Hajj is the basic and the fifth pillar of Islam. It is one of the greatest and best righteous deeds. It should be performed once in a lifetime by one who can afford. Allah, the Exalted says, “And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence).” [Al -‘Imran: 97].
There are several authentic Hadiths which highlight and indicate the great benefits of Hajj; among them, some are listed here:Ibn ‘Umar (Ra) said that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Islam is built upon five (pillars) : testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing regular prayer, paying Zakaah, Hajj and fasting in Ramadan." (Bukhari, 8; Muslim, 16).
Abu Hurayrah (Ra) reported that the Prophet (pbuh) was asked which deed is the best. He said, "Belief in Allah and His Messenger." He was asked, then what? He said, "Jihaad for the sake of Allah." He was asked, then what? He said, "An accepted Hajj." (Bukhari, 26; Muslim, 83).
Also, Abu Hurayrah (Ra) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say, ‘Whoever performs Hajj and does not utter obscenities or commit sin, will come back as on the day when his mother bore him.’" (Bukhari, 1521; Muslim, 1350). And he (pbuh) said, “From one ‘Umrah to the next is the expiation for whatever (sins) came between them and for an accepted Hajj there is no reward but Paradise." (Bukhari, 1773; Muslim, 1349).
Abu Hurrairah (Ra) narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) was asked, “Which is the best deed?” He said, “To believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad).” He was then asked, “Which is the next (in goodness)?” He said, “To participate in Jihad in Allah’s cause.” He was again asked, “Which is the next?” He said, “To perform Hajj-Mabrur.” (Bukhari-1519). N.B.: Hajj-Mabrur is the accepted Hajj or Hajj that is free from vices and defects).
Abu Hurayrah (Ra) said that the Prophet (pbuh) gave a sermon and said, “O people, Allah has enjoined Hajj upon you so do Hajj.” (Muslim, 1337). It is essential to adopt good behaviour during Hajj. Always act and behave in a manner that will please Allah. Abu Hurrairah (Ra) narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, "One who performs Hajj to this House (Ka'bah) and does not approach his wife for sexual relations nor commits sins (while performing Hajj), he will come out as sinless as a newborn child (just delivered by his mother)." (Al-Bukhari:1819).
Narrated by Aisha (Ra): “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, can’t we go out on campaigns and fight in Jihad with you?’ He said, ‘But the best and most beautiful of Jihad is Hajj, an accepted pilgrimage.’ Aisha (Ra) said, ‘I never stopped going for Hajj after I heard that from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).’” (Bukhari, 1762).An accepted pilgrimage (Hajj) has the reward of Paradise. Abu Hurayrah (Ra) reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said, "Umrah is the expiation for the time between it and the previous Umrah, and an accepted Hajj has no less a reward than Paradise.” (Bukhari, 1683; Muslim, 1349).
Whoever performs Hajj properly (according to the Sunnah, not to indulge in obscenity and transgression) all his previous sins will be forgiven and he will be considered as sinless as a newborn. Abu Hurrairah (Ra) narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever performs Hajj and does not indulge in obscenity or transgression will come out as sinless as a newborn child (just delivered by his mother).” (Bukhari 1820).
The pilgrim and Mu‘tamir (one who performs Umrah) are the delegates or the guests of Allah (Wafd Allah). Abu Hurrairah (Ra) narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The guests of Allah are three: The Gahzi (the warrior who fights in Jihad), the pilgrim and the person performing Umrah.” (An-Nasai 2626).
These three are the special guests of Allah because their long journey is purely for the sake of Allah. They are, as it were, going forth to meet Allah, the Most High.
We can understand the importance of Hajj very well as it removes our sins and in exchange, Allah gives the reward to pilgrims. Whoever does it do with a clean intention for only the sake of Allah, the Almighty He definitely accepts his Hajj.
The writer is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The monthly “Al-Hera” (An Arabic magazine) and a Research Fellow in Center for Islamic Thought, Dhaka.