Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- A person is obliged to perform Hajj as soon as he or she is able to because he/she may be prevented from doing so later due to exigencies.
2- If one is physically and financially capable of performing Hajj and does not do so, then he is committing a sin by delaying hajj for no just cause.
With regard to your question, Dr. `Abdel-Fattah Idrees, Professor of Comparative Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) at Al-Azhar University, answers:
Muslim Jurists have unanimously agreed that Hajj is obligatory upon anyone who is able to perform it, based on the verse in which Allah the Almighty says: “Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey…” (Aal `Imran 3:97)
This is also based on the Hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “He who intends to make Hajj, let him do so expeditiously, for he or she may fall sick, lose his/her mount (i.e. he/she may lose the ability to bear the expenses of the journey), or he/she may be prevented by some other exigency.” (Ibn Majah)
This means that a person is obliged to perform Hajj as soon as he or she is able to because he/she may be prevented from doing so later due to exigencies.
If one is physically and financially capable of performing Hajj and does not do so, then he is committing a sin by delaying hajj for no just cause. This is the view held by the majority of jurists.
On the basis of the foregoing evidence, there is a juristic consensus that Hajj should be performed without delay as long as one is able to do so by himself or herself. If not, he or she can send someone to perform it on his or her behalf.
However, the followers of the Shafi`i School of Fiqh are of the opinion that Hajj may be performed at any time during one’s lifetime, and there is nothing wrong if one who is obliged to perform Hajj delays it until a later date.
They argue that although Hajj was prescribed in the year 6 A.H., the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), delayed it until 10 A.H..
Moreover, he sent a delegation from Madinah for Hajj and appointed Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) as its head.
Had it been obligatory to perform Hajj earlier, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would never have delayed it if he had had the ability to perform it.
However, the majority of jurists maintain that the reason the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not perform Hajj in the year 9 and delayed it until the year 10 was because he was either sick, not financially able, or had some other reasons that prevented him from performing it.
Thus, according to the view of the majority of scholars, Hajj is obligatory as soon as one is able to undertake the journey. This means that if one delays Hajj after being able to, he or she will be committing a sin.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.