Verse and Translation
يَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلۡأَهِلَّةِۖ قُلۡ هِىَ مَوَٲقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَٱلۡحَجِّۗ وَلَيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرُّ بِأَن تَأۡتُواْ ٱلۡبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلۡبِرَّ مَنِ ٱتَّقَىٰۗ وَأۡتُواْ ٱلۡبُيُوتَ مِنۡ أَبۡوَٲبِهَاۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّڪُمۡ تُفۡلِحُونَ (١٨٩)
“They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say, “They are measurements 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.”
The phases of the moon have attracted the attention of mankind in every age, and different kinds of rites and superstitions have been connected with these in every country. The Arabs also had some superstitions connected with these. They took omens from them for journeys, marriage ceremonies, business, etc., and performed some superstitious practices, for they believed that the phases and the eclipse of the moon affected their fortunes. Therefore they questioned the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) concerning this. Allah answered their question and informed them that the phases of the moon were nothing but a natural calendar in the sky to indicate dates of the month to the people simultaneously throughout the world. Hajj has been specially mentioned in this connection because of its religious, cultural and economic importance to the Arabs. Four months of the year were fixed for Hajj and Umrah during which war was suspended and the routes were made safe, and business flourished on account of peace.
One of their superstitious customs was that as soon as they put on the Ihram (the ceremonial dress for Hajj) they would not enter their houses by the front doors, but would enter them by jumping over the walls or through windows in the rear of their houses. In this verse, Allah has not only refuted this superstitious custom but also warned that virtue has nothing to do with the superstitious rites and customs which were being practised merely in blind imitation of their forefathers, for they did not affect the fortune of man in any way.
Al-Awfi related that Ibn Abbas said, “The people asked Allah’s Messenger about the crescent moons. Thereafter, this verse was revealed, so that they mark their acts of worship, the iddah (the period of time a divorced woman or a widow is required to wait before remarrying) of their women and the time of their Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).”
Abdur-Razzaq reported that Ibn Umar narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Allah has made the crescents signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind. Hence, fast on seeing it (the crescent for Ramadan) and break the fast on seeing it (the crescent for Shawwal). If it (the crescent) was obscure to you then count thirty days (mark that month as thirty days).)
Allah said, “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.”
Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara’ said, “During the time of Jahiliyyah, they used to enter the house from the back upon assuming the Ihram. Thereafter, Allah revealed [this verse].
Al-Hasan said, “When some people during the time of ignorance would leave home to travel, and then decide not to travel, they would not enter the house from its door. Rather, they would climb over the back wall.
“And fear Allah” means to do what He has commanded you and refrain from what He has forbidden for you, “that you may succeed” tomorrow when you stand before Him and He thus rewards you perfectly.