An Introduction to Surat Al-Hajj
Name of the Surah
The Surah takes its name from the fowling verse:
And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass. (Al-Hajj 22:27)
Is it a Makki or Madani Surah?
Parts of this surah were revealed in Makkah and other parts in Madinah, as is evident from the topics addressed. We note in particular that verses 38-41, which give the Muslim community permission to fight, and verse 60, which speaks about meting out the same punishment that is inflicted on Muslims by others, were revealed in Madinah.
In its subject matter and its general ambiance, the surah appears closer to the Qur’anic surahs revealed in Makkah. Issues like God’s Oneness, the warning to be watchful for the Last Hour, evidence for the inevitable resurrection of all mankind, the fallacy of pagan beliefs based on associating partners with God, the scenes of the Day of Judgment, and drawing attention to universal signs pointing to God’s existence and power, are all very prominent in the surah. Yet equally prominent are the many issues normally addressed in surahs revealed in Madinah.
Subject Matter and Theme of the Surah
The Surah is addressed to:
1- The Pagans of Makkah as they have been admonished time and again for their creed of shirk (disbelief) and sound arguments have been given in favor of Tawhid and the Hereafter.
2- The wavering Muslims who had embraced Islam but were not prepared to endure any hardship in its way.
3- The true believers have been told that the pagans of Makkah had no right to debar them from visiting the Holy Mosque. They had no right to prevent anyone from performing Hajj because the Holy Mosque was not their private property.
Topics of the Surah
1- The Surah relates part of the history of building the Ka`bah, often referred to in the Qur’an as the House, and the task assigned by God to Abraham to build it on the basis of His oneness, purifying it of all traces of idolatry. It goes on to mention some of the rituals of pilgrimage and how they strengthen people’s piety, which is the aim of this great act of worship.
2- The Surah provides examples of past communities’ denials of faith, the destruction of hardened unbelievers, and images of cities destroyed over the heads of wrongdoers.
3- The Surah shows God’s promise of support to anyone who is oppressed as he tries to repel such aggression. This promise is followed by highlighting some aspects of God’s infinite power.
4- The surah concludes with an address to the believers to worship their Lord and strive for His cause, and to hold fast to His rope as they fulfill the duties required by their faith which goes back to the time of Abraham (peace be upon him).
Sayyed Abu A`la Maududi’s Tafhim Al-Qur’an.
Sayyid Qutb’s Fi Zhilal Al-Qur’an.