Umrah and Islamic Pilgrimage

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Umrah is sometimes known as the lesser pilgrimage or the minor pilgrimage, in comparison to the annual Hajj pilgrimage of Islam. It is a visit Muslims take to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, outside of the designated Hajj pilgrimage dates. The word "umrah" in Arabic means to visit an important place.  Alternate spellings include umra or 'umrah.

Pilgrimage Rites

During Umrah, some of the same pilgrimage rites are performed as those performed as Hajj:

  • Wearing of the ihram
  • Tawaf: walking seven times around the Ka'aba
  • Sa'y: running between the hills of Safa and Marwa
  • Shaving or clipping of the hair

However, the other steps of Hajj are not done during Umrah. Therefore, performing Umrah does not meet the requirements of Hajj and doesn't replace one's obligation to perform Hajj. The Umrah is recommended but not required in Islam.

To perform Umrah, one must bathe first if it is convenient; it is not held against those who cannot conveniently bathe, however. Men must wear two pieces of fabric called the izaar and the ridaa -- no other clothing is allowed. Women only need to make their intentions in the clothing they are wearing at the time, although the niqaab and gloves are prohibited. Umrah then begins by making the intention in the heart and then entering Mecca with the right foot first, expressing humility and gratitude and saying, "Bismillaah, Allahumma Salli 'Alaa Muhammad, Allahumma Ighfirli waftahli Abwaaba Rahmatik [In the name of Allah! O Allah! Exalt the mention of your Messenger. O Allah! Forgive my sins, and open the gates of Your mercy for me]."

The pilgrim completes the Tawaf and Sa'y rituals, and Umrah ends with the man shaving his hair and the women shortening hers only by a fingertip's length from the end.

Umrah Visitors

The government of Saudi Arabia manages the logistics of visitors coming for both Hajj and Umrah. The Umrah also requires a visa and travel arrangements through an authorized Hajj/Umrah service provider. There is no set time for Umrah; it can be done at any time of year. Several million Muslims prefer to do Umrah during the month of Ramadan each year.

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Huda. "Umrah." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, Huda. (2021, February 8). Umrah. Retrieved from Huda. "Umrah." Learn Religions. (accessed June 3, 2023).