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Aspects Of The Islamic Faith 121: The Pilgrimage On Behalf Of Someone Else

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

Many people, particularly in the expatriate community, ask about offering the pilgrimage and the Umrah on behalf of their parents or relatives. As the pilgrimage is an act of worship, they wonder whether it is acceptable to offer it on behalf of another person. They also ask what conditions should be met for its validity. The following Hadith gives us a clear answer: Ibn Abbas reports that a woman from the tribe of Juhaynah said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): ‘My mother pledged that she would offer the pilgrimage, but she did not do so before she died. Shall I offer the pilgrimage on her behalf?' He said: ‘Yes, offer it on her behalf. Consider: if your mother had an outstanding debt, would you repay your mother's debt? Do what is due to God, for it is more important to fulfil what is due to him.' (Related by Al-Bukhari)

The Hadith gives us clear instructions that if a person dies having not done an obligatory pilgrimage, a relative of his should do the pilgrimage on his or her behalf. The obligatory pilgrimage is of two types: The first is the duty owing to God from every Muslim adult, man or woman, who has the means to fulfill this duty. The means include the expenses needed to cover the trip and stay in the pilgrimage area, as well as the expenses of his dependents during his absence, and being physically able to undertake the pilgrimage. The second type is a pledge made to God by a person to offer the pilgrimage if something he or she specifies is fulfilled. This was the case of the deceased woman mentioned in the Hadith.

If a person dies before performing an obligatory pilgrimage, then his heirs must set aside from his estate a sum of money sufficient to cover the expenses of someone to undertake the pilgrimage on his behalf. The person who performs such a substitute pilgrimage must have performed his or her own obligatory pilgrimage already. The best person to undertake such a substitute pilgrimage is a close relative such as a son, a daughter, a parent, etc. Failing that, anyone else may do it, but the expenses should either come from the deceased's estate or from his heirs.

Several questions are often raised in connection with this. The first is about doing the pilgrimage on behalf of a deceased person who has done his or her own obligatory pilgrimage. In other words, it is a sunnah pilgrimage. This is perfectly permissible.

Is it permissible to offer the pilgrimage on behalf of someone who is alive? This is permissible only in the case of a person who has the financial means to do the pilgrimage but is physically unable to undertake it, as in the case of one who is suffering from an incurable illness. Another situation is that of one who cannot travel because of restrictions imposed by his government, with no prospect of relaxation.

Expatriates working in Saudi Arabia often try to do the pilgrimage on behalf of their parents who live in their home countries. This must be carefully considered. The pilgrimage is a personal duty that may be done on behalf of someone else in the cases outlined above. In other cases, it is not permissible. Take the case of an expatriate whose parents are poor and cannot pay for their own pilgrimage. They are exempt from this duty. Therefore, to do it on their behalf is not right. What their son or daughter can do, if they can afford it, is to invite them to do the pilgrimage and pay their expenses. This is an act of dutifulness that is richly rewarded by God.

Another question that is often asked is whether the person who undertakes a substitute pilgrimage earns the full reward of pilgrimage in addition to the person on whose behalf he is doing it. Again we must remember that the pilgrimage is a personal duty. If you do it on behalf of someone else, then that person receives its reward. What about you? If you are doing it on behalf of a parent and you are paying the expenses, then you stand to receive very rich reward from God, but not that of a pilgrimage. God determines your reward. On the other hand, a person who is doing it on behalf of someone else, whose relatives are paying his expenses, receives a reward from God. He may also avail himself of the opportunity of being in Makkah to do voluntary worship, such as tawaf, prayer, reading the Qur'an in the Haram. Such acts receive multiple reward when done in the Haram. A prayer in the Haram is given its normal reward multiplied 100,000 times.

It is perfectly permissible for a man to do the substitute pilgrimage on behalf of a woman and for a woman to do it on behalf of a man. The acts of a substitute pilgrimage do not differ from those on one's own behalf.


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