By Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan
Hajj (Pilgrimage) is considered one of the pillars and major acts of Islam; Allah (Exalted be He) says:
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)
That is to say, Allah has made an obligation on Muslims to perform Hajj to Makkah, as indicated in the word “due” in the aforesaid verse. In the same verse, Allah refers to those who abandon this act of worship as disbelievers, saying:
But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds. (Aal `Imran 3:97)
All this confirms that Hajj is an obligatory act of worship and whoever does not believe in it is uniformly agreed to be a disbeliever.
Allah commanded His Intimate, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), saying:
And proclaim to the people the Hajj (pilgrimage). (Al-Hajj 22:27)
Moreover, Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever has the provision and the riding animal (or the means) that can carry him to the House of Allah (i.e. the Ka`bah) and he does not perform Hajj), then it does not matter if he dies as a Jew or a Christian.” (At-Tirmidhi)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said:
“Islam is based on five (pillars): (1) testifying that there is no deity but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah: (2) performing the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly; (3) paying Zakah; (4) observing fasting during the month of Ramadan; (5) performing Hajj (Pilgrimage) for those who can afford it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The phrase “who can afford it” implies a condition on whom performing Hajj is obligatory; that one must have enough provisions and means of transportation to travel to Makkah and return back to one’s folks.
That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of (sacrificial) animals. (Al-Hajj 22:28)
Then let them end their untidiness and fulfill their vows and perform Tawaf around the ancient House. (Al-Hajj 22:29)
In other words, the people are the beneficiaries from Hajj, not Allah, because Allah if free from need of the worlds. (Aal `Imran 3:97) Allah is by no means in need of the pilgrims, unlike the pilgrims who are in need of the Lord to glorify and worship. It is the people who need Allah. So they come to visit His House seeking His aid to satisfy their needs.
The Last Pillar
The obligation of Hajj is decreed as the last pillar of Islam, after Prayer, Zakah, and Fasting. This is because prayer, the basic pillar of religion, is performed five times a day, so it has to be the first pillar of Islam. Zakah has to come next as it is always combined with prayer in many Qur`anic verses.
Similarly, fasting follows them, as it is regularly observed, but once a year. On the other hand, Hajj was prescribed in Islam in the ninth year A.H. (i.e. after the Prophet’s Hijrah (Immigration to Medina) according to the majority of scholars.
We should also know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed Hajj only once in his lifetime and it is called the Farewell Hajj which was in the tenth year A.H, but the Prophet performed `Umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage) four times in his lifetime.
The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence”.
Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan is a Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence, Member of the Board of Senior Ulema & Member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research.