Meaning of Umrah
Umrah is an Arabic word that means “to visit a populated place”. In Islam, it refers to a pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia, which can be performed at any time of 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. Unlike the obligatory pilgrimage of Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and must be performed once in a lifetime by every able-bodied and financially capable Muslim, Umrah is a voluntary act of worship. However, it is highly recommended in Islam and is believed to bring great blessings and rewards from Allah.
In terms of Shariah, Umrah comprises of passing the Miqat in the state of Ihram, performing Tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba, doing Sa’i (walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah). and carrying out Halq (shaving) or Taqsir (shortening) of the hair.
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.
Before getting changed into the Ihram garments, take care of your personal hygiene by clipping your nails and removing the hair under your armpits and beneath the navel. You should then do Ghusl, a highly emphasised Sunnah for those intending to enter into a state of Ihram. If you can’t perform Ghusl, doing Wudhu will suffice. Men may apply Attar/perfume to their heads/beards, ensuring not to get any on the Ihram garments. This should all be carried out at your place of residence before your flight (assuming you’re flying).
You will then get changed into your Ihram garments which for men consists of two, normally white, clean seamless pieces of cloth. The sheet which wraps around the waist covering the lower body is known as the Izar and the sheet that is draped over the upper body like a shawl is known as the Rida. Sandals shouldn’t cover the heel and ankle. The Hanafi school of thought also stipulates that the top part of the foot should also remain exposed.
Ensure you put on your Ihram attire before crossing the designated Miqat.
You will likely be travelling to Saudi Arabia via plane, so it is advisable to get changed into your Ihram at the airport prior to departure or during a stopover if you have one. Check-in first and get changed in the prayer room or bathroom. Alternatively, you can put on your Ihram in-flight although bear in mind that aeroplane bathrooms are usually very limited in space and there may well be a rush of people intending to do the same thing as the Miqat approaches. If you decide to slip into your Ihram attire on the plane, do so at least an hour before the Miqat is crossed.
You may delay making your intention until the Miqat approaches. Just before crossing, remove any articles of clothing that you may still be wearing that violate the conditions of Ihram such as socks, headwear and underwear.
Women aren’t required to conform to a specific dress code. should be normal modest Islamic dress with a head covering of any colour. Hands and faces must remain exposed although socks may be worn.
It’s Sunnah to perform two Rakahs of Salah before entering into the state of Ihram. This can be performed after getting changed at the airport or in-flight before crossing the providing there are prayer facilities on-board. Observe the prayer with the intention of performing two Rakahs Nafl for Ihram.
Since you’re not yet in the spiritual state of Ihram, the prayer may be observed with the head covered. It is recommended to recite Surah al-Kafirun (Surah 109) in the first Rakah and Surah al-Ikhlas (Surah 112) in the second, although other Surahs may be read. Don’t forget to make Dua after this Salah.
The Niyyah for Umrah should be made at the Miqat or close to it as you move in its direction. Ideally, you should delay making the intention until the last moment so you aren’t restricted by its prohibitions for longer than need be. It is recommended () that you make the intention verbally, as well as reiterating it internally.
Following are three examples of intentions that may be uttered in Arabic:
لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ عُمْرَةً
Labbayka llāhumma ‘umratan.
O Allah, here I am to perform Umrah.
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّيْ أُرِيْدُ الْعُمْرَةَ
Allāhumma innī urīdu l-‘umrata.
O Allah, I intend to perform Umrah.
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّيْ أُرِيْدُ الْعُمْرَةَ فَيَسِّرْهَا لِيْ وَتَقَبَّلْهَا مِنِّيْ
Allāhumma innī urīdu l-‘umrata fa yassirhā lī wa taqabbalhā minnī.
O Allah, I intend to perform Umrah, so accept it from me and make it easy for me.
After making your Niyyah, you must recite the Talbiyah to validate your intention and enter into the state of Ihram. The utterance of the Talbiyah is Wajib according to the Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought. The Shafi’i and Hanbali schools consider it a Sunnah.
The Sunnah method of reciting the Talbiyah is to briefly pause at four places, indicated by the dashes. The prayer is as follows:
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 are Yours. You have no partner.
After uttering the Talbiyah, you will now be in a state of Ihram and be known as a . Make sure you’re well aware of the prohibitions of Ihram and ensure you don’t fall foul of its rules. If a rule of Ihram is violated, Damm or Sadaqah will be required as expiation.
It is recommended to send on the Prophet ﷺ after reciting the Talbiyah and to make Dua for yourself and others. Continue reciting the Talbiyah for the rest of your journey until you reach one of the doors of prior to performing Tawaf.
Haram of Makkah
The Haram of Makkah is a sacred area that extends a number of miles around Masjid al-Haram in all directions. In this area, it is forbidden to:
- Cut or damage grass, trees or any other type of vegetation.
- Harm or kill wild animals. This includes scaring away pigeons and other birds.
- Carry weapons.
- Fight or behave in a way that will violate the sanctity of this area.
Although you’re unlikely to breach one of these rules, keep in mind the sanctity of Makkah.
As you reach the limits of the Haram, constantly recite the Talbiyah, do Dhikr and send Salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ. Recital of the following Dua is recommended upon entering the Haram:
اَللَّهُمَّ هَذَا حَرَمُكَ وَأَمْنُكَ فَحَرِّمْنِي عَلَى النَّارِ، وَأَمِنِّي مِنْ عَذَابِكَ يَوْمَ تَبْعَثُ عِبَادَكَ، وَاجْعَلْنِي مِنْ أَوْلِيَائِكَ وَأَهْلِ طَاعَتِكَ.
Allāhumma hādhā ḥaramuka wa amnuka fa ḥarrimnī ‘ala-n-Nār, wa amminnī min ‘adhābika yawma tab’athu ‘ibādak, wa j‘alnī min awliyā’ika wa ahli ṭā’atik.
Allah, this is Your sanctuary and security, so make me unlawful to Hell-Fire, make me safe from Your punishment on the day You resurrect Your servants; and make me one of Your friends and one of the people who obey You.
After arriving at your accommodation in Makkah, you may want to freshen up or take a rest before making your way to to perform Tawaf al-Umrah. If you decide to take a shower, ensure you don’t use any items that are prohibited in the state of Ihram e.g. scented soap or shampoo. It is recommended you present yourself at Masjid al-Haram as soon as possible.
When you’re ready, decide which of your belongings you want to take with you bearing in mind there are thieves that operate in the mosque.
Entering Masjid al-Haram
It is Sunnah to enter Masjid al-Haram via Bab al-Salam (the Gate of Peace). If you can’t do this, you may proceed through any other door. Step through with your right foot first and recite the supplication for entering a mosque. Either or both of these supplications may be recited:
.بِسْمِ اللهِ، اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ. اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَافْتَحْ لِي أَبْوَابَ رَحْمَتِك
Bismi-llāh, Allāhumma ṣalli alā Muhammad. Allāhumma-ghfir lī wa-ftaḥ lī abwāba raḥmatik.
In the name of Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad ﷺ. O Allah, open for me the doors of Your Bounty.
أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ الْعَظِيمِ، وَبِوَجْهِهِ الْكَرِيمِ، وَسُلْطَانِهِ الْقَدِيمِ، مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
A‘ūdhu bi-llāhi-l-Aẓīm, wa bi-wajhihi-l-karīm, wa sulṭānihi-l-qadīm, mina-sh-Shayṭāni-r-rajīm.
I seek protection in Allah the Tremendous, His Noble Countenance, and His pre-eternal Sovereign Might from Shaytan the rejected.
- Don’t perform Tahiyatul Masjid (prayer for greeting the mosque) if you intend to; your Tawaf will suffice as the “greeting” for Masjid al-Haram.
- If you don’t have the intention of performing Tawaf immediately, you may perform Tahiyatul Masjid.
- In Masjid al-Haram, it is permissible for anyone to walk across those performing Salah. However, their place of prostration should be avoided.
First Sight of the Kaaba
After entering the mosque, keep your gaze lowered until you reach the Mataf area, which is the open space where Tawaf takes place. When you’re ready, with humility, awe and reverence, lift your gaze to set sight on the beatific vision of the Holy Kaaba.
Upon seeing the Kaaba for the first time, raise your hands and make Dua with the utmost concentration and sincerity as this is among those places where prayers are answered. Remember to recite Salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ when making Dua. Umar ibn al-Khattab I narrated:
Dua is suspended between heaven and earth and none of it is taken up until you send blessings upon your Prophet ﷺ.
[Narrated in Sunan al-Tirmidhi]
Recite the following three times:
.اللّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ. اللّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ . لَآ اِلَهَ اِلَّا اللّٰهُ
Allāhu akbar. Allāhu akbar. Lā ilāha illa-llāh.
Allah is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest. There is no God except Allah.
It’s a Sunnah to recite the following Duas:
اَللَّهُمَّ زِدْ أَهْلَ هَذَا الْبَيْتَ تَشْرِيفاً وَتَعْظِيماً وَتَكْرِيماً وَمَهَابَةً، وَزِدْ مَنْ شَرَّفَهُ وَكَرَّمَهُ مِمَّنْ حَجَّهُ أَوْ اعْتَمَرَهُ تَشْرِيفاً وَتَكْرِيماً وَتَعْظِيماً وَبِرّاً.
Allāhumma zid hādhā-l-Bayta tashrīfan wa ta’ẓīman wa takrīman wa mahābah, wa zid man sharrafahu wa karramahu mimman ḥajjahu awi-’tamarahu tashrīfan wa takrīman wa ta’ẓīman wa birrā.
Allah, increase this House in honour, esteem, respect and reverence. And increase those who honour and respect it—of those who perform Hajj or ‘Umrah—in honour, respect, esteem and piety.
اَللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ السَّلاَمُ وَمِنْكَ السَّلَامُ، حَيِّنَا رَبَّنَا بِالسَّلاَمِ.
Allāhumma Anta-s-Salāmu wa minka-s-salām, ḥayyinā Rabbanā bi-s-salām.
O Allah, You are Peace and from You is peace. Make us live, Lord, in peace.
Do Dhikr, make Dua and send Salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ in abundance here. Make the most of this opportunity before you begin your Tawaf, especially if it’s the first time you’ve set eyes on the Kaaba.