The Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca that must be carried out at least once in the lifetime of a Muslim. The Hajj occurs on the last month of the Islamic calendar, Dhu al-Hijjah, from the 8th to the 12th day. The Qur’an makes Hajj a religious duty of every Muslim, both male and female.
To establish who is required to perform the Hajj, there has to be a clear understanding of the requirements for making this holy pilgrimage. These requirements are what make the Hajj a valid religious duty for an individual.
The first requirement pertains to religion, in that one has to be a Muslim first and foremost. Non-Muslims have to first become Muslims so that the daily, monthly, annual, as well as the once in a lifetime Islamic duties, successively become requirements.
The second requirement for performance of the Hajj is that one has to have attained the age of puberty. This is so because children before the age of puberty are not held responsible for their actions. If a child performs the pilgrimage, he or she, after reaching puberty, must perform the Hajj again.
The third requirement for the Hajj is that the adult must be mature and of sound mind so that they can understand the significance of the pilgrimage. If one performs the Hajj when not of sound mind, upon regaining sanity the person must perform the Hajj again because people who are mentally ill cannot be held liable for their actions.
The fourth requirement for performance of the Hajj is that the adult must have the physical capability to travel and perform the rites of the pilgrimage. Muslims with physical disabilities are under no obligation to make the pilgrimage unless they have the economic capability of paying others to carry them.
The fifth requirement is financial stability of the adult, in that he should be free of debt so as to ensure that one is able to meet the pilgrimage expenses and also provide for dependents in the time of travel. If an individual has to borrow the money in order to make the pilgrimage, the Hajj ceases to be compulsory. The person should instead stay at home until he is financially able.
The sixth requirement for the Hajj pertains to women, in that a woman performing the Hajj must go with her husband or a Mahram, who is defined as a male whom she cannot marry due to close relationship, such as a father, a son, a nephew, an uncle or a brother. This is because the Prophet (PBUH) forbade women from traveling a distance requiring over 24 hours unaccompanied by their husband or a Mahram. Unmarried women without a Mahram are not obliged to make the Hajj.
For an individual who meets the discussed criteria, performing the Hajj at least once in a lifetime is a requirement.