Every year Allah chooses fortunate Muslims for the honourable journey of Umrah to the holy city of Mecca. If you have been chosen by God, make the most of this Islamic pilgrimage because you never know when you may not get this privilege again.
To derive maximum blessings and bounties, Muslims must perform Umrah accurately.
To ease this task, we have prepared a guide that unveils each step of Umrah in a very simplified way for prospective pilgrims. But before we learn how the minor pilgrimage of Umrah is performed, we need to know the true meaning of this spiritual journey.
What is Umrah Pilgrimage?
Umrah in Arabic means “a visit.” It is considered to be a lesser pilgrimage which comes second to the obligatory pilgrimage of Hajj. This spiritual journey is performed according to the sunnah guidelines set by the holy Prophet pbuh. The pilgrims set out for the Holy Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia where they perform acts of devotion, including Ihram, Tawaf, Sa’ee, and Halq.
Photo by Ömer F. Arslan on Unsplash
Muslims from all around the globe belonging to different races gathering for Asr prayers side by side.
When do I Perform Umrah?
There is no restriction to when you can perform Umrah but many people consider the holy months like Ramadan when it is ideal for performing the holy journey. It brings additional blessings and spiritual rewards from Allah.
Do I Need an “Umrah Visa”?
Yes, citizens of many countries require a visa to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia. The visa application requests you to submit your passport, personal information and a fee. However, Saudi citizens and those of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries don’t need a Visa.
How can pilgrims travel to Umrah?
Now you must be wondering about ways to travel to the sacred state for Hajj and Umrah. Most pilgrims coming to Masjid Al Haram prefer air travel as it is very convenient. The international airlines offer direct flights to the holy cities of Jeddah and Medina. Using buses or private cars pilgrims enter Mecca in a few hours. It can be light on your pocket but will consume your time.
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Time Required for Islamic Pilgrimage Rituals
Keeping in mind that performing Umrah can take a considerable amount of time but there are variations. The time required is entirely up to your personal preferences and circumstances on how much time you want to spend. Some pilgrims choose to spend a few days in Mecca, while others stay for a longer period. An Umrah can take a minimum of three to four days. You should also keep in mind that it becomes a populated place during peak seasons like the Hajj period. It can extend the time taken to perform each ritual.
Where Does Umrah Take Place?
In the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, a minor pilgrimage is performed. The pilgrims gather at the holy Ka’aba, the sacred shrine, and perform a series of common rites, including Tawaf (circumambulation of the masjid al haram starting from Hajar Al Aswad), Sa’i (walking seven times between Safa and Marwa), and Halq. It is important to remember that only Muslims are allowed to enter the city and specific restrictions like dress code requirements, and behaviour guidelines should be considered while performing Umrah Al Mufradah.
How is Umrah Performed?
When Muslims decide to perform Umrah, they need to acknowledge the correct way of performing it. Before we dive into the details, you need to know the basic steps which are required to complete the pilgrimage.
What are the steps of Umrah?
Hajj and Umrah are not acceptable without the state of ihram. There are five Meeqats at which the pilgrims enter the state of Ihram from different countries. Before crossing any one of the Meeqats, the pilgrims are required to cleanse themselves by performing a ghusl or a wudhu. They then have to wear the appropriate attire to perform Umrah and offer two rakats salah Al Ihram.
They stay in this state until their Umrah is complete. It depicts the symbol of equality at the holy site. After entering the state of Ihram, the pilgrims are required to make a niyyah for Umrah. This is an intention made by the believer before performing any act of worship. After making the Niyyah, the pilgrims should recite Talbiyah till they reach the premises of Masjid al Haram.
labbayk allāhumma labbayk alabbayk a lā sharīka lak a labbayka, ʾinna -l-ḥamda wa-n-niʿmata laka wa l mulk alā sharīka laka.
2- Tawaf Al-Umrah
The word Tawaf is of Arabic origin, and it means to circle something. In Umrah, the pilgrims are required to perform seven tawafs around Masjid Al Haram in an anti-clockwise direction. It is important to remember that the state of wudhu should be maintained during the tawaf. Once reached Mataf, male pilgrims are required to uncover the right shoulder while keeping the left shoulder covered. This is observing the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad, Idtiba.
From the eastern corner where the black stone is situated, the pilgrims begin tawaf after making a niyyah.
A pilgrim should try to incorporate the sunnah of Raml as practised by prophet Muhammad while performing the first three rounds of tawaf. It involves walking quickly and lifting the feet forcefully. It is important only to remember Allah while performing the tawaf. A pilgrim should only focus on supplicating and repenting as this is an ideal time for it. After doing seven rounds, you should offer two rakats of prayers anywhere in Mataf. Many seek the Maqam Ibrahim to offer this salah. in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim. After your prayer, head to drink Zamzam holy water from the well within the sacred mosque.
After completing the tawaf, the pilgrims return to Hajar Al Aswad. Pilgrims follow Istilam before heading out to perform Sa’ee. It involves walking seven times between the two hills of Safa and mount Marwa. You should recite verses of the holy Quran as you approach Safa hill.
From Mount Safa, pilgrims are required to walk towards Marwah. The distance between the two is around 50 metres. You can recite truly all praise and supplications to Allah while performing Sa’ee. When you have completed Sa’ee with your seventh walk, you can offer two rakats of deep prayer.
Step 4- Halq, also known as Taqsir
The performance of Halq or Taqsir follows Sa’ee. By this, the pilgrims can exit the state of Ihram. Halq demands a sacrifice of physical appearances by the shaving of a man’s head. Taqsir involves trimming a fingertip of hair. After exiting the state of Ihram, all restrictions come to an end.
Do and don’ts of Umrah
What do we do during Umrah?
There are certain acts highly encouraged during the performance of Umrah. These include reciting Talbiyah, drinking Zamzam, supplicating & repenting, and offering Sunnah prayers after completing Sa’ee . Respect for the Holy Ka’aba and kindness for fellow pilgrims should also be taken care of.
What is forbidden during Umrah?
By entering the state Ihram, you are placed under specific restrictions, as stated below.
- Men are not allowed to shave their heads or faces.
- Cutting nails is not allowed
- Men are restricted from wearing stitched clothes, while women should cover completely except for their faces and hands.
- Any fragrance is not permitted; this may include soaps and perfumes.
- In the state of ihram, sexual activity is also restricted
- You cannot hunt or cut any plant or tree.
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Is Umrah mandatory in Islam?
No, Umrah is not a mandatory practice in Islam. It is an act of worship that Muslims can perform at any time. However, in Islam God has made the Hajj pilgrimage mandatory for able Muslims.
Difference Between Hajj And Umrah: Timing, Duration, Rituals, And More
5 Differences between Umrah and Hajj
- The main difference between Hajj and Umrah is the performance timing. It can be performed all year round, while Hajj can only be performed on specified dates of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah.
- The rituals of Umrah are also simple and fewer in number compared to those of the Hajj, which involve greater complexity.
- The pilgrimage of Hajj is mandatory for all Muslims who have physical ability and those who are financially capable. Umrah is a sunnah hence kept optional.
- Umrah is considered a shorter pilgrimage as it takes less time to perform than Hajj, which can take several days.
- All these factors tend to make Umrah less expensive than the Hajj too.
Umrah and Hajj bring multiple benefits to those who perform it. Umrah means a spiritual journey that brings a pilgrim closer to true Islam by repenting for the sins committed and by deepening their spiritual connection with Allah. It is also believed that countless blessings are showered by God during this act of devotion.
What comes first, Hajj or Umrah?
Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is mandatory. In contrast to this major pilgrimage, Umrah is a lesser pilgrimage. It is obvious that Hajj and Umrah both bring spiritual benefits.
What are the 4 acts of Umrah?
Umrah pilgrimage consists of Ihram, Tawaf (circuits around the Kaaba), Sa’i (walking between Safa and Marwa), and Halq ( shaving the hair).
How long is Umrah’s pilgrimage?
The time taken to complete the Umrah is entirely dependent on the crowd present and your pace of walking. However, to complete an Umrah, a minimum of two hours is required while the pilgrimage lasts for 3-4 days.
Can you do Umrah and Hajj together?
Yes. You can perform Hajj and Umrah together as Hajj-e-Tamattu. However, you are then required to perform Hajj in the month of Dhul Hijjah only.
What are the available umrah tour packages?
If you have planned to perform Umrah, then the Heritage Tours Umrah package is an ideal option. We offer highly affordable rates along with guided lecture tours. Our package also includes hotels of 4* or 5*, breakfast, air-conditioned Transport, Ground Transfers, and even entrance fees.
When can pilgrims go to Umrah?
You can go to Umrah at any time of the year. Unlike hajj, which can only be performed on specified days of the month of Dhul Hijjah, an umrah is an act of worship that can be performed at any time of the year. It is, however, important for travellers to avoid busy days like the days of Hajj.