This is a brief discussion on Hajj – its virtues, benefits and a little about its rulings.
According to the correct view, Hajj was made obligatory in 9 AH (i.e., after Hijrah, migration to Madeenah), the year of the Delegations, in which the chapter of Aal-‘Imraan was revealed; (it is this chapter) in which Allaah says which means, “…And (due) to Allaah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way…” (Aal-‘Imraan: 97)
Hajj is a fareedhah (obligatory duty) and is one of the pillars of Islaam. The evidence for this is the verse mentioned above. There is also confirmation of it in the Sunnah, for Ibn ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said, “Islaam is built upon five (pillars): testimony that there is no God but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, establishing regular prayers, paying the Zakaah, Hajj and fasting (the month of) Ramadhaan.” (Bukhaari & Muslim)
Hajj must be performed straight away; the proof for this is the verse referred to above. This (i.e., doing things straight away) is the guiding principle concerning the commands in the Sharee’ah (jurisprudence). The evidence of it in the Sunnah is as follows:
- Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam gave a sermon and said: “O people, Allaah has enjoined Hajj upon you, so do Hajj.” (Muslim)
- Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever wants to go for Hajj, let him hasten in doing so because he may fall ill or some other problems may arise.” (Ibn Maajah & Abu Dawood) He also said, “Hasten to do Hajj (i.e., the obligatory Hajj) for none of you knows what may happen to him.” (Ahmad)
Those who follow the Shaafi’i school of thought say that Hajj may be delayed, because the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam delayed his Hajj until 10 AH. The response to this and the reason for that is as follows:
- He sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam only delayed it for one year, yet they say it may be delayed indefinitely!
- He sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam wanted to (first) purify the House (i.e., the Ka’bah) of the polytheists and those who performed Hajj naked.
- He was busy with the delegations which had started to come to Madeenah one after another to announce their (conversion to) Islaam.
It is obligatory to do Hajj once in one's lifetime. Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet of Allaah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam gave a sermon and said, “O people, Allaah has enjoined Hajj upon you so do Hajj.” A man asked, “Every year, O Messenger of Allaah?” He remained silent until the man had repeated it three times, then he said, “If I say yes, it will become obligatory and you will not be able to do it.” He, then, said, “Do not push me to tell you more than what I have left you with, for those who came before you were destroyed because they asked too many questions and argued with their Prophets. If I command you to do a thing, do as much of it as you can, and if I forbid you to do something, then avoid it.” (Muslim)
There are many Hadeeth which speak about the virtues of Hajj, including the following:
It is narrated by Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam was asked which deed was best, so he replied, “Belief in Allaah and His Messenger.” He was asked, then what (was the next best deed), and he said, “Jihaad for the sake of Allaah.” He was asked, then what (after that) and he sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam replied, “An accepted Hajj.” (Bukhaari & Muslim)
An accepted Hajj denotes that:
- It must be paid for with legal earnings.
- One should keep away from evil, sin and unjust disputes during it.
- One should observe all its rituals according to the Sunnah.
- One should not show off by doing Hajj – it should be purely and done sincerely for the sake of Allaah.
- One should not follow it with acts of disobedience and sin.
Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “I heard the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam say: “Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allaah and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits a sin or disputes unjustly during the Hajj, will come back (free from all sins) like the day his mother gave birth to him.” (Bukhaari & Muslim)
Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, also reported that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said, “From one ‘Umrah to another is an expiation for the sins committed between them, and the accepted Hajj has no less a reward than Paradise.” (Bukhaari & Muslim)
‘Aa’ishah, the Mother of the Believers, may Allaah be pleased with her, asked the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, “O Messenger of Allaah, can we not go out on campaigns and fight in Jihaad with you?” He said, “But the best and most beautiful of Jihaad is an accepted Hajj.” ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, said, “I never stopped going for Hajj after I heard that from the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam.” (Bukhaari)
‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said, “Hajj wipes out whatever (of sins) came before it.” (Muslim)
‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said, “Keep on doing Hajj and ‘Umrah, for they eliminate poverty and sin just as the bellows eliminate impurities from iron, gold and silver.” (Tirmidhi & An-Nasaa’i)
Ibn ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: “The one who fights for the sake of Allaah and the pilgrim who goes for Hajj or ‘Umrah are all guests of Allaah. He called them and they responded; they ask of Him and He will give them.” (Ibn Maajah)
Allaah says which means, “That they may witness (i.e., attend) benefits for themselves…” (Al-Hajj: 28) The benefits of Hajj are both worldly and religious (spiritual). With regards to the religious benefits, the one who goes for Hajj, earns the pleasure of his Lord and comes back with all his sins forgiven. He also earns immense reward, which he cannot earn in any other place; one prayer in Al-Masjid al-Haraam (i.e., the Sacred Mosque in Makkah), for instance, is equal to a hundred thousand prayers elsewhere, and Tawaaf (circumambulation of the Ka’bah) and Sa’i (pacing between Safa and Marwah) cannot be done anywhere else. Other benefits include meeting other Muslims and discussing their circumstances, meeting scholars and learning from them and asking them about one’s problems. Whereas the worldly benefits include trade and business, as well as other kinds of earnings that have to do with Hajj.
Furthermore, there are many virtues of the rituals of Hajj and there is much wisdom to be found behind them. Whoever is blessed with proper understanding of them is blessed with much goodness. For example:
- When a person travels to perform the rites of Hajj, he is reminded of his journey to Allaah and the Hereafter. When he travels, he leaves behind his dear friends, wife, children and homeland, and the journey to the Hereafter is similar.
- The one who goes on this trip equips himself with enough provisions to help him reach the Sacred land, so let him remember that for his journey to his Lord, he needs to have sufficient provisions to help him get there safely, as well. Regarding this, Allaah says which means, “…And take provision, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allaah…” (Al-Baqarah: 197)
- Traveling is a kind of torment and the same is true of the journey to the Hereafter, only (that it will be) much greater in scale. Ahead of man there is (the stage of) his passing away, death, the grave, the gathering, the accounting, the scales and As-Siraat (a bridge that will be laid across Hellfire, for people to pass over on the Day of Judgment), followed by either Paradise or Hell. The blessed one will be the one whom Allaah saves.
- When the pilgrim puts on the two garments of his Ihraam (the state of a pilgrim in which he performs Hajj and ‘Umrah, and during which he is prohibited from certain acts that are lawful otherwise), he cannot help but be reminded of the shroud in which he will be wrapped (after he dies). This prompts him to give up disobedience and misdeeds. Just as he gives up his regular clothing (for Hajj), likewise he has to give up sins. Just as he has put on two clean, white garments, he has to make his heart clean and white (pure), and guard his senses, (so they remain) clean and pure, uncontaminated by the stains of sins and disobedience.
- When he says “Labbayk Allaahumma labbayk (Here I am at your service, O Allaah, here I am)” at the Meeqaat (station from where one enters into the state of Ihraam), he means that he has responded to his Lord; so how can he still insist on sinning and not respond to his Lord’s call to refrain from that? When he says “Labbayk Allaahumma labbayk”, he must (also) mean, “I am responding to Your prohibition of it (committing sins) and this is the time from which I am giving it up.”
- By ceasing to do Haraam (forbidden) things while in a state of Ihraam and keeping himself busy with the Talbiyah (a prayer recited by pilgrims going to Makkah) and Dhikr (remembrance of Allaah), the pilgrim gives himself a good idea about how a Muslim should be. In this way, he trains himself to give up some things which, in principle, are Halaal (allowed), but Allaah has forbidden them for him at this time (during his Ihraam); so, how can he violate the commands of Allaah and commit forbidden deeds, at all times and in all places?
- When he enters the Sacred House of Allaah, which He has made a sanctuary for mankind, he remembers the sanctuary of the Day of Resurrection, which no one can reach without striving hard and making a rigorous effort. The greatest thing, which will keep a person safe on the Day of Resurrection, is Tawheed (belief in the Oneness of Allaah) and shunning Shirk (association of others with Allaah). Concerning this, Allaah says which means, “They who believe and do not mix their belief with injustice – those will have security, and they are (rightly) guided.” (Al-An’aam: 82)
- Kissing the Black Stone which is amongst the first rituals to be carried out, teaches the visitor (of Allaah) to honor the Sunnah and not oppose the laws of Allaah with his feeble reasoning. He comes to recognize that there is wisdom and goodness behind the laws and rites which Allaah has prescribed for mankind, and trains himself to submit totally to his Lord. It is narrated that ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, said after he kissed the Black Stone: “I know that you are only a stone and that you can neither benefit nor harm. If I had not seen the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam kiss you, I would not have kissed you.” (Bukhaari & Muslim)
- When the pilgrim does Tawaaf, he is reminded of his father Ibraaheem, peace be upon him, who built the House so it would be a place of resort for mankind and a safe haven, and that he called them to perform pilgrimage to this House. Moreover, our Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam also called humanity to perform pilgrimage to this House, to which Moosa, Yoonus and ‘Eesaa, peace be upon them, also came for the same purpose. This House was a symbol and a meeting place for these Prophets; how could it be otherwise for Allaah had commanded Ibraaheem, peace be upon him, to build and venerate it?
- When he drinks the water of Zamzam, he is reminded of the blessing which Allaah has bestowed upon mankind in the form of this holy water, from which millions of people have drunk throughout history, yet, it has never dried up. He is encouraged to make Du’aa’ (supplications) when he drinks it, according to the Hadeeth in which the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said, “The water of Zamzam is for whatever it is drunk for.” (Ibn Maajah & Ahmad)
- When he does the Sa’ie (running between Safa and Marwah), he is reminded of the trial that afflicted Haajar, the mother of Ismaa’eel and the wife of Al-Khaleel (i.e., Ibraaheem, peace be upon him); (he remembers) how she ran back and forth between Safa and Marwah, searching for water which would save her from what she was suffering, and especially so she could give her little son, Ismaa’eel, peace be upon him, water to drink. Since this woman was patient in the face of this adversity and turned to her Lord, this teaches the man that doing this is better and more appropriate. When a man remembers the struggle and patience of this woman, it makes it easier for him to bear his own problems and a woman, who is of the same gender (as Haajar), will also find her problems easier to put up with.
- The standing in ‘Arafah reminds the pilgrim of the throngs of people on the Day of Gathering. If the pilgrim is tired due to being in a crowd of thousands, how will it be to stand amongst the hordes of barefoot, naked, uncircumcised people, for fifty thousand years?
- When he throws the pebbles at the Jamaraat (the three small stone-built pillars in Mina), the Muslim trains himself to obey Allaah unquestioningly, even if he does not understand the reason and wisdom behind this act, and cannot make the connection between rulings and their purpose; this is a manifestation of complete submission to Allaah.
- When he slaughters his sacrificial animal, he is reminded of the great incident when our father Ibraaheem submitted to the command of Allaah to sacrifice his only son Ismaa’eel, peace be upon them, after he had grown up and become a helping hand for him. He is also reminded that there is no room for sentiments, which go against the commands of Allaah. This teaches him to respond to what Allaah orders, as Allaah tells us that Ismaa’eel, peace be upon him, said: “…‘O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allaah wills, of the steadfast.’” (As-Saaffaat: 102)
- Once the pilgrim comes out of the state of Ihraam that he was in and things that had been forbidden to him become permissible again, he is thus taught about the consequences of patience and that after hardship comes ease. The one who responds to the call of Allaah will have joy and happiness, and this delight cannot be felt by anyone except those who have tasted the sweetness of obedience, such as the joy felt by one who fasts upon breaking his fast or by the one who prays during the last part of the night, after he has finished praying.
- After he concludes performing all the rituals of Hajj as they were prescribed by Allaah and in the manner that He loves, the pilgrim has hope that his Lord will forgive all his sins, as the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam promised in the Hadeeth: “Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allaah and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits a sin or disputes unjustly during the Hajj, will come back (free from all sins) like the day his mother gave birth to him.” (Bukhaari & Muslim) This encourages him to start a new page in his life, free of evil deeds.
- When he comes back to his wife and children, and experiences the joy of meeting them again, this reminds him of the greater joy of meeting them in Paradise. This also teaches him that the greatest loss is losing one’s self and family on the Day of Resurrection, as Allaah says which means, “…’Indeed, the losers are the ones who will lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Unquestionably, that is the manifest loss!’” (Az-Zumar: 15)