First of all, we’d like to make it clear that since Allah’s laws are solely intended to save humanity from the destructive nature of the evil inclinations inherent in our souls, He has declared certain acts as enormous sins because of their extremely disastrous consequences and effects on individuals and societies. The greater the consequences, the greater their enormity and gravity. Allah teaches us in the Qur’an that the previous nations were destroyed due to their persistence in sins and their failure to heed the call of the Messengers to repent and amend their ways. We are also told in no unmistakable terms that we stand to gain happiness and prosperity in both worlds by shunning sins altogether and following the right way.

All major sins require tawbah or sincere repentance. Sincere repentance involves four steps: The first is for a person to be deeply remorseful of the sin; secondly, to refrain from it and all of the circumstances that led to it; thirdly, TO MAKE A FIRM RESOLUTION NEVER TO DO IT AGAIN; and finally, to follow it up by whatever good deeds one can possibly do. Allah says, “Verily good deeds wipe out bad deeds.” (Hud: 114). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) further explains this by saying: “Allah does not wipe out bad deeds through bad deeds; rather He blots them out through good deeds.”

Here, we’d like to mention the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in which he said: “The five daily prayers and Jumu’ah (Friday prayers) and Ramadan take away the bad deeds between one and the next, if you avoid major sins.” (Reported by Muslim).

Also, it should be clear that committing sins affects the acceptance of good deeds and it is most proper for a Muslim to stay away from sins and to be sincere while doing good deeds in order for them to be accepted by Allah. Among the conditions of sincerity is do a certain good deed such as Hajj or `Umrah for the sake of Allah without having the intention to come back to sins again.

Elaborating on the conditions for the acceptance of Hajj and `Umrah, Dr. Salah Sultan, President of Islamic American University, Detroit, US, and former professor of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) at Cairo University, Egypt, states that:

“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).

Sincerity in doing Hajj and `Umrah does not involve one who did sins and then go for Hajj or `Umrah in order for his sins to be forgiven while having the intention to commit sins again. This is not sincerity nor it be the same way it is mentioned in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Furthermore, persistence in sins really affects the acceptance of good deeds. Almighty Allah says, “Forgiveness is only incumbent on Allah toward those who do evil in ignorance (and) then turn quickly (in repentance) to Allah. These are they toward whom Allah relenteth. Allah is ever Knower, Wise. The forgiveness is not for those who do ill deeds until, when death attendeth upon one of them, he saith: Lo! I repent now; nor yet for those who die while they are disbelievers. For such We have prepared a painful doom.” (An-Nisa’: 17-18)

Having stated the above, it becomes clear that forgiveness of sins does not involve one who does a good deed with the aim of forgiving bad deeds while having the intention to resume doing bad deeds afterwards.

To conclude: we should stress the fact that those whom Allah favored to perform Hajj and `Umrah, should be thankful to Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, Who has chosen them from among His servants to perform these acts of worship, and they should implore Almighty Allah to accept their good deeds. That is very important, for it reflects their belief that being so favored by Allah to accomplish the task of traveling to the Sacred Land to perform Hajj and `Umrah is a favor that deserves gratitude to Allah.

Allah Almighty knows best.