What is Hajj?
Hajj is the greater annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, which takes place in the month of Zulhijjah, the last month of the Arabic lunar year. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey and can support their family during their absence.
Status of Hajj in Islam:
Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam, because the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“Islam is built on five (pillars): the testimony that there is no Deity but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, establishing regular prayer, paying zakaah, fasting Ramadaan and performing pilgrimage to the sacred House of Allaah.” [SahihBukhari 8, Sahih Muslim 120]
It is obligatory according to the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (ﷺ), and according to the consensus of the Muslims. Allaah says:
“And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allaah, 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 Allaah], then Allaah stands not in need of any of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)” [Quran 3:97]
Hajj becomes obligatory when the following conditions are met:
1 – Being Muslim.
2 – Being an adult.
3 – Being of sound mind, the opposite of which is insanity.
4 – Being free. A slave is not obliged to perform Hajj.
5 – Being able, financially and physically. In the case of a woman, this includes having a Mahram. If she does not have a Mahram, then she is not obliged to do Hajj.
The Muslim should hasten to fulfill the duty of Hajj when it becomes obligatory on him and must not delay it, because the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Hasten to do Hajj – meaning the obligatory Hajj – for none of you knows what will happen to him.” [Hasan by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 990].
Virtues of Hajj:
- The Prophet (ﷺ) say: “Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any obscenity or commit any evil will go back (free of) sin as on the day his mother bore him.” [al-Bukhaari (1521) and Muslim (1350)]
- Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “…an accepted Hajj brings no reward but Paradise.” [Al-Bukhaari (1773) and Muslim (1349)]
- The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “Make the Hajj and ‘Umrah follow each other closely, for they remove poverty and sins as the bellows removes the dross of iron, gold and silver, and an accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.” [At-Tirmidhi (738) and an-Nasaa’i (2631) Classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani in SaheehSunan at-Tirmidhi ]
Benefits of Hajj:
The benefits of Hajj are immense; some of them are as follows:
- Wearing ihraam is a physical expression of being the slave of Allaah and our submission to His commands.
- It teaches us Tawheed from the moment the pilgrim enters ihram and recites the talbiyah.
- The gathering of the people in Hajj reminds us about the Hereafter.
- It develops a sense of unity, because Hajj makes all people the same in their clothing, deeds, rituals, qiblah and the places they visit.
- It trains us to be content with modest clothing and accommodation.
- Hajj teaches us to be disciplined and develops patience and putting up with annoyance from people, because the pilgrims will inevitably be exposed to crowding and arguments, etc.
- It develops brotherhood amongst the Muslims since we get to exchange knowledge and experience with other Muslims and benefit each other.
- Hajj trains us to be charitable as the pilgrim spends a great deal of money for the sake of Hajj, on travel expenses, on the road and in the sacred places.
- By performing Hajj, we can learn on how to develop Taqwah – consciousness of one’s duties towards Allah in a great deal.
- It trains us to be kind to other people. Since during hajj, the pilgrims often guide those who are lost, teach those who are ignorant, help the poor and support the disabled and the weak.
- The story of Hajar the mother of Ismaa’eel (peace be upon them both) teaches us to put our trusts on Allah and never to lose hope from His mercy.
- It develops a sense of connection with the Prophets (peace be upon them) from our father Ibraaheem (peace be upon him), to our Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). When the pilgrim visits the sacred places and performs the rituals, he remembers the visits of those Prophets to these sacred places.
- Hajj is a kind of intensive training in worship and remembrance of Allaah. Since the pilgrims persist in worshipping and remembering Allaah during the days of Hajj, moving from one sacred place to the next, from one action to another.
- Finally, the gathering of Hajj is not at the invitation of any government or president; rather it is the invitation of the Lord of the Worlds. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The guests of Allaah are three: the warrior for the sake of Allaah, the pilgrim performing Hajj and the pilgrim performing ‘Umrah.” [Saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i, 2464]
How we should prepare for it?
- Our sincere intention must be to perform Hajj solely for the sake of Allah and perform it the way the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) performed Hajj, which is following the Sunnah. We should keep in mind that no righteous deed will be accepted unless it fulfills these two basic conditions: sincerity of intention and following the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ).
- Hajj must be performed with halaal funds.
- Hajj is a huge test of character, especially patience and it will start from the time we make the intention to perform it.
- Be humble and have the right mentality with positive attitude; otherwise, we would find it very difficult to cope. We should try to understand the magnitude and ground reality of Hajj when 3 million people performing the same rituals, in the same time and place. Remember, it is not an annual vacation rather an act of worship.
- Before our hajj flight we should gain complete and authentic knowledge about each and every aspect of Hajj and also learn how to do wudhu and perform salah properly. The more we learn about Hajj, its obligations, and prohibitions; the more comfortable we will feel during the whole process.
- Study the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and history of hajj.
- Understand the meaning of the Talbiyah and what it implies.
- Be careful not to be involved with shirk or incorrect practices.
- All of our debts and financial obligations must be fully discharged before our journey.
- Remain with scholars who can explain the rituals correctly.
- Refrain from all kinds of ‘bad talk’ from the moment we have the intention to go to Hajj.
- Remind ourselves that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so try to make the most of it.
- It is very important to be physically fit before we go. Otherwise, we will not be able to do as much worship we would have liked to perform and in the manner we wanted it. The more physically fit we will be the better we can worship Allah the way He deserves to be worshiped.
- Implement the lessons from Hajj in our lives after Hajj.
- Travel with a reliable scholar who can remind us about our religion. And for this, one may choose the ‘right’ hajj package and the ‘right’ hajj agency.
May Allah bless your Hajj and accept all our good deeds. I also pray that those who have been blessed to go on Hajj this year have an easy, fruitful and accepted Hajj, and I pray that those who haven’t been granted Hajj yet, be granted it soon.