ABC's of Islam New Muslims

The Virtues of Hajj And `Umrah

By Editorial Staff


The Hajj, Pilgrimage

The Arabic word ‘Hajj’ literally means to repair to, betake oneself or set off for a place. In the technical usage of the term, it means to repair to the Sacred House in Makka and perform the rites of the Pilgrimage. Allah says,

“Thus Hajj-Pilgrimage to the (Sacred) House (in Makkah) is owed to God, as an obligation upon all people who are able to attain a way to it. And as to those who disbelieve (this, know), then, (that) God is, indeed, self-sufficient, without (any need for any of His creation in) all the worlds.” (Quran 3:97)

This verse highlights the obligation of Hajj for every Muslim who meets the requirements of observing it. Observing it more than once is voluntary.

“So complete the Hajj –Pilgrimage and the `Umrah-Lesser Pilgrimage solely for (the sake of) God.”

The `Umrah, Lesser Pilgrimage

In the Arabic language, `Umrah means a visit. It means in Islamic law to visit the Sacred House in Makka to perform the rites of the Lesser Pilgrimage. Allah says,


“So complete the Hajj –Pilgrimage and the `Umrah-Lesser Pilgrimage solely for (the sake of) God.” (Quran 2:196)

The difference between the Hajj and the `Umrah

Unlike the `Umrah, the Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It differs from the `Umrah in the legal ruling, the rites and the time of performance. As for the legal ruling, the Hajj is obligatory for once in a lifetime and for every Muslim who can afford it, namely, the person has enough money and health to make it, whereas the `Umrah is non-mandatory. Secondly, there are a few differences concerning the actions of both rites. The most important one is standing on ‘Arafat which the Hajj cannot be complete without observing this pillar on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the lunar year. Thirdly, the hajj can only be performed at a particular time of the year on specific days of Dhul-Hijjah, whereas the `Umrah may be performed at any time of the year.

The virtues of the Hajj and the `Umrah

1. Hajj is one of the best acts of worship. To be accepted, it must be observed sincerely and with the intention of seeking only Allah’s pleasure. Moreover, it must be performed properly based on the rulings derived from the Quran and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was asked, “What is the best deed?” He replied, “To believe in Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad). The questioner then asked, “What is the next (in goodness)? He replied, “To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah’s Cause.” The questioner again asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To perform Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) ‘Mabrur, (which is accepted by Allah).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

2. There is a great reward for the observance of this great pillar. Observing `Umrah also expiates sins. However, what is meant by sins in the following hadith is minor sins. As for major sins, they require sincere repentance. In addition, the sins that are related to people’s rights require a person to give those people their rights back. That’s why sincere repentance and to free oneself from acts of injustice are highly recommended before setting off for Makka.

Abu Hurairah (RAA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, “The performance of `Umrah is an expiation for all the sins committed (between this `Umrah and the previous one), and the reward for Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah or the one which was performed without doing any wrong) is nothing save Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

3. If the pilgrim succeeds in staying away from sinning, mischief or doing any wrong during Hajj, he or she will have his or her sins forgiven. Millions of Muslims gather together in one place where they are tested to show how well they can treat each other. This sheds light on the ethical aspect of hajj which promotes good manners, peace, tolerance and cooperation among Muslims.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Whoever performs Hajj (pilgrimage) and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits sin, nor disputes unjustly (during Hajj), then he returns from Hajj as pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him.” (Al-Bukhari)

4. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) encouraged Muslims to perform hajj and `Umrah because of the great benefits brought to the pilgrim in this life and Afterlife. In addition to the forgiveness of sins, the hajj and `Umrah are also legal means of alleviating poverty.

Ibn ‘abbas said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Perform Hajj and ‘Umrah consecutively; for they remove poverty and sin as the bellows removes impurity from iron.” (It is a hasan (good) hadith related by Al-Nasa’i)


5. For Muslim women, Hajj is a substitute for Jihad as it is not obligatory for them. In fact, this shows the facilitation and moderation of Islamic teachings.

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:

I said: “O Messenger of Allah! We consider Jihad as the best deed, should we not then go for Jihad?” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The best Jihad for you women is Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted by Allah).” (Al-Bukhari)


6. It is known that the blessed month of Ramadan is one of the best months. This may be the reason why observing `Umrah in it has a greater reward.

Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “(The performance of) `Umrah during Ramadan is equivalent to Hajj (i.e. in reward).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)


Finally, Hajj and `Umrah have a lot of other benefits and virtues because there are other acts of worship included while performing them. These include performing prayer, fasting, giving to charity, remembrance of Allah, making du’aa (supplication), etc. There are also social benefits as these kinds of worship help solve problems like racism. In fact, a lot of differences disappear there as all people dress the same and observe a lot of acts of worship collectively and at the same time.



ABC's of Islam New Muslims

Hajj Is a Shift Away from Racism and Towards Social Equality

Allah has created people to be different in their living; some are rich and some poor, some well-off, affluent and high-esteemed, and others indigent, miserable and astray in life.

That is great wisdom decreed by Allah so that people would exchange work, cooperate with one another, and use one another to achieve their requirements and needs: the rich person spends his money, and the poor person exerts his effort in labor for remuneration. In confirmation of that, Allah Almighty Says (what means):

“Do they distribute the Mercy of your Lord? It is We Who Have Apportioned among them their livelihood in the life of this world and Have Raised some of them above others in degrees [of rank] that they may make use of one another for service. But the Mercy of your Lord is better than whatever they accumulate.” (Quran 43:32)

Hajj as a shift against Racism:

Indeed, the most noble of you in the Sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.

Had the difference been limited to the exchange of benefits, it would have been good. But some rich people exalt themselves above the poor, and their arrogance produces hatred among the poor.

On the other hand, some poor people envy the rich, with the result that the rich boycott and neglect them; arrogance among some rich people versus hatred among some poor people, and haughtiness among some dignitaries versus envy among some of the common people.

In this way, the social classes of the same nation have mutual aversion to each other, cooperation disappears, bonds are undone, and production decreases.

A Remedy of Racism

The remedy of that disease lies in the religious acts of worship in general, and Hajj in particular, which has a practical healing and effective decisive medicine to put an end to haughtiness, and lay the foundation for equality between all people in the form of (putting on the same clothing of) Ihram, performing Tawaaf, Sa‘y, and so on.

In Hajj, no one could be distinguished from others with a particular uniform, clothing, appearance or adornment, because all of them are equal in their simple united appearance. That is indeed equality between individuals as well as between races and peoples, in compliance with what Allah Says (which means):

“O mankind, indeed We Have Created you from male and female and Made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the Sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.” (Quran 49:13)

Islamic views on piety:

Our Messenger, God bless him and grant him peace, said: “No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, nor a white-complexioned to a black-complexioned except by virtue of piety.”

Is Hajj then, from this point of view, worthy of the care of reformers, the concern of the sincere and the effort of the passionate?

We are all subject to our habits and governed by our traditions as a result of the house in which we live, the school in which we learn, and the environment surrounding us.

A lot of our customs and habits are bad and harmful, the majority of our traditions are invalid and superstitious, and the greater part of what we agree upon is false and ignorant. Worship, as they said, is a second disposition, and to be released from traditions is very difficult upon a lot of people.

When a reformer likes to straighten the crookedness of his nation, and push it towards the pathways of perfection, he encounters the rocks of habits and traditions. He may perish and die before changing his people from a familiar habit, given that “people are slaves of their traditions”.

Hajj comes to release the individual from his habitual customs, and change his familiar traditions. Hajj, in this way, enables the pilgrim to govern himself, control his deeds, give up bad customs, and come away from awful traditions to the immense field of piety, virtues and spiritual elevation.

That is because the pilgrim becomes a sovereign over his own self after having been a slave of his habits.
In confirmation of that, Allah Almighty Says (what means):

Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of Ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. And whatever good you do – Allah Knows it.” (Quran 2:197)

The Messenger of Allah, God bless him and grant him peace, stated that Hajj brings the Muslim out of his sins, misdeeds, bad customs and habits, saying:

“Whoever performs Hajj during which he does not have sexual intercourse (with his wife) nor commit wickedness, will become (as sinless) as he was on the very day his mother gave birth to him.”

Is Hajj, in this sense, not worthy of the care of educationalists and psychologists?

What is worthier of care than a worship-based practical system that releases man from the slavery of loss, and joins him to (Allah) The Most Merciful with a strong bond of truthfulness, certainty and faith?

Countries allocate money to physical sports and military exercises, a system for which our youth in schools are preparing. Without doubt, sport is a source of strength, valor, courage and gallantry, and an important support pillar in the construction of the glory of the Ummah.

Islam was a forerunner in recognizing the virtue of sport, when it commanded people to learn racing, archery, horsemanship, swimming and sword fight to prepare for Jihaad in the way of security, truth and peace. It joined sport with acts of worship, so that the emotion and feeling would share with the heart in performing it. Thus, sport becomes a physical power and a spiritual worship which has its glorious benefits in this world, and its great reward in the Hereafter.

Source: britishhajtravel website with some modifications.