The Umrah (Arabic: عمرة) is a spiritual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia that is performed by Muslims. In Arabic, Umrah means “to visit a populated place.” Unlike the more-famous Hajj pilgrimage, the Umrah can be commenced at any time of the year. Umrah is occasionally called Islam’s “minor pilgrimage” or “lesser pilgrimage,” with the Hajj being the “major” pilgrimage. Unlike the Hajj, which is obligatory for able-bodied Muslims who can have enough money to make it, the Umrah is not obligatory, but extremely recommended.
Travel to a miqat. As with the Hajj journey, a Muslim cannot travel straight to the Ka’bah in Makkah to commence Umrah. Nearby Makkah are five miqat, which are superior holy fences that all Muslims duty to pass through before proceeding to their religious duties as hajis. At the miqat, all hajis required to stop and adopt a ceremonial state of purity that must be kept throughout the Umrah. Passing the miqat without assuming this state not allowed — if this is done, the haji must arrive to one of the miqat before commencement the Umrah over. The sites of the five miqat (with their distance and geographical site absolute to the Ka’bah) are:
The sites of the five miqat (with their distance and geographical site absolute to the Ka’bah) are:
- Dhu’l-Hulayfah: 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of Makkah. 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) from Madinah.
- Juhfah: 190 kilometers (118 miles) northwest of Makkah.
- Qarn al-Manazil: 90 kilometers (56 miles) east of Makkah.
- Dhat Irq: 85 kilometers (53 miles) northeast of Makkah.
- Yalamlam: 50 kilometers (31 miles) southeast of Makkah.
- In adding, some Muslim researchers believe it is proper to adopt Ihram in the city of Jeddah, which is not one of the five traditional miqat but is 86 kilometers (53.5 miles) from Makkah and is home to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s full of activity airport. Still, in this case, a supplementary animal sacrifice may be mandatory.
- Lastly, most people who live in Makkah habit a special miqat called Tan’eem which is only about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the Ka’bah.
Adopt the Ihram state of transparency. At the miqat, all haji’s duty to adopt a superior state of spiritual cleanliness named Ihram. Externally, this is obvious by putting on certain special dress. For men, this dress is two singular pieces of unstitched white fabric also called “Ihram,” whereas for females this is usual but loose, conservative dress. Yet, Ihram is more than just a uniform — it’s a spiritual state and a code of behavior that marks the haji’s whole dedication to the obligations of the Umrah.
The state of Ihram prohibits:
- Quarreling, uproar, using inappropriate linguistic or acting violently.
- Display love to one’s partner or having erotic contact (a haji similarly not get married while in the state of Ihram).
- Joking and arrogant behavior.
- Shaving any portion of the body, cutting the nails, and wear scent or perfume
- Wearing a head cover, socks, or close-toed shoes (for males). Females can wear head covers and socks. Sun umbrella are tolerable for both genders.
- Carnage animals excluding in self-protection or in the situation of irritating pests like flies and mosquitoes (in both cases, driving the animal away deprived of assassinate is better).
Narrate the Talbiyyah. At the miqat, the haji narrates a superior tiny prayer called the Talbiyyah. This recital declares the haji’s occurrence to Almighty Allah and adhesives his or her determined to complete the Umrah. Hajis are fortified to repeat the Talbiyyah throughout their Umrah when they have time. The words of the Talbiyyah are:
- Labbayka-Allahummma labbayk, Labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Innal-Hamda wanni’mata laka wal-Mulk, laa shareeka lak!
- In English, this is: “Here I am O Allah! Here I am! Here I am, there is no companion for you, here I am! Confidently, all praise, blessings, and dominion are for You. There is no companion for you!”
If flying, deliberate assuming Ihram before/during your travel to Makkah. Today, Muslims from all over the world make the journey to Saudi Arabia via air travel. Yet, since Saudi Arabia’s busiest airfield is in Jeddah, which is officially within the miqat edge, many Muslims select to adopt the state of Ihram earlier or even during their travel. In this case, the haji had better immerse earlier departure and make sure to change into the suitable apparels for Ihram at some point earlier the plane crosses the traditional miqat limitations.
- It is generally considered better to assume the state of Ihram well before crossing the miqat boundary than waiting until the plane nears the boundary and running the risk of crossing the boundary without becoming pure, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to change.
Proceed to the Ka’bah, narrating Talbiyyah. Once they have assumed Ihram at one of the miqat, hajis proceed to the Ka’bah, the divinest site in all of Islam. Till they reach the Ka’bah and commence to accomplish the rituals of Tawwaf, hajis are fortified to repeat the Talbiyyah to themselves continuously (or as frequently as possible when it is sensible to do so.) Hajis may also proposed their own unique, superior prayers to Almighty Allah or narrate portions of the Qur’an — the specific words you offer aren’t as significant as preserving a solemn, modest, enthusiastic attitude.
Accomplish Tawwaf circumambulation around the Ka’bah. At the Ka’bah, hajis accomplish the Tawwaf — the act of walking around the Ka’bah seven times in a counterclockwise route. Each “circuit” begin and ends when the Black Stone (Hajr-e-Aswad) is on the haji’s right (there is a brown marble line marking this preliminary point.) The haji narrates a small prayer to express the aim to complete Tawwaf before beginning. This prayer is:
- “In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest. O Allah! Having faith in you, confirming the truthfulness of Your Holy Book, fulfilling Your promise and following the Sunnah of Your Prophet (peace be upon him)”.
- After this intention prayer, the haji starts to walk. The first three circuits should be completed rapidly; the next four gradually. While completing the seven circuits, the haji is fortified to touch and kiss the Black Stone each circuit if conceivable (if it is too jam-packed to kiss, it is suitable to kiss the fingers and touch the stone.)
- Men should display their right shoulder (and only their shoulder) by pushing their robes under their right armpit.
Offer praise to God while performing Tawwaf. The Tawwaf is a very superior practice during which Muslims have a better opportunity to express their devotion to God than during their normal life. While finishing the Tawwaf, one’s thoughts should be pure and focused on God. Many hajis choose also to offer verbal praise as they walk. The most common recitals used for this are:
- Labbayka Allaahumma Labbayk. Labbayka Laa Shareeka Laka Labbayk.
“My God, I have responded to You. I have responded to You, and I proclaim that there is no other god besides You; I have responded to You”
- Innal Hamda, Wan Ne’mata. Lakawal Mulk. La Shareeka Lak
“For You alone is All The Praise and All The Bounty, and for You alone is The Sovereignty. You have no partners.”
Make the Say’ee walk between Mounts Safa and Marwa. After the Tawwaf, the haji finalizes another superior Umrah ritual called the Say’ee. The Say’ee includes walking back and forth amongst two small mountains called Safa and Marwah. Starting from Safa, hajis finishes seven circuits, making a total of four stops at each mountain. At each stop, the haji performs the following short prayer:
- Allahu Akbar! (repeated three times) Laa ilaaha illa Allah wahdahu laa shareeka lah. Lahul-Mulku walahul- Hamdu wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shay’in Qadeer. Laa ilaaha illa Allahu wahdahu, Shadaqa Wa’adahu, wa nasara ‘abadahu wa hazamal-Ahzaaba wahdah!
- There is no god but Allah. He is One and has no partner, to Him is the dominion and all praise is due to Him. We are returning, repenting, worshipping, prostrating, and to Allah we are very grateful. Allah is true to His promise, He gave victory to His servant and defeated the confederates all by Himself.
- Other desirable (but not required) behaviors for the Say’ee include walking at a fast step amongst the two green symbols on the side of the track, perform small supplications or interpretation the Qur’an, abstention from talking to others, and reflecting on the Day of Decision.
Have your hair cleanshaven or trimmed and leave the state of Ihram. Afterward the seventh circuit of Say’ee, the main proceedings of the pilgrimage are over. At this point, the hajis at Marwa have their hair clean-shaven or cut as a mark of their symbolic “renewed” or “rejuvenated” state. Men are strongly fortified to have their heads hairless. Trimming the hair is acceptable, but shaving the head completely is better. Women only have their hair trimmed.
- After this hair-trimming, the Umrah is finished and hajis are free from the state of Ihram. They can return to their usual clothes and assume their normal behavior, however they should uphold a devout, modest mindset as long as they are in Makkah.
Book travel arrangements to Saudi Arabia well in advance. Traveling to Makkah can be an suffering, specially during the yearly Hajj, when hajis from all over the world drove to the holy city in massive amount. To ensure you’re able to make it to Makkah without trouble (and get the finest price), book your travel arrangements as early as you can. This also lets you to have some flexibility — if, for some purpose, you can’t make your original Umrah dates, you could still have time to make arrangements for another date.
- To evade the hassle of making travel arrangements to Makkah, many Muslims use the facilities of special Hajj and Umrah travel agencies. For a fee, these agencies will handle the procedure of purchasing tickets and scheduling flights for you.
- While you are booking your Umrah arrangements, you may also want to make arrangements to complete other spiritual obligations while you are near many of Islam’s divinest sites. For occasion, Medina, the second-holiest city in Islam, which encompasses many divine sites, memorials, and mosques, is only about four hours from Makkah by car.
Acquire a Umrah/Hajj visa from the Saudi government. If you don’t have Saudi Arabian nationality, making the Umrah or Hajj needs a valid Umrah or Hajj visa. These visas are supplied by the Saudi government for free, but need a legal passport, up-to-date vaccinations, and a completed application approved by accredited travel agency. For the authorised application form and a list of licensed Umrah travel agencies in The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, visit the official website of the Saudi Embassy at https://eservices.haj.gov.sa/eservices3/pages/TravelAgency/ea.xhtml?dswid=-581
- Note that Umrah visas having validity for 30 days but it may vary accordingly and duration of stay is 30 days — pilgrims must not stay in the Kingdom any longer than this.
Consider appearing Umrah/Hajj conferences in your community. The Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages are main life events for most Muslims. Luckily, they’re almost never ones that must be commenced alone. Ummahs (Muslim communities) around the world mostly offer some sorts of informational events or sessions for those desiring to make their pilgrimage in the future — this will vary from community to community, so dialog to a native imam if you are insecure what options are offered in your community.
- Note that several Muslim communities and Hajj/Umrah travel agencies will also establish pilgrimage groups so that hajis can travel to the blessed city with people from their community that they know. For many, particularly those who are uncomfortable traveling to a far-off country alone or only with one’s family, this is a very better option.
Prepare for the Arabian weather. Except for minor distant parts of the country, Saudi Arabia is a very warm, dry desert. Usually summer temperatures are about 45o C (113o F), though highs of up to 54o C (129o F) are not unfamiliar. In the spring and fall, temperatures are more modest, but still quite warm, while in the winter, low humidity and high wind-chill issues can make the weather astonishingly chilly. In short, the Arabian weather can be very unforgiving, so be absolutely sure to bring proper clothing and accessories.
- In the hot months of the year, lightweight dress that reduces the amount of uncovered skin is essential. Loose, flowing garments that cover the skin and let air to reach it are best — take inspiration from traditional Saudi garb like the Thoub. In cooler months, more conservative clothing may be worn. Be sure to carry a parasol or canopy as head coverings are forbidden during Umrah.
- Keep in mind that, in the dessert, the climate can plummet with twilight, so it’s a good idea to have a few sweaters or other types of warm outfits with you to be safe even during the summer.
- High-SPF sunblock is a must to prevent serious sunburns and skin damage, specifically if you’re fair-skinned. Most skin cancer resources also recommend SPF 15+ sunscreen even for dark-skinned people.
Know what to pack. In addition to your clothing, there are many other prerequisites that are not to forget for pilgrimage. While some may be available from retailers in Saudi Arabia, there’s no assurance. Below is a brief list of must-have items:
- Your Umrah visa — without this, you can’t enter the country.
- Valid passport and proof of identity
- Basic toiletries
- Over-the-counter drugs & pills
- Small bag-pack for keeping track of shoes when entering a mosque
- Ihram fine clothes (for men)
- Prayer carpet/Qur’an
- Scissors, razors, and nail clippers (for pre-Ihram grooming)
- Lots of bottled water (can be purchased in Saudi Arabia)
Author – Muhammad Bilal Khan