Hajj Acts: Pillars, Obligatory and Supererogatory

The City of Makkah, Saudi Arabia

The aim here is to give an outline on the rulings regarding the acts performed during hajj. It is meant to be a summary of sort. For further details, books on jurisprudence should be consulted.

The acts performed during hajj can fall into either of the following classification

  1. Pillars
  2. Obligatory acts
  3. Supererogatory acts

Pillars of Hajj

According to the most reliable consensus of scholars, there are four pillars of hajj. These pillars are the most essential parts of hajj. They are as follows:

  1. Ihraam
  2. Standing on the plains of Arafah
  3. TawaafulIfadah
  4. Sa’y between Safah and Marwah

These four pillars must be performed for a hajj to be complete. In addition, if a person misses ihram, then the hajj will not be valid. This is because ihram deals with the intention to start the acts of hajj. And according to the very famous hadith (the first hadith in an-nawawi’s collection), actions are judged according to intentions. It is important that a pilgrim ensures that he performs all the above-mentioned acts to the best of his ability because missing any of these renders a pilgrim’s hajj invalid.

Marquis Hajj Pilgrims wearing the Ihram

Obligatory Acts of Hajj

Although, opinions vary, the most acceptable position is that there are seven obligatory actions in hajj. These are:

  1. Ihraam at the approved miqaat (hajj stations)
  2. Standing at arafah until sunset for the pilgrim who reached by day
  3. Spending the night at Muzdalifah on the night of the 10th day of Zhul-hajj
  4. Spending the nights of the days of tashreek at Mina
  5. Stoning the jamarat in the right order
  6. Cutting or shaving the hair of the head
  7. Farewell dawaaf (circumambulation)

It is important to note that though these acts are obligatory, leaving any of them does not render one’s hajj invalid, rather an animal sacrifice is required to correct the omission.

Mina Saudi Arabia
Mina Tent City, 5km east of Makkah

Supererogatory Acts of Hajj

These include acts that are not part of the pillars or the obligatory parts. They are known as the sunnah acts. Examples include performing ghusl (ritual bath) before entering the state of ihram, touching the black stone and kissing it, spending the night at Mina on the eighth day of Zhul-hajj, uncovering the right shoulder etc. There is no expiation for leaving these acts and one’s hajj would still be valid. However, it is recommended that pilgrims perform them all the same since the Prophet SAW performed them and we are always enjoined to learn from him as he is our role model as muslims.

One may wonder why the acts performed during hajj are classified. Afterall, a pilgrim is expected to perform hajj as learnt from the Prophet SAW. One of the reasons for the classification is for pilgrims to understand the validity of one’s hajj if an act is skipped or missed for one reason or the other and how to make corrections. This makes knowing the ruling of all the acts performed during hajj mandatory for pilgrims. This also extends to other ibadahs, most especially, salat.

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