Hajj is a beloved obligation for which the faithful hearts are longing. Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can afford the journey is obligated to perform this pillar of Islam. Millions embark on this journey every year. With all the blessings and spiritual meanings associated with this obligation, some unpleasant aspects do emerge, however. Pilgrims push one another and accidents occur. For an acceptable Hajj, a pilgrim needs to observe the conduct befitting a good Muslim.

The prominent scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi offers some useful tips on how to avoid such accidents during the performance of Hajj rituals.

In order to avoid the repeated accidents during Hajj, I suggest the following solutions:

1- Minimizing the number of pilgrims each year

I would to like start by saying that we should minimize the number of pilgrims each year, especially those who have already performed the obligatory Hajj. Those who have enjoyed the privilege of performing Hajj many times, I advise them that it is better for them to donate the cost of their Hajj to those who are dying from starvation, or to help build a school for those who are unable to educate their children because there is no affordable school in their neighborhood, or a hospital for those dying due to lack of medical services, or to start a business to employ our Muslim youth. Our societies need every bit of help that can be extended by those who are well-off.

We suggest that the government of Saudi Arabia should limit the number of pilgrims coming from inside their own country. I read in the newspaper that they have taken a step toward this by making Hajj for Saudis permissible every five years.

2- Throwing the pebbles before Az-Zawal (shadow of the sun at its zenith)

This is an extremely important matter. The ever-increasing number of pilgrims, try to squeeze themselves every year into the same un-expandable area. As long as we are unable to expand this place it is wise to expand the time and make it from sunrise to very late at night. The purpose of throwing the pebbles is to remember Allah, the Almighty; it is not one of the essential steps of the Hajj as it is done after putting off the state of Ihram.

It is also permissible for the Hajji to delegate someone else to throw the pebbles on his behalf if he cannot do it himself. Scholars have unanimously agreed that fatwas can change when the other variables also change like that of time, space and the state of human beings, so why not apply it. We have already established principles such as: obligation is set according to feasibility and hardship brings about adaptability. It is a continuous assertion that our religion is a simple religion and not a difficult one. Allah says (Allah wills for you ease, and He does not will difficulty) (Al-Baqara 2: 186), (and in no way has (He) made for you (any) restriction in the religion.) (Al-Hajj 22: 78) In the hadith it says: “Take your rituals from me.”

This is a comprehensive hadith that includes all obligatory forms of worship as well as those, which are desirable, in the way set by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Any knowledgeable scholar in Islamic jurisprudence, anyone who has tried to throw the pebbles and the hardship of trying not to fall and be stepped upon, knows that this religion is Divine justice on earth; it is His mercy on His worshippers. He did not reveal it except for the happiness of mankind, for its spiritual, physical and social equilibrium. So if the Prophet stood between sunrise to sunset, he did not forbid throwing the pebbles at night. As a matter of fact he did permit the camel’s shepherds to throw their pebbles late at night or at any hour of the day. Consequently, none of the Imams prohibited it either.

3- Raising the awareness of the pilgrims

In conclusion, I advise the scholars in every country to talk to the pilgrims and to join them in their pilgrimage, so as to teach them the importance of gentleness and serenity throughout these blessed days. They should explain to them that there is no need to all go at the same time to throw the pebbles. They should go in groups because it is permissible to throw at any time during the day or night so as to avoid this human disaster.