Hajj vs Charity?
Question asked by .
Answered by Siddiq Bukhary

I am from a poor county but right now I am studying abroad. I am from a middle class family. I have one question regarding Hajj. Last year my father performed Hajj and this year he is going to perform Hajj on behalf of my mother as she is no longer alive. My father pays Zakāh and also gives charity. When I read the Qur’ān, I found charity is most of the time mentioned together with the prayer. Every year, during the rainy season, people die in my country. Because of flood there is no food or shelter and they are very poor. Even during winter season they have no money to buy clothes and many people die. My parents own some land and property; thus pecuniary value of wealth makes it obligatory for them to perform Hajj, but they do not have cash at hand nor do we get much income from the land and property. This is another emotional issue we have failed to make our father aware of. We ask him of the worth of keeping properties, when we never benefit from them during bad times. My parents say that they are keeping the land for bad times, but whenever they have economic crisis we, their children, support them by the grace of Allah without having recourse to their wealth. We do not want them to face hardship nor do we want to displease them. I asked my father whether he needed any money for his yearly expenditure. He told me he wanted to go for Hajj. I provided most of the cost of Hajj for him last year and again I am doing the same this year within my ability, but I told my father, charity is preferable to me than Hajj keeping in view the situation in my country. I want to show my father respect so I gave whatever He wanted by the grace of Allah.

I feel there is no limit for spending in the way of Allah. In my country, where many people are dying, what deed is more important, charity or Hajj? I read somewhere if a person is eating to his heart’s content and his neighbor is starving then this person is not a believer. Also all people in my country who should pay Zakāh are not paying it. I read some where if Zakāh money is not sufficient for the poor, further amount must be spent for them so that they may live comfortably to some extent. If we hold back, we may be held accountable on the Day of Judgment. I feel Allah knows our intention, then why cannot we spend all our money to feed the poor and help them live a better life instead of going for Hajj? Is not the prayer of a poor person as worthy as Hajj?

I want to spend all my extra money for the poor. I cannot stop crying when I read about them in the papers. But I am still a student and whatever I earn doing my research, I give all to my father and I cannot do anything for the poor. If I love human beings by helping them, am I not loving Allah? If my father gives his extra money in charity, will he be questioned by Allah for not performing H~ajj? Please help me solve this dilemma.


In Islam each and every virtue holds its own importance and one cannot be sacrificed at the cost of the other. Obligations are obligations and they can never be forsaken just for the sake of other virtues. However, as far as optional deeds are concerned, they mostly depend upon personal tastes. This is completely a separate realm where comes the matter of personal preference and preference is always very personal.

I understand and share your concerns about the needy and the poor. These concerns are indeed very commendable but how can you make others think and feel the same, I do not know.

They would obviously think and act according to their education and training. Our duty is just to convey our massage and feelings to them; the rest is up to them.

What you should do is to continue to convey your concerns to your father in a better way. I do not deny that in certain circumstances ‘giving in charity’ is much more important than performing Hajj. But whether such circumstances prevail in the case you present is what I cannot decide. You see this world has always seen adverse times. Suppose, your country is not facing dire circumstances but does this mean that the world is all peace and serene? Of course not. There will be some other region where people will be dying out of hunger or scarcity of clothes. No, I am not implying that we should not give in charity. All I am trying to communicate is that it is only the individual who can decide whether it is time for him to give in charity or perform some other religious obligation. We should play our part by communicating what we think is more befitting. We should however leave the matter to the individual alone to decide.

You tell us that your father pays Zakāh and gives in charity. This means that he is already doing something. Therefore, you should not worry that he will be held accountable for miserliness or whatever.

You say that if a person is eating enough and his neighbour is starving, this person will not be a believer. I very humbly say that he will certainly be a believer though he is ignoring a duty. For this reason, he may be held accountable in the Hereafter. If there are certain needy and destitute people in the immediate neighbourhood of your father, then he must give them preference over Hajj; otherwise the decision is entirely his. All countrymen cannot be taken as one’s neighbours. Our responsibility is limited to our immediate neighbours and for others I do not think we would be asked under general circumstances; however, if a person feels he should spend, he can not only for people of his country but the whole world.

You ask me why we cannot spend all our money to feed the poor and make them live a better life instead of going for Hajj. You surely can spend if you want but I do not think this should be done at the cost of Hajj, if Hajj is obligatory. If the situation is otherwise, then you will have to decide keeping in view the dire need of the people concerned and your ultimate responsibility towards them. Your immediate surroundings are your responsibility and the others will depend upon your list of priorities.

I summarize that both acts, which you have mentioned, are important. The choice depends upon the individual. Since he is well aware of the circumstances, you should communicate to him your concerns and then let him decide what he may. Be thankful for whatever your father does since both acts will bring reward to you as well in the Hereafter.

For Questions on Islam, please use our