Muslim World

What Is Umrah? The Minor Pilgrimage

What Is Umrah

What Is The Meaning Of Umrah?

Umrah is a type of Islamic ritual that can be performed by Muslims at any time of the year. It’s done by a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and following Umrah defined steps.

What Is Umrah And How Is It Done?

Umrah is a spiritual journey that Muslims seek to experience at least once in their lives. It’s called the Minor pilgrimage because it resembles Hajj, the major pilgrimage, in some of its rituals, including the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Rituals of Umrah

  • Taking Off From Al-miqat

Before Umrah performers enter the boundaries of Al Masjid Al Haram in Mecca to start the rituals, they must stop at one defined point called Miqat to wear Ihram and make their intention to make Umrah.

You get to pick the closest point to you. The five points (Miqats) are:

  • Qarn-al manazil (As-Sail Al-Kabeer) is a pilgrimage site for pilgrims traveling from or through Najd or Taif.
  • Dhu’l Hulaifah (Abbyar Ali) is a pilgrimage site for those traveling from or through Madinah media.
  • Yalamlam (Sa’adiyah) is a pilgrimage destination for those traveling from or through India, Pakistan, or Yemen.
  • Al-Juhfah (near Rabigh) is a pilgrimage site for those traveling from or through Syria, Morocco, or Egypt.
  • Dhat Irq is a pilgrimage site for anyone traveling from or through Iraq.

In Miqats, you must enter Ihram by taking Ghusl (showering) then wearing white clothes that are free of knots and stitches. You may cut your nails, hair, or beard before entering Ihram as doing so will break your Ihram. Wearing any perfume, like deodorant, is also an example of habits that may violate Ihram.

Then, you perform Niyyah and Talbiyah. Niyyah is the deep inclination to commit an act of worship. While Talbiyah is a special prayer that goes: “Labbayka Allahumma labayk, labayka laa sharika lakaa labayk, enn al-hammda walnemattah laka wal-mulkm laa shareeka lak.”

  • Tawaf: Circumambulation of Kaaba

When you reach Al Masjid Al Haram, you stop reciting Talbiyah and you start Tawaf. Tawaf is the practise of circumambulating the holy Kaaba seven times, beginning with the Black Stone and ending there, with the genuine intention of following Allah’s closeness. Each of the seven circumambulations requires the pilgrim to recite a prescribed dua.

The last circumambulation ends where the first one begins. Then, pilgrims may pray behind Maqam Ibrahim (Ibrahim’s station) and conduct Salat of Tawaf by giving two short Rakaat.

  • Sayyi: Seven Times Back-and-forth Walk Between Safa And Marwa

Following Tawaf, pilgrims walk back and forth (sayyi) between the two hills of Safa and Marwa. They then drink from the Zam-zam well, which Allah gave to Hagar, Ibrahim’s wife, and which continues to flow today.

“Indeed, as-safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah. So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs ‘umrah – there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good – then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.”

(Surah Al Baqarah)

Each round of Sayyi is nearly 450m long. The seventh round will end at Marwah where all pilgrims must stand facing the Holy Kaaba and recite “Subhan Allah”.

Pilgrims may exit the Holy Mosque with their left foot out after giving two Rakaat of Nafl (at any convenient time) in the Al Masjid Al Haram. With this step, Umrah is almost over.

  • Breaking Free from Ihram

Pilgrims will now break free from Ihram by shaving their heads as a sign of alienation from physical appearances and total submission to Allah. In Mina, men should shave their heads or trim their hair, while women should only cut a short strand of their hair.

If you’re looking for a book that can easily explain to you or your child this beautiful journey, we strongly recommend the “We’re Off To Make ‘Umrah” book by Sana Munshey. 

The book simply illustrates every step of Umrah by telling the interesting story of a brother and sister performing Umrah with their parents for the first time. Get We’re Off To Make ‘Umrah online or from the nearest islamic bookstore.

What’s Prohibited In Umrah?

There are some regulations to consider when you’re making Umrah. Allah has forbidden Muslim from:

  • Sexual activity
  • Smoking
  • Swearing
  • Killing animals  
  • Using profane language 
  • Quarreling or fighting
  • Taking oaths
  • Males looking at women. 
  • Women applying make-up, perfume, or any other cosmetics.
  • Breaking Ihram


What Is The Difference Between Hajj And Umrah?

Importance 

Umrah is less important than Hajj because it is not one of the five pillars of Islam and it’s not mendatory like Hajj “Hajj books“. As a result, it is known as the minor pilgrimage. However, it’s still greatly rewarded by Allah as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once said:

“(The performance of) Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing except Paradise.”

(Sahih Bukhari)

Timing 

You can perform Umrah any time of the year while Hajj has its specific days. Hajj days occur every year in “Dhul Hijjah” month in the Islamic calendar.

Duration 

Umrah lasts for a day, when you perform Tawaf and Sayyi then you break your Ihram. On the other hand, Hajj lasts for 5 days, given the fact that it includes more rituals.

Rituals

Umrah rituals are only Tawaf and Sayyi in Al Masjid Al Haram, while Hajj rituals are Tawaf, spending a day on mount Arafat, spending a night at Muzdalifah, Rajm (stoning the devil), sayyi, stoning the devil once again in Mina for three days, then performing Tawaf Al Wadaa.

If you want to know more about the essence of it, here are some recommended book about Hajj: 

  1. 75 Questions and Answers on Hajj and Umrah by Dr. Zahoor Ali Shaikh
  2. The Ka’ba the Centre of the World with Hajj and Umrah by Dr Saad Muhammad Al-Marsafy
  3. The Methodology of Hajj & Umrah by Shaykh Muhammad Salih al-‘Uthaymin
  4. Companion of Hajj: Your Step by Step Guide to Perform Hajj Correctly by Mufti Ikram Ul Haq.