SOME FACTS ABOUT HAJJ

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Hajj is Obligatory Only Once. All Muslim scholars agree that Hajj is obligatory only once during a Muslim’s lifetime, unless someone vows to per-form an extra Hajj, in which case the vow must be fulfilled. Whatever is done over and above is supererogatory or optional.

When Hajj Must Be Performed. Although some scholars opine that Hajj may be performed at any time during one’s life, and that one who must perform it can postpone it, it is preferred that Hajj be performed as soon as one is physi-cally and financially able to do so. This is because if the person dies before per-forming the obligatory Hajj or a vowed one, one’s heirs must carry out this duty. Even if the deceased did not specify this in his or her will, if one-third of the estate is enough for an heir to make Hajj, an heir had better perform it for the deceased. All ensuing Hajj expenses, as well as any debts, must be paid from the deceased’s property.

However, the heir who wants to do this must obtain all of the other heirs’ agreement, or at least resignation, before departing. If such an agreement is not reached, the heir must pay all expenses out of his or her own property.

Prerequisites. All jurists agree upon the following:

  • Being an adult, free Muslim. Children can make Hajj along with their parents, but they have to perform it again after reaching the age of responsibility (puberty).
  • Being of sound mind.
  • Being physically fit and healthy enough to perform it.
  • Finding a safe way to reach Makka, so that the pilgrim’s life and possessions are not in danger.
  • Having the necessary provisions, meaning that they must be able to take care of themselves while performing Hajj, meet their family’s needs back home, and be able to make the trip in an Islamically acceptable way. All of the money spent to perform Hajj must have been earned in an Islamically acceptable way.
  • A woman who performs Hajj from such a distance that she will be considered a traveler must be accompanied by her husband, or a man who cannot legally marry her, or one or more reliable women.

Hajj on Behalf of Others. If people can perform Hajj but do not do so, and then are overtaken by sickness, old age, or death, they must arrange for some-one else to perform it on their behalf, for they might never have another chance to do it. If sick people recover after having sent someone in their place, some scholars say that their duty to make Hajj has been fulfilled and that they do not have to “repeat” it. However, most scholars opine that the recovered people still must perform Hajj, for a “substitutory” Hajj is not enough.

Doing Business. Pilgrims can pursue trade and business during Hajj or ‘Umra, provided that they are making Hajj solely to fulfill their responsibility for God’s sake. The Qur’an declares:

There is no blame on you if you should seek something of the bounty of your Lord (by trading during the Pilgrimage. But beware that you should not be over-occupied with trading to neglect any of its rituals). When you press on in multitude from ‘Arafat (after you have stayed there for some time,) mention God at Mash’ar al-Haram (i.e., Muzdalifa). Mention Him, conscious of how He has guided you, for formerly you were surely of those astray. (2:198)