Does Hajj Expiate the Major Sins

Reference: Q&A during the explanation of Sunan Abu Dawood

Question: The Prophet – صلى الله عليه وسلم – said in the Hadeeth of Hajj:

“Whoever performs Hajj committing no lustful acts or acts of disobedience, would return [home] like the day his mother gave birth to him (i.e. without sin).”

Some of the scholars used this Hadeeth as evidence that Hajj expiates both the minor and the major sins, so how do you explain this Hadeeth?

Response: It is well known that righteous actions are expiations for minor sins, the major sins[1] however, are not expiated except with repentance. How can Hajj expiate the major sins while a person continues to practice them and hasn’t repented from them?!

Righteous actions only expiate the minor sins, and they expiate major sins with repentance. So a person returns from Hajj like the day his mother gave birth to him with repentance, and not only Hajj, if he continues to practice major sins. Rather, even during Hajj a person may practice sins and prohibitions, so how would he return home like the day his mother gave birth to him?!

This is not the case, and what is intended is that the minor sins will be expiated. As for the major sins, they are not expiated except if a person repents from them. If he repents [from the major sins], he would return home from his Hajj like the day his mother gave birth to him. This is why it was explained in another Hadeeth:

“Jum’ah to Jum’ah, Ramadaan to Ramadaan and ‘Umrah to ‘Umrah are expiations for the sins practiced between them so long as the major sins are avoided.”
Allaah the Elevated says:

{If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden from practicing, We shall expiate your (small) sins, and admit you to a Noble Entrance (i.e. Paradise).} [an-Nisaa: 31]

So the major sins are expiated by repentance, and the minor sins are expiated by righteous actions.

[1] Do you know What is a major sin?

- from Ottawa, Canada. He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, and later the Faculty of Hadeeth in 2003. He currently resides in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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