Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:189)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Calendar for Planning Events in Life
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَهِلَّةِ ۖ قُلْ هِيَ مَوَاقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَالْحَجِّ ۗ وَلَيْسَ الْبِرُّ بِأَن تَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا وَلَـٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنِ اتَّقَىٰ ۗ وَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِنْ أَبْوَابِهَا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ﴿١٨٩﴾
2:189 They ask you, [O Mohammad], about the new moons. Say, “ They are indicative of time for the people and for Hajj.” And it is not righteousness to enter houses from the back, but righteousness is [in] one who fears Allah. And enter houses from their doors. And fear Allah that you may succeed.
Commentary: They ask you (O! Prophet) about purpose and benefits of the new moons (يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَهِلَّةِ).
Phases of the moon changes gradually every lunar month, from a crescent to a full moon and eventually returning to a crescent. In the beginning, a thin crescent appears in the western evening sky after sunset for a short period of time. The crescent waxes, or grows fatter, each night. It gradually becomes a half-moon and then a full moon over a period of 14 days. The full moon lights up the night sky almost from dusk to dawn. During the second half of the lunar month, the full moon wanes, or decreases in size, as it passes through half-moon, crescent and back to a barely visible new moon.
A companion apparently wished for a full moon throughout the month, so he could benefit from its light every evening. He asked the Prophet (SAWA) about the benefits of a new moon:
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَهِلَّةِ … ﴿١٨٩﴾
2:189 They ask you [O Mohammad], about the new moons.
The verse states that the new moon indicates the arrival of a new month for people, such as the month of Dhul Hijjah for performing the pilgrimage of Hajj. Otherwise, it would be difficult for a common individual to keep track of the time, month and year:
… قُلْ هِيَ مَوَاقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَالْحَجِّ ۗ …﴿١٨٩﴾
2:189 …Say, “ They are indicative of time for the people and for Hajj.”
Speaking of Hajj, some commentators mention that people, upon assuming the Ihram in the pre-Islamic era, used to enter their home from a hole created in the back of their house. They considered this a sign of righteousness. The verse repudiates the tradition and advises them to enter their home from its designated door (وَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِنْ أَبْوَابِهَا):
… وَلَيْسَ الْبِرُّ بِأَن تَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا وَلَـٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنِ اتَّقَىٰ ۗ وَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِنْ أَبْوَابِهَا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ﴿١٨٩﴾
2:189 …And it is not righteousness to enter houses from the back, but righteousness is [in] one who fears Allah. And enter houses from their doors. And fear Allah that you may succeed.
However, the verse has a wide implication, and in general it advises that all matters in life should be pursued correctly and professionally.
In summary, Allah (SWT), in creating the universe, implemented natural indicators to count days by the rising and setting of the sun, count months by the changing phases of the Moon, and count the years by creating four seasons, as He mentions in Chapter Yunis [10:5]:
الَّذِي جَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ ضِيَاءً وَالْقَمَرَ نُورًا وَقَدَّرَهُ مَنَازِلَ لِتَعْلَمُوا عَدَدَ السِّنِينَ وَالْحِسَابَ ۚ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّـهُ ذَٰلِكَ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ ۚ يُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٥﴾
10:5 It is He who made the sun a shining light and the moon a derived light and determined for it phases – that you may know the number of years and account [of time]. Allah has not created this except in truth. He details the signs for a people who know.
2:189 [يَسْأَلُونَكَ] They ask you [عَنِ] about [الْأَهِلَّةِ] the new moons [قُلْ] Say [هِيَ] they [مَوَاقِيتُ] are indicators of periods [لِلنَّاسِ] for the people [وَالْحَجِّ] and for the Hajj [وَلَيْسَ] and it is not [الْبِرُّ] the righteousness [بِأَن] that [تَأْتُوا] you come [الْبُيُوتَ] to the houses [مِن] from [ظُهُورِهَا] their back [وَلَـٰكِنَّ] and but [الْبِرَّ] the righteous [مَنِ] is one who [اتَّقَىٰ ] fear Allah [وَأْتُوا] and come [الْبُيُوتَ] to the houses [مِنْ] from [أَبْوَابِهَا] their doors [وَاتَّقُوا] And fear [اللَّـهَ] Allah [لَعَلَّكُمْ] so that you may [تُفْلِحُونَ] be successful.