Signs of Allah
Mufti Abu Salih Muhammad Qasim Attari
Allah Almighty states:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لَا تُحِلُّوۡا شَعَآئِرَ اللّٰہِ وَ لَا الشَّہۡرَ الۡحَرَامَ وَ لَا الۡہَدۡیَ وَ لَا الۡقَلَآئِدَ وَ لَاۤ آٰمِّیۡنَ الۡبَیۡتَ الۡحَرَامَ یَبۡتَغُوۡنَ فَضۡلًا مِّنۡ رَّبِّہِمۡ وَ رِضۡوَانًا ؕ
“O believers! Do not make lawful (i.e. dishonour) the signs of Allah, nor the sacred months, nor the sacrificial animals sent to the Sacred Territory (around Makkah), nor those ˹animals˺ bearing signs around their necks, nor the wealth and honour of those travelling towards the Sacred House (Ka'bah) seeking the bounty and contentment of their Lord.”
This sacred verse enshrines the decree to revere the signs of Allah Almighty. These signs encompass the divine commands and obligations, as well as individuals, places, and even moments that hold a sacred proximity to Him. The act of demonstrating reverence towards these signs emanates from their profound connection with the Divine Himself. To honour them is to honour Allah, for this mandate to venerate His signs resonates throughout numerous verses, underscoring their significance. For example, Allah Almighty declares:
وَ مَنۡ یُّعَظِّمۡ شَعَآئِرَ اللّٰہِ فَاِنَّہَا مِنۡ تَقۡوَی الۡقُلُوۡبِ (۳۲)
“Whosoever respects the signs of Allah; so, this is from the piety of the hearts.”
The signs of Allah Almighty are many. All acts of worship are considered signs of Him, as is Hajj and its rites. The same applies to camels and cows sent to the Ḥaram for ritual sacrifice. Honouring them entails that they be in good health, be visually pleasing, and be of high value.
“Signs of Allah” include the hallmarks of Islam, such as buildings and places like the Kaʿbah, ʿArafāt, Muzdalifah, the three Jamarāt (upon which rami is made), Ṣafā, Marwah, Minā and masjids. These signs can also refer to specific times, such as Ramaḍān, the sacred months, the Eids of Fiṭr and Aḍḥa, Jumuʿah or days of tashrīq. They can also mean azan, iqāmah, congregational salah, Jumuʿah salah, Eid salah, and even circumcision. All these are signs of Islam.
The things which develop a link to the righteous certainly become esteemed and honourable. This is Allah Almighty raising their honour to new heights, and is evidenced by the mountains of Ṣafā and Marwah becoming signs of Allah Almighty due to their link with Lady Hājirah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا. Allah Almighty announced,
اِنَّ الصَّفَا وَ الۡمَرۡوَۃَ مِنۡ شَعَآئِرِ اللّٰہِ ۚ
“Undoubtedly, Safa and Marwah (i.e., two hills near the Holy Ka'bah) are amongst the signs of Allah.”
Another esteemed example of this is Maqām Ibrāhīm, regarding which Allah Almighty ordained,
وَ اتَّخِذُوۡا مِنۡ مَّقَامِ اِبۡرٰہٖمَ مُصَلًّی ؕ
And make the standing place of Ibrahim (i.e. Maqaam Ibrahim) a station for salah.
This is a stone upon which Prophet Ibrāhīm عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام stood when constructing the Kaʿbah. His footprints are also imprinted upon it, and offering salah near this is mustaḥab.
In another verse discussing respect for that which was granted sanctity by Allah Almighty, it is mentioned:
وَ مَنۡ یُّعَظِّمۡ حُرُمٰتِ اللّٰہِ فَہُوَ خَیۡرٌ لَّہٗ عِنۡدَ رَبِّہٖ ؕ
“Whosoever reveres the sacred things of Allah; so, that is good for him before his Lord.”
One will be granted reward in the Hereafter for displaying such reverence.
The sanctity of Allah’s signs
The command was issued to respect and honour the signs of Allah Almighty. At the same time, disrespecting them was made forbidden.
Indeed, bestowing honour upon these signs engenders the pleasure of Allah Almighty, facilitates the path to His proximity, and yields abundant rewards while cultivating righteousness. Conversely, disrespecting or insulting these signs invokes the wrath of the Divine, causing the heart to wither and become dull, and ultimately, leading to ruin and destruction.
By extension, anyone who insults the noble Prophets عَـلَـيْـهِمُ الـصَّلٰوةُ وَالـسَّـلَام immediately leaves the fold of Islam. Anyone who insults the Ahl al-Bayt and Companions رِضْوَانُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَیْہِمْ اَجْمَعِیْن is a heretic, and anyone who affronts the awliyāʾ is an ill-fated sinner. If someone were to insult a masjid, the Kaʿbah or the city of Makkah, they too shall face destruction in this world and the Hereafter.
As evidenced by the following hadith, in which Allah’s Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated, “The goodness of my Ummah will endure, as long as they fulfil the due right of Makkah in terms of its honour. When they neglect this right, they shall be ruined.”
Going back to the verse mentioned at the beginning of this article, we also find Allah Almighty said,
وَ لَا الشَّہۡرَ الۡحَرَامَ
Nor the sacred months.
There are four sanctified months; Rajab, Dhū al-Qaʿdah, Dhū al-Ḥijjah and Muḥarram. Even during the pre-Islamic era of ignorance, the disbelievers would respect these months, and Islam maintained the honour afforded to them.
Islam initially declared war and battle haram in these months, but expeditions are now allowed to take place at any time. Other customs or practices of respecting these months are still prevalent today, however. Therefore, one must strive to worship in abundance and avoid sin as much as possible in these months. In contemporary times, pilgrims spend Dhū al-Qaʿdah, Dhū al-Ḥijjah and Muḥarram in travelling and performing ḥajj. There is also a tradition to perform ʿumrah in Rajab, even though the amount of people performing ʿumrah is comparatively more in Ramaḍān.
From the sanctified months, Dhū al-Ḥijjah and Muḥarram hold unique virtues. Fasting in the first nine days of Dhū al-Ḥijjah results in tremendous reward, as mentioned in the following hadith:
From all days in which Allah is worshipped, none are more beloved than the ten days of Dhū al-Ḥijjah. In them (excluding the 10th), fasting for one day is equivalent to fasting for a year, and standing for salah in every night (including the 10th) is equivalent to standing for salah in Laylat al-Qadr.
Alongside fasting, reward for every other good deed is increased manyfold in the first ten days of Dhū al-Ḥijjah. Just as Allah’s Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “In these days, actions are multiplied seven hundred times over.” The Quran also takes an oath by its first ten nights:
وَ الۡفَجۡرِ ۙ(۱) وَ لَیَالٍ عَشۡرٍ ۙ(۲)
“By the oath of that dawn. And by the ten nights.”
The importance of ritual sacrifice (qurbani) on the 10th is also known by all Muslims.
Now, let us turn our attention to the month of Muḥarram, which holds its own distinctiveness and virtues. The tenth day of this sacred month holds significance due to various historical events, including the deliverance of Prophet Mūsā عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام from the tyrant Firʿawn. To commemorate this day, the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم fasted himself and encouraged his followers to do the same. It is reported in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim that upon arriving in Madina, the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم encountered the Jews fasting on the 10th of Muḥarram (the day of ʿAshurā). He asked them why they fast, to which they replied, “This is the day Allah Almighty granted Mūsā and Banī Isrāīl victory over Firʿawn and his nation. We fast on this day out of respect for this.” In response to this, the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم declared, “We are closer to Mūsā عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام than you.” He then ordered for fasting to take place on that day.
Imam Ḥusayn رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ, the esteemed leader, champion of truth, scion of the Prophet’s family, and the one who sat on the Prophet’s shoulders, also attained martyrdom on the day of ʿAshurā along with his loyal followers. Their sacrifice has left an indelible mark in history, serving as a timeless embodiment of determination, unwavering devotion, patience, and unwavering fortitude for the entire world to witness.
Another part of the verse we are discussing states,
وَ لَا الۡہَدۡیَ وَ لَا الۡقَلَآئِدَ
“Nor the sacrificial animals sent to the Sacred Territory (around Makkah), nor those ˹animals˺ bearing signs around their necks.”
The Arabs would craft garlands using bark derived from trees located within the sacred boundaries of the Haram. These garlands were placed around the necks of animals designated for ritual slaughter. This served as a distinctive marker, indicating that these animals were destined for the sacred precinct and should be treated with reverence. By adorning them with these garlands, onlookers would recognize that these animals were meant for the sacred rituals and were not to be disturbed, harmed, or stolen from. In fact, a specific decree was issued, emphasizing the importance of respecting these animals that belonged to the Haram.
Part of the honour of Hajj pilgrims towards these animals means when they are to be ritually slaughtered, they must be in good condition, well-fed, pleasant in appearance and high-priced.
Imam Muhammad Ghazāli رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه explains, “The pious predecessors did not like to haggle on the price of animals to be ritually slaughtered for ḥajj or Eid, as (usually) the more expensive an animal is for this purpose, the more precious it is.” It is better to not have the price for these animals reduced when buying them, as long as the asking price does not differ too greatly from the true market value.
Allah Almighty also stated,
وَ لَاۤ آٰمِّیۡنَ الۡبَیۡتَ الۡحَرَامَ
“Nor the wealth and honour of those travelling towards the Sacred House (Ka'bah).”
This verse refers to Muslim Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. An order was given for nothing negative to be said to Hajj pilgrims. As they are guests of Allah Almighty visiting His House, they are to be respected. It would oppose this Quranic order if someone fought with them or spoke ill of them. One is also not allowed to exhibit bad character towards them, think of them as lowly and oneself as better, consider their journey to be for materialistic purposes and not worship, or make things difficult in their Hajj, Umrah, and visitation of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. Facilities and platforms must be provided for their ease, rather than causing them hardship.
May Allah Almighty fill our hearts with respect for His signs, and may He grant us inward piety.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم
 Al-Quran, 5:2
 Al-Quran, 22:32
 Al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr, al-Hajj, under verse no: 8, vol. 23, p. 223
 Tafsīr al-Baghawi, al-Baqarah, under verse no: 158, vol. 1, p. 91
 Al-Quran, 2:158
 Al-Quran, 2:125
 Al-Quran, 22:30
 Sunan Ibn Mājah: 3,110
 Shu’ab al-Īmān: 3,758
 Al-Quran, 89:1 - 2
 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim: 2,656
 Al-Quran, 5:2
 Iḥyā al-ʿUlūm al-Dīn, vol. 1, p. 353
 Al-Quran, 5:2