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…” (Al `Imran 97)
This is also based on the Hadith in which the Prophet (peace and
blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Whoever possesses provision and conveyance for a journey to the House of Allah (in Makkah), but in spite of this, does not perform Hajj, then he may as well choose to die either a Jew or a Christian.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 2, Book of Hajj and `Umrah, Chapter on Reports on the Punishment for Not Performing Hajj). However, this Hadith is classified as da`eef (weak) by Sheikh Al-Albani (may Allah bless his soul).
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.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 2, Book of Rituals, Chapter on Going for Hajj, and classified as hasan (good).
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 postponing this obligation 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 prescri
bed 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 reason 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.”