Haj is obligatory once in a life time
Haj is one of the five institutions of Islam. The performance of Haj as an enjoined duty and its superiority is in the statement of Allah:
“Haj (pilgrimage) to the House (Kaabah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the journey. And whoever disbelieves (i.e. denies Haj) then he is a disbeliever of Allah and Allah stands not in need of any of His Creatures.” (Surah Al-Imran 3:197)
Pilgrimage is a duty to be performed at least once in a lifetime by every adult Muslim, man or woman, who is free, of sound mind and able to undertake it. Every Muslim who fulfils the conditions must perform the Haj. If he postpones offering this duty from one year to another he may die before he has fulfilled his duty. He then meets his Lord having neglected a main pillar of Islam. It may happen that a person who slackens reaches old age, when pilgrimage becomes doubly difficult, before he has fulfilled his duty.
He who denies that pilgrimage is a duty of Muslims is not a Muslim but a Kafir, for, he denies a part of the religion of Islam which is necessarily known to every Muslim.
Conditions Which Make Haj Mandatory
There are several conditions which must be met before pilgrimage becomes a duty for any particular person. If any of these conditions is not met, the person concerned is not necessarily required to offer pilgrimage. These conditions are as follows:
1. To be an adult: A person is an adult if he or she has attained puberty. If a child offers pilgrimage, it is valid and both the child and his parents are rewarded for it. Pilgrimage in childhood, however, cannot be a substitute for pilgrimage after one becomes an adult.
2. To be of sound mind.
3. To be free: A slave is not required to offer pilgrimage. If he does and he is subsequently set free, that pilgrimage does not relieve him of the duty to offer pilgrimage after he has gained his freedom.
4. To be aware that pilgrimage is a duty: This applies particularly to those people who are brought up in non-Muslim countries.
5. A woman who intends to offer pilgrimage must be accompanied by either her husband or one of her mahrams (those of her relatives whom she cannot marry) or a group of reliable women. If she cannot find such company she is not required to offer the Ha. If such a companion is available but refuses to accompany her unless she pays his expenses, she is required to pay his expenses, if she is able to do so. If a woman takes the pilgrimage on her own, her pilgrimage is valid but she is not relieved of the sin of violating Islamic restrictions regarding travel by women. No husband may prevent his wife from offering her first pilgrimage if she wants to do so. If he tries to prevent her, she may undertake the journey without his permission.
6. To be able to offer pilgrimage: This ability is fulfilled if the following conditions are met:
A. Physical ability: Any intending pilgrim must have sufficient physical strength to do all the requirements of pilgrimage.
B. He must not be too weak to travel and fulfil the duties of pilgrimage because of old age.
C. His route should be safe. If he fears for his life or money this condition is not met.
D. He should have sufficient money to meet his necessary expenses until he comes back.
E. There should be no physical impediment which prevents him from undertaking the journey, such as imprisonment, torture or punishment inflicted by a tyrannical ruler.
If someone who does not fulfil the conditions of ability offers pilgrimage, in spite of his inability, his pilgrimage is valid.
Things to do before one embarks on Haj
If a Muslim decides to go for pilgrimage or Umrah he should do the following before he embarks on his journey:
- Urge his family, friends and relatives to observe the Islamic teachings and to abide by Allah’s commandments.
- Write down any loans he owes to others or he has given to others, so that everybody’s right is documented.
- Write his will. He is recommended to leave a part of his money, not exceeding one-third, for the poor.
- Seek repentance for his past sins and mistakes and pay back to others whatever is due to them.
- Select the best of his money for the expenses of his journey. By “The best of his money,” we mean that which he knows to have been earned from perfectly pure sources. The best of this is that which is earned by personal effort or for service which was done to the best of his ability. Pilgrimage is done for Allah and Allah only accepts what is pure.
- Resolve to undertake his pilgrimage or umrah purely for Allah’s sake Allah accepts only such actions as are undertaken for the sole purpose of earning His pleasure. It is sufficient for a believer to feel that from the moment he begins his journey he is a guest of his Lord, enjoying His blessings, and bearing with that large number of believers a trip of total devotion, purity, brotherhood and mutual love.
Essentials of pilgrimage
There are four essentials of pilgrimage which must be done for it to be valid. Omitting anyone of these will invalidate one’s pilgrimage. These are:
- Attendance at Arafat at the specified time
- The Tawaf of ifaadah and
- Sa’ie between Safah and Marwah
- A fifth essential is added by Al-Shafie school of thought, which is to shave one’s head (for men only) or to shorten one’s hair.
Ha is one amongst the best Deeds:
The Prophet (Pbuh) was asked “Which is the best deed”?
He said, “To believe in Allah and His Prophet.” He was then asked which was the next (in goodness)”? He said, ‘to participate in Jihad in Allah’s cause.” He was then asked, “which is the next”? He said, “To perform Ha Mabrur” --Bukhari