The permissibility for women and the weak not spending the night at Mina
- What is the ruling for women and the weak from among the pilgrims not spending the night at Mina?
- What is the ruling for commissioning others to stone on their behalf?
Preservation of the self is one of the objectives of Islamic law
The importance of an individual's well-being is reflected in the universal axioms of Islamic law of which one of the most important is that ‘repelling a harm is superior to securing a benefit’. It follows from this that the welfare of Muslims is a fundamental principle in Islamic law and that any conflict of interest needs to be resolved or promoted according to its importance.
Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam
God has made Hajj obligatory only upon those who are able to undertake it. Due to the sanctity of human life, Islamic law has made it a legal duty to preserve the lives of pilgrims. Ibn 'Abbas said, "When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) looked at the Ka'ba, he said, 'Welcome O blessed House! How great you are and how great your sanctity, though the sanctity of a believer is greater in the eyes of God!' " (Al-Bayhaqi).
Spending the night at Mina—a scholarly debate
There is a scholarly debate regarding the obligation of staying overnight in Mina on the three days following Hajj (Ayam at-tashreeq). The majority of scholars from the Shafi'i, Hanbali, and Maliki scholars maintain that it is obligatory while the Hanafis maintain that it is a sunna.
Evidence for the permissibility of not staying overnight in Mina
- The Hanafi luminary, al-Mirghani, said in al-Hidaya: "It is disliked to neglect staying overnight in Mina on the days of stoning because this was something that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) observed [on his Hajj] … In our opinion, if a pilgrim deliberately spends the night at another place, he is not obliged to make expiation for this omission because spending the night at Mina was only legislated to facilitate the stoning for pilgrims; it is not among the [obligatory] acts of Hajj."
- Ibn 'Umar (may God be pleased with them both) reported that 'Abbas (may God be pleased with him) sought permission from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to spend the nights of Mina at Mecca since he was responsible for supplying the pilgrims with water; the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) granted him permission. If it had been obligatory to stay overnight at Mina, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would not have granted him permission. Therefore, it has become known that it a recommendation."
- Imam Malik relates in his Muwatta` through 'Asem ibn 'Adiyy (may God be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave the camel shepherds permission to spend the night outside Mina. He allowed them to stone on the day of Slaughter, to combine two days' stoning on the next day and then stone on the day of their departure.
Staying overnight at Mina not being an obligation—the chosen opinion for fatwa
It was reported that staying overnight at Mina is not legislated for no purpose but for a rational reason, mainly the comfort of the pilgrims due to its proximity to the place where they will stone the next day. For this reason, it is not obligatory. If we add to the above the extreme weariness of the pilgrims, the crowds and the fear of the spread of diseases, then the chosen opinion for fatwa is that it is not an obligation but a sunnah.
A necessary measure for contemporary Hajj
At present it has become necessary to facilitate rulings concerning Hajj since it is only wise to take into consideration the risk of spreading [infectious] diseases and epidemics, thus conforming to the objective of Islamic law of preserving human life. This is especially so in crowded areas and in matters which God has left room for His servants to perform to the best of their abilities.
It is known that obligating pilgrims to stay overnight at Mina along with the other rites of Hajj only increases their exhaustion and compromises their ability to ward off epidemics and fatal diseases which easily spread in crowded areas. Moreover, there is no doubt that women, children, the weak and ill are the most susceptible to such harm, so it is only fitting that the permissibility of omitting the overnight stay at Mina be extended to them especially since all the followed schools of jurisprudence maintain that it is not among the pillars of Hajj.
Commissioning another to stone on one's behalf
It is permissible to stone on behalf of the weak, the sick and women. The basis for this is that it is permissible to make Hajj on behalf of another. This is a dispensation for those who are ill or have an excuse preventing them from staying overnight at Mina.
For this reason, many scholars include grounds other than those mentioned in [classical] texts by interpreting this issue in light of Islam's fundamental principles (in this case facilitating things for the weak and sick) such as those who fear for themselves or for their property, a caregiver, or those who supervise the needs of pilgrims.
Imam al-Nawawi said in al-Majmu' [8/219-20]: "Imam al-Shafi'i and his students (may God have mercy on them) said that a person who is unable to make the stoning himself because he is ill, cannot reach the stoning site or for another reason is to commission another to stone on his behalf."
It is permissible for the weak, the ill and women not to stay overnight at Mina; it is likewise permissible for them to commission others to stone on their behalf. There is no objection to this and they are not obliged to make expiation.
God Almighty knows best.