Chapter 3: The Qurʾān
| 45 →
It is not the ambition of this chapter to provide an extensive analysis of the Qurʾānic texts on sacrifice. However, there is a need for a survey of the pertinent Qurʾānic material, and it is my intention to offer such a presentation in this chapter. The criteria for the selection of texts are that they refer to the sacrifice, the pilgrimage (ḥajj), the places Mecca and Mina, or to the connection between sacrifice and Ibrāhīm and/or Muḥammad. The selected texts are from suwar 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 17, 22, 37, 48, 58 and 108. The pericope Q 37: 99–113 is the most important; other Qurʾānic texts are, at first sight, less obviously about sacrifice. In an article about Q 37, Suliman Bashear (1990) dealt only briefly with the sūra itself.1 In his view, more interesting material was to be found in the ḥadīth and historical reports. I will try to demonstrate that there are many elements in the Qurʾānic text(s) that are decisive for an understanding of sacrifice in early Islam,2 even if we here do not make use of ḥadīth and tafsīr to any notable extent. Topics concerning pre-Islamic deities and practices are present in our Qurʾānic material (Q 6:136–137; 22:31; 5:3 and elsewhere).
The story about Ibrāhīm offering his son in Q 37 (al-ṣaffāt) is found in vv. 99–113. Before presenting and shortly commenting on these verses, we must take a brief look at the verses that precede and succeed them. ← 45 | 46 →
The first part of the sūra tells about the unrighteous who will be judged by Allāh, and the righteous who will go to Paradise. According to vv. 69–71 the ungodly were admonished to desist from the actions of their forefathers, but they continued in their evil ways. The only exceptions were Allāh’s true servants, his prophets, Nūḥ (Noah),3 Ibrāhīm (Abraham), Isḥāq (Isaac),4 Mūsā (Moses),5 Harūn (Aaron),6 Ilyās (Elias),7 Lūṭ (Lot)8, and Yūnūs ibn Mattā (Jonah),9 who are mentioned before and after our narrative. Ibrāhīm was an example of righteousness not only in a general sense, but in particular in virtue of averting the divinities (ālīha) “without God” (dūna Allāhi) that his father had worshipped. “He stole away to their idols and said to them: ‘Will you not eat [your offerings10]? Why do you not speak?’ With that he fell upon them, striking them down with his right hand” (v. 91).11 His opponents tried to throw him into the fire, but he looked to the sky and said that he was sick. The people left him without harming him (cf. vv. 90 and 98). ← 46 | 47 →
Following the narrative about Ibrāhīm and the near sacrifice of his son, we are told that Mūsā and Harūn were saved from “the mighty scourge”12 or “great distress”13 (al-karb al-ʿaẓīm)) (v. 115). But the prophets were given victory and the clear book, the straight path, and the praise of the later generations. “They were two of Our believing servants,”14 the Qurʾān states. In the last part of this sūra, the topics of Allāh’s potential daughters (al-banāt) and divine females (malāʾika) are brought into the text. However, the answer is clear, “Surely they lie when they declare: ‘God has begotten children’.”15 Those who maintain such errors will be punished, but the prophets will gain victory and peace.16 In other words, the link to verse 4, “Your God is one”, is underlined here. But still, the topic of ‘later generations’ (al-akhirīna and dhurriyyitihimā) is decisive (vv. 108, 113, 119 and 129). Does this also lead us to Q 108 and its emphasis on sacrifice and offspring?
This narrative has been thoroughly explained in many Islamic commentaries, which I cannot take time and space to refer to here. Over the past fifteen years, Calder, Firestone, Bashear, Leemhuis and others have analysed this narrative extensively and discussed most of the exegetical material known to them.17 To some extent I will use their comments where they support or are opposed to my findings. I present two different translations of the Qurʾānic text that are both extensively used among scholars and believers. By and large these translations agree with each other despite minor differences. In some cases it is useful to compare the two. I have added an Arabic transcription in a third column.
← 47 | 48 →
← 48 | 49 →
This narrative contains few if any details of the context of the situation. It is very short and succinct in what it seeks to tell. Nothing is said about place or time. Its chronological scheme is only vague. Shaytān does not try to interfere in the Qurʾānic version.21 Nothing is said about anxiety or joy. Neither is there any mention of other relatives or persons who may have been present. A selection of key words from the narrative might include: Father Ibrāhīm and his son, who is probably not mentioned by name; a dream, vision or a call; a test; a solution, and God who has a plan for this exceptional action. A possible structure for this passage (vv. 99–113) would then be:
A Trust in Allāh, request for a righteous son; divine answer (vv. 99–101)
B Ibrāhīm’s vision and its consequences (vv. 102–105)
B.1 The time; content; father and son (v. 102)
B.2 The act (v. 103)
B.3 Allāh’s intervention (vv. 104–105)
C Characterisation of the episode: the manifest trial (v. 106)
D The response of Allāh (vv. 107–113)
D.1 Allāh releases the son by a sacrifice (v. 107)
D.2 Allāh blesses and rewards Ibrāhīm, thus securing the praise of later generations; He grants him peace and gives him the son Isḥāq (vv. 108–113)
Before I shall consider this passage in greater detail, following the above structure, I will quote Leemhuis with whom I disagree, “Obviously, this is not a usual narrative like the story in Genesis 22. It is true that the elements of a story are present, but in its form, the Koranic message is too fragmentary and the style ← 49 | 50 → too formal and elliptical to even look much like a story.”22 Verily, this is a narrative, sharp and short-cut.
A Trust in Allāh, request for a righteous son, divine answer (vv. 99–101)
Vv. 99–101 express confidence in Allāh; he will guide his servant (v. 99) and give him a son who is among the righteous (min al-ṣaliḥīna) (v. 100). In v. 112, the same term is used of Isḥāq. This first boy is described as a ‘gentle son’ (bi-ghulmin ḥalīmin), who does not oppose his father’s will (v. 101).23 The majestatis pluralis “we” (here in v. 101 and elsewhere) is important and lifts the narrative from the level of daily life to one of dynamic transcendence, indicating that man’s future is at stake.
B Ibrāhīm’s vision and its consequences (vv. 102–105)
B.1 The time, content, father and son (v. 102)
In verse 102a we read that the boy is “running with him”. The wording used here is the same as that which later became the term for the running between al-Marwa and al-Ṣafā, al-saʿy, which a Muslim pilgrim performs following the tawāf seven times around the Kaʿba. This ritual is mentioned in Q 2:158, where it is told that the runner will gain Allāh’s reward. This term may also have been taken over from pre-Islamic times, describing a race between the two stone deities, Nāʾila at al-Marwa and Isāf at al-Ṣafā.24 But as translated by Dawood and others, the word may well mean ‘to work’. The son “reached the age when he could work (al-saʿy) with him”.25 In this translation it is emphasised that the child is able to work physically. In Arberry’s translation, however, the emphasis is on the age of religious maturity when the child can follow an adult on the walk between al-Marwa and al-Ṣafā.26 In combination the translations express both physical and spiritual maturity.27 ← 50 | 51 →
I should also point out the continuation of v. 102a, “his father said to him: ‘My son, I dreamt that I was sacrificing you (adhbaḥuka).’” The reference to a dream is an indicator of transcendent intervention. A dream (manām),28 a vision (ruʾaya), and a heavenly voice (nādaynā) (v. 104) are all clearly mentioned, but no other audible phenomena are referred to except for the conversation between Ibrāhīm and Allāh. The father understands the divine message and tells his son. This suggests a very close relationship between father and son, an impression that is further reinforced by the ensuing, “Tell me what you think”. The focus is on the relation between father and son, and the relation between these two and Allāh. In these relations there is complete harmony; both father and son obediently accept the sacrifice. This intimate relationship possibly stands as a compensation for Ibrāhīm’s break with his own father – and his deities – described in the earlier narrative of sūra 37:83–96.29
The son is eager to obey his father: “He replied, ‘Father, do as you are bidden. God willing, you shall find me steadfast (min al-ṣabirīn).’”30 Wensinck ← 51 | 52 → maintains that this term means ‘being among the patient ones’, but it is often connected with the status of an intended sacrifice. It means ‘to restrain or bind’, “thence qatalahu ṣabran ‘to bind and then slay someone’. The slayer and the slain in this case are called ṣābir and maṣbūr respectively”.31 This indicates that this narrative may have suggested the image of a martyr at the point where the boy bows down, although the text does not use the term shāhid. Consequently, ‘steadfast’, used in the translations of both Dawood and Arberry, is too weak. It would be better to translate, ‘restrained’, ‘deprived of freedom’, ‘bound’, or ‘submissive’, as Calder suggests.32
There are suggestions of making a vow in the form of the son’s saying, “do as you are bidden” (v. 102b), and “You have fulfilled your vision” (v. 105), but no explicit term for an oath appears.33 This may have led to the importance of making a vow and having the right intention (niyya) before the ḥajj rituals. The later v. 106 about the ‘bitter test’ may also indicate that the father was severely tested by his vision and his son’s words to him.
B.2 The act (v. 103)
Both father and son surrender to Allāh’s will. They surrender (aslamā), a word that has become the Islamic term for obedience.34 Ibrāhīm “laid down his son prostrate upon his face (li-jabīni)”. The latter term occurs only here in the Qurʾān. Hence, Calder does not translate the word, but leaves it in Arabic. However, following Hebrew and other Arabic sources, he explains that the word can be taken to mean ‘a hill’, “the place where the sacrifice takes place”.35 ← 52 | 53 → Personally, I find this unconvincing. The ritual of submitting to God does, however, have a corresponding expression in the Islamic prayer ritual (ṣalat) and prostration (rakʿa).36
B.3 Allāh’s intervention (vv. 104–105)
At the climactic point of the narrative, when Ibrāhīm is about to irrevocably fulfil the sacrifice of his son by killing him, Allāh suddenly intervenes and stops him, calling him by name and declaring that Ibrāhīm has already confirmed or fulfilled (qad ṣaddaqta) the vision (al-ruʾuya) (v. 105) – rather than the dream, which was the term used in v. 102a. This second derivation of the stem ṣ-d-q points to ‘a belief in something’; it is ‘an acceptable and verified’ message. Additionally, the root ṣ-d-q is the same as that of the word for ‘alms’ and ‘gift of mercy’ (ṣadaqa).37 In the sentence, “Thus do We reward (najzī) the righteous (al-muḥsinīna)”,38 the verbal (najzī), from the stem j-z-y, is used. It has the same consonant root as in jizya, which has become the main word for ‘tribute’, one of the Islamic five pillars (rukun). Nevertheless, it occurs only once as a noun in the Qurʾān (9:29).39 This sentence is repeated five times in sūra 37 (vv. 80, 105, 110, 121, 131) and makes an interesting regular pattern for the reward of those who are muḥsin. Calder calls this sentence “a formulaic locution, peculiarly appropriate to the life of Abraham, and adapted here to a particular context, ← 53 | 54 → rhyme, scheme etc.”40 The sentence is also combined with another sentence, “he is one of our believing servants” (min ʿibādinā l-muʾimīn),41 except in v. 105, where Ibrāhīm is rewarded, playing the main role. This leads us to a consideration of the connection between the intended sacrifice, the gift of mercy and the tribute.42
C Characterisation of the episode: “the manifest trial” (v. 106)
In one way, Ibrāhīm is only one among many “righteous” prophets. However, we can infer from the more specific and detailed description given to him in Q 37that he is granted a much more prominent position than most of the others. One thing that indicates this among the biographical details in this passage is the characterisation of the near sacrifice as “the manifest trial” (al-balāʾ al-mubīn).43 In the Qurʾānic text nothing is said about what the test really was. Was his loyalty to Allāh tested? Or did Allāh demand the sacrifice from Ibrāhīm? No other trials are mentioned here, but commentaries and later narrative details in sūra 37 introduce more ideas of the tests Ibrāhīm was subjected to. Firestone emphasises al-Ṭabarī's idea that this test, balāʾ, “was one of a series of tests that Abraham had to pass in order to merit being a patriarch of Islam”.44 Further, Firestone points at the connection al-Ṭabarī and others make between balāʾ and Q 2:124: “Remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with kalimāt which he fulfilled.”45
D The response of Allāh (vv. 107–113)
D.1 Allāh releases the son by a sacrifice (v. 107)
Q 37:107 is the only place in the Qurʾān where the noun dhibḥ, ‘a sacrificial victim’, occurs. This stem dh-b-ḥ is used in two other suwar as well, viz. Q 5:3, ← 54 | 55 → dhubiḥa ʿalā l-nuṣubi (‘it was slaughtered at a sacrificial stone’),46 and Q 2:71, dhabaḥūhā (‘they slaughtered or sacrificed her [the cow]’). In Q 37:102a this root is used in the first person imperfect and with the suffix ka, you, adhbaḥuka, which then means, ‘I will offer you’. The dhibḥ (sometimes called dhabīḥa, which is not used here)47 must be slaughtered according to a strict ritual known as dhakāʾa, i.e. ‘cutting the animal’s two external jugular veins’, the wadajān (dualis) awdāj (plural), or ‘cutting the throat, from beneath, at the part next to the head’. Dhakāʾa differs from al-naḥr that is cutting “in the pit above the breast, between the collar-bones, where the camels are stabbed”.48
But in our passage nothing is said about how the slaughtering takes place. The term is used but not explained. However, the sacrifice is not a ‘normal’ dhibḥ; it is a dhibḥ ʿaẓīm, a mighty sacrifice (v. 107).49 This combination occurs only here.50 The mighty sacrifice is not necessarily a ram, but also a camel be slaughtered. An interesting tradition maintains that this ram is the same as the ram that Adam’s son sacrificed.51 The animal is not mentioned in the Qurʾānic passage prior to the occurrence of any specified physical action. There is no ← 55 | 56 → knife, table or altar; the only things that are specified are a vision and two obedient males in a position of surrender. The dhibḥ ʿaẓīm is, however, suddenly present and seems utterly different from the son. This major event is not accompanied by exclamations or astonishment. There is no explanation of why and how this dhibḥ ʿaẓīm suddenly comes forward. It appears just at the right moment and in the right place. The dhibḥ is connected to the verbal with the exalted ‘we’, “We ransomed him” (fadaynāhu). Fadaynāhu and dhibḥ constitute the two sacrificial terms in this text.
Concerning the verbal root f-d-y, Lane states that the background is uncertain. It may well have been used, but not exclusively, among the Arabs connected to the pre-Islamic institution of al-ḥimā, which was a closed field where animals were kept for religious reasons and in order to protect the animals’ health.52 Lane gives examples of different uses of this verbal in conjunction with a pronominal prefix: ‘he gave his ransom’, ‘he gave a thing or a captive for him, and so liberated him’, ‘he liberated him, or ransomed him [from captivity]’, ‘he loosened him, or set him free, and took his ransom’, and, ‘giving a man and taking a man [in exchange]’, or ‘the preserving a man from misfortune by what one gives by way of compensation for him’.53 Lane renders v. 107 as follows: “And we made an animal prepared for sacrifice to be a ransom for him, and freed him from slaughter.”54 ← 56 | 57 →
N. Sinai states that the rendering of the Abrahamic narrative and the surrounding verses in Q 37 want to emphasise “the miraculous assistance that God gives to his ‘sincere servants’”.55 Ibrāhīm is clearly reckoned as one of these servants. Sinai also convincingly writes that there are structural and thematic connections between this narrative and the narrative about Ibrāhīm and the guests who announced to him the good message (tabshīr) of having a son “endowed with knowledge” (Q 51:24ff; 28).56 In Q 37:107, we have seen that this promise was tested but in due time, it was fulfilled. Such abruptions of God’s promises, in this case it was called an abrogation (nashḥ) of the Qurʾān, were to be considered as a dilemma by the Muslim juridical scholars; God ordered Ibrāhīm to sacrifice his son but He obviously found another solution and saved the boy’s life.57
D.2 Allāh blesses and rewards Ibrāhīm, thus securing the praise of later generations; He gives him the son Isḥāq (vv. 108–113)
We do not know from this narrative whether the father had only one son. We do not know whether he would have any descendants if this son were killed. When the son is released, the next topic of the narrative is: ‘later generations’, ‘folk’, ‘seed’ (dhurriyya [v. 113]58 and al-akhirīna [vv. 108, 119 and 129]). This indicates that the focus of the story is offspring as an abundant blessing from Allāh, a theme of great importance for human and religious (Islamic) life as a whole.
The prospective heirs fall into two groups, the “righteous” (muḥsinīna) (vv. 105 and 113) and the “self-wrongers” (ẓālim) (v. 113). The patient and pious boy willing to be sacrificed is opposed to these “manifest self-wrongers”, the unjust and the sinners.59 The same phrase used in v. 105 is repeated here in v. 110, “Thus do We reward the righteous”, followed in v. 111 by the additional sentence of reverence, “He was one of Our believing servants”. ← 57 | 58 →
One offspring in this narrative is Isḥāq who is called the “blessed” in v. 113.60 Was he then the son who was brought to the sacrificial place and eager to be offered? Or was the intended sacrifice his brother Ismāʿīl, who is not mentioned by name here at all? As will be evident from the ensuing chapters, the Islamic exegesis has been preoccupied with this topic ever since the writing of the Qurʾān.
Firestone is one among recent Western scholars who observes that the name of the intended sacrifice is never mentioned in Q 37.61 He says that the Qurʾān is not interested in sacred genealogy, as the Bible is.62 Both sons are, however, identified as prophets. In Q 19:54, Ismāʿīl is characterised as a righteous man (ṣādiq), a messenger (rasūl) and a prophet (nabī), but without any reference to him as the intended sacrifice. Isḥāq is called “one of the righteous” by means of a different term (al-ṣaliḥīna), and a prophet (nabī) (Q 37:112). Ismāʿīl is associated with the building of the Kaʿba together with his father Ibrāhīm (Q 2:127). Isḥāq, however, is mentioned more often than Ismāʿīl in the Qurʾān (17 times compared to 12). Firestone maintains that later ḥadīth and qiṣāṣ al-anbiyāʾ literature recounts this story and tries to fill some of the gaps that the Qurʾān leaves open.63 Bashear’s comments concerning the two sons in this sacrificial narrative are valuable.64 He evaluates most ḥadīth and tafsīr in order to see which role the different traditions and isnāds seek to emphasise. But, as mentioned above, Bashear does not discuss the Qurʾānic text as such.65 ← 58 | 59 →
The context in Q 17 uses words relating to avariciousness and wealth. The believer is asked to give richly to near kin and to the destitute and wayfarers. Then “God gives abundantly to whom He will and sparingly to whom He pleases” (v. 30). The text continues,
31. You shall not kill your children (awlādakum) for fear of want. […] To kill them is a great sin.
32. You shall not commit adultery, for it is foul and indecent.
33. You shall not kill any man (al-nafsa) whom God has forbidden (ḥarrama llāhu) you to kill, except for a just cause (illā bi-l-ḥaqqi). If a man is slain unjustly, his heir shall be entitled to satisfaction. But let him not carry his vengeance too far, for his victim will in turn be assisted and avenged.66
The question is whether these prohibitions are ever brought into connection with Q 37 and the narrative about Ibrāhīm nearly sacrificing his son. Is Ibrāhīm’s near sacrifice a “just cause” (illā bi-l-ḥaqqi)? If not, it would be possible to imagine that his son’s relatives – mother and brothers – would avenge this killing. Q 17:33 would give the right (ṣulṭān) to avenge the unjust murder of a close relative. This prohibition is also mentioned in sūrat al-anʿām, known as “The Cattle”, Q 6:136–137. But there, it is connected to the customs of killing children in pre-Islam, what is said to “ruin” and “confuse” those believing in Allāh, and, consequently, this becomes a warning to them.
136. They set aside for God a share of their produce (al-ḥarth) and of their cattle (al-anʿām), saying, “this is for God” – so they pretend – “and this for our idols (shurakāʾihim).” Their idols’ share does not reach God, but the share of God is wholly given to their idols. How ill they judge!
137. Their idols have induced many pagans to kill their children (qatala awlādihim), seeking to ruin them and to confuse them in their faith (dīnahum). Had God pleased they would not have done so. Therefore leave them to their false inventions.67
Here we hear about the pre-Islamic traditions of giving donations from agriculture to God and deities other than Him. It is an uneven relation between them. The sentence “Their [idols’] share does not reach God (fa-lā yaṣilu ilā Allāhi), but the share of God is wholly given to their idols (shurakāʾihim)” underlines this fact.
In the following passage (from Q 6:141) it is emphasised that Allāh is the creator of all animals and plants, and the order of nature is regulated in pairs of ← 59 | 60 → animals (vv. 143–144). Although the sūra is called ‘The Cattle’, this passage is ambivalent concerning their use as offerings, probably because such offerings were made to deities other than Allāh. The worst example of this is the demand of the deities to kill (qatalū) children (vv. 137 and 140). This action is characterised as “ruinous”, “confused” and a “false invention”. Not quite as serious but almost so, according to this text, are regulations concerning cattle and crops that God does not accept because His name (ism Allāhi) is not invoked over them (v. 138); i.e., they were given to deities other than God. This is condemned as an “invented lie”. Quite possibly the killing of children was a sacrificial act in pre-Islamic times, a practice that was subsequently condemned. In this respect, it is interesting that the passage is followed by regulations concerning prohibited and accepted food in Islamic times.
This passage is only loosely concerned with sacrifice, yet it contains terms denoting symbols and signs involved in the sacrificial ritual. Ibrāhīm’s religion (millat)68 is described as the example to be followed. His principle virtue consists in his denial of divinities other than Allāh. He was a ḥanīf. The text continues,
96. The first temple (bayt) ever to be built for mankind was that at Bakkah, a blessed site, a beacon (hudan) for the nations (li-l-ʿalamīna).
97a. In it there are veritable signs (ayā bayyana) and the spot where Abraham (maqām ibrāhīm) stood. Whoever enters it is safe (amin). Pilgrimage to the House (ḥajj al-bayt) is a duty to God for all who can make the journey. As for the unbelievers, God can surely do without them.69
The two symbols of guidance, hudan70 and ayā,71 attest the divine presence and accompany and testify to the work of the Prophets connected to the pilgrimage. ← 60 | 61 → The claim here is that in the House of God one finds “veritable signs (ayā bayyana)”.72
In Q 6:161 Ibrāhīm appears as the main character. He is not only the follower of the one god, Allāh, but also linked to one of the most important utterances all Muslims are supposed to pronounce, “My prayers and my devotions (ṣalāti wa-nusuki), my life and my death, are all for God” (v. 162).73 Here there is a connection between prayer and devotions, or prayer and “my service of sacrifice”, as Ali translates.74 Later, we will see that the connection between prayer and other ritual elements is emphasised in many aspects of Islamic pilgrimage and ritual life. Concerning Dawood’s translation of nusuk as ‘devotions’, it should be mentioned that in Q 2:196 the same word is often translated as ‘sacrifice’ or ‘offerings’. This is the only place in the Qurʾān where the term nusukī, ‘my sacrifices’, is used.75 Probably this refers to the attitude of devotional ritual, whether in the context of prayer or of sacrifice.
Immediately prior to the verse just quoted, the believer is reported to say, “My Lord has guided me to a straight path, to an upright religion, to the faith of saintly (hanif) Abraham, who was no idolater” (v. 161).76 In combination these two verses suggest a possible connection between Muḥammad’s view of his own role compared to that of Ibrāhīm – both were leaders along the straight path. Additionally, the monotheist Ibrāhīm had the important task of combining prayers with sacrifice, as they are understood to have been combined in the first ḥajj.
Sūra 22 is called ‘the Pilgrimage’ (al-ḥajj) and contains a couple of passages that are important for the understanding of the sacrificial ritual and sacrificial ← 61 | 62 → animals. In v. 25 Allāh is said to have established the sacred mosque (al-masjid al-ḥarām), which he gave to all mankind. This house is mentioned later, but then as “My House” (baytiya) (v. 26) and “the old house” (bayt al-ʿatīq) (vv. 29 and 33). Ibrāhīm was placed there and is presented as an example of someone with the right belief. He and other visitors are supposed to keep Allāh’s House clean (ṭahhir) for those who make the walk (li-l-ṭaʾifīna),77 who stand (al-qāʾmīna), prostrate themselves (al-rukkaʿa) and fall down (al-sujūd) (v. 26). These four expressions are all Islamic ritual terms known from the later pilgrimage and prayer ritual. The pilgrims are described as coming on foot and on skinny animals (camels) (ḍāmir)78 (v. 27).
28. They will come to avail themselves of many a benefit, and to pronounce on the appointed days (ayyām maʿalūma) the name of God over the cattle (al-bahīmat l-anʿān) which He has given them for food. Eat of their [flesh], and feed the poor and the unfortunate (wa-aṭʿimū l-bāʾīsa l-faqīra).
29. Then let the pilgrims spruce themselves (thumma li-yaqḍū tafathahum),79 make their vows (wa-li-yūfū nudhūrahum), and circle the Ancient House.
30. Such is God’s commandment. He that reveres the sacred rites of God (wa-man yuʿaẓẓim ḥurumāti Allāhi) shall fare better in the sight of his Lord. The flesh of cattle is lawful to you (wa-uḥillat lakum al-anʿām), except for that which has been specified before. Guard yourselves against the filth of idols (al-rijsa min al-awthān); and avoid all falsehoods.
31. Dedicate yourselves to God, and serve none besides Him. The man who serves other deities besides God is like him who falls from heaven and is snatched by the birds or carried away by the wind to some far-off region. Even such is he.
32. He that reveres (yaʿaẓẓim) the offerings made to God (shaʿāʾira llāhi) shows the piety of his heart (fa-innamā min taqwā l-qulūbi).
33. Your cattle are useful to you in many ways until the time of their slaughter (ilā ajalin musamman).80 Then they are offered for sacrifice at the Ancient House. ← 62 | 63 →
34. For every community (umma) We have ordained a ritual (manāsik), that they may pronounce the name of God over the cattle (bahīma l-anʿām) which He has given them for food. Your God is one God; to Him surrender yourselves. Give good news to the humble,
This passage mentions many different aspects of ritual life. Pilgrims are supposed to purify themselves and to perform the rituals and the corresponding ablutions. They are asked to make their promises, walk around the House (v. 29), and to pray and show charity (v. 34). They must also revere (yuʿaẓẓim) the rites of Allāh (vv. 30 and 32). The verb yuʿaẓẓim is second derivation from the root ʿ-ẓ-m, and of the same root as ʿaẓīm, the adjective used to describe the sacrifice in Q 37:107. It is a word with a wide range of meanings, some connected to ‘honour’, others to nouns like ‘charms’ and ‘spells’.83 Here it no doubt has the meaning ‘honour and awe’ (cf. v. 35).
The text uses two different terms for these rites, ḥurumāti Allāhi (v. 30) and shaʿāʾir Allāhi (v. 32).84 Arberry translates ḥurumāti as ‘the sacred things of God’, and shaʿāʾir as ‘God’s waymarks’,85 thus underlining the aspect of sacred guidance in these terms. The root sh-ʿ-r combines different meanings: ‘to be known; symbols or signs; hair; poetry; cultic shrine; falseness, feelings’.86 Thus ← 63 | 64 → the root carries interesting connotations in addition to the main meaning, ‘symbol’. Paret says that here shaʿāʾir means the sacrificial animals that the pilgrims took with them on their pilgrimage to Mecca.87 These signs can be placed in the same group as “the clear signs” (ayātin bayyinātin) that God sent (v. 16). He who follows this guidance (v. 16) and reveres these rites or signs “shall fare better in the sight of his Lord” (v. 30), and “shows the piety of his heart” (v. 32).
The animals allowed for sacrifice and intended as signs are cattle (al-anʿām and al-bahīma al-anʿām) (v. 30). Cows are prohibited unless the name of Allāh is pronounced over them (v. 34). The usefulness of these animals – at certain times – is obviously connected with daily needs, such as milk, wool and transportation. It is not clear whether the pluralis majestatis demands a ritual (manāsik) to be performed by all communities or only by all Muslim communities.88 Neither is it obvious whether these rituals are the same or different from each other (v. 34). The sacrifices, or rites,– are necessary in order to achieve acceptance from Allāh. He has given and wants something in return, their commitment (v. 35). The text emphasises that he wants people who surrender and are humble, in other words, people who are sincere Muslims.
Firestone says that Ibrāhīm is “recalled” in this context because the story about his life was important in order to “emphasize to Muḥammad the Kaʿba’s originally pure state as a shrine to the one God”, and Muḥammad should “refrain from associating any other divinity with God and to purify the original monotheistic shrine from the corruption of the many idols there.”89 Firestone adds that the Qurʾān links Ibrāhīm with the sacred sites in Mecca and thus relates it to pre-Islamic associations.90 Dawood’s translation at this point, “Then they are offered for sacrifice at the Ancient House” (thumma maḥillahā ilā bayti al-ʿatīq)91 is inaccurate. A better rendering would be “their [or its] sacrificial place (maḥilla) [is] at the ancient house”. ← 64 | 65 →
This passage follows immediately after the former discussion in Q 22:26–35 about the different animals suitable for sacrifice and accentuates a strong warning against an apparently tempting misapprehension of sacrifice (v. 37).
36. We have made the camels a part of God’s rites (wa-l-budna jaʿalnāhā lakum min shaʿāʾir Allāh). They are of much use to you. Pronounce over them the name of God as you draw them up in line (ṣawāffa) [and slaughter them]; and when they have fallen to the ground eat of their flesh and feed the poor and destitute. Thus have We subjected them to your service (sakhkharnāhā lakum), so that you may give thanks.92
37. Their flesh (lan yanāla Allāh luḥumūhā) and blood does not reach God (wa-lā dimāʾuhā); it is your piety (al-taqwā) that reaches Him.93 Thus has He subjected them to your service (ka-dhalika sakhkharahā lakum), so that you may give glory to God for guiding you (li-tukabbirū Allāha ʿalā mā hadanakum). Give good news to the righteous (wa-bashshiri al-muḥsinīna).
38. God will ward off evil from true believers. God does not love the treacherous (khawān) and the thankless (kafūr).94
In the next verse follows a statement that victory is reserved for those who take up arms when they are attacked (v. 39). This suggests that the whole passage may have been used to motivate the Ḥudaibiya expedition. Q 22:32 and 36 describe the camels (budna) an integral part of the offerings made to God or God’s symbols (shaʿāʾir illāh)95, and the person that shows the piety of his heart (v. 32). Additionally, cows are said to be “useful in many ways until” their limited time, when they were sacrificed at the Kaʿba (v. 33). The first verse in the section to be discussed here (v. 36) is also positive about sacrifice. The camels will be lined up (ṣawāffa) in order to be seen and admired as the best gift for God.96 These animals are then described as being turned on their sides (wajabat wujūbuhā); this is probably the position in which they lay after the killing. It is not mentioned how many animals are required, but meat of camels was obviously attractive. The food was not only for those who did the slaughtering; it was supposed to be distributed generously among those who begged and those who did not. The division is not described in greater detail.
In spite of the initial positive statement, the ensuing verses are extremely critical. Neither flesh nor blood (luḥumūhā wa-lā dimāʾuhā) reaches God even if ← 65 | 66 → the opposite was claimed just a few sentences before.97 It is interesting that the verbal yanāla contains an element of “being acceptable to”.98 The same verbal is used in Q 7:35–37 where the terms for signs (ayāt) (and not shaʿāʾir as here in this passage), piety (taqwā) and something good are combined in a way that parallels the use of “reaching them (yanāluhu)” in Q 22:37.99 It is assumed that a person’s piety (taqwā) is the only thing acceptable to Allāh (yanāluhu). Izutsu translates taqwā with ‘pious fear’ and shows that the word is almost synonymous with ‘faith’ or ‘devotion’.100 Neuwirth underlines that v. 37 is forever tabooing a connection between Islamic sacrifice and “eine Sühne-Handlung”, even if Islam knows the sacrifice of kaffara.101
The denial of intercession and ransom is also touched on in Q 5:36 (39). But there, it is only related to the disastrous fate of non-Muslims. Their potential sacrifice or self-made redemption is not acceptable to Allāh.
As for the unbelievers (kafarū), if they offered all that the earth contains and as much besides to redeem themselves (li-yaftadū) from the torment of the Day of Resurrection (min ʿadhābi yawm l-qiyāma),102 it shall not be accepted from them (mā tuqubila minhum). Theirs shall be a woeful punishment. (Q 5:36)103
The narrative in sūra 2 about Mūsā104 concerns Allāh, Mūsā and the children of Israel. Mūsā received “the Scriptures and knowledge of right and wrong” (v. 53). He was given manna in the desert (v. 57) and received water – twelve springs – after striking a rock with his stick (v. 60). The people of Mūsā ← 66 | 67 → “disbelieved (yakfurūna) God’s signs (ayāti Allāhi)” (v. 61). These signs are mentioned once more in v. 73, and thus connected to the guilt of manslaughter mentioned in v. 72.
67. When Moses said to his people: ‘God commands you to sacrifice a cow (inna Allāha yaʾamurukum an tadhbuḥū baqaratan),’ they replied: ‘Are you making game of us?’105 ‘God forbid that I should be so foolish (min al-jāhilīna)!’106 he rejoined.
68. ‘Call on your Lord,’ they said, ‘to make known to us what kind of cow she shall be.’ He replied: ‘Your Lord says, “Let her be neither an old cow nor a young heifer, but in between (innahā baqaratun lā fāriḍun wa-lā bikurun ʿawānun bayna dhālika).” Do, therefore, as you are bidden.’
69. ‘Call on your Lord,’ they said, ‘to make known to us what her colour (lawnuhā) shall be.’ He replied, ‘Your Lord says: “Let the cow be yellow (ṣafrāʾ), a rich yellow (fāqiʿ) pleasing to those that see it.”’
70. ‘Call on your Lord,’ they said, ‘to make known to us the exact type of cow she shall be; for to us cows look all alike. If God wills we shall be rightly guided.’
71. Moses replied: ‘Your Lord says: “Let her be a healthy cow (musallama), not worn out with ploughing the earth or watering the field; a cow free from any blemish (lā shiyata fīhā).”’ ‘Now you have told us all,’ they answered. And they slaughtered a cow [her] (fa-dhabaḥūhā), after they had nearly declined (kādū yafʿlūna).107
72. And when you slew a man and then fell out with one another concerning him, God made known what you concealed. We said: ‘Strike him with a part of it.’ Thus God restores the dead to life and shows you His signs (ayātihi), that you may grow in understanding.108
The cow to be sacrificed should be neither old (fāriḍ) nor a young heifer (bikur), but in between (v. 68).109 The term fāriḍ is only found here in the Qurʾān and means ‘an old cow’, while bikur means ‘a virgin’ or ‘a young heifer’, i.e. a cow that has not yet born a calf, or that has born only one calf.110 Is this a reflection of the notion of the ideal balance? The cow has to be yellow (ṣafrāʾ), rich yellow (fāqiʿ)111 (v. 69), healthy (musallama)112 and free from any blemish (lā shiyata ← 67 | 68 → fīhā) (v. 71). Mūsā acted on a command from Allāh. But the reaction of Mūsā’s audience was negative: they accused him of being ignorant and of possibly belonging to the people of the ‘time of ignorance’ (min al-jāhilīna). It is not clear whether this sacrifice is an accepted Islamic sacrifice or not. Even if Allāh ordered it, the whole narrative seems vaguely unreal and infused with disbelief. The story is a parallel to the narrative about the reactions Muḥammad met with when he first started his preaching in Mecca (Q 96). The style of the text is almost ironical, as if the audience or the reader would not know what a heifer looks like. After the detailed prescriptions Mūsā’s audience followed Allāh’s command and sacrificed the cow (dhabaḥūhā). The text does not tell the reason for the near failure of the ritual, but underlines the Islamic aspect of Allāh as the only one who can resurrect life.
In this text slaughter has a double significance; on the one hand, it provides meat, but, on the other, it can also be explained in more religious terms. The sacrifice of the cow seems to have been performed as a compensation – a ransom – for the manslaughter committed by Mūsā (Q 20:40). The touch of some of the heifer’s flesh induces Allāh’s resurrection of the dead. Thus, the murder was indirectly exchanged for life.
This passage is said to contain the last verses Muḥammad received during his first and last hajj in the year 10 AH.113 The text is therefore an important witness of one stage in the development of the pilgrimage, even more so, since the context in which the verses appear was probably a speech to the pilgrims. It mentions some traditions that are pre-Islamic and now forbidden in Islam.
1. Believers, be true to your obligations (awfū b-il-ʿuqūdi). It is lawful (uḥillat) for you to eat the flesh of all beasts (bahīma l-anʿāmi)114 other than which is hereby announced for you. Game (al-ṣayd) is forbidden while you are on pilgrimage (w-antum ḥurum). God decrees what He will.
2. Believers, do not violate the rites of God (shaʿāʾir Allāh) or the sacred month (wa-lā al-shahra l-ḥarām), or the offerings (wa-lā l-hadā) or their ornaments (wa-lā l-qalāʾida), or those that repair (lā āmmīna) to the Sacred House seeking God’s grace and pleasure. Once your pilgrimage is ended, you shall be free to go hunting. ← 68 | 69 →
3. You are forbidden carrion (ḥurrimat ʿalaykumu l-maytahu), blood (al-dam), and the flesh of swine (laḥm l-khinzīri); also any flesh dedicated to any other than God (wa-mā uhilla li-ghayri llāhi bihī). You are forbidden the flesh of strangled animals (al-munkhaniqa) and of those beaten or gored to death (al-mawqūdha); of those killed by a fall (al-mutaraddiya)115 or mangled by beasts of prey (al-naṭīḥa) (unless you make it clean by giving the death-stroke yourselves); also of animals sacrificed to idols (wa-mā dhubiḥa ʿalā l-nuṣub). [You are forbidden] to settle disputes by consulting the Arrows (an tastaqismū bi-l-azlāmi). That is a pernicious practice. […]
4. They ask you what is lawful to them. Say: ‘All good things are lawful to you, as well as that which you have taught the birds and beasts of prey to catch, training them as God has taught you. Eat of what they catch for you, pronouncing upon it the name of God. And have fear of God: swift is God’s reckoning.’116
The obligations (al-ʿuqūd) mentioned in this text may well relate to the pilgrimage.117 If we compare these verses to Q 5:95–96, there is an obvious correspondence. It is forbidden to hunt in the status of iḥrām during the ḥajj, although fishing is allowed.118 Allāh has made the sacrificial animals hady119 and qalāʾid (plural of qilāda). Neither is the status of these animals described nor how they serve man.120 Paret maintains that the sacrificial animals were decorated with qilāda around the neck, a symbolic sign or ornament that accounts for the name qalāʾid being given to the animals themselves. Hence, he does not distinguish this term from the term hady. V. 1 has a parallel in Q 2:173 and is also briefly reflected in Q 16:115a: “He has forbidden you carrion (mayta), blood (dam), and the flesh of swine; also any (flesh) consecrated other than in the name of God.”121 The practice of collective slaughtering, and the cutting off of a part of an animal or the removal of its skin is condemned.122 In Q 6:145 we encounter several similar divine rules regarding food. Here it is said that the al-mayta, self-dead meat and carrion, running blood, the flesh of swine and any flesh that has been consecrated to gods other than Allāh are unclean (rijs). Any other food is permissible for consumption. In the same category as ← 69 | 70 → blood is anything that is poured forth or shed (dam masfūḥ).123 The flesh of swine is also mentioned as impious and sinful (fisqan).124 In addition, the same rule is emphasised forbidding the use of anything over which the tasmiyya has not been uttered.125 The time for these activities is the so-called “sacred month” (also Q 2:194), but it is not stated which of the sacred months the reader should take this to be. In other words, whether the text points to the only month mentioned in the Qurʾān, that of Ramaḍān,126 or one of the four “sacred months” of al-Muḥarram,127 Dhū l-Qaʿda, Dhu-l-ḥijja or Rajab,128 we do not know.
In this passage the different applied terms for ‘sacrifice’ derive from the roots dh-b-ḥ, k-f-r, h-d-y, q-l-d and sh-ʿ-r. There are sacrifices given to Allāh and sacrifices given to the stone deities (nuṣūb) (v. 3).129 Arrows (azlām) are condemned,130 and later in the sūra (v. 90), it is said that the “maysir and the deities (al-anṣāb) and the arrows (al-azlām) are the filthy (rijsun) work of Shaytān”; it will “keep you from the remembrance of God and from your prayers” (v. 91).131
These verses are the first of six verses in this sūra about Adam and his two sons.132 ← 70 | 71 →
30. Recount to them in all truth the story of Adam’s two sons: how they each made (qarrabā) an offering (qurbān), and how the offering of the one was accepted while that of the other was not. One said: “I will surely kill you.” The other replied: “God accept [offerings] (yataqabbalu Allāhu) only from the righteous (al-muttaqīna).
31. If you stretch your hand to kill me, I shall not stretch mine to slay you; for I fear God, Lord of the Universe.
32. I would rather you should add your sin against me to your other sins and thus become an inmate of the Fire (al-nār). Such is the reward of the wicked (al-ẓalimīna).”133
Here, the righteous (al-muttaqīna) and the wicked (al-ẓalimīna) are opposed to each other and represented by two brothers who are not referred to by name.134 Only their father’s name is mentioned as Adam. Further, the text explains that murder is the result when one of two sacrifices (qurbān) is not accepted. The term is derived from the root q-r-b, ‘to draw near’, and occurs as a noun three times in the Qurʾān (here and in Q 3:183 and 46:28).135 The verb connected with the sacrifice is from the same root, qarrabā, which is intensified through the second derivation, and it appears in dualis. Who the righteous (al-muttaqīna) and the wicked (al-ẓalimīna) are, is not mentioned here, but the reader is informed that the righteous “fear[s] God, Lord of the Universe”, and the wicked “become[s] an inmate of the Fire”.
The sacrifice of one of the brothers was accepted, the sacrifice of the other not.136 K. Kueny comments that “The Qurʾān turns the sons into generic types who represent the righteous and the unrighteous, and asserts that God only recognizes offerings from the righteous.”137 Allāh is the one who attests. But it is ← 71 | 72 → not explained why the qurbān of the righteous is approved of by Allāh.138 V. 35 compares the evil of slaying one person to the slaughter of all people (qatala al-nās jamīʿan).139 Allowed are, however, murders that happen in the frame of revenge and blood money. Allāh’s clear signs as conveyed through the prophets are to be followed.
In this section we will look at texts according to which compensation is an aspect of the sacrificial rituals. Q 2:196 has a similar wording as Q 48:25. Both texts describe the ḥajj and the ʿumra. This impression is conveyed by the word manāsikakum, ‘your rules or rituals’, which denotes the ḥajj and the ʿumra. Dutton convincingly translates Q 2:196:
And complete ḥajj and ʿumra for Allah (manāsik); and if you are prevented (fa-inn uḥṣirtum)140 [you should sacrifice] whatever sacrificial animal is easy [Dawood: send such offerings as you can afford] (fa-mā (i)staysara mina l-hady); and do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal reaches its place of sacrifice [Dawood: their destination]. And whoever among you is ill, or suffers harm (adhā) to his head, [should pay] a recompense (fidya) of fasting (min ṣayām) or almsgiving (sadaqa) or a sacrifice (nusuk). Then, when you are safe, whoever does tamattuʿa141 with an ← 72 | 73 → ʿumra until the ḥajj [should sacrifice] whatever sacrifice is easy (istaysara mina l-hady). And whoever does not have one should fast three days during the ḥajj and seven when you return; that is ten altogether. This is for those whose families are not present at the Sacred Mosque. And have fear for Allah, you know that Allah’s punishment is severe.142
To facilitate a better understanding of this passage it is necessary to quote most of the text from Q 48:25, 27, as well:
25. Those were the unbelievers who debarred you from the Sacred Mosque (al-masjid al-ḥaram) and prevented your offerings from reaching their destination (wa-l-hadiy maʿakūf143 an yablugha maḥillahu).144 [...]
27. God has in all truth fulfilled His apostle’s vision, in which He had said: ‘If God will, you shall enter the Sacred Mosque (al-masjid al-ḥaram) secure and fearless, with hair cropped (muḥallikīna ruʾūsakum) or shaven (muqaṣṣirīn).’ He knew what you knew not; and what is more, He granted you a speedy victory.145
Q 2:196 is divided into two parts, one of which may have originated in the year 6 AH, the other in the year 10.146 They are therefore connected with two different occasions, one with the treaty at al-Ḥudaibīya in the sixth year AH,147 with which Q 48:25 also seems connected, and the second with Muḥammad’s Farewell Pilgrimage four years later. Probably the verse refers to the slaughtering of camels at or around the al-Ḥudaibīya, which was not a part of the ḥajj as such, but was associated with the gathering nomads and tradesmen, who were having fun playing games for stakes of valuable animals. Still, Q 2:196 as a whole and Q 48:25, 27 have similar wordings and terminology that must be examined in order to achieve a thorough understanding of the texts.
Different words for sacrifice are used in these texts. The words manāsik and nusuk derive from the root n-s-k, which means ‘to lead a religious life; to sacrifice’,148 or as Lane says, ‘to worship’.149 He also mentions the fourth ← 73 | 74 → derivation of the root, which is ansaka, ‘he washed and purified a garment’, and the fifth derivation, tanassaka, ‘he devoted himself to religious exercises’.150 Nusuk denotes the sacrificial victim, and this is one of two places where nusukin occurs in the Qurʾān. The plural of mansak, meaning the ‘ceremonial’, is manāsik, which can also mean the place(s) where the religious rites are performed.151 Later the word became synonymous with all the rituals of the ḥajj and ʿumra, and the word has become the appropriate designation for the book(s) where these rituals are found.
Another important word in Q 2:196 is fidyatun. This refers to the close relationship between fasting, alms and the offering of a sacrifice. As already mentioned in the context of Q 37, the word fidya comes from the root f-d-y, and it is rendered as “compensation” in Ali’s translation, but another possibility is ‘ransom’, which is the term used by Dawood, and which can be understood in the sense ‘redemption or that which is paid to redeem a fault’.152 From the sentence that requires the pilgrim, under certain circumstances, to “pay a ransom (fidya) either by fasting or almsgiving (sadaqa) or a sacrifice (nusuk)”, it would appear that fidya is a wider term than nusuk.153 The term fidya is also used in Q 2:183,154 57:15,155 and 57:17,156 occurrences that I will return to in due course. Dawood and Arberry translate al-hady in a very general sense; they say “offerings” and not “sacrificial animals”, which is the term used by Ali. Penrice157 supports the more general translation by saying “a victim for sacrifice, an offering” without specifying that the victim is an animal. The word comes originally from the root h-d-y, meaning ‘to lead in a right way’. ← 74 | 75 → According to this original meaning we might say that the hady is something that should lead the believer on the right path and give guidance, as already suggested above.158 On the other hand, the hady can be understood in a looser sense referring merely to the sacrificial act. Independent of the question about what sort of sacrifice the hady is, it is necessary to see it in its ritual context, whether pre-Islamic or Islamic. Ali translates al-hady as “sacrificial animals”, and he comments that the “Muslims from Medina had brought the animals for sacrifice with them, and had put on the iḥrām or pilgrim’s garb, but they were not only prevented from entering Mecca, but were also prevented from sending the sacrificial animals to the place of sacrifice in Mecca as they could have done under 2:196”.159 Ali and others state that the sacrifice was actually offered at Ḥudaibīya to mark the settling of the treaty.160 Bell comments that the reason for the constraints on the use of certain types of animals mentioned in Q 2 and 48 likely was the economic aspect of the Meccan pilgrimage. Merchants would lose money if they were prevented from selling their animals as sacrificial goods in the market.161
In these texts two aspects of hair-shaving are mentioned, both of which figure in the sacrificial ritual. Firstly, “Do not shave your heads until the offerings have reached their destination” (Q 2:196). Secondly, hair-shaving is mentioned as a sign that someone is allowed to enter the sacred mosque in Mecca: “With hair cropped [or shortened] (muḥalliqīna ruʾūsakum) or shaven (wa-muqaṣṣirīna)” (Q 48:27).162 The two aspects may be interconnected. Interestingly, Robertson Smith has stated, “The sacrifice of the hair was a common part of the ritual in every Arabic pilgrim-city or -place.”163 In the Islamic context the shaving of the head seems exclusively to be linked to the ḥajj or the ʿumra, and to the performance of the ʿaqīqa sacrifice linked to the days after a baby’s birth.164
V. 196 twice says that the pilgrim should sacrifice “istaysara mina l-hadyi”. This has been translated as both “the sacrifices that you can afford” and “the sacrifice that is easy”, suggesting the presence of a linguistic dilemma. ← 75 | 76 → Istaysara165 is the tenth derivation of the root y-s-r, third person perfect, and has the same meaning as in the fifth derivation, ‘to be easy’166 or ‘to be made ready for someone’. Lane translates, “What is easy [to give], of camel and kine and sheep or goats: or as some say, either a camel or a cow or a sheep or goat.”167 However, it is likely that Dutton is closer to the original meaning, and I therefore consider his translation, “the sacrifice that is easy”, more appropriate.
It is interesting that the word for the old Arabic game of chance, maysir,168 is derived from the same root, y-s-r; the noun yāsir means ‘dividing a thing into parts or portions’.169 Hence, there is a connection with the slaughtering of an animal that has to be divided after it has been killed. The game maysir is forbidden in the Qurʾān (2:219; 5:3 and 90–91).170 On the other hand, one of Allāh’s epithets is muyassir, which derives from the same root, and has the meaning ‘facilitator’.171 So how should istaysara be translated in this context? Dawood’s translation, “If you cannot [make the pilgrimage], send such offerings as you can afford”, seems to be the best alternative. This also explains that, although the offering is obligatory, someone who is unable to buy the required gifts for economic reasons is allowed to fast instead. This became a religious principle, which we find discussed and expanded upon by Mālik ibn Anas.
In his translation of Q 48:25, Dawood leaves the destination of the sacrificial animals, maḥillahu, unspecified, but in the Arabic text there is a clear indication that this place is the “place of sacrifice”, which is how Penrice,172 Arberry, Ali and Paret173 translate it.174 The word is derived from ḥalla, which ← 76 | 77 → means ‘to untie, unbind, unfasten; to release, set free; to be allowed, lawful’.175 In the Qurʾānic context the word ḥalla means “to fulfil the rites and ceremonies required of a pilgrim, to become ḥalāl after being aḥrāmu”, in other words, loosened from the status of aḥrām. The word taḥilla, also from the root ḥ-l-l, means ‘dissolution of a vow’. This word indicates a connection between sacrifice and vow (nadhr; plural nudhūr176), which will prove significant in the later analysis.177
Paret comments that the maḥill in both verses (48:25 and 2:196) has to be localised in the holy area.178 Based on parallels in Q 2:196, Snouck Hurgronje proposes two different interpretations for the whole context, one of which relates predominantly to the al-Ḥudaibīya treaty, and the other to the ḥajj rituals as well as to the connection between rituals and power.179
The 14th century exegete Ibn Kathīr says, “they hindered al-hady to reach its maḥill; that was their fault and their obstinacy. And al-hady, they were 70 camels (budna) which came at God’s order.”180 Here, Ibn Kathīr definitely understands al-hady to be “camels”. Dutton181 has interestingly connected maḥill with “the place of destination”. The fact that Q 22:33 regards the ḥaram as the maḥill – and not Mina only – reflects the two different sacrifices that occurred in Mecca.182 ← 77 | 78 →
Q 2:196 contains so many aspects that it is easy to overlook the verses that follow, 197–200, which also contain some important references to rites and traditions emphasised in the pilgrimage. Q 2:197 mentions the sacred months. The pilgrims are told to avoid obscenity and wickedness and to struggle for goodness, piety and remembrance of ʿArafāt and the sacred monument (al-mashʿar al-ḥarām). “And when you have fulfilled your sacred duties (manāsikakum), remember God as you remember your forefathers or with deeper reverence” (v. 200). In other words, Q 2:196–200 describes sacrificial rituals within the frame of elements of the pilgrimage. At the same time, these verses, especially Q 2:196, refer to a sacrifice as the compensation (fidyatun) and to a sacrifice (nusuk) that is performed when another ritual sacrifice (hady) has not been fulfilled. In any case the ritual actor is supposed to bring something “for His sake”, “in the memory of Allāh” (fa-adhkurū Allāha) (v. 196).183
The first verse in this pericope seems to be addressed to the believers heading for Mecca. They may be concerned about their rights regarding hunting and food.184
95. Believers, kill no game while on pilgrimage. He that kills game (ṣayd) by design, shall present, as an offering to the Kaʿba (hady bāligha l-kaʿba), an animal (al-naʿam) equivalent to the one he killed, to be determined by two just men among you; or he shall, in expiation (kaffāra), either feed the poor or fast so that he may taste the evil consequences of his deed. God has forgiven what is past; but if anyone relapses into wrongdoing God will avenge Himself on him: God is mighty and capable of revenge.185
If the pilgrim is unfortunate to kill an animal, this creature must be compensated for. The compensatory animal is a cow (al-naʿam) and the offering is here also called a hady, but unlike the cases mentioned above, the offering should be made at the Kaʿba. The expiatory offering, the kaffāra,186 is made when the prescribed ritual is not fulfilled. It requires the same number of animals in order to qualify as valid. Chelhod combines the idea of kaffāra with the early Islamic (and pre-Islamic) Bedouin Arab tradition of burying each other’s offences.187 A second possibility if a man has acted wrongly is to feed the poor or to fast; the requisite number of days is not mentioned here. Among the Arabic words used ← 78 | 79 → for ‘to atone for’ is kaffāra.188 This word comes from the root k-f-r, which has a secondary meaning, ‘to be infidel’, and is an antonym to ‘to believe’ (anama).189 Other interesting examples from the Qurʾān are Q 3:195; 4:31; 5:12 and 65:5, where kaffāra means ‘to erase’ and ‘to conceal [a crime or a sin]’, all with Allāh as subject. A particular penalty (ḥanitha)190 is imposed when someone breaks one of the oaths that people take for and during the ḥajj and which are constitutive for the state of iḥrām. In such a case it is necessary to recompense and make a kaffāra, or to distribute food, or to free a slave (Q 5:89). However, Chelhod says, even if “this is [...] a propitiatory act [...] the idea of expiation seems lacking”.191 He still links the idea of kaffāra with the early Islamic and pre-Islamic Arab tradition of burying each other’s offences, known as dafn al-dhunūb.192
V. 96a informs the believer that he is allowed to eat seafood, but once again it is repeated that the killing of game is forbidden in iḥrām. The next verse states that Allāh has made the Kaʿba and that this place is a goal for the believers, “and the sacrificial offerings with their ornaments (wa-l-hadya wa-l-qalāʾida), eternal values for mankind; so that you may know God has knowledge of all that the heavens and earth contain”.193 Muḥammad is then described as one who warns, and Allāh as the forgiver and the merciful. “God demands neither a baḥīrah, nor a sāʾibah, nor a waṣīlah, nor a ḥāmi. The unbelievers invent falsehoods about God. Most of them are lacking in judgement” (v. 103).194
All these unfamiliar words are terms for describing camels at different stages of their development and according to different grazing traditions. Baḥīra is “a name given to a camel in pre-Islam which was turned loose to feed, after being slit in its ears”.195 Sāʾiba is the “name of a she-camel” in pre-Islam to ← 79 | 80 → which “certain superstitions, among others the right of free pasture” were connected.196 Waṣīla is “a she-camel or ewe” that was considered in pre-Islam as “wont to certain superstitions in honour of their idols”.197 Finally, ḥāmi is the “name of a camel concerning which certain superstitious usages were observed by Pagan Arabs”.198 These were all regarded as forms of pre-Islamic sinfulness and thus associated with the unbelievers. It was therefore necessary to distinguish between those animals (camels) that were purified or in some other way sanctified for sacrifice, and other animals that were forbidden to be presented at the Sacred House. It is also noteworthy that the place of offering is not the maḥill (mentioned in Q 2:196 and 48:25), but, as mentioned above, the Kaʿba itself.
The shortest, but no less important, sūra in the Qurʾān, 108, is called ‘Abundance’ (al-kawthar). It is generally considered very difficult to understand and has been continuously under discussion.199
1. We have given you abundance (innā aʿṭaynāka al-kawthar).200
2. Pray to your Lord and sacrifice to Him (fa-ṣalli li-rabbika wa-nḥar).201
3. He that hates you shall remain childless (innā shāniʾaka huwa al-abtar).202 ← 80 | 81 →
After the “we” – pluralis majestatis – combined with the word for ‘presenting’ or ‘offering’ (with the root ʿ-ṭ-w), the important term al-kawthar occurs; it is used only here in the Qurʾān, and is derived from the frequent root k-th-r, meaning ‘it was or became abundant, numerous’.203 According to Birkeland, it can be seen from many early isānid that al-kawthar’s main meaning is “abundance of good”, al-kawthar al-khayr, and that it has little to do with a river or pool of water in Paradise, as some of the exegetes have suggested.204 However, the traditional interpretation of al-kawthar as “the fountain of abundance” is interesting in the current context, and Lane supports this reading when he says that kawthar is “a certain river in paradise from which flow all the [other] rivers thereof, pertaining specially to the Prophet, described as being whiter than milk and sweeter than honey and as having its margin composed of pavilions of hallowed pearls”.205 The question is whether this fountain can be identified with the important Zamzam-well in Mecca, which is called “the water of Paradise”206 and which may for a long time have been the site of sacrificial ← 81 | 82 → offerings in pre-Islam. In spite of divergence among the scholars, I find the al-kawthar to be an interesting metaphor of “abundance” and “gift from Allāh” that I will bring into the analysis of v. 3.
In v. 2 the term nḥar is used to denote “sacrifice”. Naḥara (the root n-ḥ-r in perfect) means ‘to injure the jugular vein; to sacrifice by cutting the jugular vein’.207 Here the word is used in imperative and linked to the technical term for ritual prayer ṣalli, pray! This “sacrifice” refers sometimes to cows or generally to all sacrificial animals (hady) but more often specifically to camels.208 The term also means ‘to stab or to stick a camel or a beast’.209 In a comment to the translation of the noun ʿīd al-naḥr, Lane renders it as, “The day of the stabbing of camels, or also of cows and bulls”.210 The tradition also combines the term qurbān with the ṣalāt, and says that ṣalāt is the sacrifice of every pious man.211 According to Birkeland, naḥara is interpreted differently among different groups of Muslim exegetes. Firstly, it means “to master their affairs or knowledge”,212 whereby it is used to describe a person performing his prayers, naḥara al-ṣalāt.213 Secondly, one tradition, narrated by Abū Jaʿfar, understands naḥr as “lifting hands during the first time of the takbīr”. Both interpretations were rejected by later orthodox exegetes who said that naḥr had to be “naḥr al-budun”, ‘the slaughter of beasts of sacrifice’.214 Thirdly, the consensus from about year 200 AH (Ibn Saʿd) gives a more legally-oriented understanding of the term naḥr. “The ṣalāt is the prescribed ritual ṣalāt, the sacrifice is an-nusk (‘sacrifice’) and adh-dhabḥ (also: ‘sacrifice’) on the day of al-aḍḥā.”215
Instead of praying to other gods or idols, devotion is attracted to the al-kawthar, the abundance, or Allāh himself. This naḥr should be a sign of ← 82 | 83 → gratitude towards God.216 The main point of these narrations is that this particular naḥr and ṣalāt are obviously identical with the Muslim naḥr and ṣalāt that constitute the essence of tawḥīd, and that they are not to be equated with the pagan devotions around the Kaʿba.217 Birkeland maintains that the sacrifices are signs of thanksgiving for Allāh’s rich gifts to Muḥammad, and they do not necessarily mean the Islamic practice, even if the word for prayer used here, ṣalli, does suggest the Islamic ritual rather than a freer prayer, duʿāʾ.218
Fifthly, one late tradition infers the sense of sūra 108 from sūra 107. In this case the prayer (ṣalāt) in 108:2a corresponds to the neglect of prayer in 107:5 and the withholding of alms (zakāt) in 107:7 to “sacrifice!” (nḥar) in 108:2b. Birkeland characterises this connection between the two suwar as a product of “post-traditional, speculative-dogmatic tafsīr”.219 Rāzī, however, considers the zakāt (alms’ tax) to be closely related to ṣalāt (prayer), and especially to al-naḥr (the sacrifice), claiming that “the distribution of meat to the needy was an important aspect of the Muslim sacrifice”.220 Rāzī’s exegetical combination of Q 107 and 108 is, in particular, the strongest argument for regarding the zakāt and the naḥr as closely related.
At first sight, the third verse seems to have little connection with the two preceding verses, but we will see that it may be important. “He that hates you shall remain childless”221 represents the opposite of “offering of abundance”, which was the key term in v. 1. Shāniʾa means ‘to hate’,222 and this probably refers to the Quraysh tribe that hated Muḥammad so that he was forced to leave Mecca. This event in the year 622 AD is commemorated in later tradition as the ḥijra.223 The word al-abtar means ‘without a tail’; and can be understood as ← 83 | 84 → being ‘without sons’.224 The meaning is then that the opponent, the one who hates Allāh or his prophet, “may remain without blessings, such as abundant descendants, a good reputation etc., that which the prophet will receive”.225 The traditional context for this sūra also underlines this meaning, since Muḥammad was reputed to have received this message on being taunted about his “sonless” condition and the fact that only his daughters had grown up.226 Arberry has translated this as “he is the one cut off” without any further explanation. This could, however, in my opinion be extended as to cut off from the richness (al-kawthar), the richness of blessings and of children. This alludes to the role played by Ibrāhīm and his intended sacrifice, his own son.
These two short verses in Q 3 and 46 are not direct reports about sacrificial rituals, but rather insults or criticisms directed at those who have been taught that an acceptable message has to come from someone who offers a sacrifice. This offering had to be accepted by the respective god.
To those that declare: “God has commanded us to believe in no apostle unless he brings down fire to consume an offering (qurbān tākuluhu l-nār),” say: “Other apostles before me have come to you with veritable signs (bayyināt) and worked the miracle you asked for. Why did you slay them, if what you say be true?”227 (Q 3:183)
This passage – like the one in Q 46 – also uses the combination of sacrifice (qurbān)228 and signs (bayyināt). The signs are miracles, and so is the fire that consumes the sacrifice. The connection between sacrifice and fire resembles the Elijah and Aaron narratives in the Hebrew Bible (1 Kings 18 and Lev 9).229 That fire is also called nār al-riḍā, the fire of acceptance.230 The message in Q 46:28 ← 84 | 85 → involves a similar idea, together with a warning to those who trust and sacrifice to others than the God “who created the heavens and the earth” and has “power to raise the dead to life” (v. 33). His signs are words of warning against the erroneous path. Seemingly, it is also a message of comfort for those who have been believers and supporters since the historical ḥijra (vv. 22–26).
We destroyed the cities which once flourished around you, and made plain Our revelations (ṣarrafnā al-ayā allāh) to their people, so that they might return to the right path. Why did their gods not help them, the gods they had set up besides God to bring them close to him (attakhadhū min dūna allāh qurbān ʾālihata)? Indeed, they utterly forsook them. Such were their lies, and such their false inventions.231 (Q 46:28)
In this verse, Dawood translates as if the other deities,232 here in accusative and thus objects of “they set up”, served only ‘to bring them close to’ God. It is likely, however, that qurbān ʾāliha could be translated as ‘an offering to the deities’ even when there is no preposition to express the directory ‘to’ or ‘for’.233 The sentence “Why did their gods not help them” resembles the passage in the narrative in 1 Kings 18 that describes the Baal deity at Mount Carmel as deaf and dumb (cf. vv. 24–29). The Qurʾānic text informs us that Allāh is different.
The verbal root q-r-b means, as we have seen above, ‘to draw near’.234 In the first derivation it may well have the connotation of ‘seeking to attain’.235 The second derivation clearly contains both meanings. The fifth derivation, taqarraba (min Allāh), shows traces of an association with ritual activity; “he drew near unto God by prayer or the like, and righteous actions”.236 Concerning the noun used below, qurba, Lane underlines that all translations point to ← 85 | 86 → ‘nearness’ or ‘admission into favour’.237 However, in this short verse from sūra 9 we can still observe a certain ambivalence with regard to the understanding of the Arabic word.
99. Yet there are others among the desert Arabs (al-aʿrāb) who believe in God and the Last Day (yawm al-ākhir), and regard what they give as a means of bringing them close to God238 (mā yunfiqu qurubātin ʿinda Allāh) and to the Apostle’s prayers. Indeed, closer they shall be brought (qurba lahum sa-yudkhiluhum); God will admit them to His mercy. God is forgiving and merciful.239
Dawood’s translation, “closer they shall be brought”, does not support my understanding. But we agree on the understanding that this – in my opinion, to be identified as sacrifice and prayers – is “bringing them close to Allāh”. The verse is followed by statements about the reward of those who assisted the Prophet in fleeing from Mecca to Medina and those who supported him on his arrival in Medina. They will have unreduced admittance to all joy and running water (v. 100), a real blessing for a person who inhabits the arid region of the Arabian Peninsula. This description is reminiscent of the one in Q 108:1 about al-kawthar. In other words, it is possible to see the words quruba and qurba as expressions for bringing Allāh gifts or sacrifices. Almost certainly, there is a message in the use of words derived from the root q-r-b: the believers bring their gifts or sacrifices to the Holy One, and through this act they are brought close(r) to Him.
1 Norman Calder (1988: 395) applies a similar approach when he writes, “The Quranic version of the story is of course familiar”, before he presents his own translation and gives some comments.
2 This is opposed to Nicole Grandin (1978: 90), who maintains that the Qurʾān only allows us to picture the broad lines of the formal sacrifice: “on n’y trouve rien sur des points tels que le rituel du sacrifice, la consummation de la viande, etc.”. In correspondence with such an assessment of the evidence she does not examine carefully any material from the Qurʾānic sources in her article, and only provides a couple of examples therefrom (Q 2:125–127 on p. 95, Q 22:37 on p. 96 and some references on pp. 99, 101 and 105).
3 Heller 1995: 108. Nūḥ and Ismāʿīl were among the prophets who were buried at the Maqām Ibrāḥīm at the Ḥaram. See Kister (1991: 106), referring to al-Suyūṭtī, al-Durr al-manthūr, Cairo 1314 AH, vol. 1: 136.
4 Watt (1978: 109) gives an excellent survey: “‘God gives Abraham good tidings of Isaac, a prophet, of the righteous, and blesses them both (Q 37:112f.). In a fuller description, when messengers concerning Lot come to Abraham, his wife ‘laughed, and we gave her good tidings of Isaac, and after Isaac of Jacob’ (Q 11:71/74). Several verses speak of Isaac and Jacob being given to Abraham (Q 6:84; 19:49/50; 21:72), and 29:27/26 adds that God made prophethood and the Book to be among his offspring (cf. Q 38:45f.). Ishmael is joined to Isaac in Q 14:39/41, where Abraham praises God for giving him the two although he was old. Elsewhere the name only occurs in lists: Joseph follows the creed of his fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Q 12:38), and speaks of God’s favour to them (Q 12:6); Jacob’s sons serve the God of his fathers, Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac (Q 2:133/127); and revelations are given to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Patriarchs (Q 2:136/130, 140/134; 3:84/78; 4:163/161).”
5 B. Heller [MacDonald] 1993: 638.
6 See Weisenberg and Vajda 1971: 231.
7 He is not Elisha, but Alīsaʿ ibn Ukhṭūb in the Islamic tradition. See also Q 6:86 where both prophets are mentioned. In Q 38:48 Alīsaʿ is mentioned together with Ismāʿīl and Dhūl Kifl. See Seligsohn and Vajda 1960: 404.
8 Heller [Vajda] 1986.
9 Heller [Rippin] 2002.
10 “Eat your offerings” is not explicit in the Arabic text even if this is probably the meaning here.
11 Cf. Q 37:86.91–93.97–99. Dawood 1994: 315. See also Q 19:41–48 where Ibrāhīm’s rejection of his father’s idols is rewarded by Isḥāq and Yaʿqūb, both of whom are called prophets (nabī), but not by Ismāʿīl (v. 49).
12 Dawood 1994: 315.
13 Arberry 1983: 460.
14 Q 37:114–122; 122.
15 Q 37:151–152.
16 Q 37:171–182.
17 Calder 1988; Firestone 1989: 107–131, esp. 107–108, and 1990; Bashear 1990; Leemhuis 2002.
18 Dawood 1994: 315.
19 Arberry 1983: 59–60.
20 Dawood (1994: 315) does not repeat Isḥāq’s name as does the Arabic text.
21 Firestone 1989: 99.
22 Leemhuis 2002; 126.
23 Paret (1985a: 315) translates in German ‘brav’ that means ‘prudent, good, well-behaved, obedient, worthy’.
24 Fahd (1997a: 97) mentions that the root s-ʿ-y is used 30 times in the Qurʾān. See also Lane (1872: 1366), who points out the occurrence of both meanings in the first derivation of the root. Cf. Joel, Braemer and Macdonald 1995: 756.
25 Dawood 1994: 315.
26 Paret (1985a: 315) supports this view. Also Firestone (1990: 107) supports this and translates: “When he reached the age of running with him, he said ...”
27 Calder (1986: 17–21) discusses the question whether saʿy means ‘work’ (ʿamal) or ‘running’. Calder (1986: 19) also refers to an interesting work by Wahb ibn Munabbih, Kitāb al-Tījān, available in the version of Ibn Hishām, in which the author recounts a narrative concerning the ḥajj that Adam and his children undertook from Mecca to Jerusalem, where “they used to offer a sacrifice (qurbān) at Jabal al-Ṭūr”. “In this context it is stated that he whose saʿy was accepted would see his sacrifice eaten by a heavenly fire, [....] This phenomenon is described at some length, involving the use of the word saʿy four times, always in close association with qurbān.” In Q 37, however, the term qurbān is not present. Calder (1986: 19) then concludes that saʿy is to “be understood here as implying striving specifically in order to please the deity, and so be translated as ‘worship’, equivalent to the Arabic ʿibāda”. Calder (1986: 21) ends up with the interpretation ‘place of worship’, also used in Q 37:102. He translates, “When Abraham brought him – his son – to the place of worship”. Calder’s (1986: 21–22) interpretation is then followed by an analysis of the concept, saʿy, concluding that it implies “working for the sake of God” and “bringing of somebody (the victim?) to the place of sacrifice, here a mountain or a hill”. Hence, Abraham and not the son is made the subject of the verb balagha.
28 Here the word manām, from the root n-w-m meaning ‘sleep’ or ‘dream’, is used. It occurs only four times in the Qurʾān. Cf. Q 12:36–49 where Yūsuf interprets dreams, understood as coming from Allāh, in order to tell the king and the people that He is the only God.
29 Parallel narratives with minor variations are found in Q 26:69–89; 19:41–50; 21:51–73; 29:16–26; 6:74–84. Cf. Paret’s (1971: 980–981) excellent article.
30 Wensinck 1995b: 685. Lane (1872: 1643–1646) offers many interpretations of this extensively used root in the Arabic language, pointing to ‘to be patient’ as the main meaning. ṣabūr, meaning “the one who does not hastily avenge Himself upon the disobedient”, is one of Allāh’s 99 beautiful names. Lane also offers examples for ‘to be bound or set up for slaughter’. The root may even mean ‘he slew him in retaliation’ and ‘he was put to death’. It may also be combined with the act of ‘taking an oath’ (Lane 1872: 1644). The modern and apologetic translator of the Qurʾān, Yusuf Ali (1975: 1205, footnote 4100), underlines that Abraham and Ismāʿīl were commanded to be willing for sacrifice. Ali maintains that the sacrifice was intended to be symbolic. “God does not require the flesh and blood of animals (Q xxii, 37), much less of human beings.”
31 Wensinck (1995b: 685) shows in his article about ṣabr many interesting developments of the term in the Qurʾān and hadīth. It became an extremely positive epithet for human beings, especially the apostles of Allāh. It may be a part of Muslim attitude in jihād (Q 3:140; 8:66), in ṣalāt (Q 2:42, 148), and generally in the attitude of gratefulness. For some it leads to the status of being a ṣūfī.
32 Calder 1988: 395.
33 Firestone (1990: 108–109) points at Abraham's vision in v. 106 and the special circumstances under which he became a father; see Chapter XXX, “Tabari and Abraham’s sacrifice”. See Gottschalk (1919: 106–134), where the author writes about the Jahilīya sacrifices and the connection between sacrifice and vow. See also Hebrew neḏer, ‘a vow’. Cf. Kaiser 1998.
34 Aslamā is the fourth derivation from the root s-l-m, rendered in past tense dualis.
35 Calder (1988: 395) renders jabīn only. Cf. Calder (1986: 22–26), where he says that this phrase is not found in any similar form in any Rabbinic or Christian exegesis, nor in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 22). Calder (1986: 24–25) shows that the root j-b-n often has to do with a ‘curve, hump or elevation’ in Hebrew, Aramaic and South Semitic. Calder also attempts to substantiate his point by referring to the fact that corresponding Hebrew and Arabic sources describe Ibrāhīm as sacrificing his son on a mountain (Mount Moriah) or a hill (jabal), hence the chosen translation ‘hill’.
36 Here Calder (1986: 23) explains that the Jewish Midrashic sources “lay considerable stress on the fact that Isaac was looking up, and indeed the requirements of ritual sacrifice are such that it would be difficult to carry out the appropriate actions if the victim actually had his forehead (or even his temple) on the ground. The Muslim exegetes knew this and were notably inventive in their reactions to this phrase.”
37 Wehr 1980: 509. The stem ṣ-d-q is close to ‘speaking the truth’. In early Islamic times it was used mixed with jizya (cf. Weir [Zysow] 1995: 708–715).
38 Izutsu compares the word used for Abraham, he was among the muḥsinīna (plural), with the same word in Q 3:3–5 (“The muḥsinīna who perform the prayer steadfastly, and give alms, and have unswerving faith in the Hereafter. Those are upon the guidance from their Lord; those are sure to prosper.”). Abraham, who “in complete obedience to God’s command, attempted to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, is called, in reference to this very act, a muḥsin […] Such being the case, it is hardly surprising that muḥsin should sometimes be opposed to kāfir or some of its semantic equivalents.” (All quotations are taken from Izutsu  2002: 225.) See also Q 5:85–86.
39 Cf. Q 23:111; 6:146; 34:17; 3:145; 6:84 and many other verses.
40 Calder (1988: 395) calls v. 105 a “formulaic filler having the right form and rhyme for the context”, and further states, “The formulaic part of v.105 and the following verses, 108 and 109, function in this sūra as refrains, imposing a patterned uniformity on the litany of prophets which is the subject matter.”
41 V. 122 says about Mūsā and Harūn, “they were two of our believing servants”.
42 Cf. Lazarus-Yafeh 1981c: 38–47.
43 Balāʾ means ‘trial; visitation; scourge; creditable performance; heroic action’ (Wehr 1980: 75). Mubīn means ‘clear, plain, evident, obvious, patent, final’ (Wehr 1980: 88).
44 Firestone 1990: 108. Cf. Genesis 22:12. For a comparison of the biblical and the Qurʾānic renditions, see Waldman 1985: 1–16. Cf. Firestone 1989: 95-131.
45 Firestone’s translation (1990: 108). Dawood (1994: 22) translates: “When his Lord put Abraham to the proof by enjoining on him certain commandments and Abraham fulfilled them.”
46 My translation. Dawood and Arberry both use “idols” for nuṣub in their translations (Arberry 1983: 99; Dawood 1994: 79).
47 Lane (1867: 953) says that the feminine a-ending sometimes “denote[s] that the word is applied to a sheep, or a goat, [to be slaughtered or sacrificed] not yet slaughtered [or sacrificed]”. See also Wehr 1980: 307.
48 Lane 1867: 953. The root dh-b-ḥ occurs in Ugaritic and Ugarit Akkadian texts. Lete (1995: 37–38) and Clemens (2001: 12–14, 48 and 70–72) show that this root is the most important term for sacrifice. The most frequent term in Ugarit for offering, whether sacrificial or otherwise, is dh-b-ḥ. “Its original semantic value is ‘sacrifice’ / ‘to sacrifice’ (an animal victim), in both cultic and extra-cultic contexts […] but the term loses its original value and becomes a general synonym for ‘ritual ceremony’, ‘festival’, ‘feast’, including different kinds of rite, even non-sacrificial ones” (Lete 1995: 37–38). The Arabic translation of Genesis 22:10 uses li-yadhbaḥa ibnahu, ‘in order to sacrifice his son’ and thus the stem dh-b-ḥ, as here in Q 37:102a. Bousquet (1965: 213) maintains that the dhakāʾa does not differ from the ritual slaughter of animals permitted as food.
49 The word ʿaẓīm occurs 97 times in the Qurʾān, and thus it is difficult to deduce from this usage in Q 37 and 3 that the word indicates something specific. The stem ʿ-ẓ-m will be analysed later in connection with the verbal ʿaẓẓama, which is used in younger texts.
50 The adjective ʿaẓīm is, however, used in v. 76 where Nūḥ and in v. 115 where Mūsā and Harūn were saved from the “mighty scourge” (al-karb al-ʿaẓīm), and Allāh promises “the supreme triumph” (al-qauz al-ʿaẓīm) (Q 37:60), and in Q 3:172 and 179 he promises the believers “a great reward” (ajrun ʿaẓīmun). Cf. Q 48:10; and Penrice 1971: 124.
51 Firestone 1990: 129.
52 Lane 1877: 2353. Cf. Chelhod (1971c: 393), who explains: Only the haram (Q 28:57; 29:67) is reckoned to be a sacred area. But the Qurʾān “does however make a discreet allusion to the institution of ḥimā when it evokes the history of the prophet (Q 10:64; 7:73). This apparently refers to a consecrated animal which had to live in freedom on the territory of the god. Nevertheless, Islam, which turned against wasm [branding] and the consecration of animals to divinities (Q 5:103; 6:138f.), intended to put an end to these pagan practices. Henceforward, the sole territory to be strictly sacred was Mecca, its inviolability having been decreed by Himself (Q 17:91).” Chelhod (1965b: 884) notes that fidya has close links to ḍaḥiyya, and both terms have the meaning of ‘blood sacrifice’. But there is an important distinction, “ḍaḥiyya is essentially an offering to the dead made on the occasion of ʿīd al-aḍḥā, the fidya, on the other hand, is practised in the interests of the living, without any limitation of time. It is offered up before Allāh for the delivery of a man, his family, his cattle and his goods, from some imminent misfortune, such as an epidemic.”
53 The verb is also used in first person singular, “I ransomed him”. This information is taken from Lane 1877: 2353. None of these forms is found in my texts. See Q 2:229 with f-d-y in the eighth derivation, “…if the wife ransoms herself (aftadat bihi)”; a better translation would here be, “if she buys him off”; see The Noble Qur’an: 36.
54 Lane 1877: 2354. Penrice (1971: 108) explains that the noun, fidyatun, is “a ransom, that which is paid as ransom or to redeem a fault”.
55 Sinai 2011: 435.
56 Dawood 1994: 368. Sinai 2011: 432–433 and 435. I have not examined Q 51 any further.
57 Radtke 2003: 66.
58 Dhurriyyat comes from the root dh-r-y or dh-r-ʾ, most likely the latter, according to Lane (1867: 964). Lane (957) also explains that the word means ‘things that are created’. Further, he (958) points to the tradition whereby ʿUmar said, “Perform the pilgrimage with the women … because they are the sources of offspring” (ḥujjū bi-l-dhurriyyati). Allāh is called the ‘creator’ (al-dhāriʾu) (Lane 1867: 958).
59 Arberry 1983: 460; Wehr 1980: 583.
60 Cf. Watt. 1978: 109.
61 Firestone 1989: 98.
62 Firestone 1989: 99. It is not necessary to go to the Bible to find an interest in genealogy. Within the Islamic literature there are transmissions in al-Tabarī, Taʾrīkh, that exemplify a strong interest in genealogy. Even more obviously, the interest in genealogy is manifest in the so-called Qisas al-anbiyāʾ.
63 Cf. Firestone 1990.
64 Bashear 1990.
65 Crone and Cook (1977) are critical. “[T]he Koranic treatment of the binding of Isaac, the key example of Abrahamic submission, is accompanied by an interpretation which is characteristically Samaritan” (Crone and Cook 1977: 19). These authors use targums [Aramaic renderings of the Hebrew Bible], analysed in G. Vermes 1961. Scripture and Tradition in Judaism, Leiden: Brill, Chapter 8, and argue accordingly: “The Koran follows the targumic narrative in building up the voluntary role of Isaac only to omit the interpretation which this narrative was designed to support, viz. the redemptive force of Isaac’s self-sacrifice. Instead the Koran interprets the incident as an instance of God’s recompensing the righteous (37:105,110). It is not a very arresting theme, but it is precisely the one whose association with the Samaritan submission has just been noted” (Crone and Cook 1977: 36, note 170).
66 Dawood 1994: 199.
67 Dawood 1994: 105.
68 Milla means ‘religion’ or ‘sect’. The word is probably borrowed from Hebrew, and it is not found in the pre-Islamic vocabulary. It occurs 15 times in the Qurʾān, and it means always ‘religion’, Christian as well as others (so Buhl [Bosworth] 1993c: 61).
69 Dawood 1994: 50–51.
70 Hudan; this form of the stem is used 43 times in the Qurʾān. Its main rendering is ‘guidance’, often associated with the role of Muḥammad or other prophets as signs of guidance. Chelhod (1971a: 53–54) has pointed to the interesting fact that the hudan is linked to one of the dominating words for sacrifice, hady, from the “oblation Bottom of Form root h-d-y which has the meanings ‘to guide’, ‘to put on the right path’, ‘to make a present’”.
71 Ayā is used hundreds of times in the Qurʾān, mainly to describe ‘a sign, a message and a token’ from Allāh. Later it was used as a term for the ‘verses’ of the Qurʾān. Cf. the short but excellent article on this subject, Jeffery 1960: 773–774.
72 Compare Q 2:158: ṣafā and marwa are God’s signs (shaʿāʾir Allāhi). Dawood (1994: 25) translates, ‘two of God’s beacons’ (that is, ‘fire lit on a mountain top’).
73 Dawood 1994: 108.
74 Ali 1975: 338.
75 See also Q 2:196 and, to a lesser extent, Q 14:14, where the same root n-s-k is used.
76 For interesting views on the ḥanīfiyya movement on the eve of Islam, see Rubin 1990: 85–112.
77 Ṭaʾifīna has the same stem as ṭawāf, which later became the main term for the seven circumambulations of the Kaʿba.
78 Ḍāmir comes from the stem ḍ-m-r (Wehr 1980: 545). This stem occurs in the Qurʾān only here in 22:27.
79 This phrase is difficult to translate. tafatha means either ‘to perform the sacred rites at Mecca’, or, ‘to cleanse’. A combination of these two ideas, whereby the cleansing ritual is included in the general rituals, is offered by Penrice (1971: 23), when he translates the whole phrase li-yaqḍū tafathahum, “Let them put an end to their want of cleanliness”, or, “Let them complete the rites”. Arberry (1983: 336) translates, “Let them then finish with their self-neglect”. Ali (1975: 858, note 2803) adds: “tafath – the superfluous growth on one’s body, such as nail, hair etc., which it is not permitted to remove in iḥrām. These may be removed on the tenth day, when the ḥajj is completed: that is the rite of completion.”
80 Here the Arabic text says ilā ajalin musamman, which means ‘for a limited period’ and not necessarily ‘until the time of their slaughter’, as Dawood translates.
81 Yunfiqūna from the root n-f-q, fourth derivation, which means ‘to support’ and is used for offering the Islamic charitable gift (nafaqa).
82 Dawood 1994: 236.
83 Lane 1874: 2037–2038. The root is also used in Q 20:114 and 97:23.
84 Shaʿāʾir, see Q 22:36; 5:2; 2:158, where al-ṣafā wa-l-marwa in Mecca are called min shaʿāʾir llāhi. Dawood translates this as ‘beacons’, i.e. ‘fire[s] lit on a mountain top’. See also Q 36:69; 26:224 – where ‘poetry’ is the closest meaning. In Q 53:49, al-shiʿrā means the star Sirius, the Dog Star. A derivation of shaʿāʾir is mashʿar (sing.) mashāʿir (plural), which Lane translates as ‘cultic shrine for ceremonies of the ḥajj’, although he also notes the meaning ‘a sensory organ; pl. senses, feelings, sensations’. Mashʿar al-ḥarām has become the name of the ḥajj-station of Muzdalifa east of Mecca’ (Lane 1872: 1559–1562; Wehr 1980: 474). See also Fahd’s (1997b: 424) excellent article about different usages and practices. Shaʿāʾir may mean more generally ‘the rites of God which are connected to the pilgrimage’. Ali (1975: 859, footnote 2807) understands the sacrifice symbolically and says that the symbols of God, shaʾāir llāhi, are “marks by which something is known to belong to some particular body of men, such as flags.”
85 Arberry 1983: 336–337.
86 Lane 1872: 1559–1562.
87 Paret 1986: 349.
88 Ummatin (singular dative) has become the term for the Muslim community. Arberry (1983: 337) translates: “We have appointed for every nation a holy rite”.
89 Firestone 1991: 387.
90 Firestone 1991: 387, who also adds that Ibrāhīm’s “association with the Pilgrimage [...] is an Islamic innovation that was unknown in pre-Islamic times”.
91 Firestone (1991: 386) translates correctly: “You have advantages in them till a fixed time, then their place of sacrifice is the Ancient House. Remember, We established Abraham at the site of the House. So do not associate anything with Me, and Purify My House for those who circumambulate it, stand [before it in prayer], and bow and prostrate themselves. Proclaim the Pilgrimage among humankind! They will come to you on foot and on all kinds of steeds from every corner [of the world].”
92 Cf. Paret 1985a: 234.
93 Cf. Paret 1985a: 234; Arberry 1983: 337.
94 Dawood 1994: 237.
95 See also v. 32 where the same word is used.
96 The root is ṣ-f-f and means, ‘to set up in a row or a line’ (Wehr 1980: 516); aṣ-ṣaffat, ‘The Ranks’, has become the name for Q 37.
97 Ali (1975: 860, footnote 2810) comments, “This is the true end of sacrifice, not propitiation of higher powers, for God is one, and He does not delight in flesh or blood (Q 22:37) but a symbol of thanksgiving for God by sharing meat with fellow-men. The solemn pronouncement of God’s name over the sacrifice is an essential part of the rite.”
98 Penrice 1971: 152.
99 In Q 9:120 the same verbal is used more negatively. See also Q 22:36.
100 Izutsu ( 2002: 70) adds two examples from Q 22:1 (“O, men, have fear of your Lord!”), and Q 59:18 (“Believers, have fear of God! fear God. Let every soul look to what it offers for the morrow. Fear God; God is cognizant of all your actions.”). Taqwā means ‘God-fearing, devout’ (taqiya, eighth derivation of waqā, so Penrice 1971: 23).
101 Neuwirth 2007a: 68.
102 Yaftadū min ʿadhābi is the eighth derivation of f-d-y and means ‘to obtain by sacrificing something else’ (Wehr 1980: 701). Paret (1985a: 83) translates ‘loszukaufen’.
103 Dawood 1994: 83.
104 Heller and MacDonald 1993.
105 See Numbers 19:1–10, where God says to Moses and Aaron that they should sacrifice a red cow without any blemish. The body of the cow was burnt and the ashes kept for the purification of sin.
106 Min al-jāhilīna means ‘among the ignorant’; it is likely that the listeners also took this to mean those who lived before Islam, al-jāhiliya, ‘the time of ignorance’.
107 “Now thou hast brought the truth; and therefore they sacrificed her, a thing they had scarcely done” (Arberry 1983: 9).
108 Dawood 1994: 16.
109 See Penrice 1971: 109.
110 See Penrice 1971: 109.
111 The word fāqiʿ is found only here in the Qurʾān. Cf. Penrice 1971: 111.
112 In 2:71 musallama has the same meaning as our text’s next term, ‘being unblemished’. The word is found two more times in Q 4:92; cf. Dawood 1994: 70.
113 Ali 1975: 237.
114 When we compare this to Q 22:27–30, we see a similar content: Uḥillat lakum baḥimatu l-anʿāmi illā mā yutlā ʿalaykum. The term baḥimatu l-anʿāmi is translated ‘cattle’ in Q 22:30.
115 Mu'arada, 'ard, 'irād means ‘a chase’. See Viré 1997: 98.
116 Dawood 1994: 79–80.
117 So also Paret 1986: 113.
118 Paret 1986: 96.
119 Paret 1986: 113. Cf. Chelhod. 1971a: 53–54.
120 Paret (1986: 130) sees no connection between this verse and vv. 98–100.
121 See Watt ( 1988: 200) who points out the correspondence with Acts 15:28–29 (which does not mention pork): “[O]ne wonders whether this represents a common level of observance among monotheists in the Arabian peninsula, both Jews of Arab descent and Christians.”
122 Bousquet 1965: 213.
123 Penrice 1971: 69.
124 Penrice 1971: 110; Wehr 1980: 713.
125 Tasmiyya, bismillāh, or basmala, see Carra de Vaux and Gardet 1960.
126 Plessner 1995: 417–418. For an extensive article on calendar and time, see van Dalen et al 2000: 258–301. Concerning the month of shaʿbān, see Wensinck 1997:154.
127 If al-Muḥarram was declared free (for non-sacred activities like war etc.), the month Ṣafar was declared sacred instead. This was done in order “to balance the calendar” (Guillaume 1955: 21–22).
128 Rajab is the only sacred month that is not preceded or followed by another sacred month, hence its special status. Cf. Lane 1867: 1033. In its second derivation the word rajab is also associated with “sacrifice”. Lane (1867: 1033–1034) mentions that the noun rajabiya has the meaning ‘sacrificial victim’. He infers this from the pre-Islamic practice of sacrificing “a sheep or a goat” to their “gods” in the holy month of Rejeb, when the days were called the days of tarjīb, and the victim was often called ʿatīra. Note the interesting article by M.J. Kister 1971b.
129 Fahd 1995: 154–155.
130 Fahd 1991: 923–924. See also Q 2:219. Concerning the narrative about ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, who does not appear in the Qurʾān, see Chapter 6.
131 Dawood 1994: 89. Two short passages from this sūra are analysed below, Q 5:30–32, “The offerings by Adam’s two sons”, and Q 5:95–103, “Killing or sacrifice!”
132 Cf. Genesis 4:3–16.
133 Dawood 1994: 82.
134 Vajda (1971: 13) wrongly identifies this passage as Q 55:27–32 / 30–35, and not sūra 5, same verses. Vajda correctly identifies the verses that follow, which, unlike the Bible, describe how one should bury the victim’s body.
135 Wensinck 1986: 436.
136 When Bork-Qaysieh (1993: 29–32) covers the Islamic exegesis of this verse, she points to al-Ṭabarī, who in his Tafsīr (vol. 10: 207–208) underlines that God – and not Adam – had commanded this sacrifice to take place. She refers to parts of the tafāsir discussion about what the sacrifice consisted of: Ḥābil’s best sheep (or in some cases, a fat camel and/or a cow or the firstborn animal; additionally, he had a pure heart) and Qābil’s worst grain? Regarding Ḥābil’s sheep, it was the favourite lamb of his, which he carried on his shoulders and never left out of sight. When he sacrificed this lamb, God received it as a sacrifice. Then it grassed in Paradise until it became the sacrificial lamb of Ibrāhīm (Bork-Qaysieh 1993: 30; cf. al-Ṭabarī. Tafsīr, vol. 10: 202).
137 Kueny 2008: 111.
138 Kueny (2008: 112) refers to discussions about the role of Eve as mother and educator of her two sons.
139 Vajda (1971: 13) points out the resemblance to Mishna, Sanhedrin, 4.5, which says: “to take the life of an innocent being is as serious a crime as to cause the death of the whole of humanity; to save the life of a single person is as meritorious as to do so for all men.”
140 Dutton (1999: 93) says that Abu Hanifa recognises the verse belonging to the Ḥudaybiya event, and that he refers to uḥsirtum as “a ‘non-enemy’ situation. Like al-Shāfiʿī, he holds that sacrificing a hady for iḥsār is obligatory, but unlike al-Shāfiʿī, he holds that, whatever the situation, this hady must always be sacrificed in the ḥaram, even if that means sending it on with someone else, and quite unlike al-Shāfiʿī, he holds that, whatever the situation, the qaḍāʾ is necessary.” See also Dutton 1999: 210, footnote 96. Cf. Schenke and Birkeland ( 1989: 176) who refer to two of the madhāḥib, the maliki and the shāfiʿī that say that the hindering was caused by enemies. Cf. al-Shāfiʿī (d. 204/819) 1989. vol. 2: 135.
141 Tamattuʿa originally meant ‘to enjoy’. Schenke and Birkeland ( 1989: 176) say that this refers to the time between ʿumra and ḥajj when iḥrām is interrupted, and the pilgrim is allowed to enjoy his freedom as for instance in sexual intercourse, hunting and other such activities. Schenke and Birkeland maintain that this interruption was organised because Muḥammad himself wanted to see his wives. The term tamattuʿa has become the main word for the combined pilgrimage, ʿumra and ḥajj performed together.
142 Dutton 1999: 92–93. Cf. Schenke and Birkeland (1952) 1989: 77.
143 Ṣaddūkum is not repeated here, but maʿkūfan that means ‘restraint’ is used.
144 Arberry (1983: 534) translates: “They are the ones who disbelieved, and barred you from the Holy Mosque and the offering, detained so as not to reach its place of sacrifice.”
145 Dawood 1994: 362. Cf. Wheeler 2010.
146 Bell ( 1991: 41) maintains that parts of this passage deal with other events than these two.
147 Görke 1997: 193–237. For Snouck Hurgronje’s opinion, see Paret 1986: 41. Cf. Dutton 1999: 92–93.
148 Penrice 1971: 146.
149 Lane 1893: 3032.
150 Lane 1893: 3032.
151 Lane 1893: 3032.
152 Fidyatun means ‘a ransom, that which is paid as ransom or to redeem a fault’ (Penrice 1971: 108); cf. Wehr 1980: 700–701; Lane 1877: 2353.
153 Cf. Schenke and Birkeland (1952) 1989: 176.
154 Q 2:183: “Believers, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you; perchance you will guard yourselves against evil. Fast a certain number of days, but if any one among you is ill or on a journey, let him fast a similar number of days later; and for those that cannot endure it there is a ransom: the feeding of a poor man. He that does good of his own accord shall be well rewarded; but to fast is better for you, if you but knew it” (Dawood 1994: 28).
155 Q 57:15: “Therefore, today no ransom (fidyatun) shall be taken from you, neither from those who disbelieved” (Arberry 1983: 565).
156 Q 57:17: “Surely those, the men and the women, who make freewill offerings and have lent to God a good loan, it shall be multiplied for them, and their heirs shall be a generous wage” (Arberry 1983: 566).
157 Penrice 1971: 153.
158 Chelhod 1971a. Hady occurs seven times in the Qurʾān (2:196; 5:2, 95, 96; 98:25). Ḥadīth and Qurʾānic exegesis are generally in agreement in restricting the word to victims chosen from the anʿām (6:143).
159 Ali 1975: 1398, footnote 4903.
160 Also supported by early Muslim tafsīr. Cf. Görke 1997.
161 Bell (1970) 1991: 40–41.
162 Cf. Wheeler 2010.
163 Robertson Smith (1889) 1927: 331. See also Wellhausen (1887) 1897: 124.
164 Cf. Juynboll and Pedersen 1960: 337; Wheeler 2010.
165 See Mālik ibn Anas (d. 179/795) 1982: 20, 51, 168.
166 Penrice 1971: 165. Cf. Lane 1893: 2976.
167 Lane 1893: 2976.
168 Lane (1893: 2978) provides three different explanations, one of which is that maysir is “[a] game of the Arabs, played [by ten men] with ten unfeathered and headless arrows: they first slaughtered a camel [bought on credit], and divided it into ten portions, or, as some say, […], into twenty-eight”.
169 Lane 1893: 2977; Wehr 1980: 1107.
170 Maysara, plural: mayāsīr means ‘left or left side, limb, or direction’ (Lane 1893: 2977). For an excellent overview, see Fahd 1991.
171 Badawi and Hinds 1986: 962.
172 Penrice 1971: 37. Cf. also ḥalāl, ‘lawful’; this indicates one who has performed all the rites and ceremonies of a pilgrim.
173 Cf. Paret 1985a: 362; he also refers to for the first part Q 5:2; 2:217; 8:34; 22:25, and for the second part to Q 2:196; 5:95. Cf. Graef 1959: 56–58.
174 In modern Arabic one finds a completely non-sacrificial meaning of maḥill, which is “due date; date of delivery” (Wehr 1980: 200).
175 This is more or less the opposite of the Hebrew aqeda, the binding, which is the Jewish designation for the binding of Isaac; in Genesis 22:9 the verbal cognate of the root ʿ-q-d is used.
176 Nudhūr also means ‘votive offerings’. See Gottschalk (1919: 106–134), who discusses the Jahilīya sacrifices and the relations between the vow and the sacrifice. Kaiser (1998) gives a brief overview over the etymology and the forms and usage of the root n-d-r in different Semitic languages (242f. with due references for further, more detailed literature), followed by a presentation of the Old Testament occurrences of nāḏar (verb) and neḏer (noun) (243ff.).
177 Q 5:92: “Fast for three days and keep the oaths!”
178 Paret 1986: 41.
179 Paret (1986: 41) refers to Snouck Hurgronje (1880 [Paret’s ed.]: 52 ).
180 Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373) 1987. vol. 4: 193.
181 Dutton 1999: 94.
182 Dutton 1999: 94: “‘Do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal reaches it place of sacrifice’, this ‘place of sacrifice’ (maḥill) being interpreted as ‘the ḥaram’ by virtue of Q 22:33’s thumma maḥilluhā ilā l-bayti l-ʿatīq (‘and then its place of sacrifice is the Ancient House’), and that sacrificing of a hady was a special act of devotion (qurban) and should, like the hady for tamattuʿ in the same verse, be sacrificed in a special place at a special time, i.e. in the ḥaram during the days of sacrifice, and that although it might have seemed from the Ḥudaibīya incident that the Prophet’s hady was not sacrificed in the ḥaram, in fact half of Ḥudaibīya lies within the bounds of the ḥaram, and his hady was sacrificed in that part which lies within the ḥaram.”
183 Cf. Chelhod 1955: 60–62.
184 See Mālik (d. 179/795) 1982: 20, 51, 168.
185 Dawood 1994: 89–90.
186 Cf. Chelhod 1978; Paret 1986: 129, 349; and Q 22:28, 33.
187 Chelhod 1965a: 248.
188 Cf. Lane 1885: 2620–2623.
189 Q 3:156; 4:137; 29:12. Q 21:94 (kufrān). Lane 1885: 2620.
190 Wehr 1980: 209. This term is not found in my material.
191 Chelhod 1978: 407; and Q 5:5.
192 Chelhod 1965a: 248.
193 Dawood 1994: 90.
194 Dawood 1994: 90.
195 Penrice 1971: 15. Ibn Hishām n.d. vol. 1: 58) “show[s] that the ancient Arabs used to carry out certain religious ceremonies with respect to their cattle, which consisted firstly in letting the animal go about loose without making any use of it whatever, and secondly in limiting to males permission to eat its flesh (after it had died). In the various cases the animals bore special names. […] The lexicographers are not quite agreed on the point in which cases a camel or sheep had its ear slit. According to some, it was after it had borne ten young ones, according to others when its fifth young one was female etc.—The Qurʾān abolished these customs and stigmatised them as arbitrary inventions” (Wensinck 1960: 921).
196 Penrice 1971: 75. Irving (1992: 124) translates “twin-bearing goat or ewe”.
197 Penrice 1971: 159.
198 Penrice 1971: 38. Concerning these names, see Q 22:36–38, where the camels (al-budun) are the preferred sacrificial animals. Q 6:139–140 seems to refer to these animals; “and they say: these cattle and fruits of the earth are sacred; none shall eat thereof but whom we wish (so they say); and [there are] cattle on whose backs it is forbidden [to ride] etc.”; “and they say: that which is in the bellies of these animals, is only for our men and forbidden to our wives; but if it be born dead then both partake of it. He will reward them for their attributing [these things to him] for He is wise and knowing” (so the translation of Wensinck 1960: 921).
199 Ali 1975: 1798, footnote 6286.
200 Dawood 1994: 433. Arberry (1983: 663) translates, “Surely We have given thee abundance.” Birkeland (1956: 56) translates, “Lo! We have given thee Abundanance.”
201 Dawood 1994: 433. Arberry (1983: 663) translates, “So pray unto thy Lord and sacrifice.” Birkeland (1956: 56) translates, “So pray unto thy Lord, and sacrifice!”
202 Dawood 1994: 433. Arberry (1983: 663) translates, “Surely he that hates thee, he is the one to cut off.” Birkeland (1956: 56) translates, “Lo! Thy hater is it who is suffering loss.”
203 Lane 1885: 2593.
204 E.g. Ibn Isḥāq. According to Birkeland (1956: 60), this “interpretation came into existence after the death of Muḥammad and was primarily applied to the verse as an isolated unity without regard to the context”. It is to be assumed that Muḥammad saw al-kawthar as a gift from Allāh, given through his wife Khadīja, who changed his life in a decisive way. This change is not recognised among Muslim scholars, who are of the opinion that Muḥammad was under divine guidance throughout his life. This sūra “is so old that Muḥammad still performed religious ceremonies belonging to the pagan religion” (idem). A compromise made by some scholars is to maintain that it was revealed twice (for more on this, see Birkeland 1956: 74–75). Buhl [Welch] (1993: 363) identifies a similar ambivalence: “He must have accepted the sacrifices offered there (Q 108:2), and his followers took part in the ancient Meccan pilgrimage rituals before he combined them to form the great Islamic ḥajj.”
205 Lane 1885: 2594.
206 Ashraf 1987: 120. There are at least two other terms for ‘fountain of paradise’. The first of these, salsabīl, occurs only in Q 76:18, where it is said, “They shall be served with silver dishes […] and cups brim-full with ginger-flavoured water from a fount called Salsabīl” (Dawood 1994: 414). The exegetes disagree with regard to the origin of the name, but there are two main opinions, ‘the water’s taste is good’, i.e., the term derives from a description, and ‘ask me for a path to it (the fountain)’, consisting of the two Arabic words saʾila (to ask) and sabīl (the way) (Rippin 1995: 999). The second word for the fountain in paradise, tasnīm, occurs only in Q 83:27, where it is described as “a spring at which the favoured will refresh themselves” (Dawood 1994: 421). Wensinck (2000: 360) points out that this spring provides sustenance to al-muqarribūn, ‘those who are admitted to the divine presence’. We can also translate, ‘those who have come near’, in accordance with the stem q-r-b, which we also know from qurbān, ‘sacrifice’. The word tasnīm is a derivative from the root s-n-m, ‘being high’. It can also be a proper name. The muḥrim drinks from this source after the second tawāf around the Kaʿba.
207 Penrice 1971: 144.
208 There are some differences between the later four schools of law. So Bousquet (1965: 213) who also mentions that “[t]he camel remains upright but at the same time facing the qibla. The knife ought to be well sharpened”.
209 The term dhibḥ focuses on the animal’s throat, cf. Lane 1893: 2774. See Q 37.
210 Lane 1893: 2774.
211 Birkeland 1956: 56.
212 Lane 1893: 2774.
213 Six traditions support this. So Birkeland 1956: 78.
214 Birkeland 1956: 76. See also Q 22:27 and 48:25: al-budna.
215 Birkeland 1956: 77.
216 Birkeland (1956: 78) shows that this tradition goes back to Ibn ʿAbbās through the traditionalist al-Quraẓī. It is also confirmed by the early traditions, Qatāda and Ḥasan al-Baṣrī. Consequently, there is a strong isnād for this point of view.
217 Birkeland (1956: 77) says that al-Ṭabarī underlines the tawḥīd, connected to the naḥr.
218 Birkeland 1956: 86 and 97.
219 Birkeland 1956: 82. Paret (1986: 526–528) agrees that Birkeland’s reading is the most plausible.
220 Birkeland 1956: 83. This is the famous Islamic theologian from Rayy and author of many books, Muḥammad ibn ʿUmar al-Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, who died in 606/1209. One of the most important books is Tafsīr al-kabīr. See Anawati 1965: 754.
221 Dawood 1994: 433.
222 Wehr 1980: 487; Penrice 1971: 79.
223 Birkeland (1956: 96–97) translates, “But there may as well have been others who disliked him, and to whom it is pointed at here.”
224 Lane (1863: 149) mentions that the root b-t-r in its first derivation is definitely used to express something like “a tail or the like” that is “cut off”. In the fourth derivation it is used to express “being without off-spring”, in which sense it also occurs here in v. 3. See also Birkeland (1956: 97), who is undecided whether the word really can be translated “without sons”. Wehr (1980: 40) adds terms such as ‘curtailed; imperfect, incomplete’.
225 Birkeland 1956: 46.
226 Birkeland 1956: 92.
227 Dawood 1994: 58.
228 Lane (1885: 2507) mentions this as a clear example of the meaning ‘an offering, or oblation: and hence it sometimes means a sacrifice’.
229 Cf. 1 Kings 18:38 and in particular Lev 9:24. See also Paret 1986: 86.
230 Fahd (1993: 958) refers to Ibn al-Athīr (Kāmil, vol. 1: 40), “who has said that Qābil was the first to establish a sanctuary for fire and to worship it”.
231 Dawood 1994: 355–356.
232 The reference here is probably to ‘the pre-Islamic deities’ who were also part of Muḥammad’s earlier life.
233 Wensinck’s translation; he continues, “did those help them, whom they had taken for qurbān as gods to the exclusion of Allāh”. He also refers to commentators who take the same view and the word is then explained as ‘mediator’ (shafīʿ) (Wensinck 1986: 436). Firestone (2004: 517) says that this verse is difficult to translate, and that al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538/1143) 1977, vol. 3: 526) mentions that it means ‘mediators’, but this translation has no support in the syntax and context. However, this is a difficult term when used in connection with Allāh, since sūra 2:48 says: “He does not need any mediator (shafāʿa) and there is no intercession [on the Last Day]”.
234 Lane 1885: 2504–2509.
235 Lane 1885: 2505.
236 Lane 1885: 2506.
237 Lane 1885: 2507.
238 See also Bell ( 1991: 316), who translates ‘means of being near’.
239 Dawood 1994: 143.