Umrah (Arabic: عمرة), sometimes referred to as the ‘lesser’ or ‘minor’ pilgrimage, consists of carrying out a set of rites in the precinct of Masjid al-Haram in Makkah. It consists of four essential practices and can be carried out at any time of the year.
- Meaning of Umrah
- Obligation of Umrah
- Virtues of Umrah
- Types of Umrah
- Conditions of Umrah
- Time for Umrah
- Summary of Umrah
Meaning of Umrah
Linguistically, Umrah means to visit a particular place. In terms of Shariah, Umrah comprises of passing the Miqat in the state of Ihram, performing Tawaf of the Kaaba, doing Sa’i of Safa and Marwa and carrying out Halq (shaving) or Taqsir (shortening) of the hair.
Umrah can be performed throughout the year, although it is disliked to carry out the pilgrimage during the days of Hajj which take place between the 9th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah. The rites carried out during Umrah also form an integral part of Hajj itself.
Obligation of Umrah
The Prophet ﷺ performed Umrah four times during his life. There is a difference of opinion among the four Sunni schools of thought as to whether performing Umrah at least once in a person’s lifetime is compulsory or not.
According to the Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought, Umrah is not Fardh (obligatory), but is considered a Sunnah Mu’akkadah (emphasised Sunnah). On the other hand, the performance of Umrah is considered Fardh according to the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, just like Hajj.
Virtues of Umrah
Although Umrah isn’t an obligation for those who follow the Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought, there is still tremendous benefit and blessing in its performance as mentioned in the following Hadiths:
Abu Hurairah I narrates:
"Allah’s Messenger ﷺ 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.’
[Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari]
Abdullah ibn Abbas I said:
"The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Perform Hajj and Umrah consecutively; for they remove poverty and sin as the furnace removes impurity from iron.’
[Narrated in Sunan al-Nasa’i]
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah I that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
The pilgrims performing Hajj and Umrah are a delegation to Allah. If they call upon Him, He will answer them; and if they ask for His forgiveness, He will forgive them.
[Narrated in Sunan Ibn Majah]
Types of Umrah
There are two types of Umrah:
- Umrah al-Mufradah – this type of Umrah is performed independently to Hajj and can be carried out at any point during the year, except during the days of Hajj.
- Umrah al-Tamattu – this type of Umrah is performed in conjunction with Hajj and is normally carried out in the month of Dhul Hijjah, just before the commencement of Hajj. This particular type of Hajj is known as Hajj al-Tamattu and is the most common and easiest type performed by pilgrims.
Conditions of Umrah
There are a number of conditions that need to be met in order to perform Umrah. These conditions are exactly the same as those for performing Hajj:
- Islam – you must be Muslim.
- Maturity – you must have reached puberty i.e. you are Baligh.
- Sanity – you must be mentally sound and in full control of your mental faculties.
- Financially able – you must have sufficient expenses to cover travelling, accommodation and all other requirements during the course of your Umrah. You must also have sufficient expenses to support your dependents during your absence. Being debt-free isn’t a prerequisite, although arrangements for debts to be fulfilled should be made prior to going on Umrah.
- Physically able – you must be physically capable of travelling to Makkah and performing the rites of Umrah. You should be free from any illnesses or diseases that would restrict you from doing so.
- Transport – you must have access to and can afford transport to travel to Makkah in order to perform Umrah. Travelling should also be safe i.e. you shouldn’t be in any danger of being harmed during your trip.
- The Necessity of a Mahram (women only) – females must be accompanied by a Mahram.
- Free from Iddah period (women only) – females must be from their Iddah period, if applicable.
Time for Umrah
Legally, there is no specified time during which Umrah must be performed; it can be performed throughout the year. However, it should not be performed during the days of Hajj.
Although there isn’t a specified time, performing Umrah during Ramadan is deemed very virtuous, as indicated by Abdullah ibn Abbas I who said:
"The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to a woman from among the Ansar: ‘When it is Ramadan, perform Umrah then, for Umrah during it is equivalent to Hajj.’
[Narrated in Sunan an-Nasa’i]
Summary of Umrah
Below is a brief overview of the rites of Umrah. Refer to the article above for an in depth look at how to perform Umrah.
Purity – Clip the nails, remove unwanted hair under the armpits and navel and trim the moustache.
- Bathe – Do Ghusl (bath) or at the very least, Wudhu (ablution).
- Ihram clothing – Before reaching the Miqat, put on the Ihram. For men, this is two sheets of white cloth. For women, regular modest clothing will suffice. It is recommended to put on the Ihram at the airport before departure.
- Salah of Ihram – Perform two Rakahs of Salah after putting on the Ihram. Recite Surah al-Kafirun (Surah 109) in the first Rakah and Surah al-Ikhlas (Surah 112) in the second after al-Fatiha. Make Dua after the Salah.
Niyyah – Make your Niyyah for Umrah as you approach the Miqat, preferably in the plane. Make sure you remove any clothing that violates the conditions of Ihram. It is recommended to make a verbal intention. This may be done in any language.
لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ عُمْرَة
Labbayka llāhumma ‘umratan.
O Allah, here I am to perform Umrah.
Talbiyah – Recite the Talbiyah:
لَبَّيْكَ اللهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ – لَبَّيْكَ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ – إِنَّ الْحَمْدَ وَالنِّعْمَةَ لَكَ وَالْمُلْكَ – لَا شَرِيْكَ لَكَ –
Labbayka llāhumma labbayk(a), labbayka lā sharīka laka labbayk(a), inna l-ḥamda wa n-ni’mata, laka wa l-mulk(a), lā sharīka lak.
At Your service, Allah, at Your service. At Your service, You have no partner, at Your service. Truly all praise, favour and sovereignty is Yours. You have no partner.
Men should chant the Talbiyah audibly and women should recite quietly. Send Salawat on the Prophet ﷺ and make Dua after pronouncing the Talbiyah.
- To Makkah – Proceed to Makkah while reciting Talbiyah, Dhikr and Salawat.
- Enter Masjid al-Haram – Upon reaching Masjid al-Haram, enter with your right foot, preferably through Bab al-Salam and recite the Dua for entering the mosque.
- Dua at the Kaaba – Keep your gaze lowered until you see the Kaaba. Upon seeing it, say Allāhu akbar. Allāhu akbar. Lā ilāha illa-llāh three times. Raise your hands, make an abundance of Dua and send Salawat on the Prophet ﷺ.
- Idtiba – Men should uncover the right shoulder by passing the upper Ihram garment under the right armpit (Idtiba).
Starting point – Position yourself in line with the Hajar al-Aswad. This is the starting point of the Tawaf. A green light on the wall will highlight this position.
Niyyah – Make your Niyyah for Tawaf. It is recommended to make a verbal intention. This may be done in any language.
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّيْ أُرِيْدُ طَوَافَ بَيْتِكَ الْحَرَامِ فَيَسِّرْهُ لِيْ وَتَقَبَّلْهُ مِنِّيْ
Allāhumma innī urīdu l-ṭawwafa baytika l-ḥarāmi fa yassirhu lī wa taqabbalhu minnī.
O Allah, I intend to perform Tawaf of the Sacred Mosque, so accept it from me and make it easy for me.
Istilam – Kiss or touch the Hajar al-Aswad if you can reach it. If not, gesture towards it from afar. This is called Istilam. To do Istilam, raise your hands to your ears and say Bismi llāhi wallāhu akbar.
Start – Start the first circuit of the Tawaf, making sure the Kaaba is on your left.
- Raml – Men may walk briskly with the chest sticking out (Raml) in the first three circuits. Don’t do this if there is too much congestion.
Dhikr & Dua – You may recite Quran, do Dhikr, make any Dua and send Salawat during Tawaf. Between the Rukn al-Yamani and the Hajar al-Aswad, you can recite:
رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Rabbanā ātinā fi d-dunyā ḥasanatan wafi l-ākhirati ḥasanatan wa qinā ‘adhāba n-nār.
O our Lord, grant us the good of this world, the good of the Hereafter, and save us from the punishment of the fire.
End of circuit – Returning to the Hajar al-Aswad marks one circuit. Start the second by making Istilam of the Hajar al-Aswad and saying Allāhu akbar.
End of Tawaf – Complete seven rounds continuously (unless Salah starts). You will finish having made Istilam eight times in total.
Stop Idtiba – Cover your right shoulder with your Ihram.
Salah of Tawaf – After Tawaf, perform two Rakahs of Salah, preferably in a position where Maqam Ibrahim is between you and the Kaaba. If this is not possible, pray anywhere in the Masjid. Recite Surah al-Kafirun (Surah 109) in the first Rakah and Surah al-Ikhlas (Surah 112) in the second after al-Fatiha. Make Dua after the Salah.
- Zamzam – Drink Zamzam water and make Dua.
- Multazam – If possible, go to the area between the Hajar al-Aswad and Kaaba door (Multazam). Cling to the wall and make Dua. If it’s inaccessible, face it and make Dua.
- Final Istilam – Before Sa’i, it’s recommended to make Istilam for the ninth time.
Sa’i of Safa and Marwah
- Proceed to Safa – Go to the hill of Safa and make Niyyah for Sa’i.
- Dua at Safa – At Safa, face the Kaaba and say Takbir (Allāhu akbar), Tahlil (lā ilāha illā Allāh) and send Salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ. Make as much Dua as possible here.
- Proceed to Marwa – On the way to Marwa, men should quicken their pace between the set of green lights. Women should continue normally.
Dhikr & Dua – Do Dhikr, Dua and Salawat of your own choice as you walk between the two hills.
- Dua at Marwa – After reaching Marwa, make Dua as you did at Safa. This is one lap.
- Return to Safa – Go back to Safa for you second lap.
- End of Sa’i – Repeat this until you have completed seven laps, finishing at Marwa.
- Dua and Salah of Sa’i – Make Dua and performs two Rakahs of Salah in the Masjid.
Halq or Taqsir
- Exit the Masjid with your left foot and recite the Dua for leaving the mosque.
- To leave the state of Ihram and complete your Umrah, you must have you head shaved (Halq) or trimmed by at least an inch (Taqsir).
- Women may only have their hair trimmed.
- There are a number of men’s barber shops outside the Haram.