Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sura 22 - The Pilgrimage

This sura is named after what seems to be the main issue (v. 25) of the sura, that is, that the Muslims have been denied access to perform pilgrimage in Mecca.

Date, Context and Theme

There are mixed opinions for the date of this sura. Some scholars say it is a late Meccan while others an early Medinan. This difference is not an issue because what is clear is that Mecca is under the control of the Meccans (Quraysh) and not the Muslims. 22:39 seems to indicate fighting so I go with an early Medinan date.

The main theme is the day of doom (judgement) for those who reject God. There is a lot in this about how great God is. I think the key verse is,
They measure not Allah His rightful measure. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty. 22:74

This is a warning to the Meccans who are denying the Muslims access to Mecca for pilgrimage. The irony is the when the Muslims took control of Mecca they banned all non-Muslims from pilgrimage (sura 9).


The Day of Doom (Judgement)
vv. 1-2 Announce that the day of doom (judgement) is coming.

Issues about the Day of Doom
Vv. 3-4 Do not let the devil turn you away from this warning.
Vv. 5-7 How can people be raised to life to be judged? Allah causes you to grow and gives life by rain to the desert so he can raise you from death.
Vv. 8-10 People without knowledge doubt this message
vv. 11-13 Some only believe when things are good but turn away when there is hardship.
Vv. 14 But Allah will reward the believer.
v. 15 If you want Muhammad to fail then you should hang yourself.
Vv. 16-17 The Qur’an is clear and explains itself. All people will be judged by what they believe and do.

It is right to worship Allah
v. 18 All of creation worships Allah and so should you.
Vv. 19-22 Those who refuse to will be in hell.
Vv. 23-24 The righteous will be in paradise.

The Pilgrimage
V. 25 The Muslims are being barred from performing the pilgrimage.
Vv. 26-41 The pilgrimage is for all mankind. Perform it and live the righteous life. Abraham did it.

The Messenger Denied
v. 42-56 A short history of how the prophets before Muhammad were denied. Reaffirming that Muhammad is just a prophet.
Vv. 57-62 Allah will judge and reward those who listen to the messenger.
63-78 Look at Allah’s power. He will judge and just mercy. Do not reject the message but serve Allah.

What I found interesting.

1. This verse sounded like Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.
On the day when ye behold it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling and every pregnant one will be delivered of her burden, and thou (Muhammad) wilt see mankind as drunken, yet they will not be drunken, but the Doom of Allah will be strong (upon them). 22:2

And they will bid thee hasten on the Doom, and Allah faileth not His promise, but lo! a Day with Allah is as a thousand years of what ye reckon. 22:47

2. I have been told that suicide is strictly forbidden in Islam, yet Muhammad wishes it upon his enemies.
Whoso is wont to think (through envy) that Allah will not give him (Muhammad) victory in the world and the Hereafter (and is enraged at the thought of his victory), let him stretch a rope up to the roof (of his dwelling), and let him hang himself. Then let him see whether his strategy dispelleth that whereat he rageth!. 22:15

3. It is true that Islam has the doctrine of taqiya (hiding you are a Muslim) but Muslims are still to tell the truth. It has both teachings.
That (is the command). And whoso magnifieth the sacred things of Allah, it will be well for him in the sight of his Lord. The cattle are lawful unto you save that which hath been told you. So shun the filth of idols, and shun lying speech, 22:30

4. It is clear that Allah does not need the sacrifices but they are a way of showing devotion.
Their flesh and their food reach not Allah, but the devotion from you reacheth Him. Thus have We made them subject unto you that ye may magnify Allah that He hath guided you. And give good tidings (O Muhammad) to the good. 22:37

5. The destruction of any acceptable religious building is seen with disapproval.
Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: Our Lord is Allah - For had it not been for Allah's repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down. Verily Allah helpeth one who helpeth Him. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty - 22:40

6. I did not know that Moses was denied in Midian.
(And) the dwellers in Midian. And Moses was denied; but I indulged the disbelievers a long while, then I seized them, and how (terrible) was My abhorrence! 22:44

This comes in a section where many prophets are said to have been rejected. It seems that Muhammad has gone too far and assumed that Moses was rejected in Midian.

7. The Meccans have been opposing Muhammad’s message (and the other prophets?).
While those who strive to thwart Our revelations, such are rightful owners of the Fire. 22:51

While those who disbelieved and denied Our revelations, for them will be a shameful doom. 22:57

And when Our revelations are recited unto them, thou knowest the denial in the faces of those who disbelieve; they all but attack those who recite Our revelations unto them. Say: Shall I proclaim unto you worse than that? The Fire! Allah hath promised it for those who disbelieve. A hapless journey's end! 22:72

8. Here is some more cosmology.
Hast thou not seen how Allah hath made all that is in the earth subservient unto you? And the ship runneth upon the sea by His command, and He holdeth back the heaven from falling on the earth unless by His leave. Lo! Allah is, for mankind, Full of Pity, Merciful. 22:65

9. There were some great descriptions of the greatest of God in this sura.
Lo! those who believe (this revelation), and those who are Jews, and the Sabaeans and the Christians and the Magians and the idolaters - Lo! Allah will decide between them on the Day of Resurrection. Lo! Allah is Witness over all things. 22:17

And they will bid thee hasten on the Doom, and Allah faileth not His promise, but lo! a Day with Allah is as a thousand years of what ye reckon. 22:47

The Sovereignty on that day will be Allah's, He will judge between them. Then those who believed and did good works will be in Gardens of Delight, 22:56

And He it is Who gave you life, then He will cause you to die, and then will give you life (again). Lo! man is verily an ingrate. 22:66

Hast thou not known that Allah knoweth all that is in the heaven and the earth? Lo! it is in a record. Lo! that is easy for Allah. 22:70

They measure not Allah His rightful measure. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty. 22:74

He knoweth all that is before them and all that is behind them, and unto Allah all things are returned. 22:76


  1. A verse in this surah I wanted to mention:
    O men! Here is a parable set forth! listen to it! Those on whom, besides Allah, ye call, cannot create (even) a fly, if they all met together for the purpose! and if the fly should snatch away anything from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. Feeble are those who petition and those whom they petition!

    Modern science has discovered that a fly breaks down its food outside its body before ingesting it. So once a fly has 'snatched' food, there is no way to release it back.