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According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia, there will be 2.6 million Muslims completing Hajj in 2023.
We have all seen the sights on TV of those completing the Hajj rituals and it is something naturally that our heart yearns to be a part of.
In recent years though, many of our desires to fulfill this pilgrimage havehas been dampened by the seemingly accelerated costs of Hajj.
Though Hajj is a mandatory obligation only for those who can afford it, in this article we dig deep to understand why the cost of Hajj continues to rise.
(Scroll down this article to see what the costs of Hajj are around the world!)
What is Hajj?
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s a religious pilgrimage within the holy city of Makkah that every able-bodied and financially-capable Muslim is obliged to undertake at least once in their lifetime.
As Allah SWT says in the Quran:
“Pilgrimage to this House is an obligation by Allah upon whoever is able among the people.” (Quran 3:97)
“Call all people to the pilgrimage. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel from every distant path, so that they may obtain the benefits in store for them” (Quran 22:27)
Hajj is a a historical ritual that has lived with us since the time of the Prophet ﷺ. and comprises a series of Hajj rites that allows one to reenact certain actions of Prophet Ibrahim AS and his family. Most importantly, a mesmerising experience that primarily connects a Muslim to his Lord, Allah SWT.
Hajj is therefore an incredibly virtuous act as per the following hadith:
The Prophet ﷺ said "..The reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing except Paradise." (al-Bukhari)
“Whoever performs Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not utter any obscene speech or do any evil deed, will go back (free of sin) as his mother bore him.” (al-Bukhari; Muslim)
Many Muslims are aware of such honourable virtues, which only magnifies their zeal to perform Hajj. Yet, with the rising costs of Hajj, it’s important to understand how restrained we may feel from the ability to experience such a spiritually-uplifting journey.
Why is Hajj so expensive in 2023
The rise in the cost of Hajj can be explained by a number of factors, which include:
1. Price Inflation
Food, Bills, Fuel - it seems everything has gotten more expensive in the last few years and the cost of traveling to Hajj is no exception. According to some reports, the cost of jet fuel has increased by over 82%.
2. Increased taxes
In 2020, Saudi Arabia increased their VAT rate from 5% to 15%. VAT is a common tax applied by governments on products and services. This means the cost of fuel for airline providers, the cost of food by vendors, the cost of accommodation by hotels all increases, which inevitably creeps up the cost of Hajj that we pay at the end of it.
3. Infrastructure costs
Maintaining the pilgrimage is a costly affair. The administration has invested heavily in upgrading and maintaining Hajj-related infrastructure and services. This includes high-speed trains, new roads, advanced crowd management systems, and expanded capacity at the Grand Mosque, Masjid al-Haram. These developments are necessary to enhance the comfort and safety of pilgrims, but they inevitably contribute to the higher costs.
To calculate how long it might take you to save up for Hajj, use the Hajj Calculator tool Wahed have built below!
The Cost of Hajj around the World
With costs rising, you may be wondering how Hajj prices look across the world. We’ve reached out to our readers and asked them to share the cost of Hajj in their local countries. We converted the values into dollars to make it easier to compare, and created the below graphic summarizing the differences.
What do you think about these costs? Does anything surprise you? Let us know in the comments below! Also let us know if you see any inaccuracies and we’ll investigate personally.
Hajj too expensive? No need to worry
If Hajj is too expensive, you can still attain the reward from the holy pilgrimage through various other acts of worship.
Due to the rising costs of Hajj, its easy to feel like Hajj is for the ‘wealthy.’ However, the beauty of Islam is that regardless of our financial backgrounds, there will always be opportunities to gain the same rewards of performing Hajj, so long as we are sincere and have the best of intentions to primarily please Allah SWT.
We can find one of the alternative rewards through the following hadith:
Abu Dharr RA narrated that a group of companions came to the Prophet ﷺ and said:
“Oh Messenger of Allah, the wealthy people will have higher grades and will have permanent enjoyment and they pray like us and fast as we do. They have more money, which they give in charity.” The Prophet ﷺ replied: “Has Allah not rendered for you the ‘Isha prayer in congregation equal to Hajj, and the Fajr prayer in congregation equal to ‘Umrah?” (Muslim)
In a similar situation, Abu Hurairah RA narrated that some poorer people came to the Prophet ﷺ and said,
"The wealthy people will get higher grades and will have permanent enjoyment and they pray like us and fast as we do. They have more money by which they perform the Hajj, and `Umrah; fight and struggle in Allah's Cause and give in charity." The Prophet ﷺ said, "Shall I not tell you a thing upon which if you acted you would catch up with those who have surpassed you? Nobody would overtake you and you would be better than the people amongst whom you live except those who would do the same. Say "Subhanallah", "Al hamdulillah" and "Allahu Akbar" thirty three times each after every (compulsory) prayer." (Bukhari)
Again, these scenarios express the unity of Islam, regardless of financial status, being able to reap the rewards of a holy pilgrimage is a huge blessing.
Moreover, offering Fajr prayer within a congregation and remaining seated in worship until after sunrise is another way to gain the rewards of Hajj. The Prophet ﷺ said:
“He who offers Fajr prayer with congregation and remains seated in the same place while alluring in Dhikr until after sunrise and thereafter offers two rakah nawafils (Ishraq), he will obtain the reward of one Hajj and one Umrah”. (Tirmidhi)
The reward of Hajj can also be attained through attending a mosque to teach and learn. Abu Umamah Al-Bahili RA reported that the Prophet ﷺ said,
“Whoever goes to the mosque, wanting nothing except to teach what is good or to learn, will have the reward of a completed Hajj.” (Tabarani)
It is important to know how blessed we are as Muslims to be able to gain the rewards of Hajj in alternative ways. These opportunities are solely from Allah SWT and His infinite Mercy that He bestows upon us, out of His Will.
The rising costs of Hajj can certainly make us fall into despair even just thinking about it.
However, it is important to have hope that Allah SWT will bless us to perform Hajj one day, so long as we have conviction to constantly make sincere du’a, and take it upon ourselves to save where we can, contributing towards our Hajj funds.
To think good of Allah SWT, is to also know that He will facilitate for us, no matter how financially deprived we may feel. We put in the effort, and leave the ‘how’ to Him.
During the interim of making du’a and striving financially to perform Hajj one day, we are blessed with many other acts that have the same or of similar virtues to Hajj.
Finally, let's take great comfort knowing that Allah SWT is aware of your situation, whether that’s financially, physically or mentally.
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