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Pillar 5 - Hajj

The word Hajj, linguistically, means “to set out”, "to intend a journey", “to make pilgrimage”, or “journey to a high destination”; in Islamic terminology, it implies heading to Makkah to observe the rituals of pilgrimage. The Hajj is the fifth Pillar of Islam and it is an annual pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia, one of the largest annual gatherings of people in the world.

There are countless evidence establishing the obligation of the Hajj. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى‎) says:

"... And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka'bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, 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 Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the 'Alamin (mankind and jinns)." [Quran: Surah Ali Imran 3: Ayah 97]

The proof from the Sunnah of the obligatory of the Hajj is narrated from Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه): "I heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) say: 'The religion of Islam is based upon five (pillars): testifying that there is no deity except God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God; establishing the prayer; giving zakat; making pilgrimage; and fasting (the month) of Ramadan.'" [Bukhari; Muslim]

Thus it is a mandatory religious duty upon every adult Muslim who has the means and the ability to undertake it. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita'ah, and a Muslim who fulfills this condition is called a Mustati and the Hajj is a once in a lifetime obligation upon the Mustati. As for the one upon whom the obligation of Hajj is due but he chooses not to go, without anything hindering him from going:

Abu Umamah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that Allah's Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “He who is not prevented from performing the pilgrimage by an obvious necessity, a tyrannical ruler, or a disease which confines him at home, and dies without having performed the pilgrimage, may die if he wishes as a Jew, or if he wishes as a Christian.” [Tirmidhi, Darimi].

As for one who through genuine reason or hardship is unable to perform the Hajj, one of the great mercies that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى‎) has bestowed upon this ummah (nation, i.e., the Muslims), is that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى‎) has made obedience to His commands and the commands of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) subject to the condition that one be able to do them. So long as a person is able to do them, then it is obligatory for him to do what is required of him, otherwise he is not obliged to do so and he is excused. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى‎) says:

“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity ..." [Quran: Surah al Baqarah 2: Ayah 286].

By His mercy He has enjoined the Hajj upon His slaves once in a lifetime, so that it will not be too difficult for them; He urges those who are able to do Hajj and Umrah more than once to do so. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Keep on doing Hajj and Umrah, for they take away poverty and sins as the bellows takes away the impurity from iron.” [al-Nasai, 2/4; Graded sahih by al-Albaani in al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 1200].

The day of Hajj, itself, also known as the day of Arafat, after a plain on the outskirts of Makkah where the pilgrims gather and stand on the day of Hajj, is held on the 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. The associated rituals of Hajj and parts necessary to complete the Hajj start on the 8th day and last until the 12th or 13th day of Dhul al-HIjjah.

In order to undertake the Hajj, the Hajji i.e. the pilgrim who is performing the Hajj. wears an Ihram consisting of two white sheets of seamless cloth. The Ihram is also a spiritual state in which the Hajji abandons certain aspects of normal life until the rights of Hajj has been completed. The Ihram is also worn when one carries out the Umra, a "lesser pilgrimage" which unlike the Hajj can also be done anytime one visits Makkah.

The Origins of Hajj

Hajj started from the time of Ibraheem, when Allah (سبحانه و تعالى‎) tells Ibraheem:

“And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj)” [Quran: Surah al-Hajj 22: Ayah 27].

Ibn Katheer's commentary on this verse is that it means 'Proclaim (O Ibraaheem) the Hajj to the people, calling them to come on pilgrimage to this House which We have commanded you to build. It was mentioned that he said, “O Lord, how can I proclaim it to the people when my voice does not reach them?” And Allah (سبحانه و تعالى‎) said, “Call and We will convey it.” So Ibraheem stood and said: “O people, your Lord has taken a House, so come to it on pilgrimage.”' [Ibn Katheer (3/221)]. And so, from that day to this and until the day of Judgement, everyone who goes to Hajj, it is in answer to that call. 

The Hajj was performed by the pagan Arabs, even during the time of Jahileeyah, the time of ignorance before the coming of Islam. However, the true religion of Ibraheem had been lost, and the pagan Arabs had covered the Kaba with 360 idols and out of ignorance and a false understanding of piety and humbleness used to perform the tawaf around the Kaba in nakedness. Islam came and removed that evil practice.

Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) narrates: "On the Day of Nahr (10th of Dhul-Hijja, in the year prior to the last Hajj of the Prophet when Abu Bakr was the leader of the pilgrims in that Hajj) Abu Bakr sent me along with other announcers to Mina to make a public announcement: "No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year and no naked person is allowed to perform the tawaf around the Ka'ba. Then allah's Apostle sent 'All to read out the Surat Bara'a (At-Tauba) to the people; so he made the announcement along with us on the day of Nahr in Mina: "No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year and no naked person is allowed to perform the tawaf around the Ka'ba." [Sahih Bukhari].

When did Hajj become Obligatory

There seems to be a scholarly difference of opinion as to when exactly the Hajj was enjoined in Islam. It was said that it was enjoined in 6 AH, or in 7 AH, or in 9 AH, or in 10 AH. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (رحمه الله) was certain that it was enjoined in 9 or 10 AH. He (رحمه الله) said in Zaad al-Ma’aad:

“There is no dispute that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not perform Hajj after he migrated to Madeenah apart from one Hajj, which was the Farewell Pilgrimage. And there is no dispute that that occurred in 10 AH… When the command to perform Hajj was revealed, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) hastened to perform Hajj with no delay. Because the enjoining of Hajj came at a later stage, in 9 or 10 AH, one might say, How can you prove that the command to perform Hajj was delayed until 9 or 10 AH? We would say that the first part of Soorah Aal Imraan was revealed in the year of delegations (‘aam al-wufood), during which the delegation from Najran came to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and he made a treaty with them regarding their paying the jizyah, and the (ruling on) jizyah was revealed in the year of Tabook, 9 AH, when the first part of Soorat Aal Imraan was revealed…”

The evidence for that is the verse: “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)…” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:97]. This verse states that Hajj is obligatory, and it was revealed in ‘aam al-wufood (the year of delegations) at the end of 9 AH, so Hajj became obligatory at the end of 9 AH.

[Zaad al-Ma’aad, 3/595]

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