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Ramadan thoughts: Haj & Umrah Frequently Asked Questions

Web posted at: 9/18/2009 2:15:30

Source ::: The PENINSULA

Do Haj & Umrah expiate major sins?


With regard to this question, Dr. Salah Sultan, President of Islamic American University, Detroit, US, and former professor of fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) at Cairo University, Egypt, answers:


“Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says: “The performance of ‘Umrah is expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous ones. And the reward for Haj Mabrur (pilgrimage accepted by Allah) is nothing but Paradise.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 27, Hadith no. 1)


It is also reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him says: “Alternate between Haj and ‘Umrah, because both rid one of poverty and sins just as the blacksmith’s bellows removes all impurities from metals like iron, gold and silver. The reward for Haj Mabrur is nothing short of Paradise.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 2, chapter on the Reward of Haj and ‘Umrah; the Hadith is graded as Hasan Sahih (good and authentic) by Sheikh Al-Albaani, may Allah bless his soul, Hadith no. 650)


The previous Hadith shows that ‘Umrah serves as an expiation for all types of sins, whether major or minor, because the wording of the Hadith is general and thus it encompasses both categories.


However, there are two main conditions for the acceptance of Haj and ‘Umrah:


1. To have complete sincerity (Ikhlas) by performing those rituals solely for the sake of Allah the Almighty.


2. To perform both Haj and ‘Umrah the same way it is mentioned in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).


Generally speaking, it is not necessary to perform ‘Umrah just for seeking forgiveness for your sins, but one should resort to Almighty Allah at every time and place. Allah Almighty says: “And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.” (Al-Baqarah: 186)”


Almighty Allah knows best.



Q. Is a child Haj valid?


According to the view that is deemed to be the most correct, if a child performs Haj, then his/her Haj is valid and he/she will be rewarded for it, in sha’ Allah. However, this Haj will not count as the obligatory Haj. The child must make Haj again (if he/she is financially and physically able) after reaching puberty. This view is backed by Prophetic Hadiths as well as the consensus of Muslim scholars. However, the child’s father or guardian should inform him about the acts that are prohibited during ihram and should help the child perform the rituals.


As regards this question, Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, states:


“Muslim scholars agree that Haj and ‘Umrah are not obligatory upon those who have not reached the age of puberty, because the Pen is lifted from children, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The Pen is lifted from three (i.e., their deeds are not recorded): a child until he reaches puberty; an insane man until he comes to his senses; and one who is asleep until he wakes up.” (Reported by Abu Dawud, 4403; Ibn Majah, 2041)


However, if a child performs Haj, then his Haj is valid and he will be rewarded for it according to the prevalent view which is maintained by the majority of scholars, and it was narrated that there is consensus on this point.


Ibn ‘Abbas, (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) met some riders in al-Rawha’ and said, “Who are these people?” They said, “Muslims.” They said, “Who are you?” He said, “The Messenger of Allah.” A woman lifted up a child and said, “Is there Haj for him?” He said, ‘Yes, and you shall have a reward.” (Reported by Muslim, 1336.)


Having said that, we would like to stress that if a child has reached the age of discernment but has not yet reached puberty and his father or guardian wants to take him for Haj, he should tell the child to put on ihram garments and the child should do all the rituals of Haj for himself, starting with entering ihram from the miqat, until the end of the rituals of Haj, and his father or guardian should stone the jamarat on his behalf if he cannot do that by himself.


The guardian of the child should tell him to avoid things that are prohibited during the ihram. However, if the child is below the age of discernment, then his father or guardian should make the intention of entering ihram for Haj or ‘Umrah on the child’s behalf (while making the intention of entering ihram on his own behalf as well). He should then perform tawaf or circumambulation around the Ka’bah), and sa’i or running between the two hills of Safa and Marwa with the child and accompany the child in performing the other rituals.”


Almighty Allah knows best.



Q. Can a pregnant woman go for Haj or Umrah?


First of all, it should be clear that, though Haj is a religious duty that a Muslim has to carry out once he/she is able, Muslim jurists state that ability in Haj includes both the physical as well as the financial abilities.


In response to this question, Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, states:


“There is no reason why a pregnant woman should not perform Haj. A pregnant woman is pure; she has to pray and fast.


It is narrated in the Sunnah that Asma’ bint ‘Umays (may Allah be pleased with her) went out for Haj with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when she was pregnant, and she gave birth at the miqat (the place where pilgrims put on the clothes of ihram). It was narrated that ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “Asma’ bint ‘Umays – the wife of Abu Bakr – gave birth to Muhammad at the Shajarah (referring to the place of miqat) and the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told Abu Bakr to tell her to do ghusl (purifiactory bath) and enter ihram.” (Reported by Muslim, no. 1209)


If a woman has not yet done the obligatory Haj, then pregnancy is not an excuse for her not to do Haj, because she can avoid the places where there is too much crowding and pushing and shoving. If she is unable to throw the pebbles herself, she can delegate someone to do so on her behalf. If she cannot do tawaf (circumambulation of Ka’bah) and sa’i (walking between the hills), then she can do so in a wheelchair, and so on.


However, if trustworthy doctors tell a pregnant woman that going for Haj will pose a risk to her or her baby because she is sick or weak or for some other reason, then she should be prevented from offering Haj that year. This is indicated by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “There should be no harming nor reciprocating harm.” (Reported by Ibn Majah, no. 2340)


Some doctors differentiate between early pregnancy, when there may be a risk to the fetus, and late pregnancy when such fears are groundless.” (Source: (


Based on the above fatwa, it becomes evident that a pregnant woman can go for Haj, provided that this will not endanger her life or the life of the fetus upon the consultation of trustworthy professional doctors. Also, if she plans to travel to Haj by air, she should check the policy of the airlines, as some airlines will not carry a woman who is in her seventh month or beyond.


Almighty Allah knows best.



Q. Should I go for Haj or help my son get married?


With regard to this question, Sheikh ‘Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, answers:


“A father is not obliged to help his son to get married; it is only a recommended act for him. However, Haj is mandatory upon one who is able to perform it. If the observation of an obligatory act conflicts with a voluntary one, the former takes precedence over the latter. Thus, the father should perform Haj first because it is an obligation and he can afford it. There is a Hadith that warns against deferring Haj, particularly if one is able to perform it. Furthermore, the majority of jurists maintain that Haj must be performed as soon as one is able to, and delaying it is counted as a sin.


The son should be patient and wait until Almighty Allah enables him to get married. Allah the Almighty says: “And let those who cannot find a match keep chaste till Allah give them independence by His grace.” (An-Nur: 33)


Also the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “O youth, whoever is able to marry, let him marry, because it spares one looking at what one should not, or lapsing in immorality. And whoever is not able to, let him observe fasting, as it is a shield (against sin).” (Reported by Muslim) “Able” means he can afford marriage costs.


If the son is in urgent need to marry in order to protect himself from sin, he should propose to a woman who is financially suitable for him. There are many Muslim women who would agree to marry with a humble dowry and furniture.


Likewise, if a father wants to prepare his daughter for marriage, it is considered a recommended act and not obligatory, whereas Haj is obligatory and as such it is to be given priority.


If a young man is financially able to either marry or perform Haj (for the first time), what should he do? If he is able to resist his sexual desires, he should perform Haj before getting married because Haj is compulsory, whereas marriage is generally recommended. But if he cannot control himself to such an extent that he can easily fall into the abyss of sin, he should get married and not perform Haj because marriage is obligatory in this case.


In the latter case the person is not legally considered able to perform Haj, because ability means to meet one’s basic needs, and marriage is among those basic needs which should be met. Here marriage acts as a means to remove evil, and as such should be given priority over Haj, which is performed with a view to bringing about good.


However, if the father has already performed Haj once and wants to perform it for the second time, he can choose between two recommended acts: helping his sons and daughters to get married or performing Haj.”


Alimighty Allah knows the best.


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