The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever possesses sufficient provisions and means of the journey to perform Hajj and yet does not do so, let him die as a Jew or a Christian.”
Hajj is obligatory for whoever is capable, as stated by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It is obligatory once in a lifetime according to the consensus of scholars and the hadeeth reported by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others which states that when the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ordered people to perform Hajj, he was asked if that should be done every year. He replied, “If I were to say ‘yes’, it would become obligatory (for you to perform Hajj every year) and you would not be able to do it.”
Q. If the conditions of capability are met, would it be obligatory to perform Hajj immediately or is it permissible to delay it to another year?
According to the majority of scholars: “It is obligatory on an immediate basis and whoever delays it to another year is a sinner, for if he dies, he will be held accountable for this, if Allah does not forgive him.” Their proof is the hadeeth in which the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
“Whoever wants to perform Hajj, let him make haste. For verily, you may get ill, the riding animal may get lost and [other] needs may arise.” [Ahmad, Ibn Maajah and Al-Bayhaqi]
Another narration reads,
“Hasten to perform Hajj (meaning the obligatory Hajj) for verily one of you does not know what will happen to him.”
However, Ash-Shafi‘i held the view that it could be performed at one’s leisure. That is to say, a person is not a sinner for delaying it as long as he performs it before his death. His proof is that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam delayed Hajj until 10 A.H. and he was accompanied by his wives and many of his Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum although Hajj was made obligatory in the sixth year after Hijrah. If it had been obligatory on an immediate basis, he would not have delayed it.
Ash-Shafi‘i also said that it is better to make haste to perform Hajj according to the above-mentioned narrations which he interpreted in terms of recommendation, not an obligation. He added to them another hadeeth in which the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, ‘A slave whom I gave sound health and ample provisions, and does not visit Me for five years is indeed bereft.’” [Reported by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh, and Al-Bayhaqi]
In addition, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means):
“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, Allah is free from need of the worlds.” [Aal-Imran 3:97]
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “The word ‘Disbelieves’ here refers to abandoning Hajj.”
This resembles the case of the hadeeth narrated by Muslim which states that whoever abandons prayer is a disbeliever. However, Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu, as well as other eminent scholars, said that disbelief only occurs by denying the obligation and disbelieving that Hajj is a duty. However, if one believes that it is an obligation and a duty but he is reluctant to perform it, then he is not a disbeliever; rather, he is a disobedient believer. If he does not perform Hajj in spite of being able to do so, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will hold him accountable after his death and make him enter Hell if He does not forgive him, though his final destination will be Paradise.
Concerning the hadeeth: He who possesses sufficient provisions and means of journey for performing Hajj and yet does not do so, let him die the death of a Jew or a Christian” [At-Tirmithi and Al-Bayhaqi narrated a similar hadeeth], it does not indicate disbelieving with certainty, and it refers to the one who denies the obligation of Hajj and it is only interpreted in terms of encouraging making haste to perform Hajj.
Originally published at islamweb.net