Question # 159: Can we do Nafli Umrah/Hajj for our beloved ones/ poor relatives etc. who are still alive?
Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: It is not permissible to perform Hajj or ‘Umrah on behalf of any living person, who is able to perform it; but, in the case of one who is not able to perform it because of old age or sickness for which there is no hope of recovery and if it is the fard (obligatory) Hajj or ‘Umrah, then it is permissible. However, if the Hajj or ‘Umrah is nafil then it is the subject of a difference of scholarly opinion. According to Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, it is not permissible to perform nafil Hajj or ‘Umrah on behalf of a person, whether one is sick or healthy. On the other hand, according to Shaykh Ibn Baaz, one may perform naafil Hajj and ‘Umrah on behalf of a living person, who is unable to do it because of old age or sickness for which there is no hope of recovery.
Next, a person who cannot financially afford to perform the Hajj/Umrah is not obliged to perform it. Hence, it is not valid to perform either Hajj or ‘Umrah on his behalf.
Long Answer: Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “With regard to appointing others to do Hajj or ‘Umrah on their behalf, there is something that, unfortunately, people at present have taken to extremes, that may be invalid according to Islam. That is because there are two reports from Imam Ahmad as to whether it is permissible to appoint someone else to perform a nafil duty on one’s behalf. One report says that it is not permissible for a person to appoint someone else to do a nafil duty such as Hajj or ‘Umrah on his behalf, whether he is sick or healthy. This report seems to be more correct, because acts of worship should be done by a person himself, so that he may attain whatever worship and humility before Allah he can attain. You can see the difference between a man who does Hajj for himself and a man who gives money to someone else to perform Hajj on his behalf. The latter does not gain the benefits of worship such as reforming his heart and humbling himself before Allah. It is more like a financial transaction whereby he appoints someone else to buy and sell on his behalf. If he is sick and wants to delegate someone to do a nafil deed on his behalf, we say that this is not something that is taught in the Sunnah. Rather the Sunnah is to appoint someone to do things on one’s behalf with regard to fard (obligatory) actions only. The difference between fard and nafil is that the fard deed is binding upon a person, and if he cannot do it then he may appoint someone to do Hajj and ‘Umrah on his behalf. But nafil deeds are not obligatory, so it is said: So long as you are sick and you have done the obligatory action, then give praise to Allah for that, and spend the money that you wanted to give to someone to do Hajj or ‘Umrah on your behalf in other ways; use it to help a poor man who has not done the obligatory Hajj yet. That is better for you than saying, “Take this and do Hajj on my behalf,” even if you are sick. As for the obligatory Hajj, people are not negligent about it, praise be to Allah. You can hardly find anyone who appoints someone else to do the obligatory Hajj on his behalf unless he is unable to do it. This is something that is mentioned in the Sunnah, as in the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه), according to which a woman came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, the command of Allah to His slaves to perform Hajj has come when my father is an old man who cannot sit firmly in the saddle. Can I perform Hajj on his behalf?” He said: “Yes.”
Conclusion: There are two reports from Imam Ahmad about appointing someone else to perform a nafil duty on one’s behalf. One of them says that it is not valid, and the other says that it is valid whether one is able or not. But in my view it is undoubtedly more correct to say that it is not valid to appoint someone to do a nafil deed on one’s behalf, whether one is able to do it or not. With regard to obligatory Hajj, the Sunnah says that the one who is unable to do it and has no hope that the situation will change may send someone on his behalf. (Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)
The scholars of the Standing Committee favored the view that one may perform Hajj and ‘Umrah on behalf of a living person who is unable to do them, even if it is naafil. It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah: “If you have done ‘Umrah on your own behalf, it is permissible for you to do ‘Umrah on behalf of your mother and father if they are unable to do it because of old age or sickness for which there is no hope of recovery.”
This was also the view favored by Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him), who was asked: “I want to perform Hajj on behalf of my mother. Is it essential to ask her permission, knowing that she has already performed the obligatory Hajj?” He replied: “If your mother is unable to perform Hajj because of old age or sickness from which there is no hope of recovery, there is nothing wrong with your performing Hajj on her behalf, even if that is without her permission, because it is proven that a man asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) for permission saying: O Messenger of Allah, my father is an old man who cannot do Hajj or ‘Umrah. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Do Hajj and ‘Umrah on behalf of your father.” And a woman asked him for permission, saying: “O Messenger of Allah, my father is an old man and he cannot perform Hajj or travel. Shall I perform Hajj on his behalf?” The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Do Hajj on behalf of your father.” Hajj may also be performed on behalf of the deceased, because of the sahih hadith that have been narrated to that effect, and because of these two hadiths.” (Fataawa Ibn Baaz)
The scholars of the Standing Committee were asked: “Is it permissible for someone to do ‘Umrah or Hajj on behalf of his relative who lives far away from Makkah and does not have the means of travelling there, even though he is (physically) able to do tawaaf (circumambulation of the Ka‘bah)?” They replied: “Your relative is not obliged to perform Hajj so long as he is not able to afford it. It is not valid to perform either Hajj or ‘Umrah on his behalf, because he would be physically able to do both if he was present himself in the holy places. It is only valid to do them by proxy on behalf of one who has died or one who is physically unable to do that himself.” (Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Ghadyaan, Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah)
(The above reply is based on various answers by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.