The Thirty-Eighth Greater Sin: Not Giving Importance To Hajj

The thirty-eighth of the Greater sins is to consider Hajj insignificant and not to give it due importance. This has been recorded in the tradition of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) by Amash and in the tradition of Imam al-Ridha (‘a) by Fazl Ibn Shazan. Since Hajj is also an obligatory article of faith, what is true of avoiding prayers and zakat also applies to Hajj, viz. a person who refuses to acknowledge it as an obligatory duty is a Kafir and the one who does not fulfill this duty, due to laziness, carelessness or excessive involvement in worldly affairs has committed a great sin. Hajj is highly emphasised as a religious duty of tremendous importance. Indifference towards it is sacrilege.

Delay From The Year Of Capability Is Haram

Hajj is from those obligatory duties that must be performed immediately, if it is possible to do so. Not only is failure to perform Hajj a greater sin, but postponing it, is also a greater sin, even if it be for a year. Hajj has to be performed the very year, in which one is capable of doing so.

Muhaqiq says in Shariatul Islam that delay from the year of capability is a deadly (Great) sin. Shahid Thani (the second Martyr) says in Masalik, “There is no difference of opinion among the Shi’a Scholars regarding this matter and there are sufficient proofs from the Qur’an and traditions that delay from the year of capability is a Greater Sin.” It is therefore clear that any delay in performing Hajj amounts to not giving it the importance which is due to it.

Qur’anic ayats and traditions of Ma’sumin (‘a) equate failure to perform Hajj with infidelity. It is a denial of Allah (S.w.T.) and a sort of polytheism. The Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur’an,

“…and pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) everyone who is able to undertake the journey to it and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is self-sufficient, above any need of the worlds.” (Surah Ali- ‘Imran 3:97).

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) says,

“By the words ‘whoever disbelieves’ is meant the one who does not perform it.”

‘Ali Ibn Ja’far records in his Sahih that, “My brother Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (‘a) says,

‘Indeed, the Almighty Allah has made Hajj incumbent on those who are capable. That is if they do not perform Hajj in the year of capability the omitted Hajj will become incumbent on them every year till the end of their lives.’”

For further explanation of this statement the book Urwathul Wuthqa can be referred.

‘Ali Ibn Ja’far says: I asked Imam (‘a) whether those of us who did not perform Hajj would become infidels? Imam (‘a) said,

“No, but the one who denies Hajj and does not give it due importance. He shall be a Kafir.”

Zarih Muharibi writes in his Sahih a tradition from Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a):

“If a person dies without performing the obligatory Hajj while there was nothing that prevented him from doing so, that is, he was not having any need or problem and neither was he sick and nor any strong person stood in his way, then Allah shall raise him in Qiyama with the Christians or Jews.”1

Imam (‘a) also said,

“A person who delays Hajj intentionally till such a time that he dies, will be raised by Almighty Allah on the day of Qiyama in the form of a Jew or a Christian.”2

Muhaddith Faiz says in the book Wafi regarding above tradition that “need” means a necessity that impoverishes or that which will impoverish him in the future. Also, Imam (‘a) has said that a person who fails to perform Hajj without a valid excuse will die as a Christian or a Jew. This implies that he has no faith in this important Islamic tenet. Otherwise in the absence of any obstruction he would have performed it immediately, considering the possibility that he may not be alive the next year.

Ishaq Ibn Ammar narrates from Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) that he said,

“One who dies (without performing Hajj) while he was healthy and wealthy is like the one regarding whom Allah says that, ‘We shall raise him blind in Qiyama.’”

Ishaq was surprised and he asked Imam (‘a) whether that person will be actually blind in Qiyama? Imam (‘a) said,

“Yes! Allah will blind him from seeing the path to Paradise.”3

Muhammad Ibn Fuzail says that he asked Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far (‘a) regarding the ayat,

“And whoever is blind in this, he shall (also) be blind in the hereafter and more erring from the way.” (Surah al-‘Isra’, 17: 72).

Imam (‘a) said,

“It is the one who delays Hajj even in the event of his being financially capable. He keeps saying he would perform Hajj the coming year till he dies without performing Hajj.”4

Ayats That Imply The Ones Who Neglect Hajj

The Almighty Allah says in Surah Munafiqun,

“And spend out of what We have given you before death comes to one of you, so that he should say: My Lord! Why didst Thou not respite me to a near term, so that I should have given alms and been of the doers of good deeds?

And Allah does not respite a soul when its appointed term has come and Allah is Aware of what you do.” (Surah al-Munafiqun 63: 10-11).

After this Imam Musa bin Ja’far (‘a) said,

“I should have given alms”, indicates Sadaqah and “good deeds”, implies Hajj.”5

Also the following Ayat says,

“Say: Shall we inform you of the greatest losers in (their) deeds? (These are) they whose labour is lost in this world’s life and they think that they are well-versed in skill of the hands.” (Surah al-Kahf 18: 103-104).

Imam (‘a) explains,

“It implies those who neglect Hajj and continue to postpone it saying they’ll go next year.”

There are many traditions that say neglecting Hajj is a Greater Sin, however the ones quoted above should suffice our purpose.

Worldly Consequences Of Postponing Hajj

One of the worldly consequences of postponing Hajj is failure in the affairs for which Hajj is postponed.

Imam al-Baqir (‘a) says that if a person postpones Hajj in order to acquire or complete some worldly affair he will see that other people have gone and come back from Hajj while neither his aim is achieved nor his work complete.

Neglecting Hajj Causes Poverty

The Messenger of Allah (S) says in the Sermon of Ghadir:

“O gathering of People! Perform the Hajj of the Holy House. Those families who perform Hajj become wealthy and those who neglect Hajj will be reduced to penury.”

“O gathering of People! The Haji is helped by Allah and whatever they spent (on Hajj) is restored to them in this world. And Allah does not waste the recompense of the doers of good (in hereafter).”6

Imam al-Baqir (‘a) says,

“Three things are such whose reward is in this life in addition to that of the Hereafter: Hajj that removes poverty, Sadaqah that removes calamities and doing good (to others) which increases the life span.”7

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) says,

“If people neglect Hajj there will be no delay in the descent of punishment upon them.”8

Samah says that, “Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) asked me why I did not go for Hajj this year? I said I have entered into a deal with some people and there were other activities also. I hope that those matters for which I couldn’t go for Hajj will be beneficial for me. Imam (‘a) said,

I swear by Allah! Allah has not reposed benefit in any matter that acts as an obstruction to your Hajj. Every person remains deprived of Hajj due to the sins that he has committed.”9

Ishaq bin Ammar told Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) that, “A person had sought my advice regarding his intention for going for Hajj because he was weak (physically and financially), so I urged him not to go for Hajj.”

Imam (‘a) said,

“For preventing the person from Hajj you have made yourself eligible for being involved in some malady for the whole year.”

Ishaq says that as the Imam (‘a) had predicted, I was sick throughout the following year. It follows that we must not restrain anyone from good deeds, especially Hajj. If we do so, we close the way of Allah (S.w.T.). Our aim should be to motivate others to do good deeds and encourage them to hasten towards them. Similarly we should never advise people to give up a good action they wish to perform and substitute it with another good one of our choice. Because it is possible that he may not do the latter and even skip the former. Thus, if we do this we will have performed the divine obligation of Amr bil Ma’ruf.

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) says,

“Beware of discouraging your believing brother from Hajj. If one does this he shall face worldly calamities in addition to the punishment of Hereafter.”10

Virtues Of Hajj

Just as neglecting Hajj is severely punished its fulfillment is greatly rewarded with numerous benefits for this life as well as hereafter. Traditions mention a great number of benefits some of which are presented below.

The Messenger of Allah (S) says,

“People who perform Hajj are of Three kinds. The first kind are those who have greater position than others, and all their past and future sins are forgiven, and Allah shall protect them from the chastisement of the grave. The second group is that whose only past misdeeds are condoned and the third group is such that their wealth and children will remain safe till they return from Hajj.”11

Another tradition speaks of a group who go for Hajj but do not fulfill all the conditions. Their hajj is not accepted and they do not qualify for any rewards in the hereafter but till the time they return their families will remain safe.

A person asked Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) in the Masjidul Haram as to who is the greatest sinner? Imam (‘a) replied,

“One who stands at mawquf (Between Arafat and Muzdalifah), walks between Safa and Marwa and prays at Maqam al- Ibrahim and even after this he thinks Allah has not forgiven him. He is the greatest sinner.” (Because he has despaired of Allah’s Mercy and as we have stated before despairing of Allah’s Mercy is a greater sin).

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) relates from his forefathers that a Bedouin came to the Holy Prophet (S) and said, “O Messenger of Allah (S)! I started for hajj but could not reach it though I am wealthy. So tell me how much I should spend to obtain the Tawab equal to it?”

The Messenger of Allah (S) said,

“Look at Mt. Abu Qubais, If the whole of it turns to gold and comes to your possession and you spend all of it in the way of Allah you would still not be able to reach the status of one who has performed Hajj.”

Then he (S) said,

“When a person decides to go for Hajj, after this for every item that he pick up and puts down he is rewarded ten times and he is raised ten degrees. When he mounts the camel each of its step is just as stated before. When he performs the tawaf of Kaba he is purified of all sins. After he has finished running between Safa and Marwah he is again cleansed from sins. Again when he stays at Arafat his sins are washed. When he stays at Masharil Haram he is purified of bad deeds. When he stones the satans he is again forgiven the sins.”

In this way the Messenger of Allah (S) mentioned each stage and continued saying that the person is purified of sins. Then he (S) told the Bedouin,

“How can you reach the level of one who performs Hajj?”

After this Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) says,

“His sins are not recorded for four months and if he does not commit a greater sin, only good deeds are recorded during this period.”12

Muhaddith Faiz commenting on the above tradition of the Holy Prophet (S) says that, there are different classes of sins, based on their terrible consequences, their blackening of the heart, their magnitude, etc. and what the tradition probably implies is that man is purified of particular kinds of sins at the different stages of Hajj till he is cleansed of every kind of sin. There are traditions which mention that there are some sins which are only forgiven when the Haji camps at Arafat on the day of Arafah.

Another tradition says,

“People who come for Hajj and Umrah are guests of Allah. If they ask Allah for anything He grants it to them, if they call Him He replies. If they recommend for others He accepts it. If they remain quiet He gives without their asking and for each Dirham they spend on it, He shall give them a thousand.”

The different types of sins are material, mental or physical in nature. Physical sins may verbal or practical. Of the practical sins, there are as many sins as can be associated with the different parts of the body. These sins are of different magnitude. Some invite calamities, some nullify supplications, some prevent rains, some obstruct sustenance and others cause sudden death as mentioned in the supplication of Kumayl. So each of the Hajj rituals is prescribed for a particular kind of sin. The effect of some sins is not known to anyone except Allah. The sins which are forgiven in Arafat are probably hard-heartedness, neglect or staying at the place of sin, etc.13

The narration continues,

“When the pilgrim reaches Makkah, Allah appoints two guardian angels for him who protect him during Tawaf, Prayer and Say’y. When on the day of Arafah he camps, they slap his shoulders and say that Allah has forgiven all his previous sins, now he should worry about his future.”

When Does Hajj Become Wajib?

The first condition necessary for Hajj is maturity. If a person performs Hajj, even before reaching maturity, it cannot substitute for obligatory hajj, even though it may have been correctly performed and is Mustahab like any other act of worship. After reaching maturity, the person is obliged to perform Hajj again, provided all the other necessary conditions apply to him. The second condition is that he should be of a sound mind, the third that he should be independent (not a slave), the fourth condition is that by going for Hajj he must not be compelled to do a Haram act, or to forgo a Wajib act. (For the latter situation some scholars are of the opinion that, that Wajib act should be carried out, which is considered more important according to the priorities laid down by the tenets of our religion, and the fifth condition is that he should be capable of performing Hajj.

Conditions That Make One Capable

Capability is based on the factors mentioned below.

1) He should have the money to cover the expenses to and fro from Hajj. Should have means of transportation.

2) He should have sufficient physical strength to go for hajj and return.

3) There should be no obstacles that prevent him from travelling for Hajj. If he is apprehensive about the safety of his life, property and honour on the way to Hajj, he is not obliged to go for it.

4) He must have the time to complete the Hajj.

5) He must have sufficient funds to cover the expenses of his household till he returns. His household constitutes all those who are dependant on him. Whether their expenses are Wajib on him; like the wife and children or those whose expenses are not Wajib; like younger or elder brother who is himself poor and is sustained by him. Also the orphans that he has undertaken to maintain and the servants who are under his care.

6) He should not face difficulties regarding his livelihood upon returning from Hajj. He should have some income or profits from estates through which it would be possible for him to maintain his household expenses and not to bear hardships.

If one has missed Hajj due to carelessness he must perform it the next year, even if he does not have financial capability or has to bear hardships and problems. If in the subsequent years he is financially capable but suffers from a malady and there is no hope for its cure, he must send someone to perform Hajj on his behalf. He should fix a payment for the substitute and must also bear the expenses of his proxy. Even if he has not appointed a proxy and dies before it, his successors are obliged to send someone as a proxy and perform the Hajj of deceased. Special provision must be made in the property of the departed person even if he had not made a bequest in this regard. This provision should be made whether there remains any amount to be distributed among his inheritors or not and even if his successor is his child. This should be done, because to pay for the proxy Hajj of the deceased is as important as paying his debts. It is the foremost duty on the successor. After that if any amount remains it can be shared among the survivors.

In case the deceased had made a bequest for proxy Hajj the expense of the same must be deducted from the one-third portion of his wealth (Regarding which he is allowed to make bequest).

It should be noted that only one Hajj is obligatory in one’s life. After a person has performed the obligatory Hajj, it is Mustahab (recommended) for him to perform it every year, if he is capable of doing so. If all the above six conditions are fulfilled it is obligatory for the person to perform Hajj the same year. As already mentioned, postponing a Wajib Hajj for the next year is Haram and a Greater sin.

It Is Mustahab To Appoint Proxies For Living And Deceased Persons

It is Mustahab to appoint proxies to perform the Mustahab Hajj of living or deceased people. As mentioned in the tradition of Wasa’il ul-Shi’a narrated from Muhammad bin Isa that Imam al-Ridha (‘a) sent him some money and instructed him to perform Hajj as the proxy of Imam (‘a); along with his brother Musa and Yunus bin Abdur Rahman.

Abdullah Ibn Sinan says that I was with Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) when a person came to him and Imam (‘a) gave him 30 Dinars so that he should perform the Proxy Hajj and umrah of his deceased son, Ismail. After that, Imam (‘a) said,

“If you do so, Ismail will get the reward of a mustahab Hajj because it is paid from his property and you will get the reward of nine Hajjs because you shall bear the difficulties and hardships of Hajj.”14

The Proxy Of Imam Should Be Pious

It is mentioned in Wasa’il ul-Shi’a that Abu Muhammad Alji had two sons, one was pious and the other evil. Some Shi’as had paid him a sum to appoint a proxy for performing Hajj on behalf of Imam Hujjat Ibnul Hasan (‘a). It was one of the acts of worship that Shi’as used to perform. So Abu Mahmud gave the amount to his evil son and performed the Hajj with him. Abu Muhammad says that on the day of Arafah I saw a wheat-complexioned, well-dressed and handsome youth. He was engrossed in supplications and seeking forgiveness more than other people. When it was time for the people to move from Arafat to Mashar he came to me and said, “O Shaykh! Aren’t you ashamed of Allah?”

“Why?” I asked.

He said, “You are told to appoint a proxy for a person you knew well for performing Hajj, and you have entrusted it to a man who drinks and spends on evil deeds.”

Then he pointed to one of my eye and said,

“Do you not fear becoming blind in the eye?”

I was ashamed and when I recovered from the shock I tried to look for the youth but he had disappeared from the plains of Arafat. Forty days had not passed when the eye towards which he had pointed, become infected and I became blind.

The book al-Kafi contains a tradition related by Musa bin Qasim from Imam Jawad (‘a) that he said to Imam (‘a), “I wish to perform Tawaf on your behalf and on the behalf of your ancestors. But some people have told me that it is not allowed.” Imam (‘a) said,

“Perform as many circumambulations as you can. This is certainly permitted.”

The narrator says, “After Three years I again went to Imam (‘a) and said, “A few years ago I had sought your permission to perform tawaf on behalf of your respected self and your honoured ancestors. So, I performed this deed as much as Allah gave me Tawfiq (divine opportunity). I performed tawaf on behalf of the Holy Prophet (S), Amir ul-Mu’minin ‘Ali (‘a) and so on till the end when I did it on your behalf. And these personalities are so dear to me that I consider their love a part of my faith.”

Imam (‘a) said,

“Then you have followed a religion, besides which there is no other acceptable faith in view of Almighty Allah.”

Imam (‘a) said,

“You may perform this deed as much as you can. It is the best of deeds that you perform.”

Reasons Why Hajj Is Made Obligatory

The traditions of Ahl ul-Bayt (‘a) mention the reasons for making Hajj obligatory. The traditions also explain the significance and wisdom underlying each of the rituals.

In Wasa’il ul-Shi’a is a tradition by Imam al-Ridha (‘a), in which the Imam (‘a) says that Hajj is made incumbent so that people may derive the spiritual and material benefits inherent in it. Some benefits of Hajj are as follows:

Hajj is a unique occasion, to present yourself humbly before the Almighty and devote yourself entirely to Him in order to gain His pleasure and seek nearness to Him. It is an occasion for you to set aside all your worldly cares and concerns and immerse yourself entirely in worshipping your creator and carrying out His commands. For this you deny yourself worldly pleasures and comfort, face hardships and the vagaries of nature. Your sincere efforts in fulfilling the obligations of Hajj are rewarded with Allah (S.w.T.)’s pleasure and nearness to Him; untold bounties for this world as well as the hereafter; your repentance is accepted and your sins forgiven; your supplications are granted, this is a special divine favour for individuals who are part of a large gathering at a single place.

Besides Hajj is a unique opportunity for Muslims in general, from all over the world. It provides a common ground for interaction between Muslims of different countries at various levels. Individuals benefit financially be they traders, suppliers, retailers or hirers or beggars and destitute who receive alms.

People of one country get first hand information of the situations prevailing in other Muslim countries. Such interaction brings awareness of the problems and difficulties faced by your brother Muslim and perhaps open avenues for extending help.

Servitude Of Allah (S.W.T.) And Comparison With Angels

Amir ul-Mu’minin (‘a) says in a sermon of Nahjul Balagha:

Allah (S.w.T.) has made obligatory upon you the pilgrimage (hajj) to His sacred House which is the turning point for the people who go to it as beasts or pigeons go towards spring water. Allah (S.w.T.) the glorified made it a sign of their supplication before His Greatness and their acknowledgement of His Dignity. He selected from among His creation those who on listening to His call responded to it and testified His word. They stood in the position of His Prophets and resembled His angels who surround the Divine Throne securing all the benefits of performing His worship and hastening towards His promised forgiveness. Allah (S.w.T.) the glorified made it (His sacred House) an emblem for Islam and an object of respect for those who turn to it. He made obligatory its pilgrimage and laid down its claim for which He held you responsible to discharge it. Thus, Allah (S.w.T.) the glorified said:

“…And (purely) for Allah, is incumbent upon mankind, the pilgrimage to the House, for those who can afford to journey thither. And whoever denieth, then verily, Allah is Self sufficiently independent of the worlds” (Surah Ali- ‘Imran 3:97).

Allamah Naraqi has described the spiritual and material benefits of Hajj in eloquent words in his book Me’rajus Sadat. Some of his comments:

The main purpose for which Allah (S.w.T.) has created man is that he should recognize his Creator, be devoted to Him and remain attached to Him. [This depends upon the purity of his inner self, which in turn depends on his control over his sensual desires and his aversion to evil]. Throughout his life he has to continually remember Allah (S.w.T.) and direct his efforts in thought and action towards dedication to Allah (S.w.T.). At all times his priorities are to be clear; that nothing pertaining to the material world is to have precedence over the pleasure of Allah (S.w.T.). As a means of attaining this objective the Almighty desires to be worshipped. The compassionate Allah (S.w.T.) has ordained that by worshipping Him and supplicating Him man would have fulfilled the very purpose of his creation and his existence. In His wisdom and mercy He has made some acts of worship obligatory so that man is compelled to benefit himself.

Zakat and Khums are compulsory deeds of worship. Acting upon them a person will be obliged to spend from his wealth in the way of Allah (S.w.T.). This practice will gradually develop in him a detachment towards material world. Fasting as an obligatory worship inculcates a spirit of self-control over desires and self-denial of worldly pleasures. Prayers encourage us to give our full attention to Allah (S.w.T.), both with our senses and our bodily movements.

Hajj is such an excellent act of worship that it embraces the significance and virtues of all other forms of worship. Not only does it include spending in the way of Allah (S.w.T.), leaving our homeland, denying ourselves comfort and pleasures; spending time in prayers and supplications and several other rituals like Tawaf, recanting the oath we have taken for Allah (S.w.T.). We also have to perform some ritual like running between Safa and Marwah, which display an extreme form of humility and helplessness and the stoning of satans which we cannot fully comprehend. Some rituals can be understood through reason, but there are some others that defy our intellect and try as we may we cannot fathom the depths of their significance.

However, keeping their benefits aside we must consider them a form of service to Almighty and a fulfillment of one of His commands. Indeed, total submission and true devotion is displayed only through such types of rituals. Because submission implies that we do whatever we have been commanded solely for Allah (S.w.T.)’s pleasure. That is why the Messenger of Allah (S) said regarding Hajj.

“I have heeded your call by performing Hajj by sincere servitude and obedience.”

He (S) did not utter such words regarding any other act of worship. Indeed the act of worship the wisdom of which we cannot fathom is the best form of worship. Those who are surprised at the unusual rituals of Hajj have not understood the secret of devotion and servitude. One of the special characteristic of Hajj is to perform all rituals even without necessarily comprehending the rationale behind them.

Every ritual of Hajj has a significance that relates it to the events of the hereafter. Besides, it is a necessary requirement of Hajj that all the people gather at a place which was frequented by the Angels who brought divine revelation to the Holy Prophet (S). Before the Messenger of Allah (S), the friend of Allah (Khalilullah) Hazrat Ibrahim (‘a) stood at this place and it was at that very spot the Angels descended for him. It is such a purified land that from Adam (‘a) to the seal of the Prophets the greatest messengers of Allah have camped here. It is here that divine revelation and angels have descended through the ages. It is the birth place of the chief of Prophets (S) and the ground oft trodden by him and the other prophets (‘a). The Almighty Allah has addressed it as “My House” and made it a place of worship for men. He appointed the surroundings of this House as a Sanctuary. He chose the plain of Arafat near His House as a place of forgiveness. In order to maintain the dignity of His House, He prohibited the killing of any living creature or uprooting of vegetation. He bestowed a special status to this place, for people to gather from far off places and humble themselves before the Lord of the House and confess verbally that He is higher and beyond place and time.

No doubt, gathering at such a place increases love and brotherhood. We get a chance to meet righteous believers from around the world thus forming ties of friendship, which results in early acceptance of the invocations of the people. We are also reminded of the struggles and difficulties borne by the Messenger of Allah (S) in the establishment and dissemination of religion. All these factors purify the souls of those present in Hajj and fill them with tenderness. It is a display of the magnificence of Islam and the greatness of the founders of Islam.

Last, the high status of the House of Allah was further enhanced by Him by making it the birth place of Amir ul-Mu’minin ‘Ali (‘a), without allegiance to whom, no act of worship is acceptable to Allah (S.w.T.).

  • 1. Wasa’il ul-Shi’a Vol. 8 page 20.
  • 2. Wasa’il ul-Shi’a Vol. 8 page 21.
  • 3. Wasa’il ul-Shi’a.
  • 4. Wasa’il ul-Shi’a Vol. 8 page 18.
  • 5. Faqih Vol. 2 page 220.
  • 6. Ihtijaj of Tabarsi.
  • 7. Mustadrak ul-Wasa’il.
  • 8. al-Kafi Vol. 4 page 271.
  • 9. al-Kafi.
  • 10. Wafi.
  • 11. al-Kafi.
  • 12. Tahzib, Vol. 5, page. 19.
  • 13. Wafi.
  • 14. al-Kafi Vol. 4 page 248.