Q. Can I perform the Umrah on behalf of my close relatives, such as parents, grandmother, brothers and sisters who live in India? Is it permissible to support them financially to perform the pilgrimage? Is it permissible to perform these duties on behalf of my deceased grandfather?
A. Offering the Umrah and pilgrimage on behalf of someone else, i.e. by proxy, is permissible to start with. However, we need to look at this very closely, because this permission is sometimes misunderstood.
The pilgrimage and the Umrah are duties that must be offered once in a person’s lifetime, if that person is able to undertake these duties. ‘Ability’ is a condition for the duty to be required. Scholars make it clear that the ability meant here is both financial and physical. Financially, a person must be able to cover all his or her expenses, paying for his transport, food, accommodation and other expenses during the journey, as well as covering the expenses of his dependents at home during his absence. A person who cannot afford to meet these expenses is not bound to do this duty. God says in the Qur’an: “Pilgrimage to this House is a duty owed to God by all people who are able to undertake it.” (3: 97) You see the condition of ability is clearly stated in the verse making the pilgrimage a duty.
The physical ability means that a person should be in a state of health that enables him or her to undertake the journey. It also covers the question of safety. During a certain period, pilgrims were subject to enormous risks posed by bands of outlaws who attacked pilgrims’ caravan, killing some of them and looting their property. However, a person who is too ill to make the journey but meets the condition of financial ability should appoint someone else to do the pilgrimage on his behalf. He pays all the expenses of his proxy, and the pilgrimage is credited to him. The person doing the duty on his behalf is also richly rewarded by God. The only condition is that the person doing the pilgrimage on behalf of someone else must have already done his own obligatory pilgrimage.
When we deal with the reader’s specific questions, we say that his relatives living in India either meet the ability condition or not. If they do, then they should do their own pilgrimage. If they do not have the ability to do these duties, then they are exempt.
He does not need to do the Umrah or the pilgrimage on their behalf. However, he can support his parents to come and do the pilgrimage themselves, paying all their expenses or part of that. If he does it, he stands to earn a great reward from God, far more than he could expect if he did the pilgrimage on their behalf while he is working here in Saudi Arabia. He may invite others as well, such as his brothers and sisters, if he can afford that.
Having said that, I should point out that a person who is invited to do the pilgrimage at the expense of someone else does not have to accept this invitation, even if the one making the invitation is a close relative. This applies even to a woman whose husband is willing to pay for her pilgrimage. She does not have to accept his offer.
As for the reader doing the pilgrimage or the Umrah on behalf of his deceased grandfather, this is a great act of dutifulness, which will earn him, God willing, a very generous reward. He should go ahead and do it.
Problems in Prayer
Q. After the birth of my fourth child, I began to suffer from involuntary discharge of urine, particularly if I cough, or laugh heartily, or with certain movements, as in the case of prostration in prayer. When this happens in prayer, I discontinue and renew my ablutions and repeat the prayer, but it could happen again, causing much inconvenience. Is there a way out?
A. This is a common problem with many women, and with men as well, particularly in old age. There may be a medical solution for it, which means that consulting an urologist could be beneficial. However, the important thing for you is to ascertain that the discharge is urinary, because if it is not urine and it is involuntary, then it may be of a type that has no effect on the validity of her prayer.
In the case of involuntary urinary discharge, the ruling is well known. A person who suffers from this, man or woman, should always have some absorbent material in place, such as tissue paper or cotton to ensure that the impurity does not fall on their clothes. At the time of prayer, a woman removes the tissue paper, or pad, and replaces it with a new one. She then performs her ablutions and starts her prayers as soon as possible, without attending to anything except something that cannot be delayed.
She continues her prayers without interrupting them even though she might feel an involuntary discharge. Her prayer is valid, God willing. She may pray the obligatory prayer and whatever voluntary or Sunnah prayer she wishes. She repeats the procedure when it is time for the next obligatory prayer.
A man who wishes to join the congregational prayer in the mosque does the same, performing his ablutions after the athan is called. He then goes to the mosque. If he has to wait a few minutes for the congregational prayer to start, he may do so.
Arab News Islam 11 August 2003