Interpretation of Sura Cow - Verse 197
No warfare during the Pilgrimage Months - Warning against the hypocrites Further instructions regarding Hajj - Invitation to complete submission to God (i.e. Islam) ;
197. " (The performance of) the Hajj (Pilgrimage) is in months well-known, whosoever then undertakes (to perform) the Hajj therein, then let there be no intercourse, nor indulge in ungodliness, nor disputing in the Hajj. And whatever good you do, Allah knows it. And make provision, but surely the best provision is the piety. So, have awe of Me, O' people of understanding."
" (The performance of) the Hajj (Pilgrimage) is in months well-known, ..." In this verse, the Qur'an remarks that the rites of Pilgrimage (Hajj) should be fulfilled in certain months of the year not throughout it. The books of tradition, Qur'an commentary, and jurisprudence say that this great worship can be fulfilled only in Shawwal, Zil-Qa'dah, and during the first ten days of Zil-Hajjah, (a part of which relates exclusively to the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth days of the month and another part of it can be performed during this whole length of time) . " ... whosoever then undertakes (to perform) the Hajj therein, then let there be no intercourse, nor indulge in ungodliness, nor disputing in the Hajj. ..."
This part of the verse indicates that those who have made the performance of Pilgrimage (Hajj) obligatory for themselves, by putting on pilgrim's garb and engaging in the rites of Pilgrimage, should restrain themselves from enjoying even lawful sexual association and committing wickedness. They must avoid obscene and vain debates or foul speech and all that appertains thereto, because the place is the site of worship, sincerity, and abandoning the material worldly pleasures. It is an environment from where the spirit must gain strength and, separating from the world of material entirely, find way into the world of super material. This status should be in a manner that the relation of brotherhood and alliance can be tightened.
Then, it adds:
" ... And whatever good you do, Allah knows it. ... " This is the first reward which is given to a good doer, because the happiness of a true believer is, in the first stage, to know that his Lord is aware of the good action that the one has done for His sake. This, by itself, is very delightful and delectable. " ... And make provision, but surely the best provision is the piety. ... " In this part of the verse the command unto the believers is due to making provision.
It is said that at the advent of Islam some people, particularly from Yemen, used to journey to Mecca on pilgrimage without sufficient provisions for their sustenance on the pretence that they trusted in Allah's help. But Allah gives sustenance through natural ways and by ordinary means. So, in this section of the verse, the Qur'an enjoins upon the pilgrims to first make the necessary provisions for the whole journey and then, taking it with them, proceed.
By the way, the term 'making provision' may point to a spiritual aspect, meaning that besides this material provision there is another necessary provision which should be made and that is the provision of 'piety' and 'righteousness' .
This phrase contains a narrow hint to this fact that in the journey of Pilgrimage there are many instances for making spiritual provision which should not be neglected. In Mecca, the illustration of Islam, the lively scenes of the self-sacrifices of Abraham, the hero of theism, and some specific manifestation of the splendour of Allah are seen, the which that can be comprehended in no other place. Those who have a vigil spirit can gain spiritual provisions from this unique journey for their life in this world as well as the coming one. Then, it concludes the verse by saying:
" ... So, have awe of Me, O' people of understanding." This final phrase addresses the possessors of mind and intellect telling them that they should be pious, because it is they who enjoy the utmost merits of this excellent educational process, while others only share a small portion of it.
Adapted from the book: "The Light of The Quran - Interpretation of Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow)" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and A Group of Muslim Scholars"
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