Linguistically, Umrah means to visit a particular place. In terms of Shariah, Umrah comprises of passing the Miqat in the state of Ihram, performing Tawaf of the Kaaba, doing Sa’i of Safa and Marwah and carrying out Halq (shaving) or Taqsir (shortening) of the hair.
Umrah can be performed throughout the year, except during the days of Hajj which takes place between the 9th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah. The rites carried out during Umrah also form an integral part of Hajj itself.
Obligation of Umrah
Rasulullah ﷺ performed Umrah four times during his life. There is a difference of opinion among the four Sunni Madhahib (schools of thought) as to whether performing Umrah at least once in a person’s lifetime is compulsory or not.
According to the Hanafi Madhhab and the Maliki Madhhab, Umrah is not Fardh (obligatory), but it is considered a Sunnah Mu’akkadah (emphasised Sunnah). On the other hand, the performance of Umrah is considered Fardh according to the Shafi’i Madhhab and the Hanbali Madhhab, just like Hajj.
Virtues of Umrah
Although Umrah isn’t an obligation for those who follow the Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought, there is still tremendous benefit and blessing in its performance as mentioned in the following Hadith:
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، أَخْبَرَنَا مَالِكٌ، عَنْ سُمَىٍّ، مَوْلَى أَبِي بَكْرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ السَّمَّانِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا، وَالْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةُ ”.
Abu Huraira رضي الله عنه narrated: “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, ‘(The performance of) Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing except Paradise.'”
[Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari]
أَخْبَرَنَا أَبُو دَاوُدَ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو عَتَّابٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا عَزْرَةُ بْنُ ثَابِتٍ، عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ دِينَارٍ، قَالَ قَالَ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ تَابِعُوا بَيْنَ الْحَجِّ وَالْعُمْرَةِ فَإِنَّهُمَا يَنْفِيَانِ الْفَقْرَ وَالذُّنُوبَ كَمَا يَنْفِي الْكِيرُ خَبَثَ الْحَدِيدِ ” .
Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Perform Hajj and Umrah consecutively; for they remove poverty and sin as the furnace removes impurity from iron.”’
[Narrated in Sunan al-Nasa’i]
حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ الْمُنْذِرِ الْحِزَامِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا صَالِحُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ صَالِحٍ، – مَوْلَى بَنِي عَامِرٍ – حَدَّثَنِي يَعْقُوبُ بْنُ يَحْيَى بْنِ عَبَّادِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ الزُّبَيْرِ، عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ السَّمَّانِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ أَنَّهُ قَالَ “ الْحُجَّاجُ وَالْعُمَّارُ وَفْدُ اللَّهِ إِنْ دَعَوْهُ أَجَابَهُمْ وَإِنِ اسْتَغْفَرُوهُ غَفَرَ لَهُمْ ” .
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The pilgrims performing Hajj and Umrah are a delegation to Allah. If they call upon Him, He will answer them; and if they ask for His forgiveness, He will forgive them.”
[Narrated in Sunan Ibn Majah]
Types of Umrah
This refers to Umrah that is performed independently to Hajj and can be carried out at any point during the year, except during the days of Hajj.
Umrah al-Tamattu (Arabic: عمرة التمتع) refers to Umrah that is performed in conjunction with Hajj and is normally carried out in the month of Dhul Hijjah, just before the commencement of Hajj. This Hajj is known as Hajj al-Tamattu and is the most common and easiest type of Hajj that pilgrims tend to carry out.
There are a number of conditions that need to be met in order to perform Umrah. These conditions are exactly the same as those for performing Hajj:
You must be Muslim and know that performing Hajj is obligatory.
You must have reached puberty i.e. you are Baligh.
You must be mentally sound and in full control of your mental faculties.
You must have sufficient expenses to cover travelling, accommodation and all other requirements during the course of your Umrah. You must also have sufficient expenses to support your dependents during your absence.
Being debt-free isn’t a prerequisite, although arrangements for debts to be fulfilled should be made prior to going on Umrah.
You must be physically capable of travelling and performing the rites of Umrah and you must be free from any illnesses or diseases that would restrict you from doing so.
You must not be a slave.
You must have access to and can afford the appropriate means of transport to travel to and perform Umrah. In addition, travelling should be safe i.e. you shouldn’t be in any danger of being harmed during your trip.
Women – the Necessity of a Mahram
You must be accompanied by a Mahram if you’re a woman.
Women – Free From Iddah Period
You must be free from your Iddah period if you’re a woman.
Time for Umrah
Legally, there is no specified time during which Umrah must be performed – it can be performed throughout the year. However, it should not be performed during the days of Hajj.
Although there isn’t a specified time, performing Umrah during Ramadan is deemed very virtuous, as indicated by the following Hadith:
أَخْبَرَنَا عِمْرَانُ بْنُ يَزِيدَ بْنِ خَالِدٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا شُعَيْبٌ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي ابْنُ جُرَيْجٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي عَطَاءٌ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ، يُخْبِرُنَا قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لاِمْرَأَةٍ مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ “ إِذَا كَانَ رَمَضَانُ فَاعْتَمِرِي فِيهِ فَإِنَّ عُمْرَةً فِيهِ تَعْدِلُ حَجَّةً ” .
Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه told us: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to a woman from among the Ansar: ‘When it is Ramadan, perform Umrah then, for Umrah during it is equivalent to Hajj.'”
[Narrated in Sunan an-Nasa’i]