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Umrah is an Islamic rite and consists of pilgrimage to the Ka‘bah. A set of religious and devotional rites performed in Makkah at any time of the year in a state of dress and condition known as Ihram with the intention of performing certain religious rites there according to the method prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah honour Him and grant Him peace). It has also been referred to in English as the minor pilgrimage andmajor pilgrimage being the Hajj.


Umrah can be performed in few hours whereas Hajj requires 6 days which are fixed from 8th of Zilhijjah to 13th of Zillhijjah. It consists essentially of Ihram (dress and conditions), Tawaaf (i.e. circumambulation) around the Ka‘bah (seven times), and Sa‘ee (i.e. walking between As-Safa and Al-Marwah (seven times) and hair cutting or shaving. It is called minor Hajj since it need not be performed at a particular time of the year and its performance requires fewer ceremonies than the Hajj. It also requires some obligations from the pilgrim until the state of Ihram is ended.


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In Arabic, the word 'Umrah is derived from I'timaar which means a visit. However, 'Umrah in Islamic terminology, means paying a visit to Ka' bah, performing Tawaaf (circumambulation) around it, walking between Safaa and Marwah seven times. A performer of 'Umrah puts off his Ihram by having his hair shaved or cut. 'Umrah can be performed along with Hajj and in other days as well.


'Umrah can be performed during anytime in the year, there is no fixed time for 'Umrah.


Obligations (Wajibath) of `Umrah

  1. Ihram: which is assumed at the Meeqat.
  2. Tawaaf: around the House.
  3. Sa'ee: walking between As-Safaa and Al-Marwah, which consists of seven circuits.
  4. Hair: Shaving or trimming the hair


During 'Umrah, pilgrims do not go to Mina, 'Arafah and Muzdalifah or throw pebbles on the Jamrahs (stone pillars representing devils) or offer animal sacrifice. These rites are only performed during Hajj.


Pillar (Rukn) of Umrah

Pillar of Umrah is the intention (Niyyah).


Two conditions for accepting any worship in the sight of Allah

An act of worship cannot be accepted unless it meets two conditions: 

  1. Sincerity towards Allah (Glory be to Him) alone, i.e., it is done to seek the Countenance of Allah (Glory be to Him) and the Hereafter, and is not done to show off, to enhance one’s reputation or for worldly gain. 
  2. Following the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah honour Him and grant Him peace) in word and deed. Following the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah honour Him and grant Him peace) can only be achieved by knowing his Sunnah 

Hence the one who wants to worship Allah (Glory be to Him) by doing any act of worship – Hajj or anything else – has to learn the teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) concerning it, so that his actions will be in accordance with the Sunnah



Step 1. Ihram

When the one who wants to perform 'Umrah arrives at the Meeqat, it is recommended for him (both man and woman) to take a bath (Ghusl) if convenient, including menstruating women and those experiencing postnatal bleeding. The man perfumes his head and beard but not his Ihram garments. There is no harm in what remains of it after Ihram. There is nothing wrong if it is not possible to take a bath at Meeqat.


Men are to change into their clothing of Ihram while the women only need to make their intention at that time in the clothing they are already wearing. There is no specific clothing designated for women, except that they are prohibited from wearing the Niqaab (face-veil) and gloves. Instead, they may cover their hands with the lower part of their khimaar (head covering), while using the upper part of their jilbaab (outer garment) or a separate piece of fabric to cover their faces by drawing it down, if there is need to do so.


As for men, they must assume their Ihram at the Meeqat by wearing two pieces of fabric called the Izaar and the Ridaa'. The Ridaa' covers the top half of the body, while the Izaar covers the lower half. No other clothing is allowed to be worn in addition to these – no underwear, no pants, no shirt, no turban, no hat, etc. are to be worn.


Then the pilgrim makes the intention at the Meeqat to begin the rites of 'Umrah by entering the state of Ihram. So the first step of `Umrah is the Ihram. The intention is made in the heart, while the tongue recites the opening Talbiyyah, "Allahumma labbayka 'Umrah".


And if you wish, when uttering Talbiyyah, you may state a condition to Allah fearing that which may prevent you from completion of the ‘Umrah whether illness or fear - saying "fa mahillee haithu habastanee" (I come out of the state of Ihram from the place You prevent me from continuing). So if you do that and are then prevented or become ill - then you may come out of Ihram.


There is no Special prayer (Salah) for tying Ihram but in Zulhulaifah (Meeqat of madina), to offer 2 rakah salah is Mustahab. It is not Ihram salah but it is on the basis of the specialty of this place (Sunan abu Dawood). However if somebody intends to tie the Ihram after Fardh salah, it is permissible, because its a Sunnah of our Prophet (May Allah honour Him and grant Him peace). Then recite the Talbiyyah: "labbayk Allahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk, innal-hamda wan-ni'mata laka wal-mulk, laa shareeka laka" loudly (“In response to your call O Allah I perform ‘Umrah, here I am O Allah. In response to Your call. You have no partner. In response to Your call. All Praise and Blessings, and the Ownership of all that You created is Yours (alone). You have no partner”). And other authentic duas (supplications) are: labbaika ilahal haq, Labbaika zalma'arij, Labbaika zal fawazil andLabbaik wasaadaik walkairu biyadaikwarragabaau Ilaika wal amal. Upon arriving at the Makkah, stop reciting the Talbiyyah.


Step 2. Tawaaf

Upon arriving at the sacred Masjid (Masjid-ul-Haram) in Makkah (Al-Masjid Al-Haraam), you should enter with your right foot and say: "Bismillaah, Allahumma Salli 'Alaa Muhammad, Allahumma Ighfirli waftahli Abwaaba Rahmatik. (In the name of Allah! O Allah! Exalt the mention of your Messenger. O Allah! Forgive my sins, and open the gates of Your mercy for me)."


You can read the following duas also:

(Allahumma salli ala muhammadiw wasallim Allahummaftahly Abwaba rahmatik)

(Auzubillahil azeem wabiwjhihilkareem wasultanihilqadeem minasshaitannirajeem)

(Bismillahi wassalamu Ala rasoolillah Allahummagfirly zunoobi waftahly abwaba rahmatik). And while leaving the Masjid-ul-Haram , read this Dua'a : Bismillahi wassalamu ala Rasoolillahi Allahummagfirly zunooby waftahly abwaba fazlik (Ibn-Majah). You should enter in a manner expressing humility and gratitude to the blessings He, Almighty, conferred upon you.


At the first sight of Kaba raising hands and reading of this Dua'a is the Sunnah of Sahabi Allahumma Antassalam waminkassalam fahayyina Rabbana bisslam (Musnad Ash-Shaafai Sahih).


Then approach the Black Stone, touch it with your right hand and kiss it. If this isn't possible, you should face the Black Stone and point to it. Don’t push and shove, causing harm and being harmed by other people. When touching the Stone, the following is said: "Bismil-laah, Allahu Akbar" (In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest) or "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the Greatest).


A pilgrim must walk, keeping the Ka'bah on his left i.e., Tawaaf in anti-clockwise direction . When you reach the Yamaani corner touch it with your right hand, if possible, but do not kiss it, and say: "Bismil-laahi wa Allahu Akbar". If this is difficult for you, then go on performing Tawaaf without touching it, pointing at it or even saying "Allahu Akbar" because this was not narrated from the Prophet on the other hand whenever you reach or are parallel to the black stone, touch it with your right hand, kiss it and say, "Bismillaah Allahu Akbar", if it is not possible then it is enough to point at it and say, "Bismillaah, Allahu Akbar".


During this Tawaaf it is preferred for a man to do two things:

  1. Al-Idhtibaa' from the beginning of Tawaaf until the end, which is placing the middle of one's Redaa' under the right arm and the ends of it over the left shoulder. When you are finished performing Tawaaf, you may return your Reda' to its original state because the time for Al-Idhtibaa' is only during Tawaaf.
  2. Ar-Raml during the first three circuits only. Ar-Raml means speeding up one's pace with small steps.


Make supplication from your heart, for that which will benefit you. Recite whatever you wish, supplicate to Allah by asking for good, recite the Quran, anything you wish. There are no specific statements or supplications to be recited during the Tawaaf that are authentically established in the Sunnah. However it is recommended to say between the two corners during each circumbulance as it is reported from the Messenger of Allah (May Allah honour Him and grant Him peace): “Rabbana aatina fidduniya hasanah wa fil aakhirati hasanah wa qina azaban nar.” "...Our Lord, grant us good in this life and good in the hereafter and save us from the punishment of the Hellfire." Qur’an.Surah Baqrah 2:201


When you complete seven circuits of Tawaaf, approach Maqam Ibraheem (Ibraheem’s station) and recite this ayah (which means): "And take you (people) the Maqam (place) of Ibraheem as a place of Prayer... " Qur’an.Surah Baqrah 2:125


Then pray two short Rak’ahs, as close as conveniently possible, behind Maqam Ibraheem. If it is not possible then you can pray them anywhere in the sacred Masjid. It is preferred to recite during the first Rak'ah the "Surah Al-Kafiroon" Surah 109 and during the second of “Surah Al-lkhlaas” Surah 112 of the glorious Qur’an.


Upon completing the two Rak'ahs, return to the Black Stone and touch it, if convenient.


Step 3. Sa’ee or Sayee

The next stage is to go to Safaa. Upon approaching the foot of Safaa, the following ayath is recited (which means): “Innas-Safaa wal marwata min sha’aairillah” meaning Verily, As-Safaa and Al-Marwah are from the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or 'Umrah of the house (ka 'bah) to perform the going (Tawaaf) between them. And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah is the All-Recognizer, All-Knower. Qur’an.Surah Baqrah 2:158


Then climb unto mount Safaa until the Ka'bah is visible, if possible. Facing the Ka’bah the following is to be said 3 times, and between each time one is to make ones own supplication: "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. Laa ilaaha il-lall-llaahu wadahu la shareeka lahu, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu, wa huwa 'alaa qulli shay'in qadeer. Laa ilaaha il-lall-llaahu wahdahu, anjaza wa'dahu, wa nasara 'abdahu, wa hazamal ahzaaba wahdahu" (Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah alone, Who has no partner. To Him belongs the dominion, to Him belongs all praise, and He has power over everything. He fulfilled His promise, gave victory to His servant, and defeated the confederates alone.)


Then descend and go towards Marwah, running between the fluorescent green lights (for men only), upon reaching Marwah climb upon it if it is possible, and repeat the same procedure as when ascending Safaa except you are not to recite the above-mentioned ayath, because it is recited when ascending Safaa for the first time only. This completes one circuit. Then one continues back to Safaa running between the fluorescent green lights (for men only) - thus completing two circuits.


There are no particular supplications to be recited between Safaa and Marwah. Seven circuits are to be completed ending the last one on Marwah.


The Sunnah is to hurry in the first three Tawaaf (recommended for men not women). This is known as Raml. The last four should be done at ease. Thus, it’s better if the women meet their men at a meeting point after making the Tawaaf.


Key Points to Remember

  1. Start the Sa’ee at Mount Safah.
  2. Always focus on the Ka’aba when making dua’.
  3. It is recommended to make dua three times whenever you reach Mount Safaa and Marwah.
  4. It is not necessary to go right to the top of Mount Safah or Marwah rather any point of it.
  5. During the Sa’ee there is bit in the middle where to hurry is recommended which is called Raml, this for both men and women (women should take care not to expose themselves).
  6. You may continue to perform Sa’ee if you have lost your wudu since the Sahabah (companions of Muhammad (May Allah honour Him and grant Him peace)) were giving the permission to do so. However, you must be on wudu at the start of Sa’ee.
  7. If the time for Salah enters while performing Sa’ee, then break away to pray Salah and then continue from the last full cycle that you stopped at.
  8. The last Sa'ee (i.e. the 7th one) should finish on Mount Marwah.


Step 4. Hair

When a person completes seven circuits (of sa’ee) he should shave his head if he is a man, or cut some of his hair. If he shaves his head he must shave his entire head, and if he cuts his hair he must cut from all over his head. Shaving is better than cutting because the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah honour Him and grant Him peace) made dua three times for those who shaved their heads and once for those who cut their hair. Sahih Al Muslim, 1303


And Women should shorten their hair by a finger-tips length from the end.


With these actions, ‘Umrah have now been completed. So ‘Umrah consists of Ihram, Tawaaf, sa’ee and shaving the head or cutting the hair.


Umrah in Ramadan being equivalent to Hajj

The Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Honour Him and Grant Him peace) himself insisted on the importance of the performance of Umrah during the sacred month of Ramadan for that month has got various virtues


Ibn Abbas(R) said: The Messenger of Allah (May Allah Honour Him and Grant Him peace) said to a woman from among the Ansaar – Ibn Abbas(R) mentioned her name but I forgot it – “What kept you from performing Hajj with us?” She said: We only have two camels and the father of her son and her son had gone for Hajj on one camel, and he left us the other camel so that we could carry water on it. He said: “When Ramadan comes, go for Umrah, for Umrah in (that month) is equivalent to Hajj.” Sahih Al Bukhari 1782 and Sahih Al Muslim 1256


The view of the scholars and others, that the virtue mentioned in this hadeeth is general in meaning and applies to everyone who performs Umrah in the month of Ramadan. Umrah at that time is equivalent to Hajj for all people, not just for a few people or in certain circumstances.


Ibn Taymiyah (May Allah have mercy on Him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (26/293-294): 

It is well known that what is meant is that your umrah in Ramadan is equivalent to Hajj with me, because she wanted to perform Hajj with him but was not able to. So he told her of what would take the place of that. The same applied to others among the Sahaabah (companions of Prophet) who were in the same position as her. No wise man would say what some ignorant people think, that the umrah of one of us from the Meeqat or from Makkah is equivalent to Hajj with him, because it is obvious that a complete Hajj is better than umrah in Ramadan, and even if one of us does the obligatory hajj it cannot be like Hajj with him, so how can umrah be like that? The most that can be understood from the hadeeth is that the umrah of one of us from the Meeqaat in Ramadan is equivalent to Hajj.


Differences between Hajj and Umrah

Hajj and `Umrah are the pilgrimages of Islam. Hajj is usually referred to as the major pilgrimage or the Pilgrimage, and `Umrah as the lesser one. Both Hajj and `Umrah consist of a journey to Makkah that involves certain rituals such as ihram, circumambulating the Ka`bah, walking between the hills of Safa and Marwah, and shaving or cutting the hair. The above are the basic rituals of `Umrah while Hajj has these and additional rituals, including spending days and nights in `Arafah, Mina, and Muzdalifah - areas neighboring the city of Makkah. Another difference between the major and minor pilgrimages is that there is a prescribed time for Hajj whereas `Umrah can be performed at any time in the year. One more difference is about the time limit, Umrah can be performed in few hours whereas Hajj requires 6 days which are fixed from 8th of Zilhijjah to 13th of Zillhijjah.




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