Who Must Perform Haj
Every Muslim who fulfills the following conditions must perform Haj at least once in his lifetime:
- He must be of sound mind, and in full control of his mental faculties.
- He must be old enough, and mature enough to understand the full import, and significance of what he is setting out to do.
- He must be financially sound enough to be able not only to bear all of his expenses for Haj but also to provide adequately for his dependents during his absence and until his return.
Prerequisites of Haj
Since Haj is an act of worship, it must be performed in peace, and with single minded devotion. There are a number of simple, yet important, things you can do to get in the right frame of mind for this unique experience. All of these are self-evident and are based on common sense. They are reiterated below for completeness of the discussion and as a reminder:
- Your intention must be to perform Haj solely for the sake of Allah. Considerations of pleasing or impressing others with your show of piety should never be a factor.
- All Haj expenses must be paid out of money obtained through legitimate (Halal) means. Money obtained through illegitimate or doubtful means is not acceptable.
- All of your debts and financial obligations must be fully discharged before you start your journey and, where necessary, a written acknowledgement of the transaction obtained for future use.
- You must make an honest effort to resolve your outstanding differences with others and seek forgiveness from those you may have hurt in any way in the past. This is based on specific instructions of Rasool Allah (pbuh) and must be followed for the Haj to be meaningful.
Preparations for Haj
Since Haj is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people, the importance of early and adequate preparation cannot be over-emphasized. There is a considerable investment of money, time, and physical effort required for the Pilgrimage to be fulfilling and meaningful. Information has to be collected, itineraries must be worked out, and documents have to be readied. The purpose of these preparations is not only to minimize physical discomfort, emotional aggravation and monetary expenses, but also to enable you to perform Haj in relative peace of heart and mind. Therefore, it makes sense to be as ready as possible for this momentous journey of self-discovery, self-appraisal, and spiritual enlightenment.
Arrangements must be started early enough so that you are not rushed for time in the few days before your voyage commences. The paperwork, shopping, finalizing your travel and residential arrangements inside Saudi Arabia etc., consumes a great deal of time. Three to four months ahead of your actual date of departure is a good estimate for starting your preparations. A knowledgeable friend who has performed Haj recently, can also guide you in your preparations. Be sure to apply a "factor of safety" to their recommendations and allow yourself a somewhat greater period of preparation than they advise!
The following guidelines are intended to get you started in the right direction. Since individual needs and preferences vary widely you will, in all probability, add to the list as you prepare for the journey: