Aspects Of Islamic Faith — 73: Death During The Pilgrimage
Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals
& Information - By Adil Salahi
Death means the
end of life on this earth. However, for a monotheistic
religion like Islam in which resurrection and
accountability are essential beliefs, death means the
beginning of a new journey taking us to God and the
Day of Judgment. Hence, there are certain rituals to
be followed in preparing the body of the deceased for
These include giving the deceased a bath, wrapping
them well and offering a special prayer for them.
These may be looked at in detail in a future article.
What we are concerned with today is what happens if
the death occurs during the pilgrimage, with the
deceased having started his pilgrimage journey and
performed some of its rituals. This is explained in
the following Hadith:
Ibn Abbas reports: "A man was on his camel on the day
of attendance at Arafat, when he fell down and knocked
his head. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘Bathe
him in water and Sidr, and wrap him in two garments.
Do not add any perfume, and do not cover his head as
he will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment
declaring his response to the call to pilgrimage'."
(Related by Al-Bukhari).
The Hadith speaks of how to prepare the deceased for
burial if he dies while he is offering the pilgrimage,
when he is still in the state of consecration, or
ihram. In ordinary cases, the deceased is bathed with
water and Sidr, which means the leaves of a buckthorn
tree that gives foam similar to soap. Before finishing
some calyx of sweet-smelling flowers is added to give
the body a sweet smell. Only a martyr killed in a
battle in defense of Islam is not bathed. He is buried
in his clothes, even though they be full of blood.
A pilgrim who dies while offering the rituals of
pilgrimage is bathed in the ordinary way, but the
prohibitions that apply during the state of
consecration are maintained. Thus, he is wrapped in
his two garments which he wears during consecration.
Normally a third one is added, but not for a pilgrim.
His head is left uncovered, because we are not allowed
to cover our heads during consecration. No perfumes
are added to the water used for bathing him, for the
The Prophet said in the above-quoted Hadith that the
pilgrim is resurrected in the same condition he was in
at his death, i.e. declaring his response to God's
order to offer the pilgrimage. This is indicative of
the importance of this religious duty which is
required of every Muslim at least once during their
lifetime. This is a duty owed to God by all people and
the pilgrim declares his response and readiness to
fulfill this duty. Therefore, if he dies while doing
it, he is buried in the same condition, and he will be
resurrected in that condition. This ensures his
forgiveness of any past sins, because such forgiveness
is the reward for the pilgrimage.
The Hadith also indicates that no one else is required
to complete the rituals the deceased pilgrim might
have not had time to complete, although the pilgrimage
may be offered on behalf of someone who is unable to
undertake it. Scholars say that when someone has
started an act of worship in obedience to God, but
death prevents him from completing it, he will be
rewarded for it in full, God willing.