PILGRIMAGE: A GENERAL DEFINITION, ITS EXCELLENCE AND PREREQUISITES:
Allah, the Exalted One, says: "The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka; (Bakka is one of the names of Makkah) full of blessings and guidance for all kinds of beings: in it are signs manifest (for example), the station of Abraham-- whoever enters it attains security; pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah--those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures" (Qur'an 3.96-97).
Definition of Hajj:
The majority of the scholars hold that Hajj was prescribed in the sixth year after Hijrah (Migration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Madinah) for it was then that the following verse concerning it was revealed: "And complete the Hajj and 'Umrah in the service of Allah" (Qur'an 2.194). This conclusion is based on the understanding that the "completion" in the above verse in fact refers to the time when it was first made obligatory. This view is also supported by 'Alqamah, Masrouq, and Ibrahim An-Nakh'i, who substitute "And establish" for "And complete" in the above verse, as reported by At-Tabarani on sound authority. Ibn-al-Qayyim, however, is inclined to the view that Hajj was made obligatory in the ninth or the tenth year of Hijrah.
Hajj - One of the Best Deeds:
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was once asked: "What is the best deed?" He replied: "To have faith in Allah and His Messenger." The enquirer asked: "What next?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "To strive in the cause of Allah." "What is the next best thing?" He replied: "Hajj Mabrur (a faultless Hajj that is free of sin and is graced with Divine acceptance and pleasure)."
Al-Hasan said: "It means that a person after performance of Hajj should desire and be inclined to the life of the Hereafter rather than the material pleasures of this world." Another report transmitted on sound authority from the Prophet (peace be upon him) says that a righteous performance of Hajj is crowned by feeding the needy and speaking kind words to men.
Hajj: A Form of Jihad:
Al-Hasan ibn Ali says that a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: "I am a coward and a weak person. Is there anything I can do?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "You may go for a jihad (striving) that involves no fighting, that is, Hajj." This is reported by Abdur Razzaq and At-Tabarani, and all its narrators are trustworthy.
Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Hajj is the jihad for the old, the weak and the women." (This is reported by Nasa'i with a reliable chain of narrators)
'Aishah reports that she once said: "O Prophet of Allah! Jihad (striving or fighting in the cause of Allah) is the best deed. Should we (women) then, not actively participate in it?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: "The best jihad for you is Hajj Mabrur." (Bukhari and Muslim)
In another report 'Aishah says: "I once asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): 'O Prophet of Allah! Should not we (women) strive and actively participate in the Islamic war with you?' The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: 'The best and the most beautiful striving for you in the cause of Allah is Hajj Mabrur."' (Bukhari and Muslim) 'Aishah commented: "After hearing this from the Prophet (peace be upon him) I shall never cease performing Hajj."
Hajj Wipes Off Past Sins:
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "He who performs Hajj for Allah's pleasure and avoids all lewdness and sins will return after Hajj free from all sins as he was the day his mother gave birth to him." (Bukhari and Muslim)
'Amr ibn al-'As says: "When Allah guided me to Islam, I went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said to him: 'O Prophet of Allah! Stretch out your hand so that I may pledge my allegiance to you.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) stretched out his hand to me, but I withdrew my hand. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: 'O 'Amr! what is the matter with you?' I said: 'I would like to stipulate a condition! ' The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: 'What is it?' I said: 'That all my past sins be forgiven!' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'O 'Amr! Do you not know that Islam wipes off all past sins, and hijrah (leaving one+s home and hearth for Allah's cause) wipes off all sins, and (similarly) Hajj wipes off all past sins!"' (Muslim)
Abdullah ibn Mas'ud narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Alternate between Hajj and 'Umrah (regularly), for these two remove poverty and sins just as the blacksmith's bellows removes all impurities from metals like iron, gold and silver. The reward for Hajj Mabrur is nothing short of Paradise." (Nasa'i and Tirmidhi, who regards it a sound hadith)
Pilgrims are Allah's Guests:
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Pilgrims and those performing 'Umrah are Allah's guests; their prayers are answered and their supplications for forgiveness are granted. This is reported by Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Hibban in their collections of Sahih hadith. In the last two we read: "And Allah's guests are three: A pilgrim performing Hajj, one performing 'Umrah, and a person who fights in the cause of Allah."
The Reward of Hajj is Paradise:
Abu Hurairah says the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "All sins committed in between the performance of one 'Umrah and another are expiated and erased, and the reward of Hajj Mabrur is nothing save Paradise." (Bukhari and Muslim) In another sound hadith Ibn Joraij relates from Jabir that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "This House of Allah (the Ka'bah) is the pillar of Islam, so whosoever heads to it with the intention of performing Hajj or 'Umrah is under Allah's security. If he should die (during his trip) he is granted Paradise, and if he returns home safely, he returns with reward and gain."
The Excellence of Spending in Hajj:
Buraidah reports the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: "Spending during Hajj is akin to spending in the cause of Allah, and every dirham thus spent will be rewarded seven hundred times over.'' (Reported by Ibn Abi Shaibah, Ahmad, At-Tabarani and Al-Baihaqi)
Can the Performance of Hajj Be Deferred to a More Convenient Time or Must It Be Performed Immediately after One is Able to Do So?:
Ash-Shafi'i, Ath-Thawri, Al-Awza'i and Mohammad bin al-Hasan are of the opinion that Hajj may be performed at any time during one's life, and there is nothing wrong if someone, for whom it is obligatory, delays it until a later date in his (or her) life, for, although Hajj was prescribed in the 6th year of Hijrah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) delayed it until the 10th year of Hijrah when he performed it along with his wives and many of his companions. Had performing it earlier been essential the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have never delayed it.
Ash-Shafi'i says: "We, therefore, are convinced that Hajj is obligatory upon a Muslim, male or female, from the age of puberty until before his death."
Abu Hanifah, Malik, Ahmad, some of Ash-Shafi'i's followers and Abu Yusuf are of the opinion that Hajj must be performed as soon as one is (physically and financially) in a position to do so. This opinion is based on a hadith that is related by Ibn 'Abbas that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "He who intends to perform Hajj let him do so expeditiously, for he may well fall sick, may lose his mount (ability to bear expenses of the jaurney) or he may be prevented by some other exigency.'' (Reported by Ahmad, Al-Baihaqi, At-Tahawi and Ibn Majah) In another report by Ahmad and Al-Baihaqi, we read that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Hasten to perform Hajj - the basic obligation - for you don't know what might happen to you," meaning "one may fall sick or be prevented by some other exigency." The earlier scholars interpreted these ahadith saying it was commendable for a person to perform Hajj as soon as possible provided he had the ability to do so.
Prerequisites for Hajj:
There is a consensus among jurists concerning the prerequisites that must be found in a person for Hajj to be incumbent on him:
1. He must be a Muslim.
2. He must be an adult.
3. He must be of a sound state of mind.
4. He must be free.
5. He must have the necessary power and ability.
Anyone lacking any of these conditions is not obligated to perform Hajj. All these conditions, that is, being a Muslim, being of adult age and of sound mind, being free, and possessing the power to discharge a duty are equally valid with respect to all other forms of worship in Islam. This is based on a hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which says: "Three persons are not to be held accountable: a sleeping person until he awakes, a minor until he comes of age, and a mentally disturbed person until he regains his reason."
Freedom is an essential prerequisite for Hajj, for this worship needs time as well as financial ability. A slave lacks both, for all his time is spent in the service of his master, and financially he lacks the ability to undertake this obligation. The Qur'an says: "Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah - those who can afford the journey" (3.97).
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