There is consensus among Muslim Scholars that Hajj is obligatory only once during the lifetime of a Muslim, unless someone vows to perform extra Hajj, in which case he must fulfill his vow. Whatever is done over and above is supererogatory or optional.
Abu Hurairah narrates that once, in a sermon, the prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O people! Allah has prescribed Hajj for you, so you must perform it.” A man asked: “Every year, O Prophet of Allah?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) remained silent. When the man repeated it thrice, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “had I said ‘yes’, it would have become a yearly obligation, and this would have been beyond your power.” Then he added: “leave me alone so long as I leave you alone (i.e., do not pester me with questions about things which I omit and do not mention). Some people who lived before you were destroyed because they ask too many questions and disagreed with their Prophets. So when I command you to do something, you must obey and do it to the best of your power, and if I forbid you from something, then avoid it.
Ibn Abbas narrates that once the Prophet (peace be upon him) addressed us and said: “O People! Hajj has been prescribed for you.” At this Al-Aqra bin Habis stood up and asked: “O Prophet of Allah! Are we to perform Hajj every year?” the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “had I said yes, it would have become a (yearly) obligation, and had it become a yearly obligatory duty you would have failed to keep it. Hajj is obligatory only once in one’s lifetime. Whatever one does over and above this is supererogatory (a voluntary act) for him.
CAN THE PERFORMANCE OF HAJJ BE DEFERRED TO A MORE CONVIENIENT TIME OR MUST IT BE PERFORMED IMMEDIATELY AFTER ONEE IS ABLE TO DO SO?
Ash-Shafi’y, Ath-Thawry, Al-Awa’y and Muhammad bin Al-Hassan 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 10thyear 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’y 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, Ahmed, some of Ash-Shafi’y’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 lost his mount (ability to bear expenses of the journey) or he may be prevented by some other exigency.” In another report by Ahmed and Al-Baihaqy, we read that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Hasten to you” meaning “One may fall sick or be prevented by some other exigency.” The earlier scholars interpreted these hadith 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 discharged 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’ân says, “Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) 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).
The ability to perform Hajj, which is one of its essential conditions, includes the following:
1. A person must be healthy and physically fit. If one is disabled by old age or a disease that is incurable or is unable to perform Hajj for some other similar reason, he may, if he is financially capable, assign someone else to perform Hajj on his behalf and at his expense. This will be discussed later under “Hajj On Behalf of another Person.”
2. The journey to Hajj must be safe so that the pilgrim’s life and possessions are safe and secure from any danger. If one is afraid for one’s life from highwaymen or an epidemic or if one is afraid to be robbed of one’s possessions, then such a one is deemed as one of those who cannot afford the journey for Hajj.
There is, however, a difference of opinion among scholars regarding the entry fees and other charges levied on pilgrims. Can a person be excused and reckoned as unable financially to perform Hajj because of these charges? Ash-Shafi`y and others are of the view that the presence of these levies does qualify a person to be classified as unable to perform Hajj, even though the levy involved may be paltry. The Mâliky scholars disagree for they do not regard this as a sufficient reason for a person to be deemed as unable to perform Hajj, unless the amount involved is too exorbitant or is demanded repeatedly.
3. One must possess the necessary provision and also the requisite means of journey. Necessary provision here means that the intending pilgrim must have sufficient supplies for himself as well as for his family that he leaves behind. These supplies include sufficient and adequate clothing, housing, means of traveling, and tools for the pursuit of his trade or profession besides the financial means for the journey. Means of traveling imply that which enables him to go to Hajj and come back, whether it is by land, by sea, or by air. This concerns those who live far from Mecca and cannot walk there.
To be Continued