Surah Al-Hajj Ayat 17-27

{17. Verily, those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Majus, and those who worship others besides Allah; Truly, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Verily, Allah is over all things a Witness.}

Allah will judge between the Sects on the Day of Resurrection

Allah tells us about the followers of these various religions, the believers (Muslims) and others such as the Jews and Sabians. We have already seen a definition of them in Surat Al-Baqarah (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:62) and have noted how people differ over who they are. There are also the Christians, Majus and others who worship others alongside Allah. Allah will “judge between them on the Day of Resurrection” with justice; He will admit those who believed in Him to Paradise and will send those who disbelieved in Him to Hell, for He is a Witness over their deeds, and He knows all that they say and all that they do in secret, and conceal in their breast.

{18. See you not that whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and Ad-Dawabb, and many of mankind prostrate themselves to Allah. But there are many (men) on whom the punishment is justified. And whomsoever Allah disgraces, none can honor him. Verily, Allah does what He wills.}

Everything prostrates to Allah

Allah tells us that He alone, with no partner or associate, is deserving of worship. Everything prostrates to His might, willingly or unwillingly, and everything prostrates in a manner that befits its nature, as Allah says: “Have they not observed things that Allah has created: (how) their shadows incline to the right and to the left, making prostration unto Allah, and they are lowly” (16:48). And Allah says here: “See you not that whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth prostrate themselves to Him” means, the angels in the regions of the heavens, and all the living creatures, men, Jinn, animals and birds. “and there is not a thing but glorifies His praise” (17:44). “and the sun, and the moon, and the stars” These are mentioned by name, because they are worshipped instead of Allah, so Allah explains that they too prostrate to their Creator and that they are subjected to Him. “Prostrate yourselves not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate yourselves to Allah Who created them” (41:37). In the Two Sahihs it was recorded that Abu Dharr said, “The Messenger of Allah said to me, 

“Do you know where this sun goes?”

I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said,

“It goes (sets) and prostrates beneath the Throne, then it awaits the command. Soon it will be told, “Go back the way whence you came.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:342)

Ibn Abbas said, “A man came and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I saw myself in a dream last night, as if I was praying behind a tree. I prostrated, and the tree prostrated when I did, and I heard it saying, “O Allah, write down a reward for me for that, and remove a sin from me for that, store it with You for me and accept it from me as You accepted from Your servant Dawud.” Ibn Abbas said, “The Messenger of Allah recited an Ayah mentioning a prostration, then he prostrated, and I heard him saying the same words that the man had told him the tree said.” This was recorded by At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and Ibn Hibban in his Sahih.(Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 3:181)  “Ad-Dawabb” means all the animals. It was reported in a Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, forbade using the backs of animals as platforms for speaking, for, perhaps the one who was being ridden was better and remembered Allah more than the one who was riding.(Ahmad 3:441)  “and many of mankind” means, they prostrate willingly, submitting themselves to Allah of their own free will. “But there are many (men) on whom the punishment is justified.” means, those who refuse prostration, are stubborn and arrogant. “And whomsoever Allah disgraces, none can honor him. Verily, Allah does what He wills.” It was recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “The Messenger of Allah said:

“When the son of Adam recites the Ayat containing the prostration, the Shaytan withdraws weeping and says, “Ah! Woe (to me)! the son of Adam was commanded to prostrate and he prostrated, so Paradise is his; I was commanded to prostrate and I refused, so I am doomed to Hell.” 

This was recorded by Muslim. (Muslim 1:87)  In his book Al-Marasil, Abu Dawud recorded that Khalid bin Madan, may Allah have mercy upon him, reported that Allah’s Messenger said,

“Surat Al-Hajj has been favored over the rest of the Qur’an with two prostrations.” (Al-Marasil 78)

Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Isma`ili recorded from Abu Al-Jahm that Umar did the two prostrations of [Surat] Al-Hajj when he was in Al-Jabiyah, and he said, “This Surah has been favored with two prostrations.” (Al-Bayhaqi 2:317)

{19. These two opponents dispute with each other about their Lord; then as for those who disbelieved, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling water will be poured down over their heads. 

20. With it will melt (or vanish away) what is within their bellies, as well as (their) skins. 

21. And for them are hooked rods of iron. 

22. Every time they seek to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be driven back therein, and (it will be) said to them: “Taste the torment of burning!”}

The Reason for Revelation

It was recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Dharr swore that this Ayah – “These two opponents dispute with each other about their Lord” was revealed concerning Hamzah and his two companions, and Utbah and his two companions, on the day of Badr when they came forward to engage in single combat. This is the wording of Al-Bukhari in his Tafsir of this Ayah. (Fath Al-Bari 8:297) Then Al-Bukhari recorded that Ali bin Abi Talib said, “I will be the first one to kneel down before the Most Merciful so that the dispute may be settled on the Day of Resurrection.” Qays (sub-narrator) said, “Concerning them the Ayah was revealed:“These two opponents dispute with each other about their Lord” He (Qays) said, “They are the ones who came forward (for single combat) on the day of Badr: Ali, Hamzah and Ubaydah, Shaybah bin Rabiah, Utbah bin Rabiah and Al-Walid bin Utbah.” This was reported only by Al-Bukhari. (Fath Al-Bari 8:297)

Ibn Abi Najih reported that Mujahid commented on this Ayah, “Such as the disbeliever and the believer disputing about the Resurrection.” According to one report Mujahid and Ata’ commented on this Ayah, “This refers to the believers and the disbelievers.”

The view of Mujahid and Ata’ that this refers to the disbelievers and the believers, includes all opinions, the story of Badr as well as the others. For the believers want to support the religion of Allah, while the disbelievers want to extinguish the light of faith and to defeat the truth and cause falsehood to prevail. This was the view favored by Ibn Jarir, and it is good.

The Punishment of the Disbelievers
“then as for those who disbelieved, garments of fire will be cut out for them,” meaning, pieces of fire will be prepared for them. Said bin Jubayr said: “Of copper, for it is the hottest of things when it is heated.” (At-Tabari 18:590)  “boiling water will be poured down over their heads. With it will melt (or vanish away) what is within their bellies, as well as (their) skins.” meaning, when the boiling water -which is water that has been heated to the ultimate degree- is poured down over their heads.
Ibn Jarir recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The boiling water will be poured over their heads and will penetrate their skulls until it reaches what is inside, and what is inside will melt until it reaches their feet. This is the melting, then he will be restored to the state he was before.” (At-Tabari 18:591)

It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who said it is Hasan Sahih. (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 7:301) This was also recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim, who then recorded that Abdullah bin As-Sariy said, “The angel will come to him, carrying the vessel with a pair of tongs because of its heat. When he brings it near to his face, he will shy away from it. He will raise a hammer that he is carrying and will strike his head with it, and his brains will spill out, then he will pour the brains back into his head. This is what Allah says in the Ayah:“With it will melt what is within their bellies, as well as (their) skins.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:21)

“And for them are hooked rods of iron.” Ibn Abbas said, “They will be struck with them, and with each blow, a limb will be severed, and they will cry out for oblivion.”(At-Tabari 18:593)  “Every time they seek to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be driven back therein,” Al-Amash reported from Abu Zibiyan that Salman said, “The fire of Hell is black and dark; its flames and coals do not glow or shine.” Then he recited: “Every time they seek to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be driven back therein,” “Taste the torment of burning!” This is like the Ayah:“and it will be said to them: “Taste you the torment of the Fire which you used to deny.” (32:20). The meaning is that they will be humiliated by words and actions.

{23. Truly, Allah will admit those who believe and do righteous good deeds, to Gardens underneath which rivers flow (in Paradise), wherein they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments therein will be of silk. 

24. And they are guided unto goodly speech and they are guided to the path of Him, Who is Worthy of all praises.}

The Reward of the Believers

When Allah tells us about the state of the people of Hell – we seek refuge with Allah from that state of punishment, vengeance, burning and chains – and the garments of fire that have been prepared for them, He then tells us about the state of the people of Paradise – we ask Allah by His grace and kindness to admit us therein. He tells us: “Truly, Allah will admit those who believe and do righteous good deeds, to Gardens underneath which rivers flow,” means, these rivers flow throughout its regions, beneath its trees and palaces, and its inhabitants direct them to go wherever they want. “wherein they will be adorned” – with jewellery – “with bracelets of gold and pearls” means, on their arms, as the Prophet said in the agreed-upon Hadith:

“The jewellery of the believer [in Paradise] will reach as far as his Wudu’ reached.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:398)

“and their garments therein will be of silk.” in contrast to the garments of fire worn by the inhabitants of Hell, the people of Paradise will have garments of silk, Sundus and Istabraq fine green silk and gold embroidery, as Allah says:“Their garments will be of green Sundus, and Istabraq. They will be adorned with bracelets of silver, and their Lord will give them a pure drink. (And it will be said to them): “Verily, this is a reward for you, and your endeavor has been accepted.” (76:21-22).

In the Sahih, it says:“Do not wear fine silk or gold embroidery in this world, for whoever wears them in this world, will not wear them in the Hereafter.” (Muslim 3:1642) Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr said, “Those who do not wear silk in the Hereafter are those who will not enter Paradise. Allah says: “and their garments therein will be of silk” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 5:465) “And they are guided unto goodly speech.” This is like the Ayat:“And those who believed and did righteous deeds, will be made to enter Gardens under which rivers flow – to dwell therein forever, with the permission of their Lord. Their greeting therein will be: “Salam (peace!)” (14:23) “And angels shall enter unto them from every gate (saying): “Salamun Alaykum (peace be upon you!)”, for you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home!” (13:23-24), “No evil vain talk will they hear therein, nor any sinful speech. But only the saying of, “Peace! Peace! (Salaman! Salaman!).” (56:25-26)

They will be guided to a place in which they will hear good speech.“Therein they shall be met with greetings and the word of peace and respect.” (25:75), unlike the scorn which will be heaped upon the people of Hell by way of rebuke, when they are told:“Taste the torment of burning!” “and they are guided to the path of Him Who is Worthy of all praises.” to a place in which they will give praise to their Lord for all His kindness, blessings and favors towards them, as it says in the Sahih Hadith:“They will be inspired with words of glorification and praise, just as they are inspired with breath.” (Muslim 4:2180) Some scholars of Tafsir said that the Ayah,“And they are guided unto goodly speech” refers to the Qur’an; and it was said that it means La ilaha illallah or words of remembrance prescribed in Islam. And the Ayah: “and they are guided to the path of Him Who is Worthy of all praises.” means, the straight path in this world. These interpretations do not contradict that mentioned above. And Allah knows best.

{25. Verily, those who disbelieved and hinder (men) from the path of Allah, and from Al-Masjid Al-Haram which We have made (open) to (all) men, the dweller in it and the visitor from the country are equal there, and whoever inclines to evil actions therein or to do wrong, him We shall cause to taste from a painful torment.}

A Warning to Those Who Hinder Others from the Path of Allah and from Al-Masjid Al-Haram and Who seek to do Evil Actions therein

Allah rebukes the disbelievers for preventing the believers from coming to Al-Masjid Al-Haram and performing their rites and rituals there, claiming that they were its guardians,“and they are not its guardians. None can be its guardians except those who have Taqwa” (8:34). In this Ayah there is proof that it was revealed in Al-Madinah, as Allah says in Surat Al-Baqarah:“They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months. Say, “Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) with Allah is to prevent mankind from following the way of Allah, to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid Al-Haram, and to drive out its inhabitants” (2:217) And Allah says here:“Verily, those who disbelieved and hinder (men) from the path of Allah, and from Al-Masjid Al-Haram” meaning, not only are they disbelievers, but they also hinder people from the path of Allah and from Al-Masjid Al-Haram. They prevent the believers who want to go there from reaching it, although the believers have more right than anyone else to go there. The structure of this phrase is like that to be found in the Ayah:“Those who believed, and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (13:28) Not only are they believers, but their hearts also find rest in the remembrance of Allah.

The Issue of Renting Houses in Makkah
“which We have made (open) to (all) men, the dweller in it and the visitor from the country are equal there” meaning that they prevent people from reaching Al-Masjid Al-Haram, which Allah has made equally accessible to all in Shariah, with no differentiation between those who live there and those who live far away from it.“the dweller in it and the visitor from the country are equal there,” Part of this equality is that everyone has equal access to all parts of the city and can live there, as Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn Abbas concerning the Ayah: “the dweller in it and the visitor from the country are equal there,” He [Ibn Abbas] said: “Both the people of Makkah and others can stay in Al-Masjid Al-Haram.” (At-Tabari 18:596)  “the dweller in it and the visitor from the country are equal there,” Mujahid said, “The people of Makkah and others are equally allowed to stay there.” This was also the view of Abu Salih, Abdur-Rahman bin Sabit and Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. Abdur-Razzaq narrated from Mamar, from Qatadah who said: “Its own people and others are equal therein.”
This is the issue about which Ash-Shafi`i and Ishaq bin Rahwayh differed in the Masjid of Al-Khayf, when Ahmad bin Hanbal was also present. Ash-Shafi`i was of the opinion that the various parts of Makkah can be owned, inherited and rented, and he used as evidence the Hadith of Usamah bin Zayd who said, “I said, O Messenger of Allah, will you go and stay tomorrow in your house in Makkah?” He said,

“Has Aqil left us any property?”

Then he said,

“A disbeliever does not inherit from a Muslim and a Muslim does not inherit from a disbeliever.” 

This Hadith was recorded in the Two Sahihs. (Al-Bukhari 6764) He also used as evidence the report that Umar bin Al-Khattab bought a house in Makkah from Safwan bin Umayyah for four thousand Dinars, and made it into a prison. This was also the view of Tawus and Amr bin Dinar. Ishaq bin Rahwayh was of the opinion that they (houses in Makkah) could not be inherited or rented. This was the view of a number of the Salaf, and Mujahid and Ata’ said likewise. Ishaq bin Rahwayh used as evidence the report recorded by Ibn Majah from Alqamah bin Nadlah who said, “The Messenger of Allah , Abu Bakr and Umar died, and nobody claimed any property in Makkah except the grazing animals. Whoever needed to live there would take up residence there, and whoever did not need to live there would let others take up residence there.” (Ibn Majah 3107)

Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Abdullah bin Amr said, “It is not allowed to sell or rent the houses of Makkah.” He also said, narrating from Ibn Jurayj: “Ata’ would not allow people to charge rent in the Haram, and he told me that Umar bin Al-Khattab did not allow people to put gates on the houses of Makkah because the pilgrims used to stay in their courtyards. The first person to put a gate on his house was Suhayl bin Amr. Umar bin Al-Khattab sent for him about that and he said, `Listen to me, O Commander of the faithful, I am a man who engages in trade and I want to protect my back.’ He said, ‘Then you may do that.” Abdur-Razzaq recorded from Mujahid that Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “O people of Makkah, do not put gates on your houses, and let the bedouins stay wherever they want.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 4:633) He said: Mamar told us, narrating from someone who heard Ata’ say about the Ayah, “the dweller in it and the visitor from the country are equal there,” “They may stay wherever they want.” Ad-Daraqutni recorded a saying reported from Abdullah bin Amr: “Whoever charges rent for the houses of Makkah, consumes fire.”(Ad-Daraqutni 2:300)

Imam Ahmad took a middle path, according to what his son Salih narrated from him, and he said, “They may be owned and inherited, but they should not be rented, so as to reconcile between all the proofs.” And Allah knows best.

A Warning to Those Who want to commit Evil Actions in the Haram
“and whoever inclines to evil actions therein or to do wrong, him We shall cause to taste from a painful torment.” “or to do wrong,” means, he aims deliberately to do wrong, and it is not the matter of misunderstanding. As Ibn Jurayj said narrating from Ibn Abbas, “This means someone whose actions are intentional.” (At-Tabari 18:601)
Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “The evil action of Shirk.” (At-Tabari 18:600) Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said: “The evil action is allowing in the Haram what Allah has forbidden, such as mistreating and killing, whereby you do wrong to those who have done you no wrong and you kill those who have not fought you. If a person does this, then he deserves to suffer a painful torment.”  (At-Tabari 18:600) “or to do wrong,” Mujahid said, “To do some bad action therein. This is one of the unique features of Al-Haram, that the person who is about to do some evil action should be punished if this is his intention, even if he has not yet commenced the action.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded in his Tafsir that Abdullah (i.e., Ibn Masud) commented about the Ayah, “and whoever inclines to evil actions therein or to do wrong,” “If a man intends to do some evil action therein, Allah will make him taste a painful torment.”  (At-Tabari 18:600) This was also recorded by Ahmad. (Ahmad 1:428)  I say, [its] chain is Sahih according to the conditions of Al-Bukhari, and it is more likely Mawquf than Marfu. And Allah knows best. Said bin Jubayr said, “Insulting a servant and anything more than that is (counted as) wrongdoing.”
Habib bin Abi Thabit said: “and whoever inclines to evil actions therein or to do wrong,” “Hoarding (goods) in Makkah.” This was also the view of others. “and whoever inclines to evil actions therein or to do wrong,” Ibn Abbas said, “This was revealed about Abdullah bin Unays. The Messenger of Allah sent him with two men, one of whom was a Muhajir and the other from among the Ansar. They began to boast about their lineages and `Abdullah bin Unays got angry and killed the Ansari. Then he reverted from Islam (became an apostate) and fled to Makkah. Then these words were revealed concerning him: “and whoever inclines to evil actions therein or to do wrong,” meaning, whoever flees to Al-Haram to do evil actions, i.e., by leaving Islam.” These reports indicate some meanings of the phrase “evil actions”, but the meaning is more general than that and includes things which are more serious. [This chain has some deficiency]  Hence when the owners of the Elephant planned to destroy the House (the Ka`bah), Allah sent against them birds in flocks, “Striking them with stones of Sijjil. And He made them like (an empty field of) stalks (of which the corn has been eaten up by cattle).” (105:4-5). means He destroyed them and made them a lesson and a warning for everyone who intends to commit evil actions there. Hence it was reported in a Hadith that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“This House will be attacked by an army, then when they are in a wide open space, the first of them and the last of them will be swallowed up by the earth.” (Fath Al-Bari 4:397)

{26. And (remember) when We showed Ibrahim the site of the House (saying): “Associate not anything with Me, and sanctify My House for those who circumambulate it, and those who stand up (for prayer), and those who bow and make prostration (in prayer);” 

27. And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every Fajj Amiq.}

Building of the Kabah and the Proclamation of the Hajj

This is a rebuke to those among Quraysh who worshipped others than Allah and joined partners with Him in the place which from the outset had been established on the basis of Tawhid and the worship of Allah Alone, with no partner or associate. Allah tells us that He showed Ibrahim the site of the `Atiq House, i.e., He guided him to it, entrusted it to him and granted him permission to build it. Many scholars take this as evidence to support their view that Ibrahim was the first one to build the House and that it was not built before his time. It was recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Dharr said, “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, which Masjid was the first to be built’ He said, “Al-Masjid Al-Haram.” I said, ‘Then which’ He said, “Bayt Al-Maqdis.” I said, ‘How long between them’ He said, “Forty years.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:469) And Allah says: “Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing” (3:96) until the end of following two Ayat.

Allah says: “and We commanded Ibrahim and Isma`il that they should purify My House for those who are circumambulating it, or staying (Itikaf), or bowing or prostrating themselves.” (2:125) And Allah says here: “Associate not anything with Me,” meaning, ‘Build it in My Name Alone.’ “and sanctify My House” Qatadah and Mujahid said, “And purify it from Shirk.” (At-Tabari 18:604)  “for those who circumambulate it, and those who stand up, and those who bow, and make prostration (in prayer)” means, ‘and make it purely for those who worship Allah Alone, with no partner or associate.’ What is meant by “those who circumambulate it” is obvious, since this is an act of worship that is done only at the Ka`bah and not at any other spot on earth. “and those who stand up” means, in prayer. Allah says:“and those who bow, and make prostration.” Tawaf and prayer are mentioned together because they are not prescribed together anywhere except in relation to the House. Tawaf is done around the Ka`bah and prayer is offered facing its direction in the majority of cases, with a few exceptions, such as when one is uncertain of the direction of the Qiblah, during battle and when praying optional prayers while traveling. And Allah knows best.

“And proclaim to mankind the Hajj” meaning, ‘announce the pilgrimage to mankind and call them to perform pilgrimage to this House which We have commanded you to build.’ It was said that Ibrahim said: “O Lord, how can I convey this to people when my voice will not reach them” It was said: “Call them and We will convey it.” So Ibrahim stood up and said, “O mankind! Your Lord has established a House so come on pilgrimage to it.” It is said that the mountains lowered themselves so that his voice would reach all the regions of the earth, and those who were still in their mothers’ wombs and their fathers’ loins would hear the call. The response came from everyone in the cities, deserts and countryside, and those whom Allah has decreed will make the pilgrimage, until the Day of Resurrection: “At Your service, O Allah, at Your service.” This is a summary of the narrations from Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Said bin Jubayr  (At-Tabari 18:605) and others among the Salaf. And Allah knows best. This was recorded by Ibn Jarir and by Ibn Abi Hatim at length. “They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel,” This Ayah was used as evidence by those scholars whose view is that Hajj performed on foot by those who are able, is better than Hajj performed riding, because the phrase “on foot” is mentioned first, and because it is an indication of their keenness and resolve. Waki narrated from Abu Al-`Umays from Abu Halhalah from Muhammad bin Kab that Ibn Abbas said, “I do not regret anything except for the fact that I wish I had performed Hajj on foot, because Allah says, “They will come to you on foot”.  (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:35) But the majority are of the view that performing Hajj while riding is better, following the example of the Messenger of Allah , because he performed Hajj riding, although his physical ability was sound.”they will come from every Fajj” means every route, as Allah says:“and We placed therein Fijaj for them to pass” (21:31).(Amiq) means distant. This was the view of Mujahid, Ata’, As-Suddi, Qatadah, Muqatil bin Hayan, Ath-Thawri and others.  (At-Tabari 18:608) This Ayah is like the Ayah in which Allah tells us how Ibrahim prayed for his family,“So fill some hearts among men with love towards them” (14:37). There is no one among the Muslims who does not long to see the Ka`bah and perform Tawaf, people come to this spot from every corner of the world.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir Vol 6 (Abridged) Pages 537-557