umm Abdillah, Radio Islam Programming | 2015.08.24 | 08 Dhul Qa'ada 1436
The notion that Hajj is for the old has been systematically debunked and dismissed by many scholars and callers over decades. Over the last 5 years it seems the hard work of righting these misconceptions has begun to pay off. According to a BBC Religion and Ethics monitor, a subtle change is happening in Makkatul Mukarramah: pilgrims are getting younger. This view is one endorsed by SAHUC.
Traditionally, Muslims around the globe waited and saved their money for many years before embarking on their personal Hajj journey. Why? For many it takes that long to save up. For others, the energy and capriciousness of youth is a time to achieve worldly dreams and objectives – religiosity simply doesn’t feature. Some simply wait to be ‘financially stable’. Some wait to get married. If it’s not the excuse of the aforementioned, family life and responsibilities simply take prevalence. Yet others hold back out of fear of a new Islamic lifestyle they will be obligated to embrace when they return. Over time however we all realise that worldly objectives, however large and important are transient and temporary. The achievement of one leads to another - triggering an endless chain. Thus, the meaning of life haunts us all and we turn towards our Islamic teachings to find peace and solace.
It is very encouraging to note that as the Islamic world grows and evolves, many become pilgrims very soon after becoming adults. According to Rashid Mogradia, director of the Council for British Hajjis (a charity that protects the welfare of British citizens who go on the Hajj) - "Younger people going for Hajj is an increasing phenomenon in the West. Third and fourth generation Muslims living in Western countries tend to have the means to do the Hajj earlier than their counterparts in the Far East.”
This trend is one that resonates in our very own country. According to Shaheen Essop, former secretary general, now President, of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC): “From about 2010 onward there has been an increase in younger pilgrims. There is a reasonable balance in the ages of Hujjaj – older pilgrims (age 50+) from the Western Cape and younger ones including young married couples from the northern parts of SA.” He attests this more due to affluent circumstances that pilgrims are getting younger, not necessarily due to their religiosity. “The younger ones are often the ones financing the Hajj of their elders, and get the ball rolling insofar as the paperwork and travel arrangements.”
In the case of South Africa, regulations pertaining to quotas may certainly play a bigger and more baleful role in first-time Hajji’s signing up to go as quickly as possible. When there wasn’t a quota system, repeat Hajji’s were usually in the (40+) age category.
Reasons to do the Hajj as quickly as possible
Verse (2:196) from the Quran “So, complete the Hajj and Umrah for Allah” implies urgency. Likewise, the Prophet (S) told us to “Perform Hajj - before a point comes where you will have an obstruction.”
Those of us who are able to fulfill this obligation should know that its part of guarding and maintaining an ancient and sacred bond with Allah, His Ka’bah and His Prophets - (may peace be upon them all). If that level of depth and spirituality cannot be comprehended, there are other simpler reasons.
1. Duas are answered:
Youth is a time of desires and ambitions - the age one has the most needs and wants. What if one found a way in which all prayers would be answered? The best way of getting prayers and supplications answered is to perform Hajj as Prophet Muhammad (S) said in a hadith:
“The soldier in the path of Allah, the one performing Hajj, and the one performing Umrah are the delegations of Allah. If they call on Allah they are answered, and if they ask Him for anything it is given to them.” (Ibn Maajah)
Thus, performing Hajj is the best way to get our needs and wants fulfilled. Even more reason for it to be performed in youth.
2. Purification and cleansing:
Should one cleanse themselves from sins at the earliest possible time or keep the purification for a later time, which may or may not be available? The answer to this is obvious - a person should opt for purification from sins at the earliest possible time without postponing it for the uncertain future. Prophet Muhammad (S) said in a hadith:
“One who comes to this House for Hajj and avoids all lewdness and sins, he returns as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The hadith makes it clear that going to Hajj with a pure intention and doing a good Hajj results in purification from sins. Therefore, to every rational mind, performing Hajj at the earliest time i.e. youth is the best time to get purified and then spend the rest of life on the path of righteousness.
3. Alleviation of Poverty:
A major reason people opt out of Hajj is that they think that they don’t have enough savings, and whatever little they have if they spend it on Hajj, might lead to tough times or poverty. So, they wait and wait and wait on financial mountains to go to Hajj. For such people the simple answer is available in the following hadith where Prophet (s) said:
“Keep on doing Hajj and Umrah, because they both eliminate poverty and sins just like a furnace eliminates the dirty impurities of iron, gold and silver. And an accepted Hajj has no reward less than Paradise.” (Tirmidhi)
Therefore, those who think that performing Hajj will make holes in their pocket should reconsider their perception on the basis of this hadith and try performing Hajj as early as they can.
Wa Billah At’taufeeq.