Lecture by Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Sameera
This lecture is brought to you by the Memphis Islamic Center (MIC). For more information about MIC, please visit www.memphisislamiccenter.org
[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s lecture on The Fiqh of Hajj and Practical Advice for Hajj. The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]
Alḥamdulillāh we are very, very honored and blessed that some amongst us are going for Ḥajj. Of course we ask that you remember all of your Muslim brothers and sisters in du‘ā’, especially those in Memphis and especially those who taught and helped you in the Ḥajj inshā’Allāh.
The topic of Ḥajj is a very, very complex and detailed topic. It is a mix of fiqh and spirituality. Unfortunately, we only have one hour, so I will try to summarize the main points of Ḥajj. Of course before we begin, we must understand and realize that Ḥajj is one of the greatest actions of worship. In fact, some scholars say that the most blessed action that any Muslim can do is the Ḥajj. The most blessed action of a non-Muslim is to accept Islam, but from within Islam, the most blessed action is the Ḥajj. That is because the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “An accepted Ḥajj has no reward other than Jannah.” In other words, if you have the Ḥajj accepted, then you will get Jannah. No other action has been placed to that level where an accepted action has nothing other than Jannah.
You all know the famous ḥadīth of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam): “Whoever performs Ḥajj and he doesn’t do rafath and fisq, he shall return back just like the day his mother gave birth to him.” Rafath means primarily here to engage in lewd things. There is also the connotation of intercourse and that which is lesser than that. Fisq is sins. He controls his anger. He does not backbite.
These aḥadīth and others show us the importance and the blessings of doing Ḥajj. That is why the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) encouraged us to go for Ḥajj. We know that the bare minimum is once in a lifetime for whoever is capable to do so. If you are able to do so even more, then alḥamdulillāh this is even better.
We begin by some basic fiqh, but before I begin with the fiqh, I want to tell you a very simple point. Ḥajj is not the time to try to study the different opinions of any issue. You will become so confused. You need to stick with one authority and remain that way because Shayṭān will come: “One ‘ālim says this; one ‘ālim says that. Is my Ḥajj accepted or not?” You have to be certain that if you asked an ‘ālim and he gave you an answer, then you are free in the eyes of Allah. If the ‘ālim made a mistake, then that is between him and Allah. My point being that one of the most common problems of Ḥajj is “Do I have to give a hady, do I have to give a dhamm or not? One ‘ālim says yes and another ‘ālim says no. Is my Ḥajj accepted or not? Is this wājib or is this not wājib?”
Now is not the time to do your research for different madh-habs. Now is not the time to become an expert in the madh-habs. You need to choose one opinion and one scholar and one methodology and go with it.
You have obviously come to this lesson; therefore, I will be teaching what I believe is the strongest position in this issue about the arkān, wājibāt, and sunan of Ḥajj. Some of what I say might be strange to you, and you might have heard other things. Now you need to make a choice. Do you wish to follow the position I will say or another scholar? That is your choice, not mine. Let me just say that alḥamdulillāh Allah has blessed me to do Ḥajj more than ten times, and I have studied the fiqh of Ḥajj in extensive detail and have gone as a mu‘āllim and as a guide over ten times. Therefore, hundreds of questions have come. My point is that I am not speaking from theory. I am speaking from practice and years of experience as well. If you take it, alḥamdulillāh, and if you wish to take another opinion, alḥamdulillāh as well. Let us begin.
Ḥajj consists of specific actions that are done in specific days. The first of these actions is to enter into a special state called the state of iḥrām. This is the first action of Ḥajj: you enter into the state of iḥrām. This state of iḥrām is a spiritual state and not necessarily a physical one. Once you have entered into iḥrām, certain things that were ḥalāl now become ḥarām for you. Certain things that were permissible become ḥarām, and that is why it is called iḥrām – there is a ḥaram and a sanctity that you cannot do certain things that are otherwise ḥalāl.
There are specific areas outside of Makkah where you enter into the state of iḥrām. For you guys traveling from America, you don’t have to worry about that. The pilot will tell you, “We are entering the state of iḥrām.” Or if he doesn’t tell you, you may enter into the state of iḥrām basically half an hour to twenty minutes before the plane is supposed to land. If you are landing in Jeddah, please note – and every one of you will land in Jeddah – that the state of iḥrām is outside Jeddah. You cannot land in Jeddah without entering the state of iḥrām – this is a problem. You must already be in the state of iḥrām.
If you are going by Saudi Airlines or PIA or any Muslim airline in the month of Ḥajj, I can guarantee you the pilot will make an announcement: “We are about to enter the state of iḥrām in 15 minutes / 20 minutes / half an hour.” Therefore, there is no problem. If you are going by Lufthansa or KLM, most likely the pilot will not make such an announcement – you never know, maybe they will these days, but most likely they will not. It is not very difficult – [you enter into iḥrāmi] literally ten or fifteen minutes before the expected time of arrival when the pilot says, “Fasten your seat belts; we are on our way down.” The mīqāt is just a little bit outside of Jeddah and not too far outside of Jeddah; therefore, when the plane is descending, you may enter iḥrām before the mīqāt without a problem, but you cannot enter iḥrām after the mīqāt. You don’t have to enter iḥrām exactly on the spot. Your plane is going 500 miles/hr, and you are not going to enter the mīqāt exactly at the pinpoint. Rather, you enter into iḥrām ten minutes before the plane lands and you will be fine.
What should be done in iḥrām? By the way, if it so happens that you pass the state of iḥrām – you pass the mīqāt without saying “Labbayk allāhumma labbayk,” without making the talbiyah of Ḥajj – then you have missed a wājib.
Take this as a rule: Any time you miss a wājib, you may make it up by giving a sacrifice.
Your Ḥajj will still be accepted. Take this as a rule. By definition, something that is wājib can be made up. What cannot be made up is something in Arabic called a rukn (pillar). I want you to memorize two different words: rukn and wājib. If you miss a rukn, you have no Ḥajj. You cannot make up a rukn. It is like praying without going into sajdah and you are capable of it – there is no ṣalāh. You cannot pray without going into sajdah. You must have the rukn.
Ḥajj has rukn and wājibāt. Entering into iḥrām at the mīqāt is wājib. So suppose you fell asleep and you woke up and the plane is landing in Jeddah, it is not as if your Ḥajj is gone. Breathe, alḥamdulillāh, relax. You have missed a wājib. You enter into iḥrām in Jeddah, but you must pay a sacrifice, a badn. A badn can be any type of animal that is commonly sacrificed. A camel or a cow are very expensive. A sheep, a goat, and a lamb is generally what is done, and that is basically $150 these days. If you miss multiple items, you must give multiple hadys.
You enter into the state of iḥrām. It is sunnah – and when I say sunnah, it means you should do it, but if you don’t there is no sin and your Ḥajj is complete. You all know sunnah means you should do it, but if you don’t do it, no problem. It is sunnah to take a bath before wearing the iḥrām. On the plane you cannot take a bath, so you take a bath before you leave the house and that will do the job.
It is sunnah to purify yourself completely, which means you shave your pubic hair and you trim your nails before you enter into iḥrām because you are not allowed to do it while in iḥrām, so you want to be pure in that state.
[For men,] it is sunnah to perfume yourself before entering iḥrām. In other words, when you take the bath, before you enter into iḥrām you perfume yourself – not a problem. You put the perfume on your body and not on your iḥrām. You may have perfume on you – you should have perfume on you; this is sunnah. ‘Ā’ishah says, “I was the one who put perfume on the body of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) before he entered into iḥrām.” It is sunnah to have perfume on your body before you enter into iḥrām.
On the plane you might not be able to do all of these sunnahs. You will not lose anything of Ḥajj because this is sunnah.
Entering into Iḥrām
How do you enter into iḥrām? For men, they should wear two unstitched cloths. The first misconception is on what “unstitched” means. A lot of people think that there can be no sewing done on the cloth. This is completely false and a myth. The iḥrām that you wear will have sewing done on the side. Sometimes the iḥrām that you wear will have decorations and designs on it. It doesn’t nullify the iḥrām.
“Unstitched” is an incorrect translation of the Arabic. What the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) forbade was to wear a garment that covers a limb, such as it has a sleeve or a pant leg. This is what is prohibited. You have a garment that has a specific section for a limb that is a hand or a leg. Pants, shirts, t-shirts, and underwear are not allowed. This is the meaning of “unstitched” and not that there is no needlework done on it. The iḥrām that you wear has needlework done on the side of it. Unstitched means that it should not be like a cloth that is covering you, which is why the iḥrām is open. If you were to cover it, this would be stitched. For those of you who are from India and Pakistan, the lungi is a type of stitched cloth – an izār that is closed, whereas the iḥrām is an izār that is open.
This is what a man should wear: two unstitched cloths of any color. In our days you only find white, but the Sharī‘ah did not come necessarily with white. You may wear any color. In fact, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had other colors as well other than white.
For women, they wear their regular clothes and regular dresses. There is no restriction on the clothing for women except the face and the hands should not be covered with a stitched garment. For those sisters who do wear the niqāb, there is a way they may cover their face with an unstitched garment.
How does one enter into iḥrām? One verbalizes by the tongue: “Labbayk allāhumma Ḥajjatan wa ‘Umrah.” Or you can just say, “Labbayk allāhumma labbayk.” Basically saying “labbayk” causes you to enter into iḥrām. Preferably, you should be wearing this garment.
Let’s be realistic here. Suppose your plane is stopping in Amsterdam or London. When the plane stops, you are wearing your pant and shirt, and then wherever your plane stops, you go and you wear the iḥrām but you don’t say “labbayk” because you are not in iḥrām right now. You get on the plane completely regular and normal. Five or ten minutes before you land – just to be on the safe side, I say fifteen minutes, but in reality, it is five minutes before landing – you say “labbayk allāhumma labbayk.” You may enter into iḥrām before the mīqāt. It can be twenty or thirty minutes [before landing] to be on the safe side. You say, “labbayk allāhumma labbayk.” Once you say “labbayk,” that’s it. You are now in the state of iḥrām.
Three Types of Ḥajj
There are three types of Ḥajj you can do. Ninety percent of the people who will go from the West or the East will perform Ḥajj tamattu‘, so we will talk about Ḥajj tamattu‘. There is [also] Ḥajj qirān and Ḥajj ifrād. It is very easy to understand the difference. Most people when they go for Ḥajj want to also do an ‘Umrah. This is called tamattu‘. You do an ‘Umrah and then you get out of iḥrām and then you do a Ḥajj. You do Ḥajj plus ‘Umrah with a gap in the middle.
Ḥajj qirān is Ḥajj and ‘Umrah without a gap in the middle. Ḥajj ifrād is no ‘Umrah and just Ḥajj. It is very simple and not that complicated. Ḥajj tamattu‘, you do ‘Umrah and take a gap of three, four, five days. Some people go to Madīnah, or you just worship and pray. ‘Umrah takes half an hour or one hour. If you are really busy and slow, it is a maximum of an hour and a half.
After you finish the ‘Umrah, you get out of iḥrām, and you may live a normal life until the 8th day of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah, which is the first day of Ḥajj and when you enter into the iḥrām again. This is Ḥajj tamattu‘. Tamattu‘ means enjoyment. Why is tamattu‘ called tamattu‘? Because you get to enjoy a regular life in between the Ḥajj and ‘Umrah. You are having enjoyment and there is no prohibition on you. This is the Ḥajj I will describe.
Ḥajj tamattu‘ is the best type of Ḥajj. Why? Because you do Ḥajj and ‘Umrah both. This is why 90% of the Muslims when they go for Ḥajj, they do Ḥajj tamattu‘.
Prohibitions in Iḥrām
You enter into iḥrām five or ten minutes before Jeddah. You pray two rakʿahs.
What is prohibited upon you when you enter into the state of iḥrām? Nine things. Three or four of them we don’t have to worry about, so it basically boils down to a few things.
1. Shaving or trimming the hair.
You are not allowed to shave or trim the hair. The brothers who shave regularly cannot shave in the state of iḥrām. You cannot go to the barber in the state of iḥrām. This prohibition also applies to women.
2. Trimming the nails.
This also applies to women.
3. For men only: Wearing a sewn garment.
We explained what a sewn garment means. It is a pant or a shirt. This only applies to men. Women wear their regular clothes – shalwar kameez or whatever they are wearing. There is no prohibition on that. Their skirts, blouses, dresses or whatever they are used to wearing culturally is what they will continue to wear in their iḥrām.
4. For men only: covering the hair.
You cannot wear a cap or any type of turban. Anything on the head is not allowed. For women, of course they wear their ḥijāb.
5. Perfume. This applies to clothes and body. You avoid perfume.
6, 7, 8, 9 are understood without problem.
6. You are not allowed to hunt.
7. You are not allowed to get married in a state of iḥrām.
Generally people don’t go to Makkah in Dhu’l-Ḥijjah to find a spouse, so we don’t have to worry about that.
8. Any type of sexual foreplay with your spouse.
In the state of iḥrām, you cannot kiss and you cannot touch with desire. You may touch without desire. You may hold your wife’s hand so that you don’t get lost. You may protect your wife from the crowd by basically holding her. During ṭawāf, it is very necessary for a husband to protect his wife because there is too much shoving and jostling. Touching is allowed, but sexual touching and foreplay is not allowed.
9. Intercourse with your wife.
This is one of the most severe penalties. This will nullify the Ḥajj in the state of iḥrām. If you sexually kiss or touch, this will not nullify, which is why this is separate. If you have intercourse, then this nullifies because that is exactly the point: you don’t reach the level of rafath.
What if you do one of these issues besides hunting and nikāḥ (which are not relevant here)?
Hair and Nails
The first point: when we talk about the hair – now please pay attention, I know what you have heard is separate than what I am about to tell you. It is up to you whether you trust me or not, but as I said, I have done research and I have done plenty of Ḥajjs. What is prohibited is to intentionally cut or trim the hair and the nails. People go to ridiculous extremes and if they scratch and a hair falls down they think their Ḥajj is nullified or something like this. Or if the nail is a little bit broken accidentally, then they are worried because, as you know, when your nails grow, something might scratch it and your nail gets bent. What can you do with a bent nail now? They wrap their nail in a band-aid to make sure the nail doesn’t break any more. This is going to extremes. Anything that is unintentional is overlooked.
Additionally, there seems to be no prohibition whatsoever for a gentle combing for men and for women. The prohibition is ḥalq, and that is to cut and to shave. There seems to be no prohibition for a combing. Therefore, if you do comb and a hair or two falls off, this is not ḥalq or going to the barber and is overlooked.
If you intentionally shave or trim and there is a reason or no reason – if there is no reason to do so, then you are sinful. If there is a reason to do so, then you are not sinful. In both cases, you must give a penalty. What is a reason? In those days, once upon a time, there was lice. Unfortunately it is still around but not that common. If you have lice, let’s say, or if you have an irritation in the scalp, or if there is any issue that causes you to basically shave your hair off. It is any type of issue. Suppose you get a wound, let’s say, and you go to the local clinic and he shaves your hair off to put some stitches while you are in a state of iḥrām. This is a reason, correct? You are not sinful, but you must pay the fidyah.
What is the fidyah? Fidyah for this is one of three things. The most difficult in terms of money is to pay the whole sacrifice, but it is not wājib to do so for something as trivial as this, and the Sharī‘ah has given you an option – one of three things. It is not first #1 then #2 and then #3. You may choose whichever of the three. You may give a penalty of a sacrifice, which is $150, or you may fast three days after Ḥajj when you come back home or you may feed six people. Of course 90% of the people if they fall into it, they feed six people. The Sharī‘ah does not say that you have to be poor or rich – any of these three are allowed.
How do you feed six people? Very simple. Go to the local shawarma shop – I kid you not – and you buy six shawarmas and you walk around in Mina, Muzdalifah, and ‘Arafāh and give it to the poor people sitting there who have no roof over their head, and you have fed six people. Simple, right? You have fed six poor people. You don’t have to buy shawarma. I am just giving you an example. You can buy McDonald’s hamburger. There is a McDonald’s in Mina. You can buy a McDonald’s hamburger and french fries or a happy meal and give it to the kids there, and you have fed six people. You can buy it yourself, or you can designate somebody to go and purchase it. In our times, many restaurants actually have a special section, believe it or not. It is a money-making business. They have a special fidyah section and you go and give the money, and there is a section in the back where they give the poor people the food. Whatever you do, basically you have to feed six people. This is the easiest thing to do, and it is completely permissible.
So we said, if you cut your hair or trim your nails for a legitimate reason or for no reason, you must give a fidyah. It must have been done intentionally. It is done unintentionally, then there is no fidyah. Like I said, if you scratch your head and a hair falls off, or if your nail scratches against the wall and breaks, there is no fidyah whatsoever. Also, there is nothing from the Sunnah about the concept of three hairs. Cutting and shaving is understood. If you go to the barber, you are cutting your hair. If you shave, you shave. Simply combing or touching does not necessitate a fidyah. There is no evidence whatsoever that combing is not allowed in the iḥrām. Sisters may comb and brothers may comb. I have done Ḥajj, and I take my comb with me. Back then māshā’Allāh I had a very big beard, and I would comb my beard every day in Ḥajj, and I don’t see a problem with that.
The second issue that we said is wearing a stitched garment. Similarly, if you wear a stitched garment intentionally – the key point is intentionally – then you must also pay the same fidyah, one of these three things. However, if it is done unintentionally… How can it be done unintentionally? Suppose at Muzdalifah it is very cold at night and there is no tent over you. You are shivering and you forget about it and pull a sweater out of your backpack and put it on. Somebody says, “Astaghfirullāh akhi, you are wearing a stitched garment!” You say, “Oh, astaghfirullāh.” There is no fidyah because Allah says, “Whatever you have done accidentally, Allah has forgiven it.” The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allah has raised from my ummah anything that they have done accidentally and by mistake and somebody forced them to do it.” If you accidentally or mistakenly wear a stitched garment, there is nothing on you for men.
Similarly, suppose it is very, very hot and you are walking in the sun and just take a cap out to put it on and wear it in the sun. Somebody says, “Akhi, you are wearing a cap!” You take it off. Once again it was unintentional. There is no fidyah whatsoever because you didn’t do it intentionally.
Suppose you did it intentionally for a reason. This is another point people need to understand: The Sharī‘ah allows people to break these codes if there is a legitimate reason. Ka‘b b. Ujrah was a companion and was suffering from lice. He thought, like many of us think, that even if you are dying you cannot break the iḥrām. The lice were so much that they were jumping off of his head and falling on his clothes. It was causing immense suffering. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saw him and said, “Go shave your hair and give a fidyah. Don’t kill yourself over this.” From this, the scholars say if Muzdalifah is freezing cold and you need to wear a jacket or a sweater, then wear a jacket or a sweater and give a fidyah. This is for men, obviously. Women have no issue.
The Sharī‘ah is not telling you to be backward and go crazy over this. The Sharī‘ah is saying don’t do this except for a legitimate reason. If there is a legitimate reason, then do it and pay the fidyah. When there is a legitimate reason – some people might feel like fainting, let’s say, and may want to cover their head. Go ahead and cover your head if you think you will not faint because of it and then give the fidyah later on. Allah has not made our religion so difficult. The ḥadīth of Ka‘b shows us when there is a need, you may do it, and then you may give the fidyah.
Similarly, once four, five or six years ago there was the swine flu, and a lot of ḥujjāj were wearing the surgical mask. No problem – wear it and give the fidyah. There is a legitimate reason. You don’t want to go back with this disease. The scholars said there is no problem. En masse the ḥujjāj can go ahead and wear it, but you still have to give a fidyah. You are not sinful because there is a legitimate reason to cover the face or do something of this nature.
Similarly, when you are going to sleep, you may put a blanket on top of you. But, by the way, maybe this is a strict position of mine, I don’t think a sleeping bag that you zipper up is allowed because to me, that would be a garment covering you, but you may have a sleeping bag that you don’t zipper up. In other words, you just fold it on you. This only applies for men and not for women. Fold the sleeping bag on yourself without zipping it up. Some scholars say a sleeping bag is allowed, but personally I like to avoid it, but you may use it, as I said, without zipping it up.
Once again, if it gets cold – and Muzdalifah sometimes gets very cold and there are no tents and no roof; you are sleeping in the middle of the desert. Once in a while Muzdalifah will get close to freezing and there is wind blowing and sometimes I’ve been in Muzdalifah when it has been raining and drizzling. It is not a pleasant place to be when it is cold and wet. In such a case, you wear the clothing and give the fidyah – no problem.
The next issue is perfume. Once again, people go to crazy extremes. What is prohibited is that you apply perfume to yourself in a state of iḥrām. If you do this accidentally, then you take off the garment, wash it, and wear it again. There is no fidyah. If it is on your body, then go and wash your body. You may take a bath during your iḥrām. There was a dispute amongst the sahabah about whether they should take a bath or not. They went to Abu Ayyūb Al-Anṣāri. Lo and behold, he was taking a bath while in a state of iḥrām. That resolved the dispute right then and there. He said, “I saw the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) take a bath while in a state of iḥrām.” You may take a bath or ghusl while in the state of iḥrām.
If you put perfume accidentally, as soon as you remember or somebody reminds you, go and wash, and there is no fidyah. If you put it on intentionally – and there might be a legitimate reason: suppose your iḥrām is stinking and filthy and you don’t have a second one. By the way, my advice for men is to get two iḥrāms. Have a clean one with you in the backpack and one that you are wearing because you will be in a state of iḥrām in Ḥajj for three days and believe me, within the first day or two it will be completely filthy, so it is good to have another iḥrām, and you may substitute and discard the other one or wash it.
Sometimes it might be that it is necessary to apply some perfume because you are sleeping in a tent with ten other men and maybe you aren’t smelling very nice and there is a maṣlaḥah (overwhelming need) that you don’t stink so bad. If that is the case, then you apply it and pay the fidyah. These are allowed for necessity and prohibited for no reason. In both cases, you have to give a fidyah.
What is a fidyah? It is one of three things:
- Sacrifice. This is the most expensive. You may do it, but it is not wājib to do only that.
- Fast three days when you come back. You don’t have to fast in Makkah.
- Feed six people.
If you are going to feed the people, the fidyah should be preferably the people of Makkah and the poor people in Ḥajj at that time, but it is not wājib and you may feed people when you come back. The most convenient and best thing to do is feed people while you are there. This fasting should be done when you come back and should not be done during Ḥajj.
We talked about iḥrām and the issues of iḥrām. We have now landed in Jeddah, these nine things are prohibited, and we are now going to Makkah. The first thing you are going to do is finish your ‘Umrah. This is your ‘Umrah of tamattu‘. It is a complete, separate unit. You will finish your ‘Umrah, leave the state of iḥrām, wear your normal clothes, and live your normal life until the 8th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah. If you were to go right now to Makkah, then you will do ‘Umrah tomorrow and be out of the state of iḥrām tomorrow night and remain outside of iḥrām until the 8th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah.
If you were to go on the 6th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah and land on the 7th, it is basically the same thing. You will do ‘Umrah on the 7th, leave the state of iḥrām on the night of the 7th, and on the morning of the 8th you will re-enter iḥrām. It doesn’t matter how long the gap is. It may be one hour or two months – it has to be after Ramadan. You cannot go before Ramadan for tamattu‘.
We go to Makkah and do ‘Umrah. ‘Umrah is very easy: ṭawāf, sa‘y, and trimming of the hair. The scholars say that if you are doing tamattu‘, then when you finish your ‘Umrah, you should not shave because you should keep the shaving for the Ḥajj. If you shave your hair, within seven days you won’t have hair for Ḥajj.
You trim. This is a problem because 90% of the barbers want to shave your hair with the machine because it takes ten seconds. You need to go and find a place. Barbers charge you four or five times the price, and sometimes they charge you ten times the cost of a haircut off-season, but that is their business, and they earn their year’s keep during Ḥajj. Find a barber and tell him that you only want to cut with scissors. Make sure because most of them just want to use the machine.
Scholars say that if you are going to do tamattu‘, then you should delay the shaving for the Ḥajj because that is more preferred. You do your ṭawāf and your sa‘y and then trim your hair. The concept of taking one bit from different parts of your head doesn’t seem to be correct. You must do a proper trim and proper haircut. My personal position is that it is not permissible to simply cut one bit from different parts. A lot of people do that, but this is not the goal of the Sharī‘ah. The goal of the Sharī‘ah is that you shed your hair or get rid or your hair or at least you trim it. Go to a proper barber, or you can go to your hotel and have somebody do it for you if you all agree to do so. I have done it many times where we all become barbers at Ḥajj instead of paying 50 riyals or 100 riyals. We just do it ourselves quickly, and it is permissible. Believe me, nobody cares about your fashion during Ḥajj, so it’s no big deal.
[Note: For women, they cut off the tip of the finger’s length of hair, basically ¼” or ½” from the end of the hair.]
In that ‘Umrah, that is the ṭawāf where you will expose the right shoulder and will put the iḥrām underneath the right shoulder. You will walk the first three times extra fast. This is only in theory. In reality, you cannot walk as fast as you want; you will walk as fast as the crowd wants. There is a difference between theory and reality. Just worry about showing the right arm as sunnah. If you don’t show the right arm, no big deal because it is sunnah but it doesn’t ruin your Ḥajj at all and has nothing to do with the Ḥajj.
You do your ṭawāf and your sa‘y. You don’t have to do your ṭawāf and sa‘y back to back. You may take a break. You may rest, drink and go out and eat, but you are not going to leave iḥrām until you trim. If you finish the sa‘y and don’t trim, you are not outside of iḥrām. You don’t have to cut your hair immediately and may go buy a shawarma if you are really hungry, but you are still in a state of iḥrām until you trim your hair.
Once you trim your hair, you are out of the state of iḥrām. Therefore, you go back home and take a bath and put all the perfume you want on and wear your regular clothes, and everything is ḥalāl for you. There is no prohibition because you are now back to the regular state. That is why tamattu‘ is called tamattu‘ – because you enjoy this middle period.
Difference Between Going to Makkah First and Going to Madīnah First
For most groups that come from the Western lands, they will first go to Makkah and do the ‘Umrah and then they will go to Madīnah and come back. Some groups go to Madīnah first. Therefore, if your group is going to Madīnah first, then you don’t have to worry about iḥrām when you land in Jeddah because you are not entering Makkah. You are going to Madīnah. If you are going to Madīnah first, you don’t have to worry about iḥrām, which is why a lot of ḥujjāj try to find a group that is going to Madīnah first because it saves them the hassle of entering iḥrām on an airplane. When you go to Madīnah, it is outside of the mīqāt. When you land in Jeddah, you will take a bus or a plane to Madīnah. It doesn’t matter that Jeddah is inside the mīqāt because you are going to leave and come back in again. If you go to Madīnah first, you don’t have to worry about iḥrām.
Right outside of Madīnah there is a place called Dhu’l-Ḥulayfah. Every single bus and taxi driver will stop there and say that this is the place of iḥrām, so there you go and pray two rakaʿāt and wear your iḥrām and move on. You may put your iḥrām on when you are in Madīnah, but you say “labbayk” when you are in Dhu’l-Ḥulayfah. I can wear the iḥrām right now, but I won’t be in the state of iḥrām. Wearing the iḥrām doesn’t make you in the state of iḥrām. You have to say “labbayk” to enter into the iḥrām.
If you are going to Makkah first, then you have to wear your iḥrām in the plane before you land in Jeddah.
Question: Suppose you are doing tamattu‘ and land in Makkah first but you are going to Madīnah in the middle until you come back to Makkah on the 8th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah. You do ‘Umrah and are out of iḥrām and go to Madīnah and then come back. Where do you put your iḥrām on? The strongest position is that you may wear your iḥrām when you are back in Makkah because you are now mutamatti‘ and doing tamattu‘ Ḥajj. Therefore, there is no concept of putting your iḥrām on from Dhu’l-Ḥulayfah because you are in the period of tamattu‘, the period of enjoyment. You wear your iḥrām on the morning of the 8th wherever you are. In other words, if you your group is going to Makkah first and then Madīnah, you do not have to wear your iḥrām from Madīnah again. Only if your group goes to Madīnah first do you have to wear your iḥrām from Madīnah. Otherwise, if you have already performed your ‘Umrah, you are tamattu‘, and you are free. The whole point of being mutamatti‘ is that you can enjoy up until the 8th.
This is the area I have done the most research on of any issue because we would face it every year. I asked many, many ‘ulemā’ and have read many books. The summary is that there is no issue whatsoever of entering into Makkah once again – so suppose your group will go to Makkah on the 25th of Dhu’l-Qa‘dah and leave on the 26th for Madīnah and come back on the 5th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah, so you have three days in Makkah. You don’t have to be in iḥrām for those three days. You may live a regular life and then on the 8th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah re-enter into iḥrām.
Can you make multiple ‘Umrahs before Ḥajj? You should not do so. It is not ḥarām to, but it goes against the perfection because that is how the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did it. Also, you should save your energy for the Ḥajj. Also, you should make extra ṭawāf and extra nafl in the Ḥaram. The point of tamattu‘ is that you do one ‘Umrah and one Ḥajj and lots of ‘ibādah. That is the perfection. For you as a mutamatti‘, the one ‘Umrah and the one Ḥajj is what you do, and the rest of it is ‘ibādah and nafl. You may do as many ṭawāf as you want. You may do ten ṭawāfs a day. For ṭawāf you don’t need to be in iḥrām. You can do ṭawāf in your clothes – pant/shirt, thawb, shalwar kameez, it doesn’t matter. Ṭawāf is an act of worship. The perfection is not to do another ‘Umrah, which is why it is better to avoid it.
Please, brothers and sisters, don’t take a fatwa from the guy sleeping next to you in your tent. This is your Ḥajj and your religion. People just talk a lot and think they know the religion. Ḥajj is a very complicated act of worship. Go to people of knowledge. Alḥamdulillāh, the government has done a lot of good, and of the best things they have done is that during Ḥajj they have fatwa offices everywhere and in all the languages of the world. This is something people of knowledge go to. They are all scholars who have done Ḥajj and know the fiqh. Please, don’t get the fatwa from your friend or from someone who says, “I read in a book” because you will ruin your Ḥajj and your ‘ibādah. Go to people of knowledge. Go to these cabins and there will be shaykh and a translator. Every single cabin will have translators for English and Urdu. Go there and ask them your question.
Find out if your group is going to Makkah first or Madīnah first. If they are going to Madīnah first, you don’t have to wear iḥrām in the plane. Go to Madīnah in your regular clothes and worship and pray. Then when you leave Madīnah, you will wear your iḥrām and enter into iḥrām from there.
When you go on a Ḥajj package that goes to Makkah first and then goes to Madīnah and then returns back to Makkah before the Ḥajj, you do not have to wear iḥrām from Madīnah and may return back to Makkah in your regular clothes. Write this down – I guarantee you that when you get there, there will be a huge commotion. It happens in every Ḥajj package and everybody is confused about what to do and whether they should wear iḥrām in the hotel or go back to Makkah. I’m telling you very clearly, and take my word for this. This is the issue I have spent years researching and debating. You don’t have to wear iḥrām from Madīnah. You may wear it from Makkah because you have already done your ‘Umrah, so what will you enter iḥrām for? Ḥajj is another few days away. Don’t wear iḥrām if you have done your ‘Umrah. If you haven’t done ‘Umrah, then that is a separate story, but if you go to Makkah first, then you have done your ‘Umrah.
8th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah
The 8th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah is the first day of Ḥajj. Some groups will bring you to Mina on the 7th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah and have you sleep there. No problem, it doesn’t matter. You can go to Mina now and sleep there, but Ḥajj will start on the 8th after ẓuhr. Most groups leave Makkah on the morning to get there around ẓuhr time. Technically you should be there for ẓuhr and ‘aṣr, but if you are delayed and there is traffic, it is all sunnah. The entire 8th day is sunnah, so relax. You may even start Ḥajj on the 9th and your Ḥajj is complete without any fidyah. The 8th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah is sunnah. If something happens on this day and you do not go to Mina, no sweat, you may skip it all and go directly to ‘Arafāh. 99% of packages go to Mina, and that is good because it is sunnah.
Where do you wear your iḥrām from on the 8th? Wherever you are. Where do you make the niyyah? In your hotel room. That is the whole point of tamattu‘. Basically from where you are you will make the niyyah.
You will then go to Mina. The sunnah is to get there before ẓuhr, but let’s be realistic. There are 3 million people and it is not in your hands. Don’t sweat if you get there at 10 am or 6 pm. Your Ḥajj is completely valid. The whole day is sunnah. Allah knows your niyyah, and if you are stuck in traffic, you will get the reward of the sunnah.
Once you get to Mina, ẓuhr and ‘aṣr are prayed combined and shortened, and maghrib and ‘ishā’ are prayed combined and shortened. So you pray ẓuhr and ‘aṣr (two and two) at one time. You pray maghrib and ‘ishā’ (three and two) and witr at one time. What do you do in Mina? ‘Ibādah. Qur’an, dhikr, du‘ā’. You get ready for the next day, which is the big day. The 9th is the big day of Ḥajj.
One of the biggest problems of going with a group is too much chitchat. Believe me, if you have never been for Ḥajj, you think that you are going to go and do this and that, but when you are surrounded by people your age and all of you are suffering and there is bad food, it is so easy to start talking and gossiping and cracking jokes at the sanitary conditions over there and hours go by. It is a very big fitnah from Shayṭān that your Ḥajj is just being wasted away. Even if you are not doing something ḥarām, you are wasting time, and it is not why you spent so much money.
Learn from day one to be polite but firm. Say, “Jazākallāh khayr, but I have something to do.” Be polite but firm. You are there for your own ‘ibādah. Have your Qur’an with you and your du‘ā’s and dhikr you want to do with you. Just worship and don’t worry about other people.
You spend the night in Mina. As we said, if you don’t, your Ḥajj is completely valid, and it is not a problem. The 8th is all sunnah.
9th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah
The 9th is the big day, and if you miss this day, you have no Ḥajj. The 9th is the day of ‘Arafāh. You will go the most sacred place on earth at that time and spend the entire day on the plains of ‘Arafāh. You technically should get there around zawāl, but if you get there a little bit late it is not a problem. It is wājib to get there before maghrib. You cannot leave ‘Arafāh before maghrib. By the way, in our times you cannot leave because the government closes the roads, so there is no issue of you leaving and the roads are literally blocked. They open up the gates at maghrib.
‘Arafāh is the main time of Ḥajj. That is the time you will go to ‘Arafāh and combine ẓuhr and ‘aṣr (two and two) and for the rest of the hours you have, it is the time of du‘ā’ and dhikr. It is the time of praying and begging for forgiveness. That is the time for pleading with Allah for a better life in this world and the next. This is Ḥajj. Nothing is better for you at that time than du‘ā’. You pray ẓuhr and ‘aṣr right at the beginning as soon as the time comes in because there is something more important than that, which is the du‘ā’. The whole point of Ḥajj is those few hours.
Believe me, you will find half the crowd just chitchatting. It is unbelievable, but if you have been for Ḥajj you know this. You just get tired and it is hot and you are sweaty. You are not there for wasting time. My advice to you is not to make too many friends so that you are on your own and can go to the corner of the tent and make du‘ā’.
Another simple advice is to drink lots of water. This is a dehydration day and a very difficult time. Also, please do not wander from your tent on ‘Arafāh. The most difficult time to get lost is the day of ‘Arafāh. You don’t want to be spending three hours finding your camp again.
Some Practical Advice: In Mina, make a mental note or physical note of your tent number. Once you have your tent number, breathe with relief. Now it doesn’t matter what happens because in two days you will be back in that tent. Even if you are lost from your group, have at least 50 or 100 riyals on you. If you are going with a child, make sure you have a safety tag with a phone number and the address of the tent on the child’s hand or on something that is fastened to the child. If you are going as an adult, have some money on you and know your tent in Mina. If you get lost, it is very easy. As a man, you can’t even change your clothes anyway and just need some food and water which is found everywhere. For a day you will be in Muzdalifah and ‘Arafāh, and on the next day you come back to your tent in Mina. All the tents are numbered and there are maps everywhere. If you get lost, there are boy scouts there you can find and they will direct you to your tent. It is all numbered like a grid. Memorize your tent number because it is that tent you will come back to.
In ‘Arafāh there is no numbering system because it is one day. Don’t get lost on ‘Arafāh. ‘Arafāh is the day of ‘ibādah, du‘ā’ and dhikr. This is when you raise your hands to Allah and beg and plead and cry, especially right before maghrib which is the time when Allah (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) Himself comes down and Allah ‘azza wa jall says to the angels, boasting, “These are My servants who have come to Me, and I will give them everything that they want, and I have forgiven all of them.” This is the time of du‘ā’ and dhikr. This is the time where you open up your heart to Allah (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) and pray for everyone – your friends, your relatives, those who have taught you the fiqh of Ḥajj. This is the time of acceptance of du‘ā’.
When the sun sets, you may relax a little bit. Sit in the bus for five hours. You are not going anywhere if you go in the bus. If you have been to Ḥajj, you know what I am talking about. This is the time when you just have to wait. The main ‘ibādah is done, and you may take a sigh of relief. A point of advice: if you are young and healthy, walk it. Wallāhi, you’ll enjoy it more and have a better experience. Take a sleeping bag and some basic items in your backpack. You know your tent in Mina. You will enjoy your Ḥajj infinitely more. The beauty of this walk is that it is the best walk that I have ever done in my life because the Muslims are around you and there is talbiyah and the spirit of Islam. This is a humbling site. Also, you breathe fresh air because the path for walking is miles away from the road. One of the things that I dread about those days is the smog. When you are sitting in the bus, you are surrounded by thousands of other buses and the smog and the smoke gets to you and makes you nauseous. You are literally sitting there. Sometimes I have sat in the bus until 11 pm. Why? Because of traffic. You just sit there in the bus, whereas if you walk, you get there by 7:30 and you enjoy it. You get some nice ice cream on the way and get some shawarmas as well. You get the spirit of Ḥajj. Everybody is walking. It is a very well lit path and a nice huge area. All of the ḥujjāj are walking there. You enjoy Ḥajj in that sense. If you are able to walk – and when I say ‘young,’ basically if you do not have a handicap you can walk. It is not an issue. It is a simple hour and a half. You are just walking and there is so much area, and you are not congested. There is plenty of space; you can breathe and have a nice walk.
If you walk, then you will meet your group the next morning in Mina. You will spend the night in Muzdalifah. From Mina, you go to ‘Arafāh in the day. In the night, you go to Muzdalifah.
Look at my hands. [hand gestures] Mina – Muzdalifah – ‘Arafāh. This means that from Mina, you will cross over Muzdalifah to go to ‘Arafāh. Then on the way back, ‘Arafāh – Muzdalifah – Mina. It is easier to get back. You go there by car – I’m not asking you to walk. From Makkah to ‘Arafāh, it is very difficult to walk. It will take you three hours and that is too far and you don’t want to get tired on that day. On the way back, it is an hour and a half at maghrib time on the 9th, and then the next morning after a nice sleep, you wake up and then another hour and a half [of walking]. You break it up into two [parts].
You will get to Muzdalifah between 7:30 and midnight, depending on how you got there. Muzdalifah is the most difficult part of Ḥajj for us spoiled Westerners because you have to sleep on rocks in the open. There is no tent and no air-conditioning except for the natural air-conditioning. You are sleeping out in the desert. It is only one night, so the government has not prepared any facilities. Also one of the most difficult problems for us Westerners is the restroom. In Muzdalifah it is – what can I say. It is ṣabr. That is why in one sense you have to drink a lot of water and in another sense, in Muzdalifah is not the time to drink a lot of water.
Also realize that the most common time to get lost is Muzdalifah. Why? Because in ‘Arafāh, generally speaking, there is no reason for you to wander outside the tent. Your food will come to you. The restroom is a reasonable distance, so you can go back and forth. In Muzdalifah, the restroom might be half a mile or a mile away. You look and can see the restroom and think it is easy enough to reach, but when you walk out of the restroom, you see an ocean of people and will wonder, “Where did I come from? Where is my tent?” There is no tent. Everybody looks the same. You start panicking. Don’t panic! You know your tent number in Mina, walk it. It is an hour and a half. Everybody is walking in one direction, and you are not going to get lost. You are not going to be walking in the other direction. Don’t worry. As I said, having ten or fifteen riyals is all you need – you can have some more. You just want to buy some water and some juice and shawarma and that’s it.
Don’t worry about getting lost in Muzdalifah. Don’t panic. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, everybody is heading in the same direction, and you will get to your tent inshā’Allāh if you know your tent number, which is why I said write it down. If you don’t want to get lost, the best thing to do is make sure to go with a friend and both of you make sure to keep track. You think the bridge is to left – and by the way, you think you see a bridge, but when you walk out you will see seven bridges and wonder bridge you were on. Basically use your common sense.
Also, sometimes you wake up at 3 o’clock at night and you need to go to the bathroom and are disoriented anyway. Believe me, I am a seasoned expert, and that is the time when I also wonder where I came from. It is very easy to get lost. If you do get lost, as I said, don’t worry about it and move on.
Muzdalifah is the time when you pray maghrib and ‘ishā’ jam‘ and qaṣr (3 and 2) and your witr as well (witr is never left) and then you go to sleep. It is commonly said that you should pick your stones from Muzdalifah. The Sharī‘ah does not at all ever even hint or suggest that, and this is, in my opinion, a cultural addition. You may pick your stones from anywhere. You may even pick them from your backyard here in America. It does not matter where you pick your stones from. The Sharī‘ah does not specify. There is not even a fabricated ḥadīth that specifies picking the stones from Muzdalifah. Some scholars basically liked it because it is the day before, but you can pick them from anywhere. Also, another reason why you might want to pick your stones from Muzdalifah is because there are a lot of stones in Muzdalifah, so it is just easier to pick stones.
From a Shar‘i‘ perspective, you may pick your stones from anywhere. I would actually pick my stones on the 8th from Mina so that I wouldn’t have to worry about finding stones at night in Muzdalifah. I would personally do this. In Mina, you walk outside your tent and dig in the sand and find stones and take them from there. There is no Shar‘i‘ reason to take them from Muzdalifah.
Another problem that happens is that people go a little bit extreme about the stones. Ibn ʿAbbās was picking stones and thought he was going to pick some big ones. In an authentic ḥadīth, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “No, not like this. Let it be like a chickpea seed.” Basically, as big as the tip of your finger, which is 1/8” or a little bit bigger, 1-1.5 cm. One of the biggest exaggerations that happens is – and in fact in one ḥadīth he says, “Don’t go to extremes. Don’t go out of bounds here. Pick something that is reasonable.”
By the way, this is a very wise advice because one of the most common problems in Ḥajj is stitches that you need because somebody is throwing stones at the back of your head. The pillar is there and people are throwing, and they don’t know how to throw if their life depended on it. They throw, and it just hits you smack in the back. If they choose a big rock, then it is dangerous. It is a very wise advice from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to choose small stones. It should be something small.
Again, don’t go to exaggerations and take a ruler with you and measure every stone. The Sharī‘ah is not that difficult. It is a rough idea – you don’t have to wash it, you don’t have to put it to the sun, you don’t have to check for the purity. But – one thing I will say – you cannot choose cement. Don’t find cement somewhere and break it up yourself. Choose a rock. You may find a brick, let’s say, and some people break it up into seven pieces. In my opinion, you should choose a stone. I’m not saying it is null and void if you break a brick up, but the point is that you are supposed to choose a natural stone. You choose seven small ones.
Now we have done the 9th, the night of the 9th, and have woken up preferably in Muzdalifah. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) allowed women and elderly to leave Muzdalifah early. So suppose a woman is pregnant or there is an elderly man or woman, they may leave Muzdalifah after midnight. There is no sin, no penalty, and no fidyah. It is permissible to leave after midnight. The people who are in charge of these people may leave with them. Suppose you have your mother with you and she is elderly and you want to take care of her, you go with her, and there is no penalty on you.
[Question asked]. It is seven stones for the first day, and then 21 and 21 for the other two days, so it is 49 total, but you don’t have to pick them all at once, and you don’t have to pick them all from Muzdalifah. Technically, you can get them from anywhere. Culturally, on that night you will see 50% of the ḥujjāj looking in the night trying to find stones. As I said, make your life easier and do it the day before.
You wake up in Muzdalifah. If you have left earlier, there is no problem if there is a reason. What is a reason? As I said, elderly, pregnant, if you have a baby with you. Basically it is common sense. If you have an infant with you, you are allowed to leave early and start the other rites at that time. If you don’t have a reason, then you shouldn’t leave Muzdalifah and should wake up for fajr there.
[Question:] If you are sick, what should you do? You look at your own state of affairs. If it is just a little bit of a cough, everybody gets a cough. A sign of going for Ḥajj is that you get a cough. If you don’t have a cough, I will not believe that you have gone for Ḥajj. If you come back with no sniffy nose, then I won’t believe you – this is just imagination and you went in a dream maybe. Every single ḥajji comes back with a cough and sniffy nose. This is a gift of the ḥujjāj, māshā’Allāh.
You should stay all night, as I said, unless there is a reason. If your Ḥajj package leaves in the middle of the night, then it is not in your hands, and you stick with your group because it is easier for you. Allah knows your niyyah. Don’t make life difficult. They are leaving, and what are you going to do? I’m not advising you to do Ḥajj alone, but it is not a problem if you do.
10th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah
This is where it gets confusing, but inshā’Allāh if you listen to me it will be very easy and not confusing at all. On the 10th day, there are four actions that you have to do. Any two of them will get you out of the minor iḥrām, and all four will get you out of iḥrām totally.
What is minor iḥrām and major iḥrām? It’s simple. Minor iḥrām allows you to do everything except intimacy with your spouse and what leads to it (foreplay). Once you are out of minor iḥrām you may wear perfume and trim your nails. Once you are out of major iḥrām, you may now resume conjugal relations with your spouse. The only difference is intimacy.
When you do two of these four things, you are out of the state of minor iḥrām, which means you take a bath, shave if you shave (even though in my opinion you shouldn’t be shaving), trim your nails, put perfume on. With all four you are out of iḥrām totally.
What are these four things? They may be done in any order by what the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) himself said. A man came to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I did (number two) before I did (number one),” and he said, “No problem.” Another one said, “I did (number one) after (number three).” No problem. Another one said, “I did (number four) before (number two).” He said, “No problem.” The ṣaḥābi said, “Nobody came to him with any arrangement except that he said, ‘No problem.’” The arrangement is completely up to you. You may do any of these in any order.
- Stoning the large jamrah (Jamrah Al-‘Aqba’l-Kubra) seven times. There are three jamrahs: small, medium, and large.
- Shaving of the hair.
- The hady or the sacrifice.
- The ṭawāf of the Ḥajj itself.
99.99% of you will be buying a ticket for the hady. You will not go yourself and choose an animal and do it yourself. Some people do. What does this mean? You are left with three. Therefore, as soon as you go and you do the ramy, you are out of the minor iḥrām. Then when you have shaved your hair, you have then done three of the four. You may shave your hair first because that is a rite of Ḥajj and is a part of the Ḥajj. You are allowed to trim the hair if you want, but the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) encouraged the shaving. You may shave first, but most people do the ramy first.
When you do the ramy and shave your hair, you have done three of the four. You may assume that the hady is done in the morning because there is no way you can verify, and the scholars have said you can assume that your hady is done. They have 3 million sheep they have to sacrifice and are going to start before Ḥajj and continue after Ḥajj. It is not humanly possible to sacrifice that many sheep and goats simultaneously, so you may assume yours is done. Therefore, as soon as you do ramy, you are out of the minor iḥrām, so after ramy if you want to go and take a bath and put on your regular clothes and then go to the barber, that’s fine. Because when you go to the barber you are going to be messy anyway because of all the hair, most people then go to barber shop – at the jamarāt there is probably one of the largest barber shops in the world. Sisters should have scissors with them and go back to the tent and take out a forelock of hair and cut it. Now they are out of minor iḥrām. Therefore, 90% of you will be completely dressed and clean and fresh-smelling on the morning of the 10th.
How long were you in the state of iḥrām? The day of the 8th, the full 9th, and then the morning of the 10th. For most people, that works out to less than 48 hours. In those 48 hours, your clothes will look like they have been on you for two weeks, which is why I said for men to have another iḥrām, especially on the night of Muzdalifah, it is very convenient to change because it becomes very filthy with the sand.
Once you do your ṭawāf, you are then out of complete iḥrām. As I said, the only difference is intimacy with your spouse. You may delay your ṭawāf and don’t have to do it on the 10th. You may do it on the 11th or 12th. You may delay your ṭawāf, and it doesn’t matter when you do it. The ṭawāf does not have to be done on the 10th.
My personal advice is that it is extremely difficult to do ṭawāf on the 10th. It is very congested. It is better to do it either very late night on the 10th (i.e. 2 am) or anytime on the 11th, day or night. Basically take your time to do the ṭawāf. I would not advise you to do ṭawāf on the afternoon of the 10th because it is just too congested, especially if you have a woman with you because you are literally surrounded. If you have your wife with you, you are going to have to do ṭawāf protecting her to breathe. It is not a comfortable place to be in at all, and Allah does not tell us to make the religion that difficult. There is no reason to do it on the 10th. Do it either late night or the next morning or on the 12th.
These are the four actions of the tenth. Three of them for sure you will do on the tenth. One of them, the ṭawāf – my advice is that you delay, but if you do it on the 10th, it is up to you.
11th and 12th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah
On the 11th and 12th, all you have to do is stone the three jamrahs, starting with the small then the medium and then the large. You do this on the 11th and the 12th. The 13th is optional, but 99% of the ḥujjāj leave on the 13th, but it is optional. Ḥajj is five or six days. On the 13th you may also stone, but nobody stones and everybody leaves, and that is permissible as well.
On the 11th and the 12th, there is no action of worship other than stoning. On the 10th, the stoning can be done any time after fajr. On the 11th and 12th, the stoning should be done after ẓuhr. There is a big ikhtilāf on whether you can do the stoning before ẓuhr. In my opinion, you shouldn’t, especially with the modern changes to the jamrah itself. It is now five stories, māshā’Allāh, and the pillar is not a pillar anymore but is long. In my opinion, this is a very wise move, and I am very supportive of it. There is no more stampede anymore inshā’Allāh. There is no reason for you to go before ẓuhr. It is so easy now that even if you are an elderly person you can go right to the tip and just throw it and come back. They have really done a marvelous job, and I think it is a good move on their part.
That is all that you need to do on the 11th and 12th. If you are doing tamattu‘, then you must do a sa‘y for Ḥajj. The only act that remains is the farewell ṭawāf (ṭawāf’l-wadā’). Some people delay their ṭawāf that they should have done on the 10th up until they are leaving, so they do one ṭawāf and say that this counts for both the ṭawāf of Ḥajj and the ṭawāf of wadā’. This is jā’iz, but it is taking a loophole. If you are young – and when I say young, I mean below 60 – and healthy, this is Ḥajj, so do it properly. If you are elderly or sick, then there is no problem. I’ve done Ḥajj more than ten times and many times I would take this because alḥamdulillāh I was going so often. But for some of you, you are going once or for the first time and Allah knows when you are going to go again. Why would you want to do that?
In other words, do two ṭawāfs: the ṭawāf for the Ḥajj and ṭawāf’l-wadā’. You do the ṭawāf of the Ḥajj (ṭawāf’l-ifāḍah) on the 10th, 11th, or 12th or any day up until you leave. Let me clarify: For the person who is doing tamattu‘, there are three ṭawāfs. The first is when you first came to Makkah many weeks ago, and this is the ṭawāf of the ‘Umrah. The second of them is the pillar of Ḥajj, and it is done on the 10th, 11th or 12th. The third of them is before you leave and called the farewell ṭawāf (ṭawāf’l-wadā’).
You may, if you want to, combine the second and third into one ṭawāf, and your niyyah is not for ṭawāf’l-wadā’. Your niyyah will be for the ṭawāf of Ḥajj, and it will count as ṭawāf’l-wadā’. I don’t advise you to do that, but if you do it is jā’iz and you don’t need to give a fidyah or hady or anything. It is completely permissible.
A lot of people are confused about ṭawāf’l-wadā’. You delay it until it is reasonable for you to delay. It is the very last thing that is in your control. When you are with a group, it will never be the very last thing that you do in Makkah. In other words, your group says that they are leaving Makkah at 8 pm, so you will be dropped at 4 pm to do your ṭawāf. Technically, you shouldn’t be going shopping and eating shawarmas and wasting time after ṭawāf’l-wadā’. Technically after ṭawāf’l-wadā’ you are supposed to leave. That is the whole point.
You are with a group and somebody may be late. What are you going to do? Wait. Allah knows that you did what is in your hand, so don’t worry about it. If you are delayed two hours and go and shop and get your necessary stuff, it is no big deal. Allah knows that you did what you can do. Don’t make the religion more difficult.
If you don’t do ṭawāf’l-wadā’ but you did ṭawāf’l-ifāḍah, you must give a hady. You must give a penalty. If you don’t do ṭawāf’l-wadā’ but ṭawāf on the 10th, 11th, or 12th (i.e. the ṭawāf of Ḥajj), ṭawāf’l-wadā’ is wājib. If you miss a wājib, you sacrifice. Your Ḥajj is valid, but you must make up for it with a hady. You can combine only if you do it at the end. If you do ṭawāf on the 10th, you cannot combine because you didn’t leave. You have to delay the ṭawāf’l-ifāḍah to the day that you leave. Suppose your bus is leaving on the 14th, then you may do one ṭawāf on the 14th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah that will count for both.
To conclude, memorize this simple list. Ḥajj has four arkān. If you miss any of these arkān, you don’t have a Ḥajj. You cannot make up a rukn; therefore, memorize these four.
1. You need to declare your iḥrām.
You may wear a pant and shirt and do Ḥajj – you will give lots of fidyahs, but your Ḥajj is valid because you said “labbayk.” You must be in the state of iḥrām to do Ḥajj. If you are not in the state of iḥrām, then there is no Ḥajj.
2. You must do one ṭawāf (ṭawāf’l-ifāḍah).
3. You must do one sa‘y, which is the sa‘y of Ḥajj.
4. You must stand at ‘Arafāh on the 9th.
If you don’t do one of these four things, then you have not done Ḥajj. Everything else can somehow be made up. If you miss Muzdalifah, you give a sacrifice. If you miss the stoning – suppose your group had to leave on the 11th. I know of people who have had a death in the family and they have to leave on the 11th. What are you going to do? No problem. You give the sacrifice and your Ḥajj is valid as long as it is after the 9th and you have done the ṭawāf and the sa‘y.
These are the four arkān. For everything, inshā’Allāh you can make it up.
Note for Sisters
One final point of advice for the sisters: one of the biggest controversial issues of our times is over what the sisters in their menses do if their menses will not finish before their group departs. This is a very controversial issue and a very difficult situation. My advice to the sisters is to take pills and make sure that you do not have your menses in this month. Go to your doctor and make sure that it is permissible for you medically. Don’t have your menses during this duration. Why? It really complicates things. Once upon a time if a woman was in her menses it was not a big deal because she just waits a few days and when she finishes, she does the ṭawāf. These days we have flight schedules and departures and visa issues. If a woman is in her menses, the plane is not going to stop for her, and her ticket going to expire. It is almost impossible for a lady to remain behind with her maḥram. The group is not going to allow it. The government is not going to allow it because you come as a group and leave as a group, which is the law of the government in our times.
The first point is to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you. Take pills. It is very easy to skip over one period, and then when you come back you stop taking them and go back to your regular cycle. By the way, when you are taking pills, 99% of the time any blood that you see is istihādhah and therefore is ignored and doesn’t count as ḥayḍ.
If for some reason you don’t take pills and your menses start, as long as you do ṭawāf’l-ifāḍah before the menses, you are scot-free. The main issue is ṭawāf. You don’t have to worry about the prayer. You may do your du‘ā’s in ‘Arafāh in a state of menses with no problem at all. You may do dhikr, rami, sa‘y. You don’t have to have wuḍū’ to do sa‘y. Sa‘y is a separate action of worship.
The problem only is ṭawāf. If you have done the ṭawāf’l-ifāḍah, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said in an authentic ḥadīth: “The ṭawāf of wadā’ is forgiven for menstruating women.” Suppose your menses started on the 14th and your plane leaves on the 16th. You did your ṭawāf’l-ifāḍah and are forgiven. You don’t have to worry about the farewell ṭawāf because that was a wājib, and in your case, that wājib is complete and you don’t even have to pay hady for it – you are scot-free.
The problem comes if you haven’t done ṭawāf and your menses start and you are departing before your menses finish. This issue has caused a lot of controversy in our times because technically it is not allowed to do ṭawāf in a state of menses. It is like saying to pray while in menses or fast while in menses – you don’t do it! You need to have wuḍū’ to do ṭawāf. It is nonsensical to do ṭawāf in a state of menses.
However, in our times there is a fatwa that is getting more and more common because of the situation that we are in which says that if a lady must perform her ṭawāf in this state, then she does so and it is accepted. I don’t like this fatwa, but I’m not saying it is invalid. I am simply saying to sisters that if you think you are going to be in this state, and if there is even a remote chance, please make sure that you are not because it is a very, very difficult scenario.
You may delay ṭawāf’l-ifāḍah until any day in Dhu’l-Ḥijjah. Ṭawāf’l- ifāḍah does not have an end date; however, you will remain in a state of major iḥrām until you do the ṭawāf’l-ifāḍah.
Wearing a belt doesn’t constitute a stitched garment, so using a belt is permissible.
The issue of using soap that is perfumed: There is no doubt that it is better to avoid perfumed soap, but at the same time, what is prohibited is to wear perfume. Soap that is perfumed is not perfume. In other words, when one of us wants to look nice, do we use soap and go out? Is that what we call perfume? No. Soap does not have such a scent that we call it perfume. Therefore, the strongest opinion is that soap may be used and will not require a fidyah, but it is better to avoid to remain out of the grey area. It is not a problem. If you really want to be safe, buy un-perfumed soap.
Some Practical Advice
Make sure you have some items:
- Un-perfumed soap
- Toiletries bag that you can hang. When you use the shower in Mina, there is no place to have a toiletries bag except on the shower itself, so you want something you can hook on. If it falls, it is not retrievable.
- Baby wipes.
- Vaseline. Brothers, please get some Vaseline and apply it to your inner thighs. Why? When you don’t wear underwear, the thighs start rubbing against one another and one of the most problems is that you get skin burn and cannot walk properly. It really ruins your Ḥajj. Vaseline is unscented, so there is not an issue there.
- Make a mental note of your tent number in Mina
- Always have cash on you. The best way to carry cash is to use a money belt. If you buy a money wallet, it also does the job. If you have some basic money (50 riyals), and you know your tent in Mina, then alḥamdulillāh Ḥajj is easy, and don’t worry if you get lost. If you don’t have either of the two, then that is when things get difficult.
The main wājibāt are, starting from the beginning:
– Enter into iḥrām before the mīqāt.
– Staying in ‘Arafāh until maghrib.
– Spending the night in Muzdalifah or at least most of the night. You may leave after midnight if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
– Stoning. If you miss one of the days of stoning, then it is a wājib that must be made up.
– Spending the nights of the 10th, 11th, and 12th in Mina.
There are more than this, but these are the main wājibāt.
The niyyah has to be made before the mīqāt. It can be done 100 miles or 1 mile before, but it cannot be done after the mīqāt. Therefore, as I said, half an hour or twenty minutes before the plane lands, you say “labbayk allāhumma Ḥajj wa ‘Umrah.”
Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure
How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?
If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.
My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.
On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.
I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.
When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand. Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?
I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.
That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.
I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:
Host an open house
Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.
Expand your circle
Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.
You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.
Outsource Eid Fun
If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.
It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend. If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.
The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.
Get out of your comfort zone
If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.
Try, try, try again…
Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.
While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.
The Etiquettes of Sacrifice for Eid al Adha
A Simple Request for Eid al-Adha | Sr Julie Mair
Eid al-Adha will soon be upon us, alhamdulillah. It is a blessed time, a time for celebration, a time to share with family and loved ones—but it can also be a time of immense cruelty if the slaughter is not done properly and mercifully.
Allah Ta’ala tells us in the Qur’an that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alaihi was sallam, was sent as a rahmatan lil ‘alameena – a mercy to the worlds (Surah al-Anbiya, 21:107). Much has been reported on the Prophet’s kind treatment of animals, and some hadith specifically mention animals to be slaughtered:
Anyone who shows mercy, even to an animal meant for slaughtering, will be shown mercy by Allah on the Day of Rising. (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)
Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably. (Sahih Muslim)
Etiquettes of the slaughter are often unknown or overlooked, such as: hiding the knife from the animal; slaughtering out of the sight of other animals waiting to be slaughtered; killing in a comfortable way; and avoiding unnecessary suffering.
Tying an animal’s legs together and leaving it to moan in the hot sun clearly results in unnecessary suffering, but this happens. Hanging animals together from hooks by their feet and killing them one-by-one results in unnecessary suffering, but this happens. Even less egregious actions such as dragging an animal or otherwise handling it roughly results in unnecessary suffering. It is incumbent on anyone who is going to slaughter an animal to learn the Islamic requirements and etiquettes of slaughtering so that it is done properly and mercifully.
The Prophet warned us, “Someone who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)
So please, before this Eid al-Adha, educate yourself on the proper and merciful way to slaughter. If you are going to a farm or other facility, make sure that it will be done correctly. Educate those who do not know. Enjoin the good and forbid the wrong.*
Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a reward like the one who did it.
Eid al-Adha will soon be upon us, alhamdulillah.
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Perfection in all things | Sh Mikaeel Smith
There are certain narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) that are a source of great inspiration and which force one to discover a higher purpose and the deepest of meanings and lessons in the most trivial actions. These narrations, when continually contemplated upon and kept at the forefront of one’s mind, can create a very profound sense of mindfulness and presence throughout one’s day to day affairs. Throughout our day to day life we have to do a number of seemingly mundane actions for our personal well-being and the well-being of those around us. But there is a single narration that teaches us that there is no such thing as a trivial action or a mundane affair for the believer. Everything has a purpose. The Prophet Muhammad once said,
عن أبي يعلى شداد بن أوسٍ رضي الله عنه، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ((إن الله كتب الإحسان على كل شيءٍ، فإذا قتلتم فأحسنوا القِتْلة، وإذا ذبحتم فأحسنوا الذِّبْحة، ولْيُحِدَّ أحدُكم شفرته، ولْيُرِحْ ذبيحته))؛ رواه مسلم.
“Indeed Allah has ordained perfection and excellence in every matter. When you fight, do so with excellence. When you slaughter an animal do so with excellence. Sharpen your knife because this will make it easier for the animal.” (Muslims #1955)
Everything in life is a chance to strive for perfection and thereby fulfill one’s duty to his or her creator and sustainer. While this narration inspires people of all fields to be the best at what they do, the Prophet ﷺ mentions two specific examples where excellence should be sought. One is in war and situations of conflict and the other is the ritual sacrifice which takes place at the time of the pilgrimage. It should be noted that perfection just like beauty is highly subjective. Therefore as Muslims, we look to the sunnah or way of Muhammad to define perfection for every affair.
The sacred month of the pilgrimage is getting close and so we are approaching the time to remember and imitate the sacrifice of Ibrāhīm (AS). We imitate him because he is the quintessential example of submission. By imitating his unparalleled level of submission we become pupils to this great teacher. Imitation is the first step for every student. Secondly, we must understand that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
It is not the meat or blood of this sacrifice which Allah desires from us — rather obedience. That being said we should learn how to do this sacrifice is the best way.
My personal opinion as an American Muslim who desires to see Islam as an intrinsic aspect of American religious life, I strongly encourage Muslims in America to personal do their sacrifice themselves instead of sending money for their sacrifice to be done overseas. I am completely aware that there are brothers and sisters who need meat more than ourselves. But this train of thought completely misses the objective of this great act of imitation. If a person wants to help poor Muslims around the world one should do so. But not at the expense of teaching their own family the significance of this day. By outsourcing your ibadah we lose the spiritual impact and meaning. We essentially deprive our children and family of participating in the primary act of worship on this great day. Now let us look at some of the religiously recommended actions that one should observe when doing the sacrifice. Striving for excellence in all things, as Muslims, means first and foremost setting one’s moral compass to the “Prophetic North” by reviewing the Prophetic teachings surrounding this great worship.
Below I have listed a few of the etiquette of this sacrifice:
- One should internally remember the significance of this sacrifice and what it represents. Study the life of Abraham and internalize how he was able to overcome his own moral judgments when he was commanded to sacrifice his own son.
- One must use a very sharp knife. This is done so that there are no complications and delays in the process of slaughter.
- The sharpening of the knife should be done away from the field of vision of the animals.
- The animal should be given water before the sacrifice.
- The animal should be gently brought to the place where it will be slaughtered.
- The animal should be slaughtered out of the field of vision of the other animals.
- The animal should be gently placed on its left side.
- The one doing the slaughter should face the Qiblah.
During the Sacrifice
- The slaughter must be as quick as possible.
- Before the slaughter one should say, “Allah is the Greatest” thrice followed by the statement, “In the name of Allah”.
- The two major arteries should be cut along with the windpipe.
- It is recommended that the first thing that one eats after the Eid prayer is meat from the sacrifice.
It is important to keep in mind that the things mentioned above are not mandatory aspects. This means that is someone was to leave out one of these things the sacrifice would still be legally valid, while at the same time lacking the level of perfection that we as Muslims should strive for.
Through this sacrifice, we are reminded of our pursuit of excellence for the sake of our Creator in all that we do. We perfect our skills, trades, and academic pursuits and all that we do for our love of our creator. Whether one is studying for an exam, or striving to be an athlete, excellence for the sake of Allah is our goal.
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Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1
Alhamdulillah, it’s a great blessing of Allah that He has given us both the opportunity and ability to come here tonight to study and explore the meanings of His words in Surah Maryam. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity. May Allah accept this effort from all of us and place it on our scale of good deeds.
Alhamdulillah, in our last series we were able to complete the tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf. InshAllah, in this next series, we’ll be exploring the meanings, lessons, and reminders of Surah Maryam. Tafsīr is an extremely noble and virtuous discipline. The reason why it’s so noble and virtuous is that it’s the study of the divine speech of Allah . As mentioned in a hadith the superiority of the speech of Allah over all other speech is like the superiority of Allah over all of His creation. There’s nothing more beneficial and virtuous than studying the Quran. And by doing so we’ll be counted amongst the best of people. As the Prophet said, “the best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”
All of us need to build a stronger relationship with the Quran. The Quran is full of wisdom and guidance in every single verse and word. It’s our responsibility to seek that guidance, understand it, contextualize it and more importantly act upon it. Tafsīr is such a unique science that it brings together all of the other Islamic sciences. While exploring a Surah a person comes across discussions regarding Arabic grammar and morphology, rhetoric, Ahādīth, fiqh, sīrah and all those studies that are known as the Islamic Sciences. One scholar described the Quran as an ocean that has no shore, بحر لا ساحل له. The more we study the Qur’ān the stronger our relationship with it will become. We’ll become more and more attached to it and will be drawn into its beauty and wonder. The deeper a person gets into tafsir and studying the more engaged and interested they become. They also recognize how little they truly know. It develops humility. That’s the nature of true knowledge. The more we learn the more we recognize we don’t know. May Allah ﷻ allow us all to be sincere and committed students of the Qur’ān.
Surah Maryam is the 19th surah in the Quran. It is a relatively long Makki surah made up of 98 verses. Some commentators mention that it’s the 44th Surah to be revealed, after Surah Al-Fatir and before Surah Taha. It has been given the name Maryam because Allah mentions the story of Maryam (as) and her family and how she gave birth to Isa miraculously at the beginning of the Surah. Just like other Makkan surahs, it deals with the most fundamental aspects of our faith. It talks about the existence and oneness of Allah , prophethood, and resurrection and recompense.
The Surah is made up of a series of unique stories filled with guidance and lessons that are meant as reminders. One of the main themes of this Surah is mercy… It has been mentioned over 16 times in this Surah. We’ll find the words of grace, compassion and their synonyms frequently mentioned throughout the sūrah, together with Allah’s attributes of beneficence and mercy. We can say that one of the objectives of the Surah is to establish and affirm the attribute of mercy for Allah . That’s why all of the stories mentioned also have to do with Allah’s mercy.
Another objective of the Surah is to remind us of our relationship with Allah ﷻ; the concept of Al-‘Ubūdiyyah. These are the two major themes or ideas of this Surah; the concept of Rahmah and the concept of ‘Ubūdiyyah (Mercy and Servitude).
The Surah can be divided into 8 sections:
1) Verses 1-15: The surah starts with the story of Zakariyya (as) and how he was given the gift of a child at a very old age, which was something strange and out of the ordinary.
2) Verses 16-40: mention the story of Maryam and the miraculous birth of Isa without a father and how her community responded to her.
3) Verses 41-50: The surah then briefly mentions one part of the story of Ibrahim , specifically the conversation he had with his father regarding the worship of idols. The surah then briefly mentions a series of other Prophets.
4) Verses 51-58: Mention Musa and Haroon , Ismail and Idrees to show that the essence of the message of all Prophets was the same
5) Verses 59-65: compare and contrast the previous generations with the current ones in terms of belief and actions.
6) Verses 66-72: Allah addresses the Mushrikoon rejecting their false claims regarding life after death and judgment.
7) Verses 73-87: continue to address the Mushrikoon and warn them regarding their attitude towards belief in Allah and His messengers. They also mention the great difference between the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of the non-believer.
8) Verses 88-98: contain a severe warning to those who claim that Allah has taken a child. They also express that Allah is pleased with the believers and mentions that one of the objectives of the Quran is to give glad tidings to the believers and to warn the non-believers.
From various narrations, we learn that this surah was revealed near the end of the fourth year of Prophethood. This was an extremely difficult time for Muslims. The Quraysh were frustrated with their inability to stop the message of Islam from spreading so they became ruthless. They resorted to any method of torture that they could think of; beating, starving and harassing. When the persecution became so severe that it was difficult for the Muslims to bear it, the Prophet gave permission to migrate to Abyssinia. “For in it dwells a king in whose presence no one is harmed.” 10 men and 4 women migrated in the 5th year of Prophethood secretly. After a few months, a larger group of 83 men and 18 women migrated as well. This migration added more fuel to the fire. It enraged the people of Quraysh.
Umm Salamah [rahna]narrated, “When we stopped to reside in the land of Abyssinia we lived alongside the best of neighbors An-Najashi. We practiced our religion safely, worshipped Allah without harm and didn’t hear anything we disliked. When news of our situation reached the Quraysh they started to plot against us…” They decided to send two delegates to persuade An-Najashi to send the Companions back by offering him and his ministers’ gifts. The plan was to go to each minister with gifts and turn them against the Muslims. So they went to each minister with gifts and said, “Verily, foolish youth from amongst us have come to the country of your king; they have abandoned the religion of their people and have not embraced your religion. Rather they have come with a new religion that neither of us knows. The noblemen of their people, from their fathers and uncles, have sent us to the king asking that he send them back. So when we speak to the king regarding their situation advise him to surrender them to us and to not speak to them…” The minister agreed.
Then they went to the king, offered him gifts and said the same thing… The ministers tried to convince him as well. An-Najashi became angry with them and said, “No, by Allah, I will not surrender them to these two and I don’t fear the plotting of a people who have become my neighbors, have settled down in my country, and have chosen me (to grant them refuge) over every other person. I will not do so until I summon them and speak to them. If they are as these two say I will give them up, but if they aren’t then I will protect them from these two and continue to be a good neighbor to them as long as they are good neighbors to me.”
al-Najāshī then summoned the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions. When his messenger informed the Prophet’s Companions that they were to appear before the king, they gathered together to discuss what they should do. One of them asked, “What will you say to the name (al-Najāshī) when you go to him?” They all agreed on what they would say to him, “By Allah, we will say what our Prophet ﷺ taught us and commanded us with, regardless of the consequences.” Meanwhile, al-Najāshī called for his priests, who gathered around him with their scrolls spread out before them. When the Muslims arrived al-Najāshī began by asking them, “What is this religion for which you have parted from your people? You have not entered into the fold of my religion, nor the religion of any person from these nations.”
Umm Salamah [rahna] narrated, “The Person among us who would speak to him was Jaʿfar ibn abī Ṭālib [rahnu] who then said, “O king, we were an ignorant people: we worshipped idols, we would eat from the flesh of dead animals, we would perform lewd acts, we would cut off family ties, and we would be bad neighbors; the strong among us would eat from the weak. We remained upon that state until Allah sent us a Messenger, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and chastity we already knew. He invited us to Allah – to believe in His oneness and to worship Him; to abandon all that we and our fathers worshipped besides Allah, in terms of stones and idols. He ﷺ commanded us to speak truthfully, to fulfill the trust, to join ties of family relations, to be good to our neighbors, and to refrain from forbidden deeds and from shedding blood. And he ﷺ forbade us from lewd acts, from uttering falsehood, from wrongfully eating the wealth of an orphan, from falsely accusing chaste women of wrongdoing. And he ﷺ ordered us to worship Allah alone and to not associate any partners with him in worship; and he ﷺ commanded us to pray, to give zakāh, and to fast.” He enumerated for al-Najāshī the teachings of Islam. He said, “And we believe him and have faith in him. We follow him in what he came with. And so we worship Allah alone, without associating any partners with Him in worship. We deem forbidden that which he has made forbidden for us, and we deem lawful that which he made permissible for us. Our people then transgressed against us and tortured us. The tried to force us to abandon our religion and to return from the worship of Allah to the worship of idols; they tried to make us deem lawful those abominable acts that we used to deem lawful. Then, when they subjugated us, wronged us, and treated us in an oppressive manner, standing between us and our religion, we came to your country, and we chose you over all other people. We desired to live alongside you, and we hoped that, with you, we would not be wronged, O king.” al-Najāshī said to Jaʿfar [rahnu], “Do you have any of that which he came with from Allah?” Jaʿfar [rahnu] said, “Yes”. “Then recite to me,” said al-Najāshī. Jaʿfar [rahnu] recited for him the beginning of Surah Maryam. By Allah, al-Najāshī began to cry, until his beard became wet with tears. And when his priests heard what Jaʿfar [rahnu] was reciting to them, they cried until their scrolls became wet. al-Najāshī then said, “By Allah, this and what Mūsa (as) came with come out of the same lantern. Then by Allah, I will never surrender them to you, and henceforward they will not be plotted against and tortured.”
Describing what happened after the aforementioned discussion between al-Najāshī and Jaʿfar [rahnu], Umm Salamah said, “When both ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ and ʿAbdullah ibn abī Rabīʿah left the presence of al-Najāshī, ʿAmr [rahnu] said, “By Allah tomorrow I will present to him information about them with which I will pull up by the roots their very lives.” Abdullah ibn Rabīʿah who was more sympathetic of the two towards us said, “Don’t do so, for they have certain rights of family relations, even if they have opposed us.” ʿAmr said, “By Allah, I will inform him that they claim that ʿĪsā ibn Maryam is a slave.”
He went to the king on the following day and said, “O king, verily, they have strong words to say about ʿĪsa (as). Call them here and ask them what they say about him.” al-Najāshī sent for them in order to ask them about ʿĪsa. Nothing similar to this befell us before. The group of Muslims gathered together and said to one another, “What will you say about ʿĪsa when he asks you about him?” They said, “By Allah, we will say about him that which Allah says and that which our Prophet ﷺ came with, regardless of the outcome.” When they entered into his presence, he said to them, “What do you say about ʿĪsa ibn Maryam?” Jaʿfar said, “We say about him that which our Prophet ﷺ came with – that he is the slave of Allah, His messenger, a spirit created by Him, and His word, which he bestowed on Maryam, the virgin, the baṭūl.”
al-Najāshī struck his hand on the ground and took from it a stick. He then said, “ʿĪsa ibn Maryam did not go beyond what you said even the distance of the stick.” When he said this, his ministers spoke out in anger, to which he responded, “What I said is true even if you speak out in anger, by Allah. (Turning to the Muslims, he said) Go, for you are safe in my land. Whoever curses you will be held responsible. And I would not love to have a reward of gold in return for me hurting a single man among you. (Speaking to his ministers he said) Return to these two (men) their gifts, since we have no need for them. For by Allah, Allah did not take from me bribe money when He returned to me my kingdom, so why should I take bribe money. The two left, defeated and humiliated; and returned to them were the things they came with. We then resided alongside al-Najāshī in a very good abode, with a very good neighbor.”
The response was simply amazing in its eloquence. A believer puts the needs of his soul before the needs of his body. Allah starts the Surah by saying,
Verse 1: Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad.
Allah starts Surah Maryam with a series of five letters. There are many different saying or explanations regarding these five letters. The most correct opinion is that these are from the broken letters. There are 29 different Surahs in the Quran that start with the broken letters. Only Allah alone knows the meanings of these letters. They are a secret from amongst the secrets of Allah , meaning that no one knows what they truly mean. Only Allah knows their meanings so they are from amongst the Mutashaabihat, those verses whose meanings are hidden.
However, we do find that some great Companions, as well as their students, sometimes gave meanings to these words. For example, it’s said that it is in acronym and each letter represents one of the names of Allah . Kaf is for Al-Kafi or Al-Kareem, “haa” is for Al-Hadi, “yaa” is from Hakeem or Raheem, “’ayn” is from Al-‘Aleem or Al-‘Adheem, and “saad” is from Al-Saadiq. Others said that it is one of the names of Allah and it’s actually Al-Ism Al-‘Atham or that it’s a name of the Quran. However, these narrations can’t be used as proof or to assign definitive meanings. They offer possibilities, but no one truly knows what they mean.
Now the question should come to our mind that why would Allah start of a Surah with words that no one understands?
1) To grab the attention of the listeners.
2) To remind us that no matter how much we know there’s always something that we don’t know.
3) These letters are the letters of the Arabic language and the Quran was revealed at a time that was the peak of eloquence of the language and it was their identity. The Quran was revealed challenging them spiritually and intellectually. The Arabs never heard these letters being used in such a majestic way.
4) To prove the inimitable nature of the Quran.
Allah then starts the story of Zakariyya . Zakariyya was one of the Prophets sent to Bani Israel. He was the husband of Maryam’s paternal aunt. He was also one of the caretakers or custodians of Baitul Maqdis.