Umrah - Key Information
What is Umrah?
In Arabic the word Umrah is derived from al-i'timar which means a visit. Here it means paying a visit to the Ka'bah, performing Tawaaf around it, walking between Safaa and marwah seven times, and then shaving one's head or cutting one's hair short.
Why should one perform Umrah?
There is consensus among scholars that it is a prescribed worship.
Ibn 'Abbas reported that the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said,
"An Umrah in the month of ramadaan is equal in reward) to performing Hajj"
(Ahmad and Ibn Majah)
(This does not, however, remove from one the obligation of performing the obligatory Hajj)
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said,
"From one 'Umrah to the next is an atonement
for any sins committed in between and the reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing but Paradise."
(Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad)
Umrah before Hajj?
Bukhari has reported from 'Ikrimah bin Khalid that he said, "I asked Abdullah bin Umar about performing Umrah before Hajj, whereupon he said, 'There is no harm in doing so, because the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) himself performed Umrah before the Hajj."
Needless to say that one should give priority to perform one's Fardh Hajj. However if the opportunity arises to perform Umrah and one has not performed Hajj yet, then it is quite acceptable to do so. There are also many other misconceptions about performing Umrah prior to performing Hajj:
Some of the INCORRECT statements some people ascribe to Umrah:
ý “If you perform Umrah in the Hajj months, you must perform Hajj in the same year.”
ý “If you perform Umrah, you must perform Hajj in the same year.”
ý “You are not allowed to perform Umrah in the Hajj months if you are not going to perform Hajj also.”
ý “You are not allowed to perform Umrah in the Hajj months.”
ý “You cannot (should not) perform Umrah only, if you have not performed your Fardh Hajj yet.”
There is no instruction from the Qur'an or the Sunnah that one MUST perform Umrah and Hajj in the same year. There is also nothing to substantiate that you cannot perform Umrah in the Hajj months. This is a belief from the days of polytheism and there is plenty of evidence proving the contrary.
If a person performs Umrah in the Hajj months followed by performing Hajj, the person automatically opts for the Tamattu method of Hajj, meaning that a sacrifice (to THANK Allah for being able to perform Umrah and Hajj) becomes compulsory.
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) performed three Umrahs in Dhul-Qada, without performing Hajj also!
“Qatada said that Anas (Peace Be Upon Him) had informed him that the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) performed four Umrahs, all during the month of Dhul-Qada including the one he performed along with Hajj (and these are): The Umrah that he performed from al-Hudaibiyah or during the time of (the truce of) Hudaibiyah in the month of Dhul-Qada, then the Umrah of the next year in the month of Dhul-Qada, then the Umrah for which he had started from Jiranah, the place where he distributed the spoils of (the battle of) Hunain in the month of Dhul-Qada, and then the Umrah that he performed along with his Hajj (on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage).” (Muslim)
When should one go?
There is no need to defer Umrah or Hajj until later in life. Many Muslims tend to do this, but this is a major error. Go as soon as an opportunity avails itself and go as often as possible if you are by the means to do so. Umrah can be performed as many times in one's life as one is physically and financially able.
If you have performed Hajj or Umrah before and you feel complacent about it, or if you are not convinced about the benefits of Umrah, ponder over the following hadith Kudsi:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudrie, the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said, Allah said:
“Any of My slaves who is healthy and are by the means, and for five years did not visit My house, he is Mahroum*.” (Ibn Hiban & Musnad Abu Ya’laa)
* Mahroum – The direct translation of the word is ‘deprive’. Meaning that a person who is able and does not do so, has certainly deprived himself of something good, which he may regret it on the Day of Judgement.
Should you take children?
Unlike Hajj where it is not recommended to take small children, Umrah is different and it is definitely advisable to take your children to the house of Allah if you are able to afford it.
Umrah in Ramadaan
Ibn 'Abbas reported that the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said, "An 'Umrah in the month of Ramadaan is equal (in reward) to performing a Hajj.'' (Ahmad and Ibn Majah)