amongst Muslims, that sincerity means that there will be completely no profit to be gained. A truly sincere teacher will teach 100% for free. People say, “How can so-and-so be like this? Isn’t it enough for her that we give her the opportunity to teach the Qur’an to our kids? How can she ask for a payment? Where is the sincerity in that?”. That is wrong! Our intentions are ours to judge, we cannot judge the intentions of others.

Look at our own intentions; for as long as we are sincere, then Allah SWT will accept from us in syaa Allah. And as for whatever is secondary, have a look. Is it something that is halal (permissible) in Islam? If it is, then we do not have to worry about it. There is nothing stopping you from earning it.

People who want to teach the Qur’an, or teach the religion, or even provide consultancy services and answer religious queries… They may have a sincere intention to provide the service to people. But we need to understand, that they too have needs. They have families to support, mouths to feed, and bills to pay. So do not make it an issue that they earn a profit from their service.

The scholars have widely accepted that there is no problem in receiving payment for religious teaching. We should not restrict the religion and make it harder than it actually is. Doing a religious service or performing worship out of sincerity is ok.

Receiving profit from it is also ok, for as long as it does not interfere with the worship being done. You cannot, for example, be going for Hajj and being too busy with your side business that you do not have time to perform your Hajj rituals.

Let me address a few questions and comments from our followers online here. Yes, it is ok for you to purchase items during Hajj and then to bring them home and sell them locally. Making profit from that is permissible, just as doing business in Makkah is.

Yes, it is ok to have a side intention of doing shopping while performing Hajj. There is no issue with that, we should not be too overly strict in defining what is forbidden in Islam.

However, have moderation, do not be too engrossed with shopping that you miss your prayers and spend most of your time shopping instead of worshipping. The final question is whether or not we can recite this du’a during Umrah. Yes, you may. You just need to change the first phrase to “Umratan mabrura” instead of “Hajjan mabrura”. The rest of the du’a remains the same.

Sacrificing Animals on Appointed Days

وَيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَاتٍ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ ۖ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ

… and pronounce the Name of Allah on appointed days over the sacrificial animals He has provided for them. So eat from their meat and feed the desperately poor. [22:28]

As we know, when an animal is sacrificed, we are told to recite the name of Allah SWT upon them as they are being sacrificed. What is commonly practiced is to say “Bismillahi AllahuAkbar” upon the animal while it is being slaughtered.

There are a range of opinions as to which the “appointed days” for sacrifice are. Some say it is only on the 10th of Zhulhijjah, some say it’s in the 9th and 10th of Zhulhijjah, others say it’s on the 10th to 12th of Zhulhijjah. We hold the majority opinion that slaughtering should be done on the 10th of Zhulhijjah (Eidul Adha) and the three days of Tasyrik, 11th to 13th of Zhulhijjah.

Whatever slaughtering is done on the 9th that we see at our mosques is usually performed for Aqiqah. The start of slaughtering for sacrifice, whether in the Holy land or in anywhere around the world, begins after the Eid prayer on 10th Zhulhijjah. Any sacrifice made between then and the sunset of 13th Zhulhijjah is accepted as sacrifice for Eidul Adha.

Based on this verse, it is encouraged by the majority of scholars that for those who perform the sacrifice, whatever is slaughtered should be split into three components. The first portion should be given to the poor and needy, to ease their burdens. The second portion should be gifted to our friends, family, and neighbours. The third portion is to be consumed at home by our own family.

The size of the portions do not matter; you may take a small portion for yourselves, you may keep the half of the meat for your friends, you may even allocate the bulk of the meat for the needy. Even if you decide to keep all of that meat for yourself, it is permissible. What is not permissible is for you to sell that meat. What is encouraged is for you to split it into three portions: (1) for donation, (2) for sharing and (3) for consumption.

Please note, that the above is only applicable for sunnah sacrifices. A wajib sacrifice that is made (i.e. one performed under a Nazar) cannot be consumed. For example, if someone makes a Nazar saying that he will slaughter two sheep if his Nikah (solemnisation) proceeds as planned in spite of all of the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Nikah does proceed as planned, then it becomes wajib for him to slaughter two sheep.

The sheep sacrificed under wajib conditions cannot be consumed by the person who paid for the slaughter. That meat can be given to anyone else, but he himself should not eat it.

Rasulullah SAW once reminded us in a hadith that, “Verily, this religion is easy. And whoever makes religion difficult will find himself defeated”. This religion is an easy religion. If you impose difficulties upon yourself, you will find it too difficult to practice the religion yourself.

May Allah protect us from being of those people. May Allah SWT accept from us all of our deeds. May He SWT make us amongst the believers who understand the faith, appreciate and value the beauty of the religion, and who do not impose upon the religion restrictions that make it difficult to worship Allah SWT.

Ameen.

——————–

Summary by: Arina Adom

Arina Adom is a lover of learning who takes on the world with an open mind. Resourceful and adaptable, always ready to take on new challenges. Comfortable working with diverse groups of people, yet able to work independently. Thrives under pressure. Currently seeking a meaningful career that enables her to impact lives directly and bring about positive changes in the lives of others in the community.

Arina graduated with a degree in Science ( Hons ), Life Science from NUS. She is currently taking a diploma in Quran and Sunnah Studies from Al Zuhri.

Arina Adom – Linkedin Profile


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