Pilgrimage is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built on. Its steps are clearly mentioned in Quran and it must fulfill certain rites in particular places and times in order to be complete.

The Pilgrimage (i.e. hajj)

The Arabic word hajj, i.e. the pilgrimage, originally means ‘to go for a definite aim’. In Islamic contexts it means ‘an act of worship through the fulfilment of certain rites in particular places during a specified period of time, in accordance with Allah’s messenger’s practice.[1]

Importance: The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built.

:Allah says

‘And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House - for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds.’


‘Perform to their completion both the pilgrimage and the 'umrah purely for Allah’s sake’


:Allah also says

‘Proclaim to all people the duty of pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every kind of fast mount. They will come from every far-away quarter, so that they might experience much that shall be of benefit to them, and that they might extol the name of Allah on the days appointed [for sacrifice], over whatever heads of cattle He may have provided for them. Eat, then, of such [sacrificed cattle] and feed the unfortunate poor’


As we have already noted,the hadith that mentions the five pillars of Islam includes the pilgrimage as one of them: ‘The structure of Islam has been built on five pillars: testifying that there is no deity other than Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), attending regularly to prayers, paying the zakat, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.

The Muslim community is unanimous that the pilgrimage is a duty incumbent on everyone who is able to undertake the journey, physically and financially at least once in a lifetime.

Many are the hadith that speak of the importance of the pilgrimage and its great reward.

:Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying

‘Performing the 'umrah more than once ensures the forgiveness of any sin committed in between them, and a dutiful pilgrimage earns the reward of nothing less than admittance into heaven ’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 1,773; Muslim, hadith No. 1,349

:The Prophet (peace be upon him) says

‘Whoever performs the pilgrimage, keeping it free of any lewdness and wicked conduct, returns home [after completing his pilgrimage] free of sin, just like the day he was born’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 1,521; Muslim, hadith No. 1,350

: A’ishah reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said

‘On no day does Allah free from hell more people than on the day of [attendance at] Arafat. Allah comes close and shows [the pilgrims] to the angels and says: What do these people want?’

Related by Muslim, hadith No. 1,348

The reference to Allah ‘coming close’ means that He bestows His grace on the pilgrims.

:Abdullah ibn Mas'ud reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said

‘Perform the pilgrimage and the 'umrah frequently, for they remove poverty and sins just like the furnace removes the foreign particles from iron, gold and silver. A dutiful pilgrimage earns no less a reward than heaven’

Related by al-Tirmidhi, hadith No. 810; al-Nassa’i, hadith No. 2,631

:Abu Hurayrah (peace be upon him) reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said

‘Those who perform the pilgrimage and the 'umrah are a delegation visiting Allah: if they pray Him, He grants their prayers and if they seek His forgiveness, He forgives them’

Related by Ahmad, hadith No. 3,669; Ibn Majah, hadith No. 2,892; al-Tabarani in Al-Mu'jam al-Awsat, hadith No. 6,311.

:A’ishah reports

‘I said: “ O Messenger of Allah, we think that jihad (i.e. striving for Allah’s cause) is the best thing people can do. Should we not undertake jihad?” He said: “No, because the best type of jihad is a dutiful pilgrimage’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 1,520.

:Abu Hurayrah reported

‘Allah’s messenger was asked: “Which deed is best?” He said: “To believe in Allah and His messenger.” People said: “Which comes next?” He said: “Jihad for Allah’s cause.” People further asked: “Then which?” He said: “A dutiful pilgrimage’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 26; Muslim, hadith No. 83

Needless to say, the hadith reported by 'A’ishah applies to women. They are not required to join the Muslim army on a campaign of jihad. Their best type of jihad is a dutiful pilgrimage.


  1. Ibn 'Abidin, Al-Durr al-Mukhtar, vol. 2, p. 189; al-Khatib al-Shirbini, Mughni al-Muhtaj, vol. 1, p. 459; Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni, vol. 3, p. 21.