Umar Bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) once remarked: “I was about to send envoys to the towns (on the outskirts of the Muslim empire) to check on all those who have the means to make Hajj but do not perform it, in order to impose the Jizyah upon them.” (Al-Bayhaqi; Al-Haithami declared it Sahih)
The auspicious Hajj trip is one of the five pillars of Islam, a onetime obligation upon those who have the ability to perform it. Every year millions of devout Muslims answer the call to Haj following in the footsteps of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in answering the call of their father Ibrahim.
Unfortunately, many people delay performing the Hajj until the latter part of their lives simply because of convenience. They wish to postpone the trip until they feel they are financially ‘stable’. Some people hold back out of fear of a new Islamic lifestyle they will be obligated to embrace when they return – one should never fear drawing closer to God. Indeed the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Hurry to perform Hajj (the obligatory one), as none of you knows what may happen to him” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah) and “Whoever wants to do Hajj, let him hasten to do so.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawood)
There is of course a well-known scholarly difference of opinion as to whether Hajj is an obligation that must be executed promptly, or, can be delayed. According to scholars who hold the opinion that the obligation of the Hajj is one of promptness; the Hajj must be carried out as soon as all the preconditions are fulfilled and one cannot delay performing it for the next year. The one who delays the performance of Hajj, even though he has the means to perform it, and then dies, is sinful and has left himself open to the punishment and displeasure of Allah in the Hereafter.
Others opine that the Hajj may be delayed because the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) chose to perform Haj in the 10 AH – around four years after the obligation was revealed. This school has other supporting arguments for which there exist counterarguments.
Without wanting to endorse one opinion over another, I would like to place the legal difference of opinion to one side and draw our attention to a few other points. Allah the Almighty encourages His servants to compete with each other in performing virtuous deeds. He says in one verse,
And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. (Qur’an, 3:133)
Why would one delay the prospect of performing a Haj Mabroor, the accepted Hajj, the reward of which is nothing less than the gardens of Paradise?
This is your chance to have all of your sins forgiven as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever performs Hajj to this house – Ka’bah – and does not commit any obscenity and wrongdoing, he, or she, will come out as the day he, or she, was born – pure and free from sins.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
From another perspective the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: “Hurry to perform Hajj, as none of you knows what may happen to him.” It is as if the Prophet is telling us to think about the matter in a rational way. If someone who has the ability to perform the Hajj delays it; do they not fear that death may catch up with them and they then meet Allah with no Hajj to their account?
The reality is that many do delay Hajj until it’s too late. As the years pass by some of them fall sick with debilitating conditions, others become financially stricken and so the great opportunity is lost.
An appeal to all Muslims who know that they can perform Hajj without great difficulty to do so before they lose this unique chance of attaining complete forgiveness for their sins and be granted Paradise.