The Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Meccaperformed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Ḥajj, which has specific dates in the Islamic lunar calendar; in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah. In Arabic, Umrah means “to visit a populated place" In the Sharia, Umrah means to perform Tawaf around the Ka‘bah and Sa'i between Safa and Marwah. This both should only be done after assuming Ihram (a sacred state). Ihram must be observed once traveling by the land and passing through a Miqat like Zu 'l-Hulafa, Juhfa, Qarnu 'l-Manāzil, Yalamlam, Zāt-i-'Irq, Ibrahīm Mursīa, or a place in al-Hill.
Different conditions exist for air travelers, who must observe Ihram once entering a specific hodood of the city of Mecca. It is sometimes called the 'minor pilgrimage' or 'lesser pilgrimage'. The Umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended.
Differences between the Hajj and Umrah
- Both are the Islamic pilgrimages, the main difference is their level of importance and the method of observance.
- Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is obligatory for every Muslim once in their lifetime, provided they are physically fit and financially capable.
- Hajj is performed over specific days during a designated Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah. However, Umrah can be performed at any time.
- Although both share common rituals, Umrah can be performed in less than a few hours where for Hajj more time required with additional rituals.
What is Ihram!
The literal meaning of Ihram is to make haraam (forbidden). When a haji pronounces the Niyyah (intention) of Umrah and utters Talbiyah, certain halaal (permissible) things become haraam for him.
This combined action (Niyyah and Talbiyah) is called Ihram. The two pieces of cloths that a haji wears are figuratively known as Ihram. But the real Ihram is Niyyah and Talbiyah. If a believer wears these two pieces of cloths and do not declare his intention and utter Talbiyah then he/she does not become a Muhrim.