Pilgrimage: A duty owed to Allah; an outstanding debt

Q424 :Why is the pilgrimage made a duty owed to Allah. Why do we not say the same of prayers or of fasting?

A424 : Allah gives His message in the clearest of terms. Here, pilgrimage is stated in a way which makes it similar to a debt. Since pilgrimage can be offered only at a particular time every year, a delay in offering it once it becomes a duty is similar to the delay in settling a debt when a person has the money to pay it off. Moreover, if one dies without offering the pilgrimage when he has been able during his lifetime to offer it, it remains outstanding in the same way as a loan given to the deceased which must be settled after death. It is important to know first of all that once a person is able to undertake the duty of pilgrimage, he or she must do it without delay. If, however, a person dies before he offers the pilgrimage when the conditions of ability have been met during his lifetime, then before his estate is divided among his heirs and indeed before the execution of his will, if any, a portion of his money should be set aside which must be sufficient to meet the expenses of pilgrimage and Umrah so that someone else may do the pilgrimage on his behalf. This applies whether the deceased had been too lax about fulfilling his duty or had every intention to fulfill it, but was prevented by his circumstances, or an illness or any other legitimate reason. The person who offers to substitute pilgrimage on someone else's behalf should have performed the pilgrimage for himself first. On his pilgrimage journey, the Prophet heard one of his companions that his pilgrimage was intended on behalf of Shibrimah. The Prophet asked who Shibrimah was. He answered that he was a brother of his. The Prophet asked him whether he had offered the pilgrimage before and when the man answered in the negative, the Prophet said to him: "Offer the pilgrimage on your own behalf first, then offer it again on behalf of Shibrimah." It is perfectly acceptable that one of the close relatives of a sister does the pilgrimage on behalf of the deceased and it is also appropriate if someone is hired for the purpose. Some scholars maintain that what should be paid to a person who is doing a substitute pilgrimage is only the expenses incurred in doing so. He could not have a fee for doing the pilgrimage. But this is a question over which scholars have different views, with some of them maintaining that if a fee is paid, it is perfectly legitimate. On the other hand, if the relatives of the deceased tell the person who is doing the substitute pilgrimage that they will pay him a certain amount of money, he is entitled to take what he saves of that amount for himself. It is also perfectly acceptable that a man does the pilgrimage on behalf of another man or a woman, and the opposite is also true: a woman may do pilgrimage on behalf of another woman or a man. Pilgrimage is binding only on those who can afford it. If the deceased was never able throughout his life to afford the journey to offer pilgrimage because of his poverty, then such a duty was not applicable to him. Nevertheless, if one of his children does the pilgrimage [or arranges with another person to do it on his behalf], it is acceptable and greatly rewarding to the child concerned. It counts as an exceptional act of dutifulness on their part. It ensures reward of pilgrimage for their parent and a gratifying reward for them.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )