The advent of the month of Shawwāl brings with it the remembrance of Ibrāhīm 'alayhis salām u and his memorable hajj. All over the world, those who are fortunate make preparations for this great spiritual experience. Hajj is from the five pillars of Islām and is farḍ upon every sane and mature believer who possesses the means to perform hajj. Allāh ta'ālā mentions in the Glorious Qur'ān:
…As a right of Allāh, it is obligatory on the people to perform hajj of the House – on everyone who has the ability to manage (his) way to it. (3:97)
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
Islām is founded on five (pillars): bearing witness that there is no deity except Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh, establishing salāh, paying zakāh, performing hajj and fasting in the month of Ramadān. (Al-Bukhārī)
In another hadīth, he said: “O people! Indeed Allāh, the Mighty, the Exalted has made hajj obligatory upon you; therefore perform hajj.” (Ahmad)
Virtues of Hajj
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has mentioned many virtues of hajj, encouraging the believers to fulfil this obligation:
“The performers of hajj and 'umrah are deputations of Allāh. If they call Him, He answers them; and if they seek His forgiveness, He forgives them.” (Ibn Mājah)
There is no reward for an accepted hajj except Jannah. (Al-Bukhārī, Muslim)
Whoever performs hajj for the sake of pleasing Allāh, and therein utters no word of evil, nor commits any evil deed, shall return from it free from sin as the day on which his mother gave birth to him. (Al-Bukhārī, Muslim)
The performer of hajj becomes so pure that even that person is forgiven for whom he seeks forgiveness. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:
When you meet a Hajī (on his way home), then greet him, shake hands with him and ask him to beg forgiveness of Allāh on your behalf before he enters his home, for his prayer for forgiveness is accepted since he is forgiven by Allāh. (Ahmad)
Warnings for Non-performance of Hajj
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has also warned those who do not fulfil this obligation despite it becoming obligatory upon them:
He who possesses enough provisions which will suffice for him to reach the House of Allāh, and he does not perform hajj, then there is no care whether he dies as a Jew or a Christian. (At-Tirmidhī)
Hajj is fard upon every sane, adult and healthy Muslim, when he has sufficient wealth to enable him to travel to and from the Ka'bah. This will apply when the wealth required to take him is in excess of his needs (such as house, transport, clothing, etc.). He also needs to have sufficient wealth to leave behind for the needs of those who are dependent on him. Furthermore, the journey needs to be a safe one and a woman needs to be travelling with a mahram. As can be understood from the great virtues and stern warnings above, a person upon whom hajj is fard should endeavour to perform hajj at the earliest possible opportunity – this year. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
The one who intends to go for hajj should hurry; for sometimes he can get ill, his conveyance can go missing or some other obstacle may arise (which will hinder him from travelling). (Ahmad)
Misconceptions and Lame Excuses
Many people delay the performance of hajj due to misconceptions which become lame excuses for not performing hajj. Inshā'allāh, I wish to clarify a few of these misunderstandings, so that those who find themselves in these situations can repent and make preparations immediately.
- Many people have enough wealth for them to go for hajj, but they wait to accrue enough wealth so that their spouse can also accompany them. If the husband has enough wealth then he should go for hajj immediately. And if the wife has enough wealth, and she has other mahārim with whom she can go for hajj, then she should go immediately too. The Sharī'ah does not give either permission to postpone the hajj and wait for the other.
- Many people think that it is necessary that they make arrangements for their parents to perform hajj before they do. This too is incorrect in light of the Sharī'ah. Undoubtedly, to make one's parents perform hajj is a great virtue and honour; however, if hajj is not fard on them, but it is fard upon the children, then they should not concern themselves with their parents' hajj at this moment and fulfil their own obligation. It is possible that in the children waiting for the parents - or in the case of the husband waiting for the wife or vice versa - the one upon whom hajj is fard passes away and is questioned by Allāh ta'ālā for its non-fulfilment.
- Others delay embarking on the journey until certain worldly tasks have been completed. Remember! The targets of the world will never end. If it is one worldly target that is the excuse this year, then it will be another next year. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
No servant leaves hajj for some worldly objective but that he will see the people returning from hajj before his worldly objective is fulfilled. (At-Tabrānī)
Therefore, one should put aside any worldly goals he has in mind and fulfil the obligation of Allāh ta'ālā first. It is also noteworthy to remember that it is from the ploys of Shaytān that he will never say, 'Don't perform hajj', rather, he will make you defer its performance, year after year, until it's too late.
- Similarly, many delay their hajj because of this hadīth: “He who performs forty salāh in my masjid in such a way that he does not miss a single salāh, then Allāh prescribes his freedom from the Fire of Jahannam, freedom from punishment and freedom from hypocrisy.” (Ahmad) Many think that it is necessary to perform forty salāh in Al-Masjid An-Nabawī, and some have the desire and greed for this virtue, so they delay their performance of hajj as they cannot spare enough time or money to stay in Al-Madīnah for the duration of forty salāh. Hajj is for five days only, and it becomes fard upon that person who can only afford to go for the minimum time. The inability to travel to Al-Madīnah will not be a valid excuse not to perform hajj. Of course, after reaching so close to the blessed city of Al-Madīnah, one should endeavour to at least spend a day in the blessed city and visit Al-Masjid An-Nabawī, and present himself in the Court of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam.
- Some believe that if their children have reached a marriageable age and are not yet married, then the parents cannot perform hajj until the children are married. This too has no basis whatsoever in the Sharī'ah.
- Some delay in travelling as they have small children at home. Once hajj becomes fard, they should seek suitable relatives, friends, etc. who can look after their children whilst they go for hajj; and they need not travel for long due to their circumstance and situation.
- Some delay their hajj as they think it is better to perform it in their old age closer to their death! This is a fallacy as they have no guarantee for how long they will live, and this idea is in complete contrast to the command of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam to perform hajj at the earliest opportunity.
- Some delay performing the hajj as they only obtain a set number of days off work, and they postpone their journey hoping that they may get more days off next year and can spend more time in the Al-Haramayn. This too is not a valid Shar'ī reason to postpone the hajj. They should go and spend whatever time they have available and absolve themselves of the obligation of hajj.
- Some delay the hajj, as they cannot afford to buy gifts for people, thus deferring their obligation until they have enough money that they can buy gifts for their loved and dear ones. This again is not a valid Shar'ī excuse.
- Some delay in going for hajj as they cannot afford the 'five star', 'deluxe' or 'golden' package. From a Shar'ī point of view, as soon as they can afford the cheapest most basic package, hajj becomes fard upon them.
- Others can afford a package, but as the package includes a hotel which is far from the Al-Haram, they are not able to read all five salāh in Al-Haram. This does not justify delaying the hajj. Remember, as long as the five days of hajj are part of the package, hajj will be fard upon them.
- Some do not go for hajj on the pretext that they are not yet ready to change their lives. Such a thought is from Shaytān. Do we think the same when it comes to reading salāh or paying zakāh? And if this is the case, then change your life, for it is obligatory anyway! Moreover, inshā'allāh, through the barakah of hajj, the life will change for the better. Some go to the other extreme and have resolved to change their lives, but make comments such as, 'My Īmān is not yet strong enough and I need to build on my Īmān.' This thought too is from Shaytān. Hajj is a very important fundamental which helps to make one's Īmān stronger.
Shaykh Muftī 'Abdur Rahīm Lājpūrī rahimahullāh mentions with regards the permissible reasons for postponing hajj:
The following are reasons for which hajj may be postponed:
- Becoming bankrupt.
- Fear of a tyrannical leader.
- Being imprisoned.
- An unsafe journey.
- Illness because of which the person cannot travel.
- For a woman not to have a mahram or husband to accompany her.
- For a woman to be sitting in her 'iddah.
- He further states that although these factors justify postponing hajj; however, it will be compulsory to proceed with the journey as soon as they no longer exist.
Therefore, it is my heartfelt plea to those upon whom hajj is fard, that they embark on this blessed journey this very year. They should have trust in Allāh ta'ālā for all their affairs and fulfil this obligation. May Allāh ta'ālā remove all difficulties and hurdles that anyone may have and make hajj easy for one and all. Āmīn.
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