< All Topics

233. The Obligation of Hajj (Pilgrimage) and its Excellence

Chapter 233

The Obligation of Hajj (Pilgrimage) and its Excellence


Allah, the Exalted, says:


“And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka`bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e., denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the `Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).” (3:97)

  1. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “(The superstructure of) Islam is based on five (pillars), testifying the fact that La ilaha illallah wa anna Muhammad-ar-Rasul-ullah [there is no true god except Allah, and Muhammad ((PBUH)) is the Messenger of Allah], establishing As-Salat (the prayers), paying Zakat (poor due), the pilgrimage to the House [of Allah (Ka`bah)], and the Saum (fasting) during the month of Ramadan.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].


Commentary:  This Hadith has been mentioned earlier. Here it has been repeated in support of the obligation of the fourth pillar of Islam. Thus, Hajj is compulsory for a person who fulfills the qualifications required for it and has the means for it.

  1. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) delivered a Khutbah and said, “O people! Hajj (pilgrimage to the House of Allah) has been made incumbent upon you, so perform Hajj.” A man inquired: “O Messenger of Allah, is it prescribed every year?” He (PBUH) remained silent till the man repeated it thrice. Then he (PBUH) said, “Had I replied in the affirmative, it would have surely become obligatory, and you would not have been able to fulfill it.” Afterwards he said, “Do not ask me so long as I do not impose anything upon you, because those who were before you were destroyed on account of their frequent questioning and their disagreement with their Prophets. So when I order you to do something, do it as far as you can; and when I forbid you from doing anything, eschew it.”


Commentary: This Hadith brings out the following points:

  1. Hajj is compulsory once in a lifetime for those who have the means for it.
  2. Unnecessary questioning is disliked.
  3. Those who believe in Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) are required to do what they are ordained and abstain from what they are forbidden.

  1. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) was asked: “Which deed is the best?” He (PBUH) replied, “Faith in Allah and His Messenger.” Then he was asked: “What is next?” He replied, “Jihad (holy fighting) in the Cause of Allah.” Then he was asked, “What is after that?” He (PBUH) replied, “Hajj Mabrur (an accepted pilgrimage).”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].


Commentary: This Hadith points out the fact that Hajj is one of the most prominent religious acts, provided it is done sincerely and keeping oneself away from sins. Some people have interpreted the word “Hajj Mabrur”  as an accepted Hajj. They say that the sign of an accepted Hajj is that one becomes a true worshipper of Allah, which he was previously not.

  1. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Whoever performs Hajj (pilgrimage) and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits sin, nor disputes unjustly (during Hajj), then he returns from Hajj as pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].


Commentary:  The true meanings of “Rafath” sexual intercourse but it also signifies obscene and frivolous talk and the expression of sexual desire to one’s wife. Since coition with one’s wife is forbidden during Hajj, so conversation with her on this subject or talking for amusement is also disliked. “Fisq”   means disobedience of Allah and quarrelling with people. One must avoid both of them during Hajj. The Hajj which is performed with all these restrictions, has the merit that one is totally purged of sins. But this purification is from sins which come in the category of minor sins and which relate to the Rights of Allah. Major sins relating to the Rights of Allah and lapses in respect of the rights of people are not pardoned without sincere repentance and compensation to the aggrieved.

  1. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “(The performance of) `Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous `Umrah; and the reward of Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted) is nothing but Jannah.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].


Commentary: This Hadith tells us that the merit of `Umrah is that it is an expiation for sins. But this, too, is an expiation for minor sins. `Umrah includes assuming Ihram, circumambulation of Ka`bah, going between As-Safa and Al-Marwah and Halq or Taqsir (shaving of head or cutting hair). Whether or not `Umrah is an obligation like Hajj is arguable among the `Ulama’. Some people, like Imam As-Shafi`i, hold that it is obligatory; others like the followers of the Hanafi school of thought regard it Sunnah Mu`akkadah; still others think it to be voluntary. Imam Al-Bukhari is inclined to the first view which is also endorsed by sayings of some Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) about which some Muhaddithun (scholars of Hadith) have even claimed that these sayings are Mausul, the chain of narrators reaches up to the Prophet (PBUH). (For further details, please see Fath Al-Bari.) Otherwise, the view that it is non-obligatory is preferable.

  1. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: I said: “O Messenger of Allah! We consider Jihad as the best deed, should we not then go for Jihad?” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “The best Jihad for you women is Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted by Allah).”


Commentary:  In ordinary circumstances, Hajj is the best of Jihad for women because in Islam, politics, economy, government, military affairs etc., come in the purview of men and men alone. Women are exempted from all such matters. However, in case of war, if the need arises, women can be engaged for supply of food, first-aid of the wounded etc., on the internal front, provided they can do such works without crossing the bounds of the Islamic-type veil. But imparting military training to women and dispatching them to war front are sheer imitations of the western nations for which there is no scope in the teachings of Islam. This Hadith also confirms this view.

  1. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “There is no day on which Allah sets free more slaves from Hell than He does on the Day of `Arafah.”


Commentary: Almighty Allah emancipates most of His slaves, both men and women from the Hell-fire on this great day. Millions of pilgrims, who by virtue of their sincere repentance, try to seek the Pleasure of Allah certainly stand to earn Allah’s Pardon for their sins and thereby emancipation from the Hell-fire. May Allah grant us this grace of His.

  1. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “(The performance of) `Umrah during Ramadan is equal to Hajj (pilgrimage).” Or said, “Equal to the performance of Hajj with me.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].


Commentary:  “Equal to the performance of Hajj” means the return and reward to which Hajj is eligible. It does not mean that it will serve as a substitute for Hajj and absolve one from the need to perform it. This distinction of `Umrah in the month of Ramadan is perhaps for the reason, that in this way two acts of worship are combined at one time.

  1. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: A woman came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and said, “Allah’s obligation upon His slaves has become obligatory on my father in his old age. My father is very old and incapable of riding. May I perform Hajj on his behalf?” He (PBUH) said, “Yes.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].


Commentary:  “Hajj has become obligatory in old age” means that when Allah has made Hajj obligatory, at that time, her father had attained old age, or he came to possess the means in his old age which made him liable for Hajj, but he is not capable of undertaking the journey because of his poor health. In such cases, the Prophet (PBUH) has granted them permission for Hajj by representation. But we learn from other Ahadith that Hajj by representation can only be done through such a person who has already performed Hajj. Similarly, if a person of means dies without performing Hajj, it is essential that Hajj is performed on his behalf; otherwise, he will be answerable for this omission. This formula does not apply to parents who have died in poverty because they were not liable for it. If someone does it for the sake of reward, he will be hopefully granted the reward of voluntary Hajj.

  1. Laqit bin `Amir (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said: “My father is a very old man and does not have strength to perform Hajj (pilgrimage) or `Umrah or to undertake the journey.” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Perform Hajj and `Umrah on behalf of your father.”
[Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].


Commentary:  This Hadith also stresses permission of Hajj through representative where a person is not capable of doing it. But it is essential that the representative agent must have already performed Hajj.

  1. As-Sai’b bin Yazid (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I was seven years old when I was taken to perform Hajj (pilgrimage). This was during the time the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) performed the Hajjat-ul-Wada` (Farewell Pilgrimage).




Commentary:  This Hadith points out the fact that it is permissible to take children to Hajj. The reward of their Hajj will be given to their parents. But when after attaining maturity the child becomes liable for Hajj, it will be necessary for him to perform it again because the one he has performed in childhood, will not be sufficient for him. The reason behind taking children to Hajj is to teach them how to perform this obligation.

  1. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) came across a caravan at Ar-Rauha’ and asked who the people in the caravan were. They replied that they were Muslims. They asked: “Who are you?” He (PBUH) said, “I am the Messenger of Allah.” Then a woman lifted up a boy to him and asked: “Would this child be credited with having performed the Hajj (pilgrimage)?” Whereupon he (PBUH) said, “Yes, and you will have a reward.”

  1. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) performed the pilgrimage on an unsaddled camel which also carried his provisions (i.e., his Zamilah).


Commentary:  “Zamilah” is a mount like a horse, mule etc., on which luggage is loaded while travelling. What it means here is that the Prophet (PBUH) travelled for Hajj on such a mount on which he kept his provision for the journey also. In other words, it was his Zamilah as well. This incident happened during Hajjat-ul-Wada` (Farewell Pilgrimage). This Hadith shows the Prophet’s total humility and humbleness and his disregard for the life of the world.

  1. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Ukaz, Mijannah and Dhul-Majaz were markets during the pre-Islamic period. The Companions disliked trading there till the following Ayat of the Noble Qur’an were revealed: “There is no sin on you if you seek the Bounty of your Rubb (during pilgrimage by trading)…” (2:198)


Commentary:  The Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) considered trade and commerce during the months of Hajj as sinful because they thought that trade had a sort of resemblance with the bazaars which were arranged on the occasion of Hajj in the pre-Islamic period. Through the Ayah quoted in this Hadith, Almighty Allah removed their misunderstanding. Therefore, trade and commerce on this occasion do not violate the Hajj and `Umrah. This is however, only a permission. If one wants to earn reward in the Hereafter through his utmost devotion to Allah, it is more meritorious to avoid commercial activities and wholeheartedly concentrate on the remembrance of Allah and His worship.


Riyadh ul Saliheen



Table of Contents