Fulfilment of covenants -Obligations relating to Pilgrimage -Regulations regarding food -Perfection of the Faith -Islam chosen to be the Religion - Dealings with the non-Muslims.
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَوْفُواْ بِالْعُقُودِ أُحِلَّتْ لَكُم بَهِيمَةُ الأَنْعَامِ إِلاَّ مَا يُتْلَى عَلَيْكُمْ غَيْرَ مُحِلِّي الصَّيْدِ وَأَنتُمْ حُرُمٌ إِنَّ اللّهَ يَحْكُمُ مَا يُرِيدُ
1. "O' you who have Faith! Fulfil the contracts (made by you or people). The four-footed animals are lawful to you (for food) except those which will be recited unto you, pilgrim garb, and while you are in deem not game permitted to be hunted. Verily Allah decrees whatever He intends."
Muslims should earnestly fulfil any covenant and every kind of contract that they have made. These covenants are irrespective of the recorded contracts and the oral contracts, whether they are political, economical, social, and both with authorative and weak people, friend or enemy.
The Holy Qur'an enjoins Muslims that the contracts with pagans should be fulfilled, too. Surah At- Taubah, No.9. verse 4 says:
According to a tradition from Imam Sadiq (as), recorded in Al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 162 even the fulfilment of agreements with the sinners is necessary.
These covenants may be with Allah (s.w.t.) (like vows and promises), or with people who can be an individual or a group, young or old. The contracts may be with the countries in neighbourhood, or those of international formation.
However, as in the same manner that breach of promise and iniquity is the secret of deprivations,1 fulfilling the promises is the cause of gains and enjoyments.
And it ought to be noted that the heavenly Books are also Allah's covenants to which should we be loyal and fulfil them entirely. The Old Testament (the Torah), the New Testament (the Evangel) and the Present Testament (the Qur'an) all are referred to in the Islamic literature. In a tradition, Imam Sadiq (as) said:
"Al-Qur'an is the covenant of Allah unto His people…." 2
However, faith is the basis of fulfilling the promises and vows. The holy Prophet Muhammad (S) said:
"There is no religion for the person who does not fulfil his promise."
If the agreements and promises be not kept, the basis of the society and common confidence will fail, and, at that line, disorder comes forth.
Then, following the ordinance of fulfilling the promise, which involves the entire ordinances and divine covenants, the Qur'an states a number of Islamic ordinances. At first, it refers to the meat of some animals that can be lawful. It says:
But, in this ordinance, it has excepted the meat of two animals to be lawful. It says:
And Allah is wilful to decree whatever ordinance He pleases, since He is Omniscient and 'Omni competent. This means that He decrees whatever ordinance which is good for the servants, and His Wisdom requires it.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تُحِلُّواْ شَعَآئِرَ اللّهِ وَلاَ الشَّهْرَ الْحَرَامَ وَلاَ الْهَدْيَ وَلاَ الْقَلآئِدَ وَلا آمِّينَ الْبَيْتَ الْحَرَامَ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلاً مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرِضْوَانًا وَإِذَا حَلَلْتُمْ فَاصْطَادُواْ وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ أَن صَدُّوكُمْ عَنِ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ أَن تَعْتَدُواْ وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ
2. "O' you who have Faith! do not profane Allah's Monuments, nor the sacred month, nor the offering, nor the sacrificial animals with garlands, nor those going to the Sacred House seeking the grace and pleasure of their Lord. And when you are free from the pilgrim garb (and acts of Umrah), then (you can) hunt. And let not hatred of a people (once) hindered you from the sacred Mosque move you to commit aggression. And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and transgression; and be in awe of Allah (for), verily, Allah is severe in penalty."
In this verse, several Islamic magnificent ordinances, among the latest ordinances that were revealed to the Prophet (S), are referred to. All of these ordinances, or most of them, are related to Hajj pilgrimage and visiting the Sacred House:
1. At first it addresses the believers and enjoins them not to violate the sanctity of the symbols of Allah and not to consider their prohibition as lawful. It says:
2. Keep the sanctity of the sacred months and refrain from fighting in these sacred months.
3. Do not consider lawful the offering and the sacrificial animals which you bring for Hajj, whether they are with garlands or without garlands, and let them reach the place of sacrifice and then they can be sacrificed there.
4. All the pilgrims to the Sacred House should be enjoyed a complete freedom in the rites of this Islamic great duty. In this work, there is not any privilege between nations, individuals, races, and languages.
Therefore, you must not bring into trouble those who set out for visiting the Sacred House and seeking the grace and pleasure of Allah, or even for obtaining some commercial gains, whether they are friends or enemies of yours. When they are simply Muslims and are called as pilgrims of the Sacred House, they are in immunity.
5. The prohibition of hunting, in Hajj performances, is limited to the time of wearing pilgrim garment. Thus, when you come out of pilgrim garment while performing the rites of Hajj or Umrah, hunting is allowed for you.
6. If in the course of Hudaybiyyah pagans hindered you from going into the Sacred House and did not allow you to perform the concerning sacred rites of the Pilgrimage, this happening should not cause you to renew the old hostilities after they becoming Muslims, and hinder them from going into the Sacred House.
A general law can be extracted from this statement. This law is that never should Muslims be malicious and revenge the incidents that happened in old times.
Then, in order to complete the former discussion, the holy verse continues saying:
The Arabic term /birr/ has a vast meaning, including: having faith in: Allah, Resurrection, prophets, heavenly Books, and angels. The word also means: helping the deprive in the society, fulfilling the contracts properly, being patient in affairs, and helping in righteousness.
For example, if the act of studying and learning is a work of righteousness, its facilities, such as: building schools, libraries, laboratories, providing books, vehicles, training teachers, encouraging both teachers and students, etc, all are the examples of 'helping in righteousness'.
There are many traditions in Islamic literature in which we have been instructed to helping in goodness and assisting the oppressed and the deprived, and we have also been prohibited from assisting the oppressors. Here, we mention only a few of them as a blessing:
Helping a Muslim believer, in comparison, is better than performing one month recommendable fast and spiritual retreat. (Wasa'il-ush- Shi'ah, vol. 11, p. 345)
Imam Sadiq (as) said:
"Whoever steps forth for helping others, has the reward equal to a striver in the Holy War." (Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, vol. 8, p. 586)
He (as) also said:
"And whoever assists a transgressor, he himself is as a transgressor." (Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, vol. 11, p. 345)
We have also been enjoined even not to help a transgressor in building a mosque. (Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, vol 12 p. 130)
We ought not to sell grapes to the maker of wine, not to give weapon to a tyrant, not to allow a plotter to act, not to give vehicles to Taghuto to Mecca, not to tell the secrets to the persons with little capacity, and not to smile to a sinner.
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالْدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَا أَكَلَ السَّبُعُ إِلاَّ مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ وَأَن تَسْتَقْسِمُواْ بِالأَزْلاَمِ ذَلِكُمْ فِسْقٌ الْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلاَمَ دِينًا فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ فِي مَخْمَصَةٍ غَيْرَ مُتَجَانِفٍ لِّإِثْمٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
3. "Forbidden to you (for food) are carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, what has been (slaughtered) in the name of any other than that of Allah, and the beast strangled, beaten to death, killed by a fall, the gored to death by a horn, and that which a wild beast has begun to eat, (all are unlawful), except what you slaughter (in accordance with the prescribed law). And (also forbidden is to you) what has been slaughtered before idols, or that you divide by the arrows; (all) that is ungodliness. Today those who disbelieve have despaired of your religion, so do not dread them but dread Me. Today have I perfected your religion for you, and completed My favour on you, and I have chosen for you Islam as a religion. But, whoever is helplessly forced by hunger, without inclining to sin, (can enjoy the forbidden food), then verily Allah is forgiving, Merciful."
At the beginning of this Surah, there was a statement which pointed out to the meat of the beast being lawful for eating, except what would be said thereafter. This verse, in fact, is the explanation upon the same exceptions. Here, there are eleven things which have been ordained to be prohibited.
At first, it says:
The meat of this kind of beast is forbidden to be eaten, whether the action is done spontaneously, or by the beast, or by a person.
It had been customary at the Age of Ignorance that sometimes the animal was put between two sticks or two branches of a tree, and then it was pressed thereby so much so that it died. After that, the meat of such animal was consumed by them. It is also forbidden in Islam to eat the meat of the animals which are tortured, or beaten to death, or die because of a disease.
It is cited in At-Tafsir-ul-Qurtubi that it was a custom among some Arabs that, for the sake of idols, they would beat a few sorts of animals until they died. They considered that action a kind of worship.
The verse also continues saying:
Then, following the prohibition of the aforementioned items, the Qur'an implies: if, before that those animals die, they can be taken and slaughtered in accordance with the Islamic laws, and sufficient blood comes out of their bodies, they will be lawful. The verse says:
At the Age of Ignorance, some idol worshippers had settled some pieces of stone around Ka'bah which had had no special form or shape. They called them /nusub/ and they sacrificed animals before them and poured some blood of the sacrificial animal over the idols.
The only distinguished difference between these stones and idols was that idols had a special shape and face, but /nusub/ had not. In the verse under discussion, Islam has forbidden eating the meat of such animals, and says the animals which are slaughtered on the idols or before them are all forbidden for you to eat.
It is clear, of course, that the prohibition of this kind of meal has a moral and spiritual aspect, not a bodily and material one,
Another kind of animal which the verse points out as unlawful, are those which are killed and divided in the form of lottery, The action was in this manner that: ten persons among themselves laid a bet and bought an animal to kill, Then they put ten arrow shafts in a bag, on seven of them was written 'gainer', while on the rest was written' loser'.
They took those shafts out of the bag as the manner of lottery one after another by the name of the ten people. Those for whose names the seven 'gainers' came out, had a share of meat without paying anything; but those three persons, for whose names the three 'losers' were given, had to pay one- third of the price of the animal without having a share of its meat.
These arrow shafts were called /'azlam/. Islam prohibited eating such meat. It was not for the reason that the meat itself was unlawful, but for the reason that it had a form of gambling and lottery. So, it says:
It is evident that the prohibition of gambling, and the like of it, is not allocated to the meat of animals, but when it is done on a thing, it is forbidden, because it is a place where all unexpected social harms and superstitions can be assembled.
Then, finally, in order to emphasize more on the prohibition of all these deeds, it says:
From the totality of the above discussions, as well as other Islamic literature, it is understood that the style of Islam in consuming kinds of meat, like its other commandments, is a perfectly moderate style.
That is, neither it is like the people of the Age of Ignorance, who consumed the meat of lizard, carrion, blood, and the like of them or like many people of the West who, today, do not remanciate eating even the meat of crabs and some worms, nor it is like some Hindus, who believe that eating meat is absolutely forbidden.
Thus, Islam ordains that the meat of those animals which contains pure nutriment and is not hatred, to be lawful (halal), and, by giving some conditions for the usage of some kinds of meat, has rejected the styles of excess and defect.
Next to the statement of the above-mentioned ordinances, there are also two expressive phrases mentioned in the verse under discussion. At first, it says:
Then, it continues saying:
Which day is the day of the perfection of religion? What is the purpose of the word' today' which has been repeated in the couple of above sentences?
The answer to the first question is: "The Day of Ghadeer Khumm." This fact has been cited by Shi'ite commentators in their books, in the case that many traditions referred to by the scholars of both great sects of Islam.
Sunnites and Shi'ites confirm it, and it completely fits with the contents of the verse. That day was the day when the Prophet of Islam (S) formally assigned Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (as) as his successor.
It was on that day that Islam reached its final perfection and pagans sank deep inside the waves of their despair. They expected Islam to be subsistent in person and, by diminishing the Prophet (S), the circumstances would change to the former state, so that Islam could gradually vanish.
But when they observed that a man was elected as the successor of the Prophet and people paid allegiance to him who, next to the Prophet (S), was peerless among Muslims from the point of knowledge, virtue, power, and justice, despair and hopelessness, due to the future of Islam, surrounded them, and they found that it was a fixed and permanent religion.
An interesting point, which must be paid attention to here, is that the Qur'an in Surah An-Nur No.24, verse 55 says:
In this verse, Allah says that He will establish for them on the earth the religion which He has chosen for them.
Regarding the fact that Surah An-Nur has been revealed before Surah Al-Ma'idah, and noting that the sentence "and chosen for you Islam as a religion," which has been revealed in the verse under discussion upon the master ship of Ali (as), we deduce that Islam will be firmly established and grounded on the earth when it be combined with 'mastership', because this is the very Islam that Allah has chosen and has promised those who believe to establish it firmly on the earth.
In other more clear words, Islam will be a world-wide religion in the case that it be not separated from the subject of love of Ahlul-Bayt /wilayah/ (the loyalty or allegiance to the Imams).
Another matter that can be deduced from the combination of Surah An-Nur, verse 55 with the verse under discussion is that: in the former verse three promises have been given to the believers. The first is that they be made rulers in the earth. The second is security and peace for the worshippers of the Lord; and the third is the establishment of a religion that Allah has chosen.
Those three promises were actually done on the day of Ghadeer Khumm (18th Zul-Hijjah) when the verse:
was revealed, because the perfect complete example of a believing person with good deed meant Ali (as), the one who was assigned as the successor of the Prophet (S). It was then that with the meaning of:
Muslims were set in a relative security and peace; and also with the meaning of '...and chosen for you Islam as religion', the chosen religion of the Lord was established among Muslims." 3
At the end of the verse, it has returned again to the discussion of the sorts of prohibited meat and expresses the ordinance of the case of exigency. It says:
1. The firmness of the religious school depends on a correct leadership. So, with its existence, all the infidels became hopeless at that time.
2. If the leader of the day of Ghadeer (and wilayah) exists in the society, Muslims must not have any fear.
3. The most important window of the hope of infidels was the departure of the Muslims' leader (S). By the assignment of Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (as) for the leadership, that window was closed. However, the religion without having a leader is not complete.
4. The infidels, without the leader of Ghadeer, have many hopes and with that leader being appointed, they become hopeless. Then all infidels are on one side and 'Ali-ibn-' Abi-Talib is on another side.
يَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا أُحِلَّ لَهُمْ قُلْ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ وَمَا عَلَّمْتُم مِّنَ الْجَوَارِحِ مُكَلِّبِينَ تُعَلِّمُونَهُنَّ مِمَّا عَلَّمَكُمُ اللّهُ فَكُلُواْ مِمَّا أَمْسَكْنَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَاذْكُرُواْ اسْمَ اللّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ
4. "(O' Muhammad!) they ask you what has been made lawful for them. Say: 'Good things have been made lawful for you; and such hunting creatures as you teach, training them as hounds, and teaching them of what Allah has taught you, then eat what they seize for you and mention Allah's Name over it. And be in awe of Allah; verily Allah is swift in reckoning."
There are several occasions of revelation mentioned upon this verse, the most appropriate of which is as follows:
Two companions of the holy Prophet (S) by the names of Zayd-ul-Khayr and 'Uday-ibn-Hatam, once went to him (S) and said that they were among a group who used to hunt with falcons and hunting-dogs.
Those hunting-dogs would take the animals whose meat was lawful (for eating). Some of the animals would be fetched alive and killed by them, but some others would be killed by the hunting-dogs, before they had opportunities to kill them according to the Islamic law.
They asked that while they knew that the meat of carrion was unlawful for them to eat, what their duty was to do. Then, the verse was revealed and answered them.
Following the commandments stated in the previous couple of verses upon the lawful and unlawful sorts of meat, another part of that subject is referred to in this verse, and, as an answer to their question, the Divine revelation says:
This means that what Islam has ordained as unlawful are among malignant and impure things. Thus, never the Divine law prohibits a pure animal which has naturally been created for the usage and utility of human beings.
Then, the verse refers to the hunting when it says:
Therefore, the animals that hunting-dogs bring for you should be killed according to the law of Islam when they are alive. But, if the hunts die before the dogs can reach them, they are lawful (halal), although they are not slaughtered.
At the end of the verse, it points to two other circumstances of the conditions of such hunt being lawful, saying:
Thus, if the hunting-dogs have accustomed themselves to eat a portion of their own hunt and leave another portion, such hunt is not lawful. In fact, such a dog has neither been trained, nor what it leaves can be as an aspect of the Qur'anic word /'alaykum/ (for you), for the dog has hunted the animal for itself.
The second condition is:
Then, in conclusion, in order that all these godly commandments be observed, it says:
الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَّكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلُّ لَّهُمْ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذِي أَخْدَانٍ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالإِيمَانِ فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ وَهُوَ فِي الآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
5. "Today (all) good things have been made lawful for you, and (also) the food of those who have been given the Book is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And (so are) the chaste women from the believers and the chaste women from those who have been given the Book before you (are lawful for you) when you give them their dowries taking them in marriage, not fornicating, nor taking them for paramours in secret. And whoever denies the faith, his work indeed is vain, and he will be of the losers in the Hereafter."
In this verse, which is the supplementary of the former verses, the Qur'an says:
The objective meaning of the phrase: "...the food of those who have been given the Book..." is something other than the meat of animals slaughtered by them.
It is narrated in a tradition from Imam Sadiq (as) who, on commenting this verse, said:
"The purpose of 'the food of those who have been given the Book' is cereals and fruits, not their slaughtered (animals), since they do not recite the Name of Allah when they slaughter (them)."
After referring the lawfulness of the food of the People of the Book, this verse speaks about the marriage of the immaculate women from among, Muslims and the People of the Book. It says:
Then the verse adds the statement:
In fact, this part of the verse decreases also some restrictions which had existed before upon the marriage of Muslims with non-Muslims, and, thereby, it authorizes their marriage with the women of the People of the Book under some conditions. More details about this subject should be studied in the Islamic jurisprudent books.
This fact should also be said that in this world of today that many of customs of the Age of Ignorance have been revived in different forms, this sort of thought has also come into being that: there is no objection for single men or women to take paramours. It has appeared not only in a hidden form, similar to that manner that existed in pre-Islamic era of Ignorance, but also manifestly.
The world of today, from the point of sexual libertinism, indeed, has gone beyond what had existed in the Age of Ignorance.
At that time, they considered only taking paramours in secret permissible, while these recent people know its manifest form unobjective, too, so that, with ultimate impudence, they re even proud of it.
This shameful custom, which can be counted a manifest obscene act, is one of the inauspicious presents which has been brought from West to East and has proved to be the origin of many misfortunes and crimes.
In view of the fact that the above-mentioned facilities upon association with the People of the Book and marrying their women may be misused by some persons and, they, knowingly or unknowingly, may be driven towards them, at the end, the verse warns the Muslims, saying:
This statement implies that these facilities, besides bringing some relief into your life, should work as a cause of influence and development of Islam among foreigners. It should not cause, of course, that you may be influenced by it and leave your own religion. If it happens, your chastisement will be very hard and heavy.
- 1. The reference is Surah An-Nisa’', No.4, verse 160, and Surah Al-An'am, No.6, verse 146
- 2. Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 16, p. 144; & vol. 69, p. 198
- 3. Inside the verse of prohibition sorts of forbidden meat of carrion were mentioned in order that they be protected from the perversion of opponents. Just like a person who puts his jewels inside other ordinary goods to be protected from being taken away.