What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding my situation. I want to perform Hajj however I am currently paying off my mortgage. Can I still go for Hajj or should I clear my long-term debt first?
Performing Hajj is a one-time obligation upon every adult Muslim, who has the means to do so. Allah ﷻ has stated in the Holy Qur’an: “Pilgrimage to the Ancient House is compulsory for People who can make the journey, in order to seek God’s pleasure. Anyone who denies this duty should know that God is Self-Sufficient, independent of all creation.” (Surah al-Imran: 97)
The jurists have explained in detail the statement “who can make the journey.” This includes:
- Being able to physically make and endure the journey.
- The route itself should be safe for pilgrims to travel on.
- Having enough time to perform Hajj properly and in its allocated time.
- Having enough wealth to comfortably perform Hajj.
- The wealth one uses for Hajj should be from one’s savings that are additional to one’s daily expenditure.
- If a person has people who are dependent on him, then their accommodation, clothing, bills, food, necessary expenses are provided for.
- The wealth used for Hajj should also be in addition to any debt that is to be repaid
‘Allama Abdullah al-Mawsili mentions in ‘Al-Ikhtiyar li-Ta’lil al-Mukhtar’, “This is an obligation which affects every aspect of one’s life. It is obligatory upon every free, sane, adult, Muslim, who has the health and the wealth for the journey to perform Hajj once. The wealth the pilgrim uses should be in addition to his needs and that of his family. The route should also be safe. The reason that wealth used for Hajj should be in addition to one’s basic needs is because covering one’s needs takes precedence over the obligations Allah ﷻ has placed upon us. Likewise, the needs of one’s dependents as fulfilling their needs takes precedence over the obligation laid down by Allah ﷻ. Allah ﷻ is Self-Sufficient whereas these dependants rely on others. Likewise, the wealth used for Hajj should be in addition to what must be paid back for the reasons we have mentioned.”
‘Allama Muhammad ‘Alish Maliki has mentioned in ‘Manh al-Jalil’, “The things which prevent a person from going to hajj are the following: A debt which must be repaid straight away, or a wealth which must be paid once he has left for Hajj and he is a wealthy man. In these situations, he should refrain from going for Hajj unless he appoints someone as an agent in his absence who will repay the debt.
Imam Rafi’i has mentioned in ‘Al-‘Aziz Sharh al-Wajiz’: If one has a debt to pay but is also wealthy, then the debtor may stop him from travelling. Not because he has the right to stop someone from performing Hajj, but he has the right to receive what is owed to him. If the person has worn the ihram, then he should remain in it, and it is now wajib for him to repay the debt and leave for Hajj. If the person is not wealthy, then the debtor should ask for the money back nor stop him from going on hajj. He should be given an extension until he is in a better position financially. If a person has a long-term debt on him, likewise he will not be stopped from going in Hajj as he is not obliged to pay off the entire debt straight away nor can the debtor demand it straight away. However, it is better that he does not leave for Hajj without appointing someone as an agent to oversee his repayment whilst he is away.
Imam Ibn Qudama has mentioned in ‘Al-Mughni’, “The expenditure for Hajj should be in addition to any debts owed. As repaying a debt comes under one’s basic needs and is related to ‘the rights of people’ which has been emphasised to a greater level. For this reason, a person in debt is not obliged to pay zakat, even though the needs of the poor are linked with the payment of zakat. Hajj is purely for the sake of Allah ﷻ, so he will be prevented from going even more so. Whether the debt owed is to a specific person, or it is owed in the court of Allah ﷻ, such as zakat or kaffarat etc.
The essence from these texts dictates that anyone who wishes to perform Hajj but has a debt on him then he can still go for Hajj on condition that the debt is a long-term one and his performance of Hajj will not affect the repayment of the debt. This means he will leave that much wealth behind that will suffice for the repayment of the debt or the debtor gives him permission to go for Hajj. This is similar to agreements made today in the form of monthly payments, where both parties have agreed when and how much of the debt will be paid every month.
It is important to note that the jurists have stated the permissibility of going for Hajj with borrowed wealth if one has the means to repay the debt. Then doing qiyas upon this ruling, a person can also go for Hajj who has a long-term debt upon him which he is paying back in instalments, on condition that this will continue even if he goes for Hajj.
Imam Ibn Abu Shayba has narrated in ‘Al-Musannaf’ and Imam Bayhaqi has narrated in ‘Al-Sunan al-Kubra’ that Abdullah ibn Abi Awf was asked about a man who takes a loan to go for Hajj to which he replied: “He should ask for provision from Allah ﷻ rather than asking people for a loan.” The he said, “we would say do not ask for loans unless you have the means to repay them.”
Imam Ibn Abdul Barr mentions in ‘Al-Tamhid li ma fi al-Muwatta min al-Ma’ani’ a statement of Sufyan al-Thawri who said: “There is no harm in taking a loan to perform Hajj if a person has enough wealth that if he was to die then the debt would be repaid.”
Taking all this into account, we say in light of the shari’ah, it is permissible for a person to go for Hajj even if he has a long-term debt which is being paid back in instalments. It also a condition that the performance of Hajj will not affect the repayment of these instalments on their agreed time.
And Allah ﷻ knows the best
This fatwa is written by Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari