Ever since Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded His Khaleel [intimate friend] Ibraheem (Abraham) ‘alayhi salaam to proclaim Hajj to the people, hearts have been in longing for this House and location, and crowds of visitors come to it from every distant pass in response to the call of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. In this respect, Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “When Ibraheem finished building the House, it was said to him (by Allah): ‘Proclaim (Hajj) to the people.’ He said, ‘O Lord, to what extent would my voice reach?’ He said: ‘It is your duty to proclaim, and it is incumbent upon Me to convey (your voice everywhere in the world).’ Ibraheem then called, ‘O people, (the obligatory duty of) Hajj has been enjoined upon you to the ancient House, so come to perform Hajj.’ All what is between the heaven and earth heard his voice. Do you not see the people coming from the farthest ends of the earth announcing [with Talbiyah (the Hajj related chant)] their response (to the call)?”
Hajj was made obligatory by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala upon the capable among His salves once in lifetime, as He states:
وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ
“And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allaah is free from need of the worlds.” [Aal Imran 3:97]
The obligation of Hajj is among the indisputably established facts of Islam.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala made the outcome of performing this act of worship the great reward that stimulates the Muslim’s zeal, whets his will power and makes him proceed to it with an expanded chest and energetic determination in the hope of the reward and forgiveness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and what has been prepared of good by Allah to the pilgrims of His honorable House. There are many texts about the merits of Hajj and ‘Umrah (lesser pilgrimage), of which a mention may be made of the following:
Hajj effaces Earlier Sins and Misdeeds
Hajj is among the greatest means of forgiveness, removal of sins and misdeeds. If one performs Hajj Mabroor [a Hajj accepted by Allah], he would return from Hajj (as pure from sins) as a newborn on the day his mother gave birth to him, that is, purity from all sins and mistakes. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah radhiAllahu ‘anhu that he said that he heard the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, say: “Whoever performs Hajj, during which he neither has sexual activity (with his wife) nor commits sins, he will return (as sinless) as a newborn child on the very day his mother delivered him.” [Al-Bukhari] The hadeeth very clearly confirms the forgiveness of sins, be they minor or major, according to Al-Haafith Ibn Hajar .
However, this forgiveness is, according to the hadeeth, conditional on abstention from having sexual activity (intercourse and foreplay with one’s wife) and disobedience to Allah during the Hajj.
It was narrated in an authentic hadeeth that ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas radhiAllahu ‘anhu came to the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to embrace Islam and he put a condition that his previous sins should be forgiven for him, thereupon the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentioned to him three things, each of which removes the sins and mistakes prior to it. Thus, it was narrated on the authority of ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas that he said: When Allah placed the love of Islam in my heart, I went to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said, “Stretch out your hand so that I can give you the pledge of allegiance.” However, when he stretched out his hand, I withdrew mine. He said: “What is the matter with you, O ‘Amr?” I replied, “I want to place a certain condition on this.” He asked: “What condition do you wish to place?” I said, “That I should be granted forgiveness.” He said: “Do you not know that (embracing) Islam effaces all the previous misdeeds committed before it as does the Hijrah [emigration] and Hajj?” [Muslim]
Thus, Hajj was made among the acts of worship that remove all sins previously committed.
The Reward of a Hajj Mabroor is Paradise
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala promises His slaves reward for their obedience to Him and made for Hajj no reward other than Paradise. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah radhiAllahu ‘anhu that the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “The performance of two ‘Umrahs expiates the sins that are committed in the interval between them; and the Hajj Mabroor has no reward other than Paradise.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] However, this reward is contingent on the condition of its being accepted, as not every Hajj will be rewarded with Paradise. That reward is restricted only to a Hajj Mabroor, and a Hajj Mabroor is that which complies with the teachings and principles of Shari‘ah in deed and belief, and is not contaminated with anything of Shirk [polytheism], sin, sexual relations or disobedience.
Among the signs of Hajj Mabroor is that the Muslim’s condition after Hajj becomes better than before it. The evidence for that is the statement of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala:
وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَآتَاهُمْ تَقْوَاهُمْ
“And those who are guided – He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness.” [Muhammad 47:17]
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “(The sign of) a Hajj Mabroor is that the pilgrim returns (from it) having no desire for this world and seeking the Hereafter.” Overall, Hajj Mabroor, as Al-Qurtubi put it, “Is that whose rulings are fulfilled and which is performed perfectly according to what is required from the one competent for religious assignment.”
Hajj is among the Best Righteous Deeds
Righteous deeds are numerous and vary in rank and degree of reward and excellence. Since one’s lifetime is very short, the deeds are numerous and he may not know which of them should be given priority, it is incumbent upon the slave to be eager to understand the ranks of deeds to get closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala with the dearest of deeds to Him, and give it priority over what is lesser in rank and excellence. The Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, put the deeds in order (according to their ranks) in the hadeeth narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah radhiAllahu ‘anhu when the Messenger of Allah, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was asked about the best deed, he replied: “To believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad).” The questioner then asked, “What comes next (in goodness)?” He replied: “To participate in Jihaad (striving) in the cause of Allah.” The questioner then asked, “What comes next (in goodness)?” He replied: “To perform a Hajj Mabroor.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
In clarification of why Hajj was given such preference and rank, one of the righteous predecessors said, “I have reflected on all the righteous deeds and found that the prayers exhaust only the body and not wealth, as does fasting, and found that charity exhausts only wealth but not the body, whereas Hajj exhausts both; thus, I saw it as the best.”
Hajj then is a financial as well as a physical worship.
Slightly modified. Originally published at islamweb.net
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala bless us all with Hajj Mabroor, ameen.