Home | Commentary | Do Hijrah and Hajj expiate major sins?

Do Hijrah and Hajj expiate major sins?

Question

Do Hijrah and Hajj have the same effect as accepting Islam as far as wiping out major sins are concerned?

عن ابن شماسة المهرى قال: حضرنا عمرو بن العاص رضي الله عنه وهو فى سياقة الموت. فبكى طويلا وحوّل وجهه إلى الجدار فجعل ابنه يقول يا أبتاه أما بشرك رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بكذا أما بشرك رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بكذا قال: فأقبل بوجهه. فقال: إن أفضل ما نعد شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله إنى قد كنت على أطباق ثلاث لقد رأيتنى وما أحد أشد بغضا لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم منى ولا أحب إلىّ أن أكون قد استمكنت منه فقتلته فلو مت على تلك الحال لكنت من أهل النار فلما جعل الله الإسلام فى قلبى أتيت النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم فقلت: ابسط يمينك فلأبايعك. فبسط يمينه  قال: فقبضت يدى. قال: ما لك يا عمرو. قال: قلت: أردت أن أشترط.

قال: تشترط بماذا  قلت: أن يغفر لى. قال: أما علمت أن الإسلام يهدم ما كان قبله وأن الهجرة تهدم ما كان قبلها وأن الحج يهدم ما كان قبله. وما كان أحد أحب إلى من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولا أجل فى عينى منه وما كنت أطيق أن أملأ عينى منه إجلالا له ولو سئلت أن أصفه ما أطقت لأنى لم أكن أملأ عينى منه ولو مت على تلك الحال لرجوت أن أكون من أهل الجنة ثم ولينا أشياء ما أدرى ما حالى فيها فإذا أنا مت فلا تصحبنى نائحة ولا نار فإذا دفنتمونى فشنوا على التراب شنا ثم أقيموا حول قبرى قدر ما تنحر جزور ويقسم لحمها حتى أستأنس بكم وأنظر ماذا أراجع به رسل ربى

(Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 121)

 

Answer

Notwithstanding the vast mercy of Allah Ta’ala (and that He can forgive whenever and whatever He wishes), the ‘Ulama mention as a general rule, that whenever we are promised forgiveness for certain deeds, it should be understood as the minor sins that will be forgiven (unless stated otherwise); for the forgiveness of major sins, formal repentance (Tawbah) is required.

One such scenario where there is scope for major sins to be forgiven is in the performance of Hajj or Hijrah. Due to the generality of narrations pertaining to the virtues of Hajj and Hijrah, the ‘Ulama have differed quite extensively as to the type of sins that these two deeds expiate.

A large group amongst the ‘Ulama and Muhaddithun have adhered to the famous principle stated above and have advocated that the only thing that can be said with certainty is that the minor sins will be forgiven. ‘Allamahs: Ibn ‘Abdil Barr, Ibnul ‘Arabi, Qadhi ‘Iyadh, Turbishti, Nawawi, Ibn Rajab Al-Hambali, Ibn Malak, Abul Baqa Al-Makki, Ibn Hajar Al-Makki, Ibn ‘Allan, Ibn ‘Abidin Shami and others (rahimahumullah) all had similar, if not the same, opinions. Some of them have even claimed consensus (Ijma’) on the matter.

(At-Tamhid vol. 2, pg. 182 – 185, ‘Aridatul Ahwadhi, vol. 2 pg. 245, Ikmalul Mu’lim, Hadith: 227, Sahih Muslim with Al-Minhaj, Hadith: 317, Jami’ul ‘Ulumi Wal-Hikam, Hadith: 18, Sharhu Masabihis Sunnah of Ibnu Malak, Hadith: 27, Al-Bahrul ‘Amiq, vol. 1 pg. 62-63, Fathul Ilah, Hadiths: 28 & 564, Dalilul Falihin, Hadith: 1293, Raddul Muhtar, vol. 7 pg. 467-472 along with the footnotes of Sheikh Hisamud Deen Farfur; Also see: Sharhut Tibi ‘Ala Mishkatil Masabih, Hadith: 28 & 2603, Al-Bahrur Raiq, vol. 2 pg. 338 in light of Faydhul Bari, vol. 3 pg. 63 and Al-Khisalul Mukaffiratu Lidhunub of Hisamud Deen Affanah pg. 39-81, Mirqat, Hadith: 28, 564, and 2603, Kanzul Mutawari, Hadith: 1520 & before 1512, and Fatawa Mahmudiyyah, vol. 3 pgs. 320-321)

 

An equally large, if not larger, group of notable ‘Ulama instead seemingly gave preference to the opinion that Hajj and Hijrah wipe out both major and minor sins without the prerequisite of Tawbah. Amongst them were ‘Allamahs: Ibn Hazam, Sarakhsi, Abu Abdillah Al-Qurtubi, Zarkashi, Ubbi, Harawi, Ibn Hajar, Suyuti, Qastallani, Abdul Haqq Ad-Dehlawi, and Anwar Shah Kashmiri (rahimahullah). This group (which consists of other Muhaddithun as well) could further be subdivided into three groups:

  • Those that felt the forgiveness promised was predominantly connected to certain Huququllah (rights of Allah Ta’ala upon a person). They specified the forgiveness to major sins (like fornication, the drinking of alcohol, etc.) that do not become binding upon a person to carry out at a later time (i.e there is no Qadha for these actions unlike missed obligatory prayers, fasts, etc. for which the person will have to fulfil it later on). Some of them have also extended this to Huququl ‘Ibad (rights that people have over one another) that are fairly difficult to fulfil (An example of this is when one tries to make amends with a person he has wronged, but after much searching is still unable to locate their whereabouts).

 

  • Those that felt the forgiveness promised was connected to all Huqullah. Thus, responsibilities and duties binding on a person to fulfil such as undischarged Zakah etc. would be forgiven. Although the statements of some of these ‘Ulama were left general (having no mention about carrying these duties out later on), other ‘Ulama have clarified that the duty to fulfil those responsibilities will still remain; the only thing that will be forgiven is the delaying of the action. They have explained that we are either rewarded or sinful based on when we fulfil our obligations. If we fulfil them in the prescribed time we will be rewarded, and if we fail to do so (without a valid shari’ excuse) we will be sinful. Since the sins are directly related to the delaying of the obligations and not the obligations themselves, then even if the sins were to fall off, the obligations would still remain (It would still be incumbent upon a person to perform all of his missed prayers, fasts, Zakah, etc.).

 

  • Those that felt the forgiveness promised was inclusive of all types and levels of sin connected to both Huququllah and even Huququl Ibad (besides shirk – ascribing a partner to Allah Ta’ala). Thus, let alone responsibilities and duties compulsory on a person to fulfil from the side of Allah, even such responsibilities as the returning of usurped or stolen items etc. due to others he has wronged would be forgiven (This, however, does not relieve a person from worldly repercussions and being held accountable to fulfil those duties in the worldly life. Rather, in the hereafter, Allah Ta’ala will forgive him and grant such happiness and pleasure to the one wronged that he won’t claim anything against the one who wronged him).

 

(Al-Jami’ Li Ahkamil Quran, Surah: Baqarah, Verse: 203, Jami’ul ‘Ulumi Wal-Hikam, Hadith: 18, At-Tanqih Li Alfadhil Jami’is Sahih, vo. 1 pg. 372, Ikmalu Ikmalil Mu’lim, Hadith: 192, Fadhlul Mun’im, Hadith: 336, Fathul Bari, Hadith: 1521, At-Tawshih, Hadith: 1521, Irshadus Sari, Hadith: 1521, Lama’atut Tanqih, Hadith: 28 & 2603, Raddul Muhtar, vol. 7 pg. 467-472 along with the footnotes of Sheikh Hisamud Deen Farfur, Faydhul Bari, vol. 3 pg. 63; Also see: Tafsir Tabari, Surah: Baqarah, Verse: 203, Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 340, Tuhafatul Abrar, Hadith: 19, Quwwatul Hijaj Fi Umumiil Maghfirati Lil Hujjaj, Tafrihul Qulub of ‘Allamah Muhammad Al-Hattab pg. 44, Al-Bahrur Raiq, vol. 2 pg. 338 in light of Ma’arifus Sunan, vol. 6 pg. 10-11 and Dars-e-Tirmidhi vol. 3 pg. 49, Mirqat, Hadith: 2603, Adhakiratul Kathirah Fi Rajai Maghfiratil Kabirah; Refer to: Majmu’ Rasail Mulla ‘Ali Qari vol. 4 pgs. 101- 113, Faydhul Qadir, Hadith: 8626, Ruhul Ma’ani, Surah: Baqarah, Verse: 203, Tuhfatul Ahwadhi, Hadith: 811, Tuhfatul Alma’I vol. 3 pg. 203, and Al-Khisalul Mukaffiratu Lidhunub of Hisamud Deen Affanah pg. 39-81: 46)

 

Regarding the query at hand, academically and as far as theory is concerned, two main conclusions have been documented from the ‘Ulama of the past, as seen above.

Besides this, other noteworthy opinions have also been recorded. According to Moulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahimahullah), the level of forgiveness promised (as far as major and minor sins) varies from person to person based on their sincerity and concentration (i.e their ikhlas, kushu’, khudu’, etc.).

(See: Al-Kawkabud Durri, vol. 6 pgs. 438-448 along with Sheikh Muhammad Zakariyya Al-Kandehlawi’s footnotes)

 

In light of practicality, it’s very seldom that a person carries out the action of Hajj following all the conditions mentioned in the Hadith, except that formal Tawbah naturally accompanies it.

(Also see: Fadail A’amal, Virtues of Salah, Hadith: 3)

 

Important Note: Only an accepted Hajj fulfilling all of the different requirements mentioned in the Hadith promises forgiveness. A person should not solely rely on his sins being forgiven through the performance of Hajj when he has no guarantee of it being accepted in the court of Allah. The attitude of a true Muslim is that he lives with both hope (in the mercy of Allah as well as his actions) and fear (in the punishment of Allah as well as the deficiencies of his actions). Therefore, Tawbah (formal repentance) should be a constant and consistent part of every Muslims life.

(Mirqat, Hadith: 2603, and Adhakiratul Kathirah Fi Rajai Maghfiratil Kabirah; Refer to: Majmu’ Rasail Mulla ‘Ali Qari vol. 4 pgs. 101- 113)

 

And Allah Ta’ala knows best.

 

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar