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Hajj Guide

All you need to know

Hajj Guide

The fifth pillar of Islam is to make a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, at least once in one’s lifetime. This pillar is obligatory for every Muslim, male or female, provided that he/she is physically and financially able to do so.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) say: ‘Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), commit sin, or dispute unjustly (during the Hajj), will come back like the day his mother gave birth to him.’” (Bukhaari: 1449, Muslim: 1350).

The Hajj is the ultimate form of worship, as it involves the spirit of all the other rituals and demands of the believer great sacrifice. On this unique occasion, upto 3 million Muslims from all over the globe meet one another in a given year. Regardless of the season, pilgrims wear special clothes (Ihram) – two, very simple, unsown white garments – which strips away all distinctions of wealth, status, class and culture; all stand together and equal before Allah.

The rites of Hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who built the Ka’bah, are observed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth day of the last month of the year, named Dhul-Hijjah (pilgrimage). These rites include circumambulating the Ka’bah (Tawaf), and going between the mountains of Safa and Marwah, as Hajar (Abraham’s wife) did during her search for water for her son Isma’il. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafah and join in prayers for God’s forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment. The pilgrims also cast stones at a stone pillar which represents Satan. The pilgrimage ends with a festival, called Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers, the sacrifice of an animal, and the exchange of greetings and gifts in Muslim communities everywhere.

The first condition is that of being a Muslim. Non-Muslims are, first and foremost, obliged to become Muslims after which the daily, monthly, yearly and once in a lifetime duties of Islam successively become requirements. Hajj is a religious duty which must be accompanied by the correct belief in order for it to be accepted by Allah.

The second and third conditions are those of sanity and puberty. A Muslim has to have reached puberty and be of sound mind for his or her Hajj to become a duty. Divine rewards and punishments are given as a result of human choice between good and evil. Since a child or an insane person lack the ability to distinguish between good and evil, no religious duties are required of them. This principle of non-obligation is based on the following Hadith in which the Prophet (was reported to have said: “The pen is raised from (the book of deeds) of three: the sleeper until he awakes, the child until he becomes a young man, and the insane until he regains his sanity.”

However, those who help such individuals perform Hajj are rewarded for their efforts. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked by a woman about her child making Hajj, he replied that the child could, but the reward would be given to her. Hence the insane individual who made Hajj while in a state of insanity is still required to make Hajj if he regains his sanity. Likewise, children who make Hajj are required to do so again when they grow up. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Any child who makes Hajj then reaches puberty must make another Hajj.”

The fourth condition is that of ability based on the following Quranic verse:

And, pilgrimage to the House is duty on mankind to Allah for those who can find a way there.

[Noble Quran 3:97]

Similar statements of the Prophet (peace be upon him) define ability as being sufficient provisions and transportation. Hence, a Muslim has to be economically able to make the trip. If he has to borrow the money to make the journey, Hajj is not compulsory on him. In the case when one’s family is left in debt or with insufficient funds, it is recommended that such an individual stay home until he is financially able. Muslims with physical disabilities are also not obliged to make Hajj unless they have the economic ability to pay others to carry them. Therefore, only those who are economically and physically able to perform the rigorous rites of Hajj are obliged to do so.

The fifth condition, that of a Mahram, concerns women only and could be included under the condition of ability. Since the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade women from traveling for a distance requiring more than twenty-four hours unaccompanied by a male relative whom she can not marry (Mahram),women are not obliged to make Hajj unless they have a Mahram to accompany them. Thus, a woman without a Mahram is recommended not to try to make Hajj. However, if the woman has the means and the Mahram, she is obliged to do so. Ayshah asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O, Messenger of Allah, are women obliged to make Jihad (holy war)?” he replied, “They must make Jihad in which there is no fighting – Hajj and ‘Umrah.”

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