Lessons from Surah Al-Hajj Part 6 (Verses 32 & 52)

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This article is a summary of takeaways from Ustaz Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram’s Tafsir Online Lecture on 16th 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.

Questions from the Previous Lecture

The Permissibility of Blood in Meat

In the previous lecture, we listed out four categories of animals that are Haram for consumption: (1) carcasses of animals killed without being slaughtered, (2) blood, (3) flesh of swine, and (4) any meat that has been sacrificed for other than Allah SWT. I had clarified last week that when it comes to blood, it is only restricted to blood that flows; blood that adheres to meat, that makes the meat appear red, and is unable to be washed off – this blood is not Haram for consumption.

Q: I am still not convinced of your explanation. Allah SWT specifies “blood” in the verse. There is no exception being made in the verse to limit this prohibition to blood that flows. What evidence do you have to support your claim that blood that does not flow is Halal for consumption?

Blood that is not Flowing is Halal

A: My response to this question is to refer to Verse 145 of Surah Al-An’am:

قُل لَّا أَجِدُ فِي مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ مُحَرَّمًا عَلَىٰ طَاعِمٍ يَطْعَمُهُ إِلَّا أَن يَكُونَ مَيْتَةً أَوْ دَمًا مَّسْفُوحًا أَوْ لَحْمَ خِنزِيرٍ فَإِنَّهُ رِجْسٌ أَوْ فِسْقًا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ ۚ

Say, (O Prophet,) “I do not find in what has been revealed to me anything forbidden to eat unless it be a dead animal or blood that pours forth or the flesh of swine – for indeed, it is impure – or a sinful offering in the name of any other than Allah… [6:145]

This is the verse that specifies what kind of blood is forbidden to us. As previously explained, when you slaughter an animal, you slice the animal’s jugular vein. The blood will pour out of the blood vessels as the animal bleeds. This is the blood that is forbidden for consumption.

After this blood has completely flowed out, there is still some dripping blood that remains in the animal – this is not Haram for consumption. For example, when you buy meat from a butcher or the grocery shop, there is red liquid in the plastic bag that holds the meat. This meat and the blood in it are Halal.

This has been mentioned by Imam Al-Qurtubi in his tafsir book, Al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Quran.  Imam Qurtubi’s Tafsir book is unique to other tafsir books. His book is specific to Fiqh issues, Imam Al-Qurtubi says, ‘Al-Masfuuh’ in this verse refers to blood that flows, and flows quickly – this is the blood that is forbidden by Allah SWT.

Any blood other than that, is blood that is forgiven. ‘Forgiven’ means that it is not an issue for us to consume it or cook it – whether we cook it well, medium, or we eat it rare, it is still permissible for consumption.

He then continues to say, “It is my responsibility as a Faqiih (a scholar), to clarify that there are two opinions when it comes to meat that contains blood. The first is that this blood is also Haram, because it is regarded similarly as blood that flows. Whether or not it flows, Imam Qurtubi says that this opinion holds that it is still blood. The second opinion is that blood that does not flow is not Haram, because in this verse it specifies that only flowing blood is Haram. And I insist that this second opinion is the one that is right.” The evidence is clear from Allah SWT what is Haram.

Imam Qurtubi then mentions, “Imran bin Khidhir once said, “I asked a scholar amongst the Tabi’in called Abi Mijlaz about the ruling of meat that contains blood. He said, “There is nothing wrong with that. What is forbidden by Allah is blood that is Masfuhah.” And he maintained that this was the opinion held by Sayidatina Aisyah RA and the other Sahabah.”. Imam Qurtubi concludes by saying, “And this is the accepted opinion held by the Ummah.”

So, regardless of a person’s Mazhab, it is agreed that this is permissible. Any difference of opinion falls under these two, which is either (1) blood that is not flowing is not Najas, or (2) blood of any kind, whether it be flowing or not, is Najas, however the latter is forgiven.

Make Ease in the Religion

This argument is further strengthened by Imam Qurtubi quoting Sayidatina Aisyah RA as saying, “We are used to cooking meat in a pot, whilst the meat and liquid in the pot still contains some reddish or yellowish colouration. And whatever that has been cooked, we will eat.”; Rasulullah SAW and his companions did not reject this food.

It is emphasised by Imam Qurtubi that the act of cleansing the meat until all of the redness is gone is complex and makes life difficult for us. Doing so increases the workload, and for any tasks that make establishing the religion complex and difficult, then for that the original ruling is dropped.

So the original ruling is that blood is Haram, but because it is difficult to implement, then this ruling is dropped and this blood is no longer forbidden. He then says that this is a fundamental principal in the religion. Everything that when done, causes much difficulty for the Muslim Ummah, then the ruling on such an act can be shed. Allah SWT brings us ease in our lives.

Our principal is that Allah SWT has specified certain rulings on us, but not all these rulings are general. There are specifics and exceptions that can be found in the hadith and the Qur’an.

So on the same topic, there were some other questions being posed by our audience members.

Q: Is steak that is half-done permissible for consumption?

A: Based on our discussion, yes. Meat, whether it is done, medium rare, or rare can be consumed as it is. Wagyu meat that is sliced and eaten raw is also Halal. As long as you have washed the meat, any blood that sticks to the meat is consumable.

I have even done some reading up, and apparently, scientists say that the red substance on the meat is not in fact blood. It is actually a protein called myoglobin. Even though it is red, it is not blood. Is it not amazing that Rasulullah SAW allowed the consumption of this red substance even then, even when they were not yet aware of the scientific distinction between blood and myoglobin? May Allah SWT aid us in holding firm to the religion with the ability to distinguish between what is principal and what has room for flexibility and ease in the religion.

Do not be amongst those who say, “Look at what this Ustaz is saying! This is dangerous, trying to make the religion easy for people!”. Dear brothers and sisters, making the religion easy is not something to be criticised in Allah SWT’s religion. In fact, Rasulullah SAW says:

يَسِّرُوا وَلاَ تُعَسِّرُوا

Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them. [Bukhari]

Being a firm believer does not mean making the religion difficult. Rather it means looking for ease for as long as it does not cross the boundaries of Allah SWT’s religion. In another hadith as previously mentioned:

إِنَّ الدِّينَ يُسْرٌ، وَلَنْ يُشَادَّ الدِّينَ أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ غَلَبَهُ

Religion is easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. [Bukhari]

There is a difference between making religion easy and making light of the religion. We do not want the latter. We don’t want to not take the religion seriously. Rather, we acknowledge our weaknesses and our different stages of Iman and we want to make the religion easy to practice, regardless of what your status of Iman is. I hope this answers your questions.

Moving on in Surah Al-Hajj

Now before we touch on today’s topic, let us complete the section on Hajj.

The Symbols of Allah

ذَٰلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ

That is so. And whoever honours the symbols of Allah, it is certainly out of the Taqwa of the heart. [22:32]

The word Syi’ar used translates to ‘symbol’ and means one thing that represents another thing. Even during the time of the Prophet SAW, the flags that were carried at the time of war were referred to as Syi’ar. The flags signalled and distinguished the different troops. So, while the war was going on, people looked at these flags as the symbols of their troops. The flag-bearers defended the flags to their deaths in order that the flag may not fall – indicating the fall of the troop.

So, the ‘Syi’ar of Allah’ refer to the symbols that represent the religion of Islam. The Hajj rituals we discussed are symbols of Allah. Religions other than Islam do not bear the same symbols. There are also places that are visited during the Hajj rituals. These are also the Syi’ar of Allah’s religion.

The Kaaba, Safa and Marwa, Arafah, and Mina… all of these are Syi’ar of Allah. This includes our mosques; they are symbols of the religion. The acts of worship that Muslims perform are also Syi’ar; the Salah, the Tawaf, the Sa’ie, reciting the Qur’an, and fasting are all symbols of Allah.

Allah emphasises in this verse that whosoever honours these symbols, then it is out of the Taqwa of the heart. We need to get this. The Syi’ar of Allah need to be honoured, but the honouring of Allah’s Syi’ar needs to begin from a heart of Taqwa. Do not go full out trying to defend the religious symbols of Islam by fighting against people who offend or disrespect the symbols of Allah, if your actions are done in a state that reflects your heart being distant from Allah SWT.

Whatever you do to defend and honour these Syi’ar need to be a translation and a Tafsir of the Taqwa that lies in your heart. The ability to honour these Syi’ar is born out of the Taqwa of the heart. Claiming you are honouring these symbols does not mean anything to Allah SWT if your actions are not guided and led by Taqwa.

If you go further down this surah, you will find verses about Qurban (sacrifice). Allah SWT states in verse 37 that what reaches Allah SWT is not the flesh or the blood, rather it is the Taqwa from you that reaches Him SWT. So the animal is a Syi’ar, the act of sacrifice, the blood and meat of the animal and the sharing of the meat are all Syi’ar. However, what reaches Allah SWT is not the Syi’ar, it is the Taqwa in the heart.

We build majestic and modern mosques as Syi’ar of Allah, thinking that this is honouring the Syi’ar. But what is the point of these symbols if there is no Taqwa in the heart? What is honoured by Allah SWT is not the beauty of the mosques. Rather, it is how filled our hearts are with Taqwa in honouring the house of Allah.

We pray many raka’at each day in Salah. However, the actions we perform in Salah are not considered honouring the Syi’ar of Allah if they are not accompanied by Taqwa in our hearts for Allah SWT. May Allah SWT fill our hearts with Taqwa that might guide us throughout life’s journey. Ameen.

We have now completed the section on Hajj and will now move on to the verse for today.

The Satanic Verses

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ وَلَا نَبِيٍّ إِلَّا إِذَا تَمَنَّىٰ أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَانُ فِي أُمْنِيَّتِهِ فَيَنسَخُ اللَّهُ مَا يُلْقِي الشَّيْطَانُ ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

Never did We send a Messenger or a Prophet before you, but when he held a certain desire, Satan threw (some whispers which bring corruption) in it. But Allah abolishes that which Satan throws in. Then Allah establishes His Revelations. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise [22:52]

There is a story behind this verse. This story is one that has come up in many debates amongst the scholars. This is a story that is baseless according to some scholars of hadith. My own Tafsir professors at Al-Azhar University say that this story does not have a strong basis.  However, it is often mentioned by scholars of Tafsir.

I will be going through this story, but as a disclaimer, I want you to listen first before immediately accepting what is being said. Hold a neutral and objective stance as you listen. The reason why I am sharing this with you, even though I myself hold the view that this story should not be accepted, is that this is a story that is often used by people as a tool to insert uncertainty towards the Book of Allah SWT.

We can hear this story often on social media, on blogs or on websites that try to bring evidence to weaken the Aqidah of the believers. May Allah SWT protect our faith and strengthen our Aqidah insyaa Allah.

In Surah An-Najm, verses 19 to 21, Allah SWT says:

أَفَرَأَيْتُمُ اللَّاتَ وَالْعُزَّىٰ

So have you considered al-Lat and al-‘Uzza? [53:19]

وَمَنَاةَ الثَّالِثَةَ الْأُخْرَىٰ

And Manat, the third – the other one? [53:20]

أَلَكُمُ الذَّكَرُ وَلَهُ الْأُنثَىٰ

Do you (prefer to) have sons while (you attribute) to Him daughters? [53:21]

تِلْكَ إِذًا قِسْمَةٌ ضِيزَىٰ

That indeed were an unfair division!  [53:22]

So the Arabs during the times of ignorance used to worship many idols. The main three idols were Al-Lat, Al-‘Uzza and Manat. These three idols were considered by the idolaters to be “daughters of God”. The Arabs used to hate having daughters so much so that they would bury new-born baby girls alive. Yet, they attributed the “children of Allah” to be female. These were the verses revealed by Allah SWT.

The Story presented by Imam At-Tabari

There is a story that is written in several books, including that of Imam At-Tabari, one of the earliest of tafsir texts and a very well-referenced text by the tafsir scholars after him. It was claimed that when Rasulullah SAW received these verses of revelation and was relaying them to the people, he SAW heard whispers from Shaitan that made his tongue slip and caused him to add verses into the text that were not originally revealed by Allah. It was said that after reciting verse 20, Rasulullah SAW accidentally added in what is called the Gharaniq verse:

 تِلْكَ الْغَرَانِيقُ الْعُلَى وَإِنَّ شَفَاعَتَهُنَّ لَتُرْتَجَى

These are the exalted gods, whose intercession is hoped for.

In reality, in the verses after verse 20, Allah SWT criticised these idols. In the story, after Rasulullah SAW had recited these verses, he bowed in Sajda. The Muslims behind him followed as well. It was said that when the disbelievers heard this “verse” being recited by the Prophet SAW, they got excited saying that this is the first time that Muhammad SAW was praising and honouring their idols. The disbelievers then followed the Prophet SAW and bowed in prostration as well along with the believers.

According to this narration, only then did Rasulullah SAW notice his mistake that came out of Shaitan’s whispers. It was then that Surah Al-Hajj verse 32 was said to be revealed, to comfort the Prophet SAW after he had made the slip of the tongue. The verse reassures the Prophet SAW that whatever was said by Shaitan has been corrected. This was what was said by Imam At-Tabari in his book.

The Inauthenticity of this Story

When other Tafsir scholars studied this narration and researched upon this story, they reviewed and did further study upon the texts of the past. Imam Ibn Kathir, another prominent Tafsir scholar, wrote a famous book of Tafsir using a similar method as Imam At-Tabari. Unlike Imam At-Tabari though, Imam Ibn Kathir ensured that he vetted the sources he cites.

He mentions that this particular narration does not have with it any strong evidence or legitimate chain of transmission. Imam Ibn Kathir firmly denied this incident ever having taken place in the life of Rasulullah SAW. Imam Fakhruddin Ar-Razi in his book also presented many evidences to reject this narration. Imam Al-Qurtubi similarly rejected this incident.

Even Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, a prominent scholar of hadith, strongly rejects this narration saying that there is no evidence to support this story. Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani states that it is stated, in an authentic hadith of Sahih Al-Bukhari, that when the verses of Surah An-Najm were recited by Rasulullah SAW up until verse 20, the disbelievers of Quraysh thought that Rasulullah SAW was praising their idols; they therefore bowed in prostration to honour their gods.

When Rasulullah SAW recited the verses that followed, only then did they realise that the verses were meant to critique them. So, the narration of the disbelievers falling into prostration upon hearing these verses is authentic, but there is no mention of the “satanic verses” in this hadith.

Now, setting all of that aside, let us look at the logic behind this story. How can we say that the Prophet SAW had made a mistake in sharing the revelation of Allah SWT? How can we accept the claim that Rasulullah SAW could have accidentally said out something that was whispered by Shaitan? How weak is our Aqidah for us to believe such falsehood? The scholars outrightly reject such a narration for this reason.

It is possible that Imam At-Tabari mentioned this narration in his book without commenting upon its authenticity, so that it will become an obligation for scholars after him to study the story. The fact is that such a narration does exist. Its authenticity, however, was not stated in At-Tabari’s book.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, as readers and learners, we need to be able to question our sources and to look deeper beyond what is presented, even when it comes to influential books from prominent scholars; we need to be able to apply our own filters to the knowledge we get.

However, not everyone is equipped with the skills and tools to do so. Someone who does not have the mastery of the Arabic language, the knowledge of Usul Tafsir, or even the foundations needed to learn religion, will not be able to do this.

So, what can we do? We can learn under the tutelage of someone with knowledge. When learning the Deen, the more we learn, the more aware we become of our how limited our knowledge is. This is why someone who truly seeks knowledge realises that the more he learns, the lower he brings himself in front of Allah SAW. Whenever he enters a new door that has never been entered by people, he realises that there are so many more doors left unopen behind the first door.

So this is a word you need to pay attention to. Whenever you see this word, الْغَرَانِيقُ , “Al-Gharaniq” you need to be aware. The verse that was said to have been slipped by Shaitan through the lips of Rasulullah SAW is referred to as Gharaniq, or a ‘Satanic verse’, particularly by disbelievers whose primary aim is to incite uncertainty and doubt in the faith of Muslims.

If you’d like to find out a bit more, there is a deeper discussion by Imam Fakhruddin Ar-Razi that is cited by Professor Hamka in his book Tafsir Al-Azhar under verse 52 of Surah Al-Hajj. If you have this book, you can read the handful of pages regarding this verse and supposed incident.

He ends this section saying that Sayid Qutub in his book, Tafsir fi Zilalil Qur’an, gives us a reminder that this story is one that is often spoken about by the Orientalists, whose primary aim is to instil doubt in the hearts of believers. To be fair, even though many orientalists do stand by this story, there are some who also maintain that this story has no scientific or historical backing.

Hold onto the Truth

As believers, we hold onto the principal that the Qur’an is an honoured book. Allah SWT tells us, in Surah An-Najm, about Rasulullah SAW, that:

وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ

He does not speak (not even a little bit) from his own desire. [53:3]

إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ

The Quran is nothing less than a revelation that is sent to him. [53:4]

So hold firmly to this truth. It is ok to read extensively. Perhaps you go to the internet to learn about the disbelievers’ perspective on Islam, be it orientalists or not. Some of these sources can be objective and neutral. Others, especially those who speak of things such as the Gharaniq verses, are not safe from ill-intent. So be careful and aware; take precaution when learning.

As previously mentioned, we do not have sufficient time to go further in depth, but we will resume insyaa Allah next week, to answer your questions and to discuss about the actual Tafsir behind Surah Al-Hajj verse 52.

So, we pray that Allah SWT distances us from ignorance, that He SWT may guide us, and protect us from the illness of doubt and uncertainty. We pray that we may be given knowledge that benefits and that we may be able apply whatever we have learnt, and that this knowledge may only increase us in our faith and belief in Allah SWT.

May Allah SWT extend our lives so that we may meet once again next week. I want you to know, my brothers and sisters, that I love you all, for the sake of Allah SWT. We pray that Allah SWT does not only bless our companionship in this world, but that He SWT also reunites us together in Paradise with Rasulullah SAW in the hereafter. 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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