03 Dhul Qadah 1435 AH
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي ; وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي ; وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسَانِي ; يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي
Hajj is an act of worship just like Salat and Saum (fasting in the month of Ramadan). Muslims from all over the world gather in Makkah in the last month of Muslim calendar and worship Allah. Hajj is a special worship that lasts for several days. This is an occasion that brings Muslims of all countries, colours, and races to one place – the Ka’bah. This is a unique opportunity of worshipping Allah collectively in a large gathering at one place.
Hajj is a farz, and the following Aayah establishes the obligation of performing Hajj:
وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنْ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلاً
“And Hajj to the House (Ka’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, for those who are able to undertake the journey.”
(Aayah No. 97, Surah Aal Imran, Chapter No. 3, Holy Qur’an).
There are several ahadith which confirm that Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam. Let me quote one such narration:
It was narrated from Ibn Umar (RA) that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Islam is built on five (pillars): Worshipping Allah and denying all others (worshipped) besides Him, establishing the Salat, paying the Zakat, going on pilgrimage (Hajj) to the House (Ka’bah), and fasting in Ramadan.”
(Hadith No. 112 (16), Book of Faith, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1).
I wish to mention another verse from Holy Qur’an to highlight the significance of Hajj:
الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي
“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you….”
(Aayah No. 03, Surah Al-Ma’idah, Chapter No. 5, Holy Qur’an).
This verse was revealed on the evening of the Day of Arafah, when the Prophet (PBUH) was on Farewell Hajj. This bears a great significance for Muslims as the Prophet (PBUH) had performed the Hajj for the first time (and the final time), thereby completing the requirements of Islam.
Thus, it is clear that Hajj is among the pillars of Islam, and whoever has the ability, he/she should perform Hajj, otherwise his/her Islam won’t be complete.
It is very important for every one of us to know the importance of this great Ibadah. We shall devote this article to learning about the significance of this great pillar of Islam. Further, we shall also talk about the eligibility criteria of performing Hajj. May Allah make this understanding easy and beneficial to us.
A. Hajj is farz only once in a lifetime.
It should be understood very clearly by all of us that Hajj is farz for every Muslim (whoever is able to afford that journey) once in his/her lifetime. Refer to following hadith:
It was reported from Az-Zuhri, from Abu SInan, from Ibn Abbas (RA), that Al-Aqra bin Habis asked the Prophet (PBUH), “O Allah’s Messenger! Is Hajj every year, or only once?” He replied, “Rather only once, and whoever does it more it will be voluntary (i.e. nawafil).”
(Hadith No. 1721, Book of The Rites of Hajj & Umrah, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 2).
This ruling was presented to the Muslims in an excellent example of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). Yes, Allah’s Messenger did only one Hajj (the Farewell Hajj). Following narration tells us about this:
Qatadah narrated: I said to Anas bin Malik, “How many times did the Prophet (PBUH) perform Hajj?” He said, “He performed one Hajj, and he performed four Umrah: An Umrah during Dhul Qa’dah, the Umrah of Al-Hudaibiyah, and Umrah with his Hajj, and an Umrah from Al-ji’irranah when he divided up the war spoils of Hunain.”
(Hadith No. 815, Chapters on Hajj, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 2).
Therefore, it is clear that Hajj is a farz which has to be carried out once in a lifetime. However, this does not stop anyone from doing Hajj more than once, but they shall be counted as nawafil Ibadah.
Here I wish to add my view: The number of applicants for performing Hajj from round the world is increasing day-by-day. Sometimes, a first time applicant is not able to make it to the final list of pilgrims whereas the final list may consist of many second or third or fourth timers. To provide an equal opportunity to all Muslims round the world, especially who are doing Hajj for the first time, people who have already performed Hajj should not put forward their applications for second / third / fourth etc. times (at least for next few years, unless it is extremely important in cases like accompanying their old & weak parents or wives etc.) and let others get a better and fair chance of making it to the final list. People should keep in mind that Hajj is farz once in a lifetime only, and any Hajj more than one is a nawafil Ibadah. Instead, such persons can opt for a different strategy to reap the rewards of Hajj. There are so many poor people who do not have money to perform Hajj, and they die with their hope and wish of going for Hajj (and/or Umrah) buried in their hearts. People whom Allah has blessed with wealth should take it as their responsibility to sponsor such poor people to perform Hajj; they should provide them the money, the knowledge and all the possible means helpful to them in performing Hajj. Insha’Allah, they shall be rewarded by Allah. And Allah knows best.
B. What time of the year is Hajj performed?
There are specific months for Hajj and they are called the months of pilgrimage. These months are mentioned in following verse of Holy Qur’an:
الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ
“The Hajj is (in) the well known months”
(Aayah No. 197, Surah Al-Baqarah, Chapter No. 2, Holy Qur’an).
These months are Shawwal (the tenth month of lunar calendar), Dhul Qa’dah (the eleventh month of lunar calendar) and (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah (the twelfth month of lunar calendar). This means that intention of Hajj and start-up to it starts in either of these months; and this is unanimously agreed upon by all the scholars.
The details of exact days and times of performing the rites of Hajj shall be talked about in a separate discussion, Insha’Allah.
C. Reward(s) of performing Hajj
Performing Hajj is full of rewards. The most important thing is that the person completes a big farz and thus completes his/her religion, thereby leading to a great sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. Other rewards associated with Hajj are:
C.1. The first reward of performing Hajj is explained in following hadith:
Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s sake only and does not have sexual relations with his wife (or vice versa), and does not do evil or sins; then he/she will return (after Hajj) as if he/she was born anew (i.e. free from sins).”
(Hadith No. 1521, Book of Hajj, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 2).
Therefore, if Hajj is done for purely Allah’s sake and above mentioned conditions are met during the period of Hajj, then the one who performs Hajj comes back free from all his/her sins.
C.2. The greatest reward for the one who performs Hajj is mentioned in following hadith:
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (RA) said: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “From one Umrah to another is an expiation for what comes in between, and ‘Hajj Al-Mabrur’ brings no reward less than Paradise.”
(Hadith No. 2630, Book of The Rites of Hajj, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 3; Hadith No. 2888, Chapters on Hajj, Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 4).
‘Hajj Al-Mabrur’ means a Hajj that is done solely for the sake of Allah and is accepted by Allah. For such a Hajj, the reward is Paradise. Now what better reward can one think of; Allah has guaranteed the ultimate reward i.e. entry into the Paradise for the one whose Hajj is accepted by Allah.
May Allah accept our Hajj… Ameen.
D. Denying the necessity of performing Hajj is a big sin.
وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنْ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلاً وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنْ الْعَالَمِينَ
“And Hajj to the House (Ka’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, for those who are able to undertake the journey. And whoever disbelieves, then Allah stands not in need of any of the Alamin.”
(Aayah No. 97, Surah Aal Imran, Chapter No. 3, Holy Qur’an).
This verse needs to be understood very well if one wants to understand what a big sin it is to deny the necessity of performing Hajj. The first part of the verse establishes the obligation of performing Hajj for the one who is able to undertake the journey. The latter part of the verse tells us that whoever denies the necessity of performing Hajj, then it means that he/she is disbelieving it, thereby meaning that he/she is like a disbeliever.
People may differ in their opinion of interpreting this verse, but the real interpretation of the verse should be understood by how our Prophet (PBUH) and his companions understood and explained it. Ibn Abbas (RA), Mujahid and several others commented on this verse as follows: ‘Whoever denies the necessity of Hajj (inspite of him/her being able to undertake the journey), becomes a disbeliever; and Allah is far Richer than to need him (such a person)’; ref. ‘Tafseer by Imam Ibn Kathir.
Therefore, whoever is capable of performing Hajj, should not delay it. This is also supported by following narration:
Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whoever intends to perform Hajj, then he (she) should hasten (to do it).”
(Hadith No. 1732, Book of The Rites of Hajj & Umrah, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 2).
E. Eligibility criteria
Going back to the verse mentioned in Section D above: “And Hajj to the House (Ka’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, for those who are able to undertake the journey”, an obvious question comes to our minds: What is the criterion of being able to undertake the journey? The answer to this shall tell us ‘upon whom is Hajj farz’.
Let us understand what conditions make a person eligible to undertake the journey of Hajj. We shall discuss them briefly one-by-one.
The first condition for a person is that he/she should be able to meet the financial expenses of his/her journey. Hajj is performed in Makkah and therefore pilgrims from all over the world have to gather there for a certain period of time. This requires expenses of journey, provisions and other miscellaneous things. Whoever is financially weak will not be able to bear these expenses and hence Allah exempts such persons from this obligation. Therefore, Hajj is not farz upon a poor person (i.e. whoever can’t meet the expenses of the journey).
The second condition for a person is that he/she should be physically fit and able to undertake a journey. This is yet another important requirement, for Hajj journey may bring the pilgrim across some ups and downs (difficulties) which extremely old and sick persons may not be able to handle alone. Therefore, one has to be physically stable (well) in order to undertake the journey. However, such old people may undertake the journey along with some young persons (like their sons etc.) who can take care of them during the journey.
The third condition for a person is that he/she should be free of debts. If he/she has borrowed money from someone earlier, then he/she should pay off the debts before proceeding for Hajj. If after paying off the debts, the money he/she is left with is not sufficient to meet the expenses of the journey, then Hajj is not farz on such a person in such a condition. Thus, Hajj can’t be done by borrowed money. However, if someone willingly sponsors a person financially, then he/she may do so.
The fourth condition for a person is that he/she should return any property or wealth taken unjustly to its right owner and make amends for the wrong act by asking for forgiveness from Allah as well as the person.
The fifth condition is that one should use Halal wealth. This is very important, as Allah is pure and He accepts only what is pure.
Hajj is farz only on people who are sane.
Hajj is not farz for children who have not yet attained the age of puberty. However, they (such children) may do Hajj; it shall be considered as a voluntary (nawafil) Hajj, and the parents/guardians accompanying the children in Hajj shall be rewarded doubly for that. This narration has been reported in Hadith 2910, Chapters on Hajj Rituals, Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 4. Such children will have to perform their farz Hajj after attaining the age of puberty.
Additional condition for women – All the conditions discussed above are applicable to both men and women. However, there is a special condition applicable for women who intend to perform Hajj. And this condition is that a woman cannot perform Hajj without a Mahram. Refer to following narration:
It was narrated from Abdullah bin Umar (RA) that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the ‘Last Day’ to travel for a distance of three nights, unless she has a Mahram with her.”
(Hadith No. 3260 (1338), Book of Hajj, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3).
A Mahram is any person from opposite gender whom she cannot marry i.e. husband, father, brother, son, Maternal Uncle, Paternal Uncle, Brother’s son or Sister’s son. Therefore, if a woman does not have a Mahram with her, Hajj does not become farz upon her, even if she is healthy, sane and able to meet the expenses of the journey.
F. Hajj is equivalent to Jihad for some.
Narrated Aishah (RA), the Mother of the faithful believers: I said, “O Allah’s Messenger! We consider Jihad as the best deed. Should we not participate in Jihad?” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The best Jihad (for women) is Hajj-Mabrur.”
(Hadith No. 1520, Book of Hajj, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 2).
We see from this narration that when Syeda Aishah (RA) expressed her (as well as other women’s) wish to join Jihad with men for the sake of Allah, they were instead told to perform Hajj. Going through another hadith on this subject shall bring forward the real understanding of the subject; please refer to the narration below:
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (RA) that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “Jihad of the elderly, the young, the weak and the women, is Hajj and Umrah.”
(Hadith No. 2627, Book of The Rites of Hajj, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 3).
Thus we see that whoever is not capable of joining Jihad for the sake of Allah, may still reap the rewards associated with Jihad by performing Hajj (& Umrah).
One very important issue should be understood by all. Hajj is an Ibadah, it should not be commercialized. Yes, it is true that trade/business is allowed during the Hajj journey, but it does not mean that Hajj should be taken as an opportunity of exploiting the pilgrims in various manners. This is against the ethics of Islam. A Hajj pilgrim is a guest of Allah, so all should treat him/her in the same esteemed status. Let me put forward an example which is very much prevalent nowadays. We have studied that a woman cannot perform Hajj without a Mahram; rather Hajj does not become farz for the woman who does not have a Mahram to accompany her on the journey. But still, you will find several ‘Tour Operators’ arranging Hajj tours for women without their Mahrams. They take support of some fatwas and provide a make-shift Mahram from among the group of pilgrims they are with. During my Hajj, I myself came across so many such women, mostly of old age, who were aboard without any Mahram. Most of them didn’t know how to perform the rites, where to go, when to go etc. One of the old ladies slipped in to comma as she was extremely old, weak and diabetic; moreover there was no one to take care of her. The make-shift Mahrams never bother to accompany the ladies and as such the ladies suffer.
This is ridiculous. When it is clear that Hajj is not farz on a woman without a Mahram, then why do the tour organizers find out ways to put such women aboard? The only reason apparent to me is the urge to earn more money? Please think over it; is it the right thing to do?
I request all to abstain from all such activities. All such fatwas should be kept aside.
Perform Hajj and help others perform Hajj in whichever way possible (physically, financially, by knowledge, administratively etc.).
Dear brothers and sisters, Hajj should be done with sole intention of performing the farz for the sake of Allah; it should not be for worldly praise or to be seen by the people or to gain worldly profits. Hajj is an obligation upon all Muslims (who can afford it), and one should not delay it. The moment you feel that you fall under the category of being able to undertake the journey (financially, physically etc.), go ahead with it. Do not ignore this duty, for the one who does so is considered to be a sinner.
And Allah knows best.
May Allah forgive me if I am wrong and guide us to the right path…Ameen.
سُبْحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ الْعِزَّةِ عَمَّا يَصِفُون َ ; وَسَلامٌ عَلَى الْمُرْسَلِينَ ; وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ.