Islam cares much for maintaining the highest level of social solidarity and strength among the members of the society. It goes without saying that spending money on charitable deeds, such as helping the needy, alleviating the pains of the distressed, supporting those who fight in Allah’s cause, is better than using it for making voluntary Hajj. A person who intends to perform voluntary Hajj but later changes his mind and spends the money on things like these gains the same reward of a person who has performed Hajj.
Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former Head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, states the following: It is known that Hajj must be performed once in a lifetime by the Muslim who has the means to do so. This is based on the Hadith reported by both Al-Bukhari and Muslim, quoting Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) as saying: “One day, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered a sermon and said: ‘O people! Almighty Allah has enjoined Hajj on you, so perform it.’ A man asked: ‘Should we do so every year, O Messenger of Allah?’ The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not answer him till he repeated his question thrice and then the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Had I replied in the affirmative, it would have been established for you to do so, a thing which you cannot do.’ ”
This indicates that performing Hajj more than once is not obligatory; rather, it is a voluntary matter. When it comes to voluntary matters, important things are given priority. In many cases, alleviating the pains of Muslims and lending hand in removing the chains of poverty from their necks is much more better and beneficial, in addition to its compatibility with the main objectives of Shari`ah that aim at securing benefit for people and removing harm from their life.
In the light of the above, anyone who wants to pay a visit to the Holy Mosque to make voluntary Hajj or `Umrah but later gives the money to charity, will receive great reward for his good deeds.
In many occasions, it is reported that a man who went out for Hajj but later found some needy and thus gave them the money as a form of helping them was given reward equal to that given to a person who performed Hajj. Islam, in its very objectives and wisdom of legislation, does not sanction spending great sums of money in something voluntary while there are many other obligations that need such money to be fulfilled.