1- Islam: Faith is the first requirement and without it the prescribed deeds are not valid or accepted as acts of worship. As we have seen previously, there is a strong relation between Hajj and its rituals with the religion of Ibraheem (A), which is the religion of Tawheed.
2- Sanity: Anyone who is not sane-minded – somebody who is proven to be is mentally ill – is not held responsible for his, or her, actions. The Prophet (S) said,
“There are three kinds of people who are not held responsible for their actions: The sleeping person until he wakes up, the child until he reaches the age of puberty, and the mentally ill until he becomes sane.” [Related by the Five and ad-Daarimi]
3- Puberty: As understood from the above hadith.
4- Ability: It was explained by the Messenger of Allah (S) as the transportation and the provision during the journey. Today, Hajj is done through special arrangements and requirements. Anyone who can fulfill those requirements and can afford to pay for his journey without begging others or taking loans should go for Hajj.
“Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey”
Women’s Hajj: Women are equal to men in terms of their religious duties and rights. They must perform Hajj if they have all the above conditions. However, a woman must go with her husband or a Dhu Mahram – the one that a woman can never marry due to close relationship such as a father, a brother, a son, a nephew, an uncle…etc., Ibn ‘Abbas (r) related that he heard the Prophet (S) saying,
“A man cannot be alone with a woman unless when she is in the company of a dhu Mahram. A woman can travel only when she is accompanied by a dhu Mahram.” Hearing this, a man stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allah! My wife has gone for Hajj and I have enrolled myself in such and such expedition.” The Prophet (S) said, “Go and perform Hajj with your wife.” [Agreed upon].
Imam Abu Haneefah (r) and other scholars have considered this as one of the elements of ability. However, Imam As-Shafi’i (r) as well as other scholars consider a good group of pious and trustworthy women can be an alternative, but only in the obligatory Hajj and ‘Umrah not the supererogatory ones. There are a few hadiths which back this position such as the ones relating the Hajj of the wives of the Prophet (S) after the permission of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (r).
Delaying this pillar of Islam to old age though the physical and financial abilities are available is a kind of carelessness, which could be a great regret for a person in the Day of Judgement. It is a great common misconception among many Muslims to think that Hajj is only for those who retire and have leisure time. Ibn ‘Abbas (r), the great commentator of Qur’an, said, “Whoever had money in his life and did not go to Hajj or pay Zakaat on it, he, or she, will ask Allah to return to life when time for death comes.” Hearing this a man said, ” O Ibn ‘Abbas heed Allah! Only the disbeliever who will ask that!” Ibn ‘Abbas replied, “I will read for you a proof from the Qur’an:
“O you who believe! Let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. If any act thus, the loss is their own. And spend something out of the substance which We have bestowed on you, before Death should come to any of you and he should say, “O my Lord! Why did not you give me respite for a little while? I should then have given (largely) in charity, and I should have been one of the doers of good.” But to no soul will Allah grant respite when the time appointed (for it) has come; and Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that you do.” (63:9-11)
In fact, Ibn ‘Abbas (r) was right because Allah is addressing believers in this context and warning them from being distracted by the worldly life because the time of death is unknown to us and it usually hits abruptly. The Prophet (S) said,
“Hasten going for Hajj – meaning performing the duty- for none of you knows what will happen in the future.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, ibn Maajah, and al-Bayhaqi].
The Prophet (S) also said,
“Whosoever dies without performing Hajj while he is not under some difficult circumstances – whereby it’s impossible to go for Hajj – or is not allowed to leave because of an unjust ruler, or is chronically sick – or seriously sick during the Hajj season – then let him die if he wants as a Jew or a Christian.” [Related by ad-Daarimi and al-Bayhaqi]
“Whoever can afford the means to reach to the House of Allah – and the cost of accommodation there – and does not perform Hajj, he could die as a Jew or Christian. Allah says in His book, “Pilgrimage to the House is a duty people owe to Allah; those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.” (2:96-97) [Related by at-Tirmidhi with a weak isnaad].