Part V: Pilgrimage (Al-Hajj)

Chapter 32


         Umrah, like Hajj, means to have intention or to resolve to visit a place or an inhabited place. As a term of Islamic Shariah, Umrah means to visit Bait-al-Allah (Kaabah) in Ihram (pilgrim’s garments) at any time and to perform certain prescribed Manasak (rites) there like Tawaf (circumambulation) of Kaabah and Sai (running) between hills of Safa and Marwah.

         Difference between Hajj and Umrah is as follows:

1)            That Hajj has to be performed in the prescribed months whereas Umrah can be performed throughout the year whenever you want or whenever it is convenient to you to perform it. Umrah can be performed with Hajj also

2)            That in Hajj the number of Manasak (rites) to be performed are more than what one performs in Umrah. In Umrah you put on Ihram, make Tawaf of the Kaabah, make Sai of Safa and Marwah, clip or shave your hair and put off your Ihram and so your Umrah is complete. But in Hajj, besides doing the above rites, you also go to Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalfah for performing some more rites spread over a period of five or six days. Thus Umrah is performed in two or three hours while Hajj takes almost a week. Therefore sometimes Umrah is called Hajj-e-Asghar (small Hajj) and Hajj is called Hajj-e-Akbar (big Hajj).

   Let us now see what the Qur’an and Ahadith say about Umrah:

Verses of the Qur’an

1-            Lo! As-Safa and Al-Marwah (two mountains near Kaabah) are among the signs of Allah. It is, therefore, no sin for him who is on Hajj or Umrah to the House (of Allah) to go around both of them. And he who does good voluntarily, Allah is surely Responsive and Knower. – (2:158)

2-            Perform Hajj and Umrah for Allah.  – (2:196)

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH)

1-            Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: One Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and another Umrah and an accepted pilgrimage has got no reward except Paradise.  – (Bukhari, Muslim)

2-            Ibn Abbas reported that the Apostle of Allah said: Umrah during Ramazan is equal to one pilgrimage (in reward).

3-            Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah made Umrah for four times each being in Zul-Qa’dah except that (Umrah) which was joined with Hajj. The Umrah from Hudaibiyah was in Zul-Qa’dah, the Umrah in the following year was in Zul-Qa’dah, the Umrah from Jeeranah was where the booties of Hunain were divided in Zul-Qa’dah and one Umrah was with his Hajj. – (Bukhari, Muslim)

4-            Abu Hurairah reported: I heard the Prophet say: The guests of Allah are three – the Gazi, the pilgrim and the observer of Umrah. (Nisai, Baihaqi)

5-            Bara’a-b-Ajeb reported that the Apostle of Allah made Umrah twice in Zul-Qa’dah before he performed Hajj. – (Bukhari)

6-            Ibn Masud reported that the Apostle of Allah said: Make Hajj and Umrah follow one after another, because they both remove poverty and sins, just as a hammer removes rusts of iron, gold and silver; and there is no reward for an accepted pilgrimage except Paradise. – (Tirmizi, Nisai, Ahmad)

7-            Abu Hurairah reported from the Prophet who said: He who makes Hajj and he who makes Umrah are guests of Allah. If they invoke Him, He responds to them; and if they beg forgiveness of Him, He forgives them. (Ibn Majah)

8-            Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said: He who leaves his home with the intention of performing Hajj or Umrah or Jihad, and dies on the way, Allah writes for him rewards of one who has performed Hajj or Umrah or Jihad. – (Baihaqi)

9-            The Prophet said: The person who leaves his home with the intention of performing Hajj and Umrah and dies on the way, will enter Paradise without rendering an account whatever; Allah takes pride on those who go round His House. – (Baihaqi, Darqutni)

10-         The Prophet said: Performance of Umrah during Ramadhan is just like performing Hajj in company with me. – (Abu Daud)

Merits and Importance of Umrah

         For a Muslim, Umrah is very important because if he performs it only for the sake of Allah with complete sincerity and devotion, he makes himself eligible for Paradise. The Qur’an, the revealed book of Islam, mentions Umrah at least two times, for the first time asking the believers to complete Umrah and Hajj if they have made intention, and second time asking them to make Tawaf (Sai) of Safa and Marwah if they have come to perform Hajj or Umrah of the House of Allah (Kaabah). The Prophet of Islam in his Ahadith has pointed out many merits of Umrah and enjoined his followers to perform it at least once in their life, and if they can as many times as possible. According to him, Umrah remits all sins committed between it and next Umrah, and performing of Umrah in Ramadhan is equal to Hajj (in reward). He also said that one who goes on Hajj or Umrah is guest of Allah and his prayer is granted and if he asks forgiveness he is forgiven.

What is the Status of Umrah?

         The Qur’an, as stated above says: Accomplish Hajj and Umrah for sake of Allah…… (2:196). Zaid-bin-Thabit has reported that the Prophet (once) said: Hajj and Umrah are both essential. It makes no difference with which you start (Darqutni). Keeping in view this Verse and Hadith and also other Ahadith of the Prophet of Islam, many jurists like Imam Shafai and Ahmad bin Hanbal, Umrah like Hajj is also obligatory once in life. However, in the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa and Malik, Umrah is not obligatory like Hajj, rather its status is that of Sunnat. They rely on a Hadith reported by Jabir that a desert Arab (a Beduin) came to the Prophet and asked: O Messenger of Allah! Tell me whether Umrah is obligatory? The Prophet said: No. But if you perform Umrah, it is much better for you. – (Tirmizi, Ahmad, Darqutni)

         Keeping in view the verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith of the Prophet who has enjoined performance of Umrah and has described many of its rewards, most of the jurists and Ulema hold that Umrah carries the status of a Sunnat-e-Muakkadah and it should be performed at least once in life.

Some regulations regarding Umrah

1-            There is no appointed day or month or time for Umrah unlike Hajj which has to be performed during prescribed months. You can perform Umrah at your pleasure whenever you want or whenever it is convenient for you. The Prophet performed four Umrahs: Three in Zil-Qaadah and once with Hajj. So you can perform Umrah at any time or with Hajj. However, Imam Abu Yusuf holds that Umrah cannot be performed on 9th and 10th of Zil Hajjah or during 11-13 of Zil Hajjah.

2-            Umrah is shorter Hajj as its Manasak are only few: (a) Wearing of Ihram from Meeqaat; (b) making Tawaf of Kaabah;  (3) making Sai of Safa and Marwah;  (4) and cutting or shaving of hair to put off Ihram. But the manasak of Hajj are many as stated earlier.

3-            If you are going for performance of Umrah from a place outside of Meeqaat, you would put on Ihram from the Meeqaat. But if you are living or staying in Makkah, then you can come out of the prescribed limits of Harm and put on your Ihram from Hill (any place outside Harm). The Prophet put on his Ihram from Zul-Halifah in 7A.H. and from Jaaranah in 8 A.H. to perform his Umrahs, while he directed Hadhrat Ayesha to put on Ihram from Tanaeem in 10 A.H. while she was with him in Makkah for the Farewell Pilgrimage.

Procedure of Umrah

         A person who wants to perform Umrah is supposed to do as follows:-

1-            Make intention of Umrah, take purification bath or perform Wudu, and put on your Ihram from Meeqaat, or from your city if you are coming to Kaabah by air. Start reciting Talbiyyah

2-            Enter Masjid ul Haraam through Bab as-Salam, perform Tawaf of Kaabah and stop reciting Talbiyyah at the first Istilam of Hajar Aswad (The Black Stone).

3-            After completion of Tawaf, offer two Rakaahs of Nafl prayer at Muqam-e-Ibrahim (place of Hadhrat Ibrahim). And then drink water of Zamzam to your heart’s content.

4-            Then proceed to Safa and Marwah and make Sai (running between these two hills).

5-            After completing Sai, have your head shaved or the hair clipped or cut (called Halaq and Taqseer respectively). And put off your Ihram. Your Umrah is complete now.

         Above mentioned procedure of Umrah has been presented in brief. You must read chapter No. 34, 35 and 36 for knowing details of all the above mentioned steps.

Is there any small or big Umrah?

         Some people believe that the Umrah which is performed putting on Ihram from the Meeqaat is big Umrah, and the Umrah which is performed from putting on Ihram from a place just outside of Harm like Tanaeem or Jaaranah is small one. However, to use such terms as big or small in connection with Umrah is not correct as the Qur’an and the Sunnah have not used such terms. So there is no big or small Umrah. The reward of Umrah depends on your intention, your sincerity and devotion in performing its manasak and not in the fact that from where you have put on Ihram. Putting on Ihram only shows from where you are coming to Baitullah (Kaabah) to perform Umrah.

         The Prophet, as stated above performed four Umrahs in his life; he put on Ihram for three of them from Zul Halifah and one of them from Jaaranah. He directed his wife Ayesha to put on Ihram from Tanaeem. But he never said which of the Umrah is big or which is small.


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