Shiah and Hajj
According to the Shi'a faith, 'hajj' (the pilgrimage to Makkah) is one of the pillars of Islam. One who abstains from performing this duty when he is able must die the death of a Jew or a Christian as a punishment for his failing. Anyone who refuses to obey this divine command has come close to the threshold of being a "kafir". God refers to such a person in Surah Al 'Imran: "wa man kafara fa in allaha ghani un 'an al 'alamin - anyone who commits "kufr" should know that God is independent of all the worlds."
Hajj is a kind of financial and physical "jihad". Indeed hajj should be called the true jihad, and jihad should be called the true hajj. If we ponder over their relationship a little carefully this hidden meaning and basic harmony between the two will become quite apparent.
Hajj becomes obligatory for a Muslim under the following conditions: he should have reached the age of puberty and be sane of mind; moreover he should have sufficient financial means, be in good health and the route leading to Makkah should be open and safe for travel. Should these conditions be fulfilled, hajj becomes immediately "wajib" (compulsory), but once performed, a person need never go again in his lifetime. Hajj is of various kinds:
(1) "Hajj afrad". The basis of this is the holy verse: "For the sake of God, hajj is compulsory for those who can reach there" (Al 'Imran: 97).
(2) "Hajj Qur'an". It is mentioned in the verse: "Complete hajj and 'umrah for the sake of God" (Al Baqarah:196).
(3) "Hajj tamatu'". This hajj is mentioned in the following verse: "Whoever wishes to continue the 'umrah to hajj should offer the sacrifice which he can afford" (Al Baqarah: 190).
Each of the above has been the subject of much research. The decisions of the 'ulama' concerning the various conditions for each kind of hajj are recorded in the books of jurisprudence.
After going through a large number of books of the Sunni 'ulama' we have come to the conclusion that in this matter most of their laws are similar to those of ours; of course, there are some differences to be found, but they are not many.
The Shi'as give great importance to hajj and are very particular about the performance of this obligation. Even during the days when they had to journey amongst people who were thirsting for their blood and enemies of their honour and respect, they were unmindful of all the dangers. So devoted were they, and so anxious to reach Makkah, that they arrived in hundreds of thousands to make the "tawwaf" of the Ka'bah ("tawwaf" is the special circumambulation of the hajj). Fears for their life and property did not lower their spirits. The feeling of the obligatory nature of this pillar of Islam continued to mover their steps forward. Moreover they often performed hajj at enormous expense. It is regretful that, in spite of this obvious obedience to God's orders, it is still said that the Shi'as seek the destruction of Islam!
Adopted from the book: "The Origin of the Shi'ite Islam and its Principles (Asl ash-Shi'ah wa Usuluh" by: "Allamah Kashiful Ghita"
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