Allah Most High has assigned a great reward for Hajj mabroor, as evidenced by the saying of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) “…There is no reward for Hajj mabroor except Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari)

The meaning of “birr” (from which the word mabroor is derived) involves the following two:

1. Demonstrating good behaviour towards people, fulfilling one’s duties towards others, and giving them their rights. In a hadith: “Al-Birr is good behaviour.” (Muslim) In the Musnad, from Jabir, a hadith traced back to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) states: They said: “What makes Hajj mabroor, Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Providing food to people and spreading (the greeting of) salam.” (Fath al-Bari, 4/446)

2. Doing much worship and having the trait of taqwa (piety and fear of Allah), as opposed to sinfulness. Allah Most High says: [Do you order people towards al-birr (righteousness) while you forget (it) yourselves?] (Al-Baqarah 2:44). Al-Qurtubi said, “Sayings mentioned in tafseer (explanation) of this verse are close in meaning, that is, (birr is) performance of Hajj in which its rules are fulfilled and which is done in the most complete manner.”

Not all who make Hajj will have their Hajj accepted. As Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said to Mujahid when he said, “How many Hajjis!” “How few. Rather say, how many riders!” (Musannaf `Abdur-Razzaq 8836)

I will highlight here some matters that help a pilgrim ensure that his or her Hajj will be accepted, in sha’ Allah.

1. Sincerity and Following the Sunnah

2. Preparation for Hajj

3. Awareness of the Reality of Hajj and Wisdom of the Rituals

4. Warning against Sinfulness and Falling into Error

5. Striving hard in obedience of Allah and proper use of time

6. Steadfastness after Hajj

1. Sincerity and Following the Sunnah

Sincerity to Allah and seeking His reward and pleasure alone. Allah says in the hadith qudsi, “Whoever does an action for other than Me, I will leave him and his shirk (associating other gods with Allah).” (Muslim) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) supplicated: “Allahumma hajjatan la riyaa’a feeha wa la sum`ah” (O Allah, (enable me to make) Hajj with no riya’ [showing off with the desire that others witness one’s good acts] or sum`ah [showing off with the desire that others hear about one’s good acts] in it.” (Ibn Majah)

Following the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) in all matters. He said, “Whoever does an action not in accordance with our matter (deen), it will be rejected.” (Muslim) Also, “Take your rituals (from me), for I do not know whether I will perform Hajj after this one.” (Muslim) The Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) comprehended this matter well. `Umar said when he kissed the Black Stone, “By Allah, I know that you are a stone, you neither bring harm nor benefit, and if I had not seen the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) kiss you, I would not have kissed you.” (Al-Bukhari)

2. Preparation for Hajj

The servant’s preparation for Hajj is one of the most important matters that helps in performing the pilgrimage in the legislated manner and ensuring that his or her Hajj is, in sha’ Allah, accepted. Among the matters that require emphasis in preparation for Hajj are the following:

a. Examining and rectifying one’s relationship with Allah Most High by sincerely repenting and fulfilling the well-known conditions of repentance.

b. Seeking His help and guidance, manifesting one’s need of Him, fearing Him and hoping in His reward. This is among the most important matters, for it is not permissible for one to rely solely on one’s material means.

c. Relieving oneself of obligations towards others, one’s trusts and debts.

d. Writing one’s will, as travel exposes one to various dangers.

e. Preparing provision for those for whom the pilgrim is responsible until he or she returns, advising them with good and appointing someone to take care of their matters, so that the pilgrim’s concern and attention may be devoted to performance of the pilgrimage.

f. Taking a convenient journey and good halal (lawful) provision, for provision obtained through haram (unlawful) means may cause one’s worship not to be accepted. It is related from At-Tabarani in a hadith traced back to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): “When a person leaves for Hajj with good provision, places his foot in the stirrup (of his mount) and calls, ‘Labbayka Allahumma Labbayk (Here I am at Your service, O Allah! Here I am at Your service),’ he is called from the heavens, ‘Labbayka wa sa`dayk (May your call be replied and happiness be your reward), your sustenance is halal, your journeying is halal, and your Hajj is accepted.’ And when he leaves with corrupt provisions and places his foot in the stirrup (of his mount) and says, ‘Labbayk,’ he is called from the heavens, ‘La labbayka wa la sa`dayk dayk (May your call not be responded to and happiness not be your reward), your provision is haram, your sustenance is haram and your Hajj is not accepted.’” (Al-Mu`jam al-Awsat by at-Tabarani)

Today we live at a time when haram earnings have become widespread and questionable wealth has increased, except for those that Allah has mercy upon. So let every servant fear his or her Lord and remember His saying, “Allah is Good and does not accept except what is good.” (Muslim)

It is recommended for a servant to increase his or her halal provisions according to ability in order to not depend on others and to show kindness to the weak (by giving money in charity).

g. Selecting a righteous company that will help one in moments of weakness, remind one when one forgets, teach one when one does not know, order one to good and forbid one from evil. So let the servant beware of the following two types of companies: a corrupt company that leads to sinfulness and falsehood, and a company that spends its time in what brings no benefit in the hereafter.

h. Learning rules of Hajj and its manners, as well as rules related to travel, including qasr (shortening Prayers), jam` (combining Prayers), tayammum (dry ablution), mash (wiping over socks), etc. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever Allah wishes good, He gives him understanding of the deen (religion).” (Al-Bukhari)

What helps a person in this is obtaining books and tapes by people of knowledge and accompanying them while performing Hajj. Likewise, it is helpful to accompany people who are familiar with places and times of different Hajj rituals.

3. Awareness of the Reality of Hajj and Wisdom of the Rituals

This is similar to khushoo` (humble submission) in Prayer, for whoever has greater khushoo` has a greater chance of his or her Prayer being accepted. Likewise with Hajj, the more one comprehends the reality and spirit of Hajj, the wisdoms and goals for which it has been ordained, and takes that as a means of correcting one’s creed and way, the more likely one’s Hajj will be accepted and the greater will be one’s reward. One will not be able to achieve this except by preparing and drowning in contemplation and research about the realities and wisdoms of Hajj. As for one who does not do this, it is feared that one’s action is a mixture of tourism and hardship.

Among the most important wisdoms and aims of Hajj that the pilgrim must be aware of are the following:

a. Realization of Taqwa: The goal of Hajj is realization of taqwa (piety, fearful awareness of Allah). This is why we find the link between Hajj and taqwa in many verses: Allah Most High says: [And complete the Hajj and `Umrah for Allah…And fear Allah…] (Al-Baqarah 2:196) [And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah] (Al-Baqarah 2:197).

b. Affirmation of Tawheed: Hajj is based on making one’s intention sincere for Allah Most High and seeking with one’s act the pleasure of Allah and none other. Allah Most High says: [And complete the Hajj and `Umrah for Allah] (Al-Baqarah 2: 196) and, within the verses speaking of Hajj, [So avoid the uncleanliness of idols and avoid false statement, inclining [only] to Allah, not associating [anything] with Him] (Al-Hajj 22: 30-31). Likewise, in the Talbiyah, which is the slogan of Hajj, performing the rituals for Allah Alone is made clear: “Labbayka, Allahumma, labbayk. Labbayka. La shareeka laka. Labbayk. Inna-l-hamda, wa-n-ni`mata, laka-l mulk. La shareeka lak. (Here I am at Your service, O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Your service. You have no partners. Yours alone is all praise and all bounty, and Yours alone is sovereignty. You have no partners.)” (Al-Bukhari) Hajj is based on tawheed (Oneness of Allah), following the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), and not falling into shirk of obedience, as there is no place in acts of worship for any rituals based on desires.

c. Reverence of Allah’s Symbols (Rites) and Sanctities: Among the most apparent of goals and wisdoms of Hajj is to cultivate in the servant an appreciation, esteem, and love of Allah’s symbols and sanctities. Allah says: [That [is so]. And whoever honours the symbols [i.e., rites] of Allah-indeed, it is from the piety of hearts] (Al-Hajj 22:32).

d. Cultivation of Good and Praiseworthy Characteristics:

1) Decency and chastity: [Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of ihram], there is [to be for him] no rafath] (Al-Baqarah 2:197). Rafath is sexual intercourse or sayings or actions that lead to it.

2) Suppression of anger, leaving of argumentation and disputes: Allah Most High says: [and no jidal (disputing) during Hajj] (Al-Baqarah 2:197). `Ataa’ said, “Jidal is that you dispute with your companion until you anger him and he angers you.”

3) Gentleness, softness and calmness: When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) heard strong rebuking, hitting, and shouting at a camel while moving from Muzdalifah, he said, “O people, you must be calm, for rushing and hurrying are not righteousness.” (Ahmad)

4) Concern for others: During Hajj, the servant is concerned not only about himself or herself, but he or she mixes with the pilgrim brothers and sisters and shares with them in clothing, recitation of Talbiyah, transportation, and acts.

5) Responsibility for one’s mistakes: This becomes evident in the case of obligatory atonement for one who makes an intentional mistake that violates the state of ihram, or leaves for Muzdalifah before sunset, etc.

6) Humbleness: This becomes evident in the unity between all pilgrims in rituals and feelings, and in the negation of traces of material differences between them, such as language, nationality, wealth, etc. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said during his last farewell Hajj, “O people! Verily, your Lord is one, and your father (Adam) is one, verily the Arab is not superior to the non-Arab, nor the non-Arab to the Arab, nor the white to the black, nor the black to the white, except by taqwa (piety, fearful awareness of Allah).” (Lata’if al-Ma`arif, 411)

7) Patience: The servant restrains himself or herself from desires by leaving acts that are prohibited while in the state of ihram, and also by leaving some permissible acts while not in the state of ihram. He or she exposes himself or herself to hardship and fatigue in fulfilling the orders of Allah by performing the rituals so that this is a motive for leaving sins, doing righteous acts, and bearing inconveniences after Hajj.

8) Generosity and open-handedness: This is clear in the servant’s bearing expenditures for Hajj.

e. Reminder of the Last Day:

Hajj reminds the servant of the Last Day and its states and conditions in a clear manner, including the following:

1) Departure from his or her country and separation from the family reminds the servant of the separation from them when leaving this world for the hereafter.

2) Removal of stitched clothing and lack of adornment reminds the servant of the shroud and resurrection of servants from their graves on the Day of Resurrection barefoot and naked.

3) Journey and fatigue remind the servant of weakness and hardship of the Day of Resurrection, to the point that some will drown in sweat to their necks.

f. Cultivation of Submission and Surrender to Allah:

The pilgrim is trained in submission, surrender, and complete obedience to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, as, for example, in the actions of Hajj, such as abandonment of stitched clothing and adornment, Tawaf, Sa`i, standing on `Arafat, stoning the Jamarat, and shaving or cutting of the hair, and other such matters that do not have an obvious meaning.

g. Deepening of Brotherhood Based on Faith and Islamic Unity:

Pilgrims, with all their differences in tongues, races, and nationalities, gather in one place at the same time, in the same appearance, pronouncing the same call of Talbiyah, and for the same purpose: belief in Allah Most High, fulfilment of His order, and leaving of sinfulness, all of which develops deep love between them, which, in turn, becomes a motive for them to know each other, to cooperate, exchange thoughts, advice, news and experiences, reinforcing in them uprightness upon this deen that joined them together and the performance of deeds to reach higher levels.

h. Strengthening the Attachment of Pilgrims to the Predecessors:

Actions of Hajj remind one of the past, from the migration of Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) with his wife and infant to Hijaz, his story when he was ordered to sacrifice his son, his building of the Ka`bah, and his call to people to make Hajj. Likewise, Hajj is a reminder of the rising of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his farewell pilgrimage with more than 100,000 Companions, when he said to them, “Take from me your rites (of Hajj).” Since then ages have passed, and at the present time the number of pilgrims is more than a million. This causes the pilgrim to remember the generations that have witnessed this land before him and to remember that the final destination is the same for all.

i. Increase in Remembrance of Allah:

The servant who contemplates during the rituals of Hajj about Talbiyah, takbir (saying Allahu Akbar), tahlil (saying La ilaha illa Allah), supplication, as well as the two revelations (Qur’an and Sunnah) that speak about them, will find that an increase in remembrance of Allah Most High is among the greatest wisdoms and aims of Hajj. Allah Most High says: [Remember Allah at Al-Mash`ar Al-Haram (Muzdalifah)] (Al-Baqarah 2:198). And the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Circumambulation of the house, [going] between As-Safa and Al-Marwa and stoning have only been legislated for establishment of remembrance of Allah on the Earth.” (At-Tirmidhi)

4. Warning against Sinfulness and Falling into Error

The servant does not earn Hajj mabroor (an accepted Hajj) except by leaving sins. While falling into sin is prohibited at all times, Allah Most High gives a specific order to the pilgrims to leave sins. He says: [Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj] (Al-Baqarah 2:197). This is due to the nobility of the time and the greatness of the place. Allah Most High says: [Whoever intends [a deed] therein [i.e., in Al-Haram] of deviation [in religion] or wrongdoing-We will make him taste of a painful punishment] (Al-Hajj 22:25). How could there be reward for one who commits sins?!

Contemplation about the state of people during Hajj causes one to realize the many evil deeds and mistakes, which are the result of weak fear of Allah, lack of consideration of the sacredness of the time and place, ignorance of the Shari`ah, and following customs. Perhaps among the most widespread evil actions and mistakes in Hajj are the following: intentionally committing prohibited acts while in the state of ihram without a valid excuse, harming Muslims with one’s sayings and actions, leaving of mutual advising and ordering of good and forbidding evil, delaying prayer from its due time, backbiting, slander, vain talk, argumentation, hearsay, extravagance, miserliness in spending, wasting food, bad behaviour towards others, negligence with regards to sins such as listening to what is not allowed, uncovering what is not allowed to be uncovered, hurry or delay in performance of rituals, lack of observance of spatial limits that may not be overstepped in performance of actions of Hajj.

Who is more deprived than the pilgrim who sacrifices his or her soul and wealth, and leaves his or her previous state and adornment, and then returns with forbidden actions and the anger of the Merciful?

A poet said:

He went to Hajj so that Allah forgives his sins

And returned with even more sins

5. Striving hard in obedience of Allah and proper use of time

In the verses about Hajj there are signs that exhort the servant to make a lot of righteous actions while performing the pilgrimage. Among them are the saying of Allah Most High: [And whatever good you do-Allah knows it] (Al-Baqarah 2:197).

Perhaps among the most important righteous actions that the servant should do plenty of and keep busy with while at Hajj are the following:

a. Actions of the heart: Sincerity, love of Allah, reliance on Him, fear of Him, hope in His reward, glorification and respect of Him, submission and surrender, expression of one’s need of Him, truthfulness in supplication, repentance, patience, being pleased with Allah, tranquillity, etc. are from the most important actions of the heart that the servant should occupy himself or herself with in the Hajj, for Islam is centred around them. Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “Whoever contemplates the aims and means of the Shari`ah will know the correlation between actions of the body and actions of the heart and (will understand) that the former are of no benefit without the latter.” (Bada’i`ul Fawa’id, 3/330)

b. Recitation of the Qur’an, remembrance of Allah, and seeking forgiveness: Allah has ordered the pilgrims in the verses about Hajj to engage in remembrance (dhikr) and seeking forgiveness. It is related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked, “What Hajj is the best?” He said, “That in which there is most dhikr (remembrance of Allah).” (Al-Mu`jam al-Awsat by at-Tabarani)

c. Goodness towards people: It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, which people are dearest to Allah?” He said, “The dearest people to Allah are those who are the most useful to (other) people.”

d. Call to Allah: Ignorance, innovations, evil actions, and mistakes have widely spread among the pilgrims. It is obligatory upon scholars and da`is (those who call people to Islam) to guide and advise others, ordering them to good and forbidding them from evil with wisdom, good exhortation, and arguing in a better way. Shuja` ibn Al-Waleed said, “I was making Hajj with Sufyan, and his tongue hardly ceased to enjoin good and forbid evil, both while going and coming back.” (Siyar A`lam an-Nubala’, 7/259)

e. Supplication: Hajj is one of the great occasions to ask Allah Most High and to supplicate to Him. It is an occasion that requires one to use the opportunity and be submissive before Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The best supplication is supplication on `Arafat.” (At-Tirmidhi) “Those making Hajj and `Umrah are delegates (guests) of Allah, He called them and they answered, they ask him and He gives them.” (Saheeh al-Jaami`, 3173`)

6. Steadfastness after Hajj

The evidence of Hajj mabroor is steadfastness of the servant after Hajj in practicing righteous acts and leaving of sins. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “Hajj mabroor is to return abstinent from this world and desiring the hereafter. This is witnessed to in His saying: [And those who are guided-He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness (taqwa, fearful awareness of Allah, care to avoid His displeasure)] (Muhammad 47:17).”

So beware, brothers and sisters, of destroying what you build, dispersing what you gather, eliminating what you gain, regressing after guidance, and deteriorating after refining.

Remember that Hajj nullifies the sins that precede it and that because of Hajj you return in a state like that on the day your mother bore you. So beware of opposing Allah with sins after this blessing. Open a new page in your life and fill it with righteous actions in steadfastness upon His deen.