English - Ma'ariful Qur'an - Mufti Shafi Usmani RA - Vol - 1
Surah Al-Baqarah - 2 : Verses 196 - 203
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Staying in 'Arafat and Muzdalifah:
The next statement in the same verse (198) is:
Later, when you flow down from 'Arafat, recite the name of Allah near al-Mash'ar al-Haram (the Sacred Monument) and recite His name as He has guided you, while before it, you were among the astray.
The verse tells us that, on the way back from 'Arafat, it is necessary (wajib) to stay overnight in Muzdalifah and to recite the name of Allah there, specially as taught.
Literally, 'Arafat is plural in number. This is the name of a particular plain. Its geographical boundries are well-known. This plain
is located outside the limits of Haram. All hujjaj (Hajj pilgrims) must reach and stay there between noon (zawal) and sunset (ghurub) hours. This is the most important obligation of Hajj for which, if missed out, there is no alternative in the form of kaffarah (expiation) or fidyah (ransom).
Several causes have been cited for the name, 'Arafat. Out of these, the clearer explanation is that 'Arafat is a plain where man gets to know his Lord and, through his 'ibadah and dhikr, learns how to get closer to Him,and in addition to that, Muslims from the East and the West meet and know each other by direct contact.
Emphasis has been laid in the text on the stay near al-Mash'ar al-Haram on the way back from 'Arafat after having spent the day there and after having departed the plain soon after sunset. Al-Mash'ar Al-Haram is the name of a mountain which is located in Muzdalifah. The word, 'al-mash'ar' means 'sign' or 'symbol', and 'haram' being 'sacred', the name signifies that this mountain is a sacred monument to Islam. The plain adjacent is called Muzdalifah. It is necessary (wajib) to spend the night on this plain and offer the combined prayers of Maghrib and 'Isha' at one time in Muzdalifah. The Qur'anic expression: translated as 'recite the name of Allah near al-Mash'ar al-Haram' certainly includes all kinds of the remembrances of Allah, but here it particularly means the offering of two prayers at one time, that is, offering Maghrib with 'Isha'. This is the special act of 'ibadah peculiar to the plain of Muzdalifah. Perhaps, the sentence that follows: (recite his name as He has guided you) is indicative of this aspect. It is said that one should remember Allah and recite His name in the manner He has taught without adulterating it with personal opinions because personal deduction would have demanded that the Salah of Maghrib be offered at the time set for it and the Salah of 'Isha' at its own time. But, on that day, Allah Almighty favours that the Salah of Maghrib be delayed and offered along with 'Isha'. From the Qur'anic statement cited above, recite His name as He has guided you', we see the emergence of yet another basic ruling that man is not independent in worshipping and remembering Allah, that is, he cannot worship Him as he wishes and he cannot remember Him as he chooses. Instead, every 'ibadah and
dhikr of Allah demands the observance of special rules of etiquette. These have to be performed as stipulated; doing it otherwise is not permissible. Then, Allah Almighty does not like any substraction or addition, nor any change in its prescribed time or place, even though the change may lead to an increase in the act of worship. It is observed that people tend to add some features in voluntary prayers and acts of charity from their side without having any reason approved by the Shari'ah, and going a step farther, they take it upon themselves as something necessary while Allah and His blessed Messenger did not declare it as necessary, and last but not the least, such people have the audacity to regard those who do not do all that as in error. This verse exposes their false position by saying that such additional forms of worship reflect the practice of Jahiliyyah when the disbelievers had used their personal opinions and choices to concoct forms of worship and had limited the serious act to few customs.
The third verse (199): (Then, flow down from where the people flowed, and seek forgiveness from Allah. Certainly, Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful) was revealed in a particular background. The Quraysh of Arabia being the custodians of the Ka'bah enjoyed a unique position of influence and distinction in the country. During the days of Jahiliyyah, while everyone went to 'Arafat, the Quraysh would, in order to demonstrate their unusual importance, stop at Muzdalifah and stay there. They said that, being the custodian of the Ka'bah and the caretakers of the Haram, it was not proper for them to go out of the limits of the Haram. Since Muzdalifah is located within the sacred limits of the Haram and 'Arafat is out of it, they would seize upon the excuse, stay in Muzdalifah and it was from there that they came back. The truth was that they loved to show off their pride and arrogance and made it a point to keep common people at a distance. Their erroneous conduct thus apprehended, Allah Almighty commanded them to go where everyone goes, that is, into the plain of 'Arafat, and then, return from there with everyone else (it will be notedthat in the accompanying translation of the text, the Qur'anic word afidu has been rendered into English literally with the word, 'flow' which succinctly suggests mingling with the multitude, something shunned by the Quraysh of Jahiliyyah).
To begin with, behaving special and staying disconnected from others is a standing act of arrogance which must almost always be avoided, particularly during the days of Hajj where the garment of Ihram and the homogeneity of place and purpose teach the lesson that all human beings are equal, the distinction of rich and poor, learned and ignorant, big and small does not exist here, therefore, such display of assumed distinction, and that too in a state of Ihram, further increases the degree of crime.
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