The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any obscenity [rafath] or commit any evil will go back (free of) sin as on the day his mother bore him.”
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: What is meant by the words of the above-mentioned hadith is that if a person performs Hajj and avoids rafath, which is intercourse with women, and fusooq which is anything that goes against obedience to Allah, and he does not fail to do anything that has been enjoined by Allah, and he does not do anything that has been forbidden by Allah, then he will emerge from that free of sin, just as when a person emerges from his mother’s womb, there is no sin on him. So if a man performs Hajj and fulfils these conditions, he will be free of sin.
It becomes clear with Hajj mabrur (the one accepted by Allah), all major and minor sins are forgiven. This does not include the rights of people because before going to Hajj one is asked to clear himself from the rights of people by giving back their rights. So, if you have cheated anyone, you have to compensate him and give him his right and ask Allah for forgiveness. As for sins such as backbiting, you may indirectly ask those you have backbited to forgive you if you have committed a sin towards them. You can also supplicate Allah for them and to forgive your sins.
Elaborating more on the issue of forgiving major and minor sins due to the performance of Hajj, we’d like to furnish you with the following fatwa issued by Dr. Salah Sultan, President of Islamic American University, Detroit, US, and former professor of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) at Cairo University, Egypt, who states:
“Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says: “The performance of `Umrah is expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous ones. And the reward for Hajj Mabrur (pilgrimage accepted by Allah) is nothing butParadise.” (Al-Bukhari)
It is also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says: “Alternate between Hajj and `Umrah, because both rid one of poverty and sins just as the blacksmith’s bellows removes all impurities from metals like iron, gold and silver. The reward for Hajj mabrur is nothing short of Paradise.” (At-Tirmidhi)
The previous Hadith shows that `Umrah serves as an expiation for all types of sins, whether major or minor, because the wording of the Hadith is general and thus it encompasses both categories.
However, there are two main conditions for the acceptance of Hajj and `Umrah:
1. To have complete sincerity (Ikhlas) by performing those rituals solely for the sake of Allah the Almighty.
2. To perform both Hajj and `Umrah the same way it is mentioned in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Among the conditions of sincerity is to ask Allah for forgiveness and to repent from all sins you have committed. While speaking of repentance, we must hasten to add that repentance cannot be considered valid unless one takes the following steps:
First, one must feel deep remorse for the sins he has committed.
Second, one must refrain from the sin totally while also abstaining from all those leads or circumstances that led him to such a sin in the first place.
Third, one must be firmly resolved never to sin again and immediately become occupied in whatever good deeds that he can in order to wipe out his past sins.
All of the above involve sins involving the rights of Allah. If, however, one’s sins involve the rights of human beings, then he must also do whatever it takes to return, compensate or redress the grievances of the person he has wronged. Paying him his dues or compensating him in whatever ways possible becomes an essential condition of valid repentance.
Once repentance is accomplished as described above, one’s sins will be undoubtedly wiped out and he is guaranteed a clean record. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “One who has repented of a sin (sincerely) is like one who has never sinned at all.”
Finally, we ask Allah Almighty to grant everyone Hajj Mabrur and happiness in this worldly life and in the Hereafter.
Allah Almighty knows best.