The word ‘Umrah’ means ‘to visit’, ‘to visit a particular place’ or ‘to intend a journey.’ Visiting the Sacred House of Allah (holy Ka’ba) in a special way is called Umrah. According to Islamic Shariyah, Umrah comprises of crossing the Miqat in the state of Ihram, performing Tawaf of the holy Ka’ba, doing Sa’yee (walking/running) between Safa and Marwa and carrying out Halq (shaving) or Taqsir (shortening) of the hair. Umrah is a non-obligatory event that can be performed by any Muslim at any time throughout the year. Millions of Muslims gather in front of the Holy Ka’ba to perform Umrah every year. Verses from the holy Qur’an refer the significance of Umrah. Allah (SWT) says: “and complete the Hajj and Umrah for Allah…’ (Sura Baqarah: 196). According to another Ayah, Allah (SWT) says: “Indeed, Safa and Marwah are among the symbols of Allah. So whoever makes Hajj to the House (of Allah) or performs Umrah – there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good – then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.” (Surah Baqarah: 158).
Performing Umrah has a great virtue in Islam. It contains many rewards, benefits as well as blessings because it is one of the most important Sunnahs of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Umrah gives us a great opportunity to become the blessed guest of Allah (SWT). When a pilgrim dedicates his time and money to Allah and enters the house of Allah, Allah (SWT) welcomes him with open arms and makes him feel right at home in His house, the Holy Ka’ba. It may be the most exciting benefit of Umrah to be the guest of the Allah. Abu Hurairah narrates that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said – “The guests of Allah are three: The Ghazi (the warrior who fights in Jihad), the Hajj (the pilgrim who performs Hajj) and the Mu’tamir (the pilgrim who performs Umrah).” (Sunan Nasayee).
A Muslim who goes to Makka with pure intentions and performs Umrah for the sake of Allah will be rewarded equivalent to Jihad. A’isha, the mother of believers asked the Prophet whether Jihad was incumbent on women, and he replied, “Yes, Jihad which does not include fighting is incumbent on them. It is the Hajj and the ‘Umrah.” (Ibn Majah). According to another Hadith, The prophet (PBUH) said, ‘The warrior in the foundation of Allah, the pilgrim, and the one who is performing Umrah are all the allocation of Allah. He called them and they answer back, and they will ask of His conferrals, and He will give it to them.’ (Ibn Majah).
Umrah brings a great opportunity to purify A Muslim’s soul. Because, it washes away Muslims’ sins and cleans their bodies and souls from the burden of past transgressions. This is the best reword of performing Umrah. Abu Huraira (Ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “An 'Umrah is expiation for sins committed between it and the next, but a hajj which is accepted will receive no less a reward than paradise.”(Bukhri and Muslim).
Umrah doesn’t only purify a Muslim’s soul and mind, but it also brings lots of worldly benefits and rewords too. One of them is that it removes poverty, increases Rizq (sustenance) and blesses a Muslim with wealth. Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (Ra) narrated that The Messenger of Allah said “Perform Hajj and ‘Umrah, one after the other, for they remove poverty and sins as a blacksmith’s bellows remove impurities from iron, gold and silver; and a Hajj which is accepted gets no less a reward than paradise." (Tirmidhi).
Although Umrah is sometimes considered as ‘minor Hajj (pilgrimage)’ but there are many difference between Hajj and Umrah. First of all, Hajj is the obligatory act of worship that every Muslim who is physically and financially capable are supposed to perform and one of the main pillars of Islam. On the other hand, Umrah is not obligatory (fardh) or wajib, but it is a Sunnah or Nafl (voluntary) act. Secondly, Hajj is performed in a specific time that is fixed by Allah (SWT). Allah, the almighty says: “The Hajj is (during) well-known months, so whoever has made Ḥajj obligatory upon himself therein (by entering the state of Ihram), there is (to be for him) no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj.” (Sura Baqarah: 197). According to this Ayah (verse), Allah (SWT) fixed the days of performing Hajj. The rituals of Hajj are performed over five or six days in the month of Dhul-Hijjah (the last month of lunar calendar), officially beginning on the 8th Dhul-Hijjah to ending on the 13th of the same month. So, it is totally impossible to perform Hajj beyond these days. On the contrary, there are no specific restrictions on the timing or duration of Umrah. It can be performed through the year except the days of Hajj.
The writer is Khatib of Baitus Shafiq Mosque and principal of Baitul Hikmah Academy, Gazipur