بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Making the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) for a deceased person is the subject of great confusion and lack of understanding on the part of many muslims, including many imams. There is widespread faulty understanding that we can perform the hajj on behalf of any muslim who has died without fulfilling the great ibadah (worship) of hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam (submission to Allah). Allah says:
وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا
And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence)…. (Al-‘Imran 3:97)
Furthermore, when the Prophet (ﷺ) was asked by the angel Jibreel to explain Islam, he answered: “Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger (ﷺ), that you should perform salah (ritual five daily prayers), pay the zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka`bah at Mecca), if you can find a way to it (or find the means for making the journey to it).
The above verse and hadith (Prophetic tradition) clearly state that the hajj is an obligation upon those who are able to perform it, in terms of possessing the necessary health and wealth to do so. Therefore, it is not an obligation upon those who do not have the means to perform it.
As such, it would be a total waste of time, money and effort to perform the hajj for a deceased muslim who was not required to do so. It would be much more beneficial to put that money, time and effort toward something that results in true reward from Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ).
At best, performing the hajj for a deceased person who was exempt from the obligation of hajj, might be accepted as an ‘Umrah (the optional pilgrimage to Mecca outside of the Hajj season) for the living person (supposedly performing it on behalf of the deceased), but certainly not a fulfillment of the obligation of the deceased.
Similarly, it would be a total waste of time, money and effort to perform the hajj for a deceased person, who had the ability to fulfill the obligation, but never intended to do so. This would be analogous to performing all the missed daily prayers on behalf of a deceased person who neglected to fulfill the obligation of the five daily prayers for no reason whatsoever. The hajj performed on behalf of such a person will never be accepted, even if it was performed on his/her behalf a thousand times.
We must all have a valid Islamic reason for not doing what is obligatory upon us. Neglect is not a valid Islamic reason, and therefore, making up the neglected obligation is also invalid (with the exception of neglecting the obligatory fast, which must be made up by fasting 60 days for every day of neglect).
There is, however, a category of deceased muslim for whom hajj can be performed by a living relative, and that is someone who had the ability to fulfill the obligation of hajj, and was known to have intended to do so, but died before he/she could fulfill such obligation.
It was narrated from Ibn Abbas that a woman vowed to do Hajj then she died. Her brother came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and asked him about that. He said: “Don’t you think that if your sister owed a debt, you would pay it off?” He said: “Yes.” The Prophet (ﷺ) then said: “So pay the debt owed to Allah, for it is more deserving of being paid off.”
We are living in a time in which many pseudo-muslim organizations and pseudo-imams have a vested monetary interest in keeping this information from the general muslim public because it will reduce their profit margins.
And Allah knows best….