Why Hajj is Obligatory Only Once in a Lifetime?

Allah (SWT) has mandated the worship of Hajj upon His believers, which is the fifth pillar of Islam. Allah says, “And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House - for whoever is able to find thereto a way.” (Aal-Imran: 97) Imam Muslim narrated in his Sahih that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “O people! Hajj (pilgrimage to the House of Allah) has been made incumbent upon you, so perform Hajj.” A man inquired: “O Messenger of Allah, is it prescribed every year?” He () remained silent till the man repeated it thrice. Then he () said, “Had I replied in the affirmative, it would have surely become obligatory, and you would not have been able to fulfill it.” From this Hadith, we understand that the wisdom behind making Hajj obligatory once in a lifetime is an ease from Allah upon His servants and not to cause them hardship. Allah says, “Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah: 143)

Hajj is among the most physically exhausting acts of worship and the most expensive ones. It contains most of the heart, body, and psychological worship rituals. Therefore, performing the righteous Hajj carries immense reward. Both Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “(The performance of) 'Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous 'Umrah; and the reward of Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted) is nothing but Jannah.”


Hajj: A Comprehensive Worship

Hajj holds a unique status among the five pillars of Islam. It is sufficient to perform Hajj once in a lifetime, as it includes all acts of worship:


  • It involves the worship of pure Tawheed (monotheism), declaring it to the world as Muslims from all over the world with hearts devoted solely to seeking Allah’s pleasure. Imam Muslim narrated that Jabir ibn Abdullah Al-Tuwaeel said regarding the description of the Hajj of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “then raised his voice, declaring Allah’s unity and saying: 'Labbayk (I am at thy service), O Allah, Labbayk, Labbayk, You have no partner; praise and grace are Thine and the Dominion. You have no partner.'”
  • It involves dhikr (remembrance of Allah), the most beloved form of worship. Allah says, “And remember Allah during [specific] numbered days. Then whoever hastens [his departure] in two days - there is no sin upon him; and whoever delays [until the third] - there is no sin upon him - for him who fears Allah. And fear Allah and know that unto Him you will be gathered.” (Al-Baqarah: 203)
  • Hajj is jihad for women. `Aisha, (the mother of the faithful believers), narrated: I said, “O Allah's Messenger ()! We consider Jihad as the best deed, should we not then go for Jihad?” The Prophet () said, “The best Jihad (for women) is Hajj Mabrur.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
  • Hajj encompasses all forms of worship, including Salah, dhikr, spending, fasting, sacrificial slaughter for the sake of Allah, good manners, and other acts of worship related to the heart.
  • It brings both material and spiritual benefits, as stated by Allah (SWT), “That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. So eat of them and feed the miserable and poor.” (Al-Hajj: 28)


Scholars Opinions on the Sufficiency of Performing Hajj Once in a Lifetime

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has a view on the issue of Hajj being obligatory once in a lifetime. He says: Hajj is a unique worship because it involves physical and financial aspects. Salah and fasting are physical acts of worship, while Zakah is a financial one. Hajj combines both physical and financial aspects, as a person exerts physical effort and also spends money due to travel expenses. Therefore, we see that the Hajj is the obligation where Allah mentioned the ability, “And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House - for whoever is able to find thereto a way.” (Aal-Imran: 97)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said when mentioning the five pillars of Islam, “Whoever can bear the way.” This is because every individual is capable of performing Salah or fasting, but not everyone is capable of going to Hajj. Thus, out of Allah's mercy, He made it obligatory only once in a lifetime, for Allah does not want to burden His servants beyond their capability, as the obligation in Islam is according to each individual’s ability. As stated in the Quran, “Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.” (Al-Baqarah: 286) (1)

Regarding the question of whether it is preferable to perform Hajj and Umrah repeatedly or to perform them once and donate money instead, Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid responds: As for the obligation, Hajj is only obligatory once in a lifetime. Abu Hurairah reported: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) addressed us and said: O people, Allah has made Hajj obligatory for you; so perform Hajj. Thereupon a person said: Messenger of Allah, (is it to be performed) every year? He (the Holy Prophet) kept quiet, and he repeated (these words) thrice, whereupon Allah's Messenger () said: If I were to say “Yes,” it would become obligatory (for you to perform it every year) and you would not be able to do it. Then he said: Leave me with what I have left to you, for those who were before you were destroyed because of excessive questioning, and their opposition to their apostles. So when I command you to do anything, do it as much as it lies in your power and when I forbid you to do anything, then abandon it. (Reported by Muslim, 1337)

Ibn Abbas said: Aqra' ibn Habis asked the Prophet (ﷺ) saying: “Messenger of Allah hajj is to be performed annually or only once?” He replied: “Only once, and if anyone performs it more often, he performs a supererogatory act.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood (1721) and authenticated by Al-Albani)

As for preference, the more a Muslim performs Hajj, the better, even if they are able to do it every year. There are numerous encouragements regarding performing Hajj frequently. Abu Hurairah reported: God’s messenger was asked what action was most excellent and replied that it was faith in God and His messenger. He was asked what came next and replied that it was jihad in God’s path. He was asked what came next and replied that it was a pilgrimage which was accepted. (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Abu Hurairah also reported: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah's pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud reported God’s messenger as saying, “Make the hajj and the ‘umra follow one another closely, for they remove poverty and sins as a blacksmith’s bellows remove impurities from iron, gold and silver; and a hajja which is accepted gets no less a reward than paradise.” (Reported by Tirmidhi (810), Nasa'i (2631), and authenticated by Al-Albani (1200)).

Hajj is one of the acts of worship that carries mysteries beyond human comprehension. Allah has ordained it for reasons, some of which are apparent to us, while others remain beyond our understanding. However, what is imperative, whether we comprehend them or not, is to submit to the commands of Allah and execute His orders, believing that they are beneficial for humans in this world and the Hereafter.



  • Taken from one of the episodes of the “Islam and Life” program on the Al-Jazeera channel and on the page of the Sheikh, may Allah have mercy on him.

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