It should not be forgotten that life is a onetime only blessing bestowed upon human beings and death is an inescapable end obligated by Allah the Almighty for His mortal creation. The time of the coming of death and the number of breaths are all pre-determined in detail. It is an obvious fact that the time of death can neither be postponed nor brought about at an earlier date. When the time comes, it can neither be held up nor brought forward for a single moment. There is no one who can escape from the time of death.
This is why those who have to perform pilgrimage should think about this fact. We should strongly avoid negligence and laziness in fulfilling this act of worship; for there is no benefit of remorse after one dies. Therefore, able believers should seize the earliest opportunity and should not show heedlessness in fulfilling their obligation. Otherwise the following warnings of the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) are very striking and fearsome:
“If someone does not perform his pilgrimage after having the opportunity and acquiring the necessary provisions, ride, and wealth, there is no obstacle for him to die as a Jew or a Christian.”(Tirmidhi, Hajj, 3)
This prophetic warning points out the great loss of those who do not fulfill their obligation of pilgrimage when they are able to do so. Therefore what an unfortunate heedlessness for the able believers to become detached from this act of worship!…
Pilgrimage is obligatory once in a lifetime upon the believers who are able. Pilgrimage more than once is also advised and it brings many rewards. Indeed the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) stated:
“Performing Hajj (major pilgrimage) and Umrah (minor pilgrimage) consecutively lengthens the life and increases the blessings and eliminates the sins just as the bellows eliminate rust from iron.” (Ahmad, III, 446-447)
It is also noted in a sacred tradition that:
“Allah the Almighty says: If My servant does not come to Me once in every four years (or does not perform Hajj or Umrah), even if I have given him health and abundant wealth, he is in fact a destitute one.”(Haythami, III, 206)
As we can see, just like supererogatory prayer or fasting, there is supererogatory pilgrimage, too. One should be careful about the ignorant criticism against performing supererogatory pilgrimage since this may end in with disbelief. Some people think that supererogatory pilgrimage is a waste of money. Such criticism comes from a deep ignorance that has no basis in religion and lacks the true meaning of faith and worship.
Supererogatory acts of worship have been continuous since the first days of Islam. In fact it should be enough of an example to remember that Imam Abu Hanifa performed fifty five pilgrimages in his lifetime. Even though he had many students and numerous responsibilities, he spent about one third of his life on pilgrimage. One can imagine how hard it was traveling from Baghdad to Mecca and Medina on a camel under the difficult circumstances of his time. Due to the fact that the friends of Allah feel the spiritual benefits nowhere but in the sacred atmosphere of these two places, they deemed it a valuable treasure to visit the Messenger of Allah whenever they have a chance.
Faithfully and sincerely performed acts of worship enable the servants to come closer to their Creator Allah the Almighty. Such acts increase the sensitivity of the soul. Allah the Almighty becomes the seeing eyes and hearing ears of such believers. In other words their sight, senses, perception and thoughts turn into the reflections of Divine light.