Pilgrimage: Conditions making it due

Q428 :Are there any conditions which make the duty of pilgrimage due?

A428 : In order that pilgrimage becomes due, a person must be sane and must have attained puberty. Moreover, he must be able to afford and undertake it. This means that an insane person is not required to do the pilgrimage, nor is it acceptable from him. A child below the age of puberty may do the pilgrimage and his parents or guardian who take him will also be rewarded for that pilgrimage, but pilgrimage in his case is not a duty. Therefore, when he reaches the age of puberty and pilgrimage becomes a duty, he is not considered to have fulfilled it because when he did the pilgrimage he was very young. This is the same like offering Dhuhr prayer before it is due. It would not count as an obligatory prayer, but as a voluntary one. When Dhuhr falls due, the person is required to offer it then. The ability, according to scholars, is both financial and physical. In the early generations of Islam, scholars used to speak of food and transport and the ability to provide these for oneself during the pilgrimage. Nowadays, there are other expenses involved in undertaking the journey to do the pilgrimage. Therefore, with food we must include what a pilgrim reasonably needs during his stay in the pilgrimage until he returns home, such as a reasonable accommodation, any fee he may have to pay on his journey as in the case of pilgrims who must travel through one or more countries and have to pay fees for their visas. While in the past transport meant a camel, owned or leased, today we may speak of fares of a plane or a boat. It is a condition of financial ability that the prospective pilgrim should have enough to cover all this in excess of what he and his dependents may need of accommodation, food, etc. If he has incurred some debts, whether to other people or to Allah, as in the case when he may not have paid some zakah which is due, the money he needs for his journey should also be in excess of money required to cover his debts or he should first settle his debts. If a person does not own enough to cover his expenses during his pilgrimage, but someone else, say a friend or a relative, or any other person or a company, offers to pay his expenses it is not obligatory for him to accept the offer. If we were to say that he must accept, then pilgrimage becomes due from him. It is not the case, because the financial ability must be his own. Nevertheless, if he accepts and undertakes the pilgrimage, he has fulfilled his duty. It is important to point out that Islam takes everything into consideration. In some cases, accepting such an offer may put the person concerned in a position of moral indebtedness to the one who has offered him that. What Islam is telling him is that if he declines that offer, he incurs no sin and he has not failed to fulfill his duty. Someone may ask whether he should change his lifestyle in order to meet the expenses of pilgrimage. Well, there can be no rigid rule in this regard. Suppose that a married couple have no children and are unlikely to have any, but the man has a big house or a villa to live in, yet he has not much money of his own. If he sells his house to buy a smaller but perfectly adequate one, he will have the required money, then he should sell it. On the other hand, if a man needs his house for the accommodation of his family, or to use its rent for maintaining his dependents, he need not sell it. If he has something in excess of his needs, he should sell it to meet the expenses of pilgrimage. On the other hand, a person is not required to decrease the level of his stock in his business if that will mean a decrease in his regular income. If he has tools which he needs for his work, he need not sell them. But if he does not particularly need them, then he should sell them. Debt is another point of consideration. The normal situation is that a debtor need not offer the pilgrimage until he has settled his debts. However, if he has bought a car on installments and his regular income makes him perfectly able to pay each installment on time until he clears the debt, and yet he has enough money to meet the pilgrimage expenses, he should do the pilgrimage.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )