“What is Umrah in Islam?” is the most searched term for Muslims. Indeed, Umrah is an Arabic word that means “going to a populated place.” For Muslims, it is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. There is no time limit for performing it, except for the five days of Hajj which span from the 18th to the 12th Dhu al-Hijjah, the last Islamic lunar month.
There is no restriction in performing Umrah apart from these specific 5 days. Due to the sacred rituals, it is also called the holy journey by every Muslim as this great journey ends with reaching the location of Masjid al-Haram after performing certain rituals. Some scholars believe that when someone takes his first step out of the house towards it, that is when his holy journey has started for him.
2 types of Umrah:
This type of Umrah can be done throughout the year because there is no time limit except for the days of Hajj.
But Umrah-ul-Tamattu is performed only on the days of Hajj but before the rituals of Hajj begin.
The performing method of both types are the same, but the performing time is only different.
Who can do Umrah?
Everyone can perform Umrah, there is no restriction on Muslims. This pilgrimage is for those who can financially bear the expenses of this journey and are physically and mentally healthy. For women, it is necessary to be accompanied by a real Mahram.
The Saudi Ministry has already announced that all people except those under 18 years of age can perform Umrah whenever they want. All of these lists include boys, girls, men, and women. It’s OK to go with any male relative, but it isn’t even required these days. The Saudi government has started issuing Umrah visas to single women.
The Ministry has introduced “women security forces” to encourage women pilgrims for Hajj and Umrah and to improve the quality of facilities. Now, women don’t need to pay extra money to fulfil the condition of Mahram. But this does not mean that a Muslim woman should start trying to adopt the western culture.
To get a guideline on this topic, read this: Can You Go To Umrah Without A Mahram?
How long is Umrah?
The simple answer is only 4 to 5 hours, but this duration is for those who are mentally and physically fit. This stated period may vary for each person if they do not have the same Umrah packages and means to reach Mecca.
Umrah rituals (Tawaf and Sa’i) may increase the amount of time, but reaching Mecca can also be considered in this category.
If we talk in terms of age and gender, this debate will be long. The average time to perform Umrah for a common is 4 to 5 hours.
If some of you want to go into detail on this topic, pay attention here: How long is Umrah?
How many steps of Umrah?
There are 4 stages of Umrah which are performed one by one. The “steps, rituals, and aspects” words for Umrah have the same meaning. These are Ihram, Tawaf, Sa’i, and Halq/Taqsir respectively.
Let’s know each of them:
The first step of the Umrah journey is to put on Ihram. It is a simple garment to cover the human body. It is different for men and women due to different body structures.
The word Ihram is derived from Arabic which means “to make forbidden”.
It is a symbol of purity and equality with Allah which is worn by Muslims before crossing the selected sites during Umrah. After wearing this garment, a person is called Muhrim and the word Muhrim means “one who has forbidden things upon himself”.
Two unstitched white sheets for men are called Ihram. Stitched clothes are Ihram for women. Here Islam allows women to wear normal clothes as they always wear in their daily lives. After wearing it, Muslims are required to offer two rak’ahs of prayer (Nafal).
Tawaf means “walking”, it is the next ritual after Ihram and it is performed in the area of Masjid al-Haram. There is a special method of performing this part of Umrah which starts from a particular corner of the Kaaba and thus the pilgrims complete their Tawaf by going seven times around the Kaaba.
Pilgrims should then offer two rak’ahs of prayer (Nafal) in front of Maqam Ibrahim, which is located a few steps away from the Kaaba.
Here Particular corner means where Hajre Aswad (Black Stone) is.
Linguistically, the word Sa’i means “to walk”. This step is performed in Masjid al-Haram. During this ritual, Muslims have to walk (fast) seven times between the two hills of Safa and Marwah. Seven times mean seven laps starting from one hill and ending at another hill.
It is Sunnah to perform Sa’i without wasting time after Tawaf. Those who reach there do not let go even a moment to earn a reward.
This is the last part or step of performing Umrah and leaving the state of Ihram. Halq and Taqsir are two Arabic words with different meanings. Halq means to shave the entire head while Taqsir means to trim the hair to at least one inch.
- For men, it is preferable to shave the head.
- For women, it is recommended to cut hair up to one inch.
After all four steps, people can complete their Umrah.
If any of you are interested in proper guidance on the steps of Umrah, read this; How to perform Umrah?
As a Muslim, it may be an interesting question for us when our beloved Prophet (PBUH) performed his first Umrah. And how many Umrah did Prophet (peace be upon him) in his life?
Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) performed four Umrah and only one Hajj. A historic event happened at the time of the first Umrah that’s called the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.
If any of you are planning to perform Umrah this year but don’t know when is the best time to perform Umrah? You can read it; Best time to perform Umrah. After reading this, you can easily pick the right time for you and your family.