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Questions & Answers: Disasters at Hajj, Other False Perceptions.

Question Why do so many people die on the Hajj Pilgrimage every year? From what we hear, the pilgrimage seems very difficult.

Answer Yes, people do die at Hajj every year. But for everything that goes wrong with them, the people have themselves to blame for it. The Hajj pilgrimage is decreed by God once in a lifetime for those who can afford it, and it involves visiting some locations to perform the rites. Throughout this unique occasion, the pilgrim should be in an enhanced state of worship glorifying God and seeking His forgiveness. To do this, naturally the pilgrim should be physically comfortable and mentally relaxed.

God wishes for us convenience not hardship, in fulfilling any of our obligations to Him and Hajj is no exception. In the Quran, God has specified four continuous sacred months during which Hajj can be performed. But the local governments restrict it to a few days for their own convenience and most of these days are spent in managing the arrival and movement of approximately 2 million pilgrims. The precious time which could be spent in worshipping God and performing the rites in peace is spent in getting from place to place and dealing exasperatingly with the huge crowds! Eventually, the spirit of the pilgrimage is a bit diluted as the commandments to refrain from misconduct and arguments throughout Hajj are often violated.

For the “stoning of the devil” rite at Mena, only a single day is assigned, with a false rule that all pilgrims must be done by a certain time in the morning. This causes a maddening rush with many trying to take shelter from the sun via a tunnel built along this path. This is where a stampede usually breaks out and most of the deaths take place every year.

If people followed God’s decree to perform Hajj anytime during the four months, everyone would be able to do it in comfort and concentrate on maximizing the opportunity.
[2:197] Hajj shall be observed in the specified months. Whoever sets out to observe Hajj shall refrain from sexual intercourse, misconduct, and arguments throughout Hajj. Whatever good you do, GOD is fully aware thereof. As you prepare your provisions for the journey, the best provision is righteousness. You shall observe Me, O you who possess intelligence.

Question Are all sins forgiven once you perform Hajj?

Answer This is misconception, like a similar misconception that if you are born in a Muslim family you are guaranteed Heaven. In terms of our requirement to worship God alone throughout our lives, the Hajj pilgrimage is just one of our duties. God is forgiving anytime a person decides to repent and reform, and He does not ask people to go on Hajj just to get all their sins forgiven. How can anyone assume a few days of pilgrimage wipes out a lifetime of past or future sins just like that? It is such thinking that prevents people from taking their lives and religious duties seriously. So many pilgrims who don’t even do their daily Contact Prayers, one of the main duties of the religion, think they can fool God by going on Hajj to get all their sins forgiven. The very fact that we have to steadfastly obey God’s commands and continuously seek His forgiveness regardless of whether we perform Hajj or not, shows us that Hajj may not clean the record once and for all. It is entirely up to God when and how much to forgive us for.
[20:82] I am surely Forgiving for those who repent, believe, lead a righteous life, and steadfastly remain guided.

Question Is it true that people who die on Hajj go straight to Heaven?

Answer It is also incorrect to believe that if you die on Hajj you are assured a place in Heaven. Your fate in the Hereafter depends on the amount you have developed your soul by submitting to God alone, striving in His cause and leading a righteous life. Most people who call themselves Muslims are violating too many of God’s laws. Going on Hajj doesn’t make them righteous overnight and we have already discussed how performing Hajj does not guarantee wiping out of all sins.
[16:32] The angels terminate their lives in a state of righteousness, saying "Peace be upon you. Enter Paradise (now) as a reward for your works." [3:102] O you who believe, you shall observe GOD as He should be observed, and do not die except as Submitters.



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