Also known as the minor pilgrimage, Umrah has great importance in Islam. Its virtues are abundant reason why Muslims travel to the holy city of Mecca in huge numbers to perform it. Umrah is sunnat of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He performed Umrah twice in his lifetime. Umrah can be offered all year round, except for the Hajj days. There is huge reward and blessings of performing Umrah in the holy month of Ramadan.
There is immense reward for performing Hajj and Umrah. The following ahadith of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) indicate the virtues of Umrah:-
"The accepted Hajj & Umrah has no other rewards, except Paradise."
"Follow-up with Hajj and Umrah, as they remove poverty and sins just like the fire separates impurities from silver, iron, and gold."
Once Hazrat Aisha (RA) asked the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):-
"Messenger of Allah is there Jihad for women?"
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) answered,
"Yes, there is jihad upon them, there is no fighting involved in it, Hajj and Umrah."
When a person goes to the house of Allah to worship Him, Allah treats his beloved slave as his esteemed guest. He showers his blessings upon his man in the form of increased strength of Imaan, a purified soul, forgiveness of sins, answering the prayers and prosperity in this world and hereafter. There are many places and steps of Umrah where no prayer goes unanswered by the Lord. It is one of the best ways to get close to Allah and purify our heart from the greed of material world. Moreover, when we perform Umrah, it serves as a shelter from the troubles and miseries of this world. It becomes a source of happiness and success in life. Allah loves the fact that when a believer comes to visit His House, he has spent time, money and made a lot of effort for His cause. Nothing pleases Allah more than this. Hence there is huge reward for performance of Umrah.
There are certain steps and practices that must be followed in the correct way and sequence when we go to perform Umrah. The essential components of Umrah are explained below.
Ihram is not just the piece of cloth that you wear when you are performing Umrah. It is rather a state, in which there are certain rules to be strictly observed. Violations in the state of Ihram can render the whole journey futile.
It is preferable that you perform bath thoroughly before you enter the state of Ihram. When you enter the state of Ihram you cover your body with two pieces of white cloths. The sheet that covers the upper body is known as Rida, while that which covers the lower body is known as Izar. This is for men, whereas women can wear ordinary clothes and cover their bodies as per the law of Shariah. You must egt into the state of Ihram before crossing the designated Miqat. There are five points of Miqat. If you are travelling to Saudi Arabia from some other country it is better that you observe the state of Ihram before boarding the plane.
After wearing the Ihram clothes, you are supposed to offer two rakaats Nifal prayers, also known as Salah al-Ihram. Although there is no compulsion as to which Surah has to be recited, but it is better if you recite Surah al-Kafirun in the first rakaats and Surah al-Ikhlas in the second rakat. Then, declare your intention to perform Umrah by reciting the following words.
"O ALLAH! I intend to perform Umrah, please make it easy for me and accept it from me"
The intention, Niyat must be proclaimed once you are getting closer to Miqat. After making the intention, you must start reciting Talbiyah. If you do not recite Talibyah at least once, your Umrah shall be invalid. Here are the words of Talbiyah that you must recite.
At Your service, Allah, at Your service. At Your service, You have no partner, at Your service. Truly all praise, favour and sovereignty is Yours. You have no partner.
After reciting Talbiyah, you have comleted the formalities required to enter the state of Ihram. Now you have to strictly abide by the compulsions of Ihram. Failure to do so will require you to give Damm or Sadaqah as compensation. These are the prohibitions of Ihram:-
You must ideally recite Talbiyyah all the way to the Holy shrine of Kaabah. When you reach Majid al-Haram, set your right foot first to enter the mosque and recite the following supplication:-
In the name of Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad ?. O Allah, open for me the doors of Your Bounty.
I seek protection in Allah the Tremendous, His Noble Countenance, and His pre-eternal Sovereign Might from Shaytan the rejected.
When you set your gaze for the first time at the majestic Holy Kaabah, it is one of the greatest opportunities of your lifetime to show your gratitude, humility, love and affection towards your Creator. The moment must be utilized in the best way to show reverence to the House of Allah and make supplication with the sincerest of conviction. All the prayers made at this moment are accepted by Allah the Almighty. There are many supplications you may recite. One of the supplications is as follows:-
Allah, increase this House in honour, esteem, respect and reverence. And increase those who honour and respect it-of those who perform Hajj or 'Umrah-in honour, respect, esteem and piety.
Tawaf is the circulation round the Holy Kaabah seven times. You must perform ablution before you begin Tawaf. Males must have their right shoulder bare while they are performing Tawaf. Make intention to perform Tawaf to attain goodwill of Allah.The Tawaf begins from the point where Hajr-e-Aswad is situated. If you are lucky enough to reach Hajr-e-Aswad show your gratitude by kissing it. If you are unable to kiss it, touch with your hands and kiss your hands. If you are unable to reach the Black Stone, you can raise your hands up while having your palms face the Black Stone and then you may kiss your hands. You must be careful not to hurt anyone in the struggle to reach Hajr-e-Aswad, for Allah does not like it when any of His believers is being hurt.
You must have Hajr-e-Aswad on your right and Kaabah on your left hand side while you perform Tawaf. The circuit begins in anti-clockwise direction. You must be careful not to trespass the Hijr Ismail, for if you do that, your circuit will not be counted and you will have to start again.
During the first three circuits men are supposed to act upon Raml which is a way of walking fast, while sticking out your chest. If there is a lot of congestion and it is not possible to walk fast, you may go with the pace of the rest of the people. In no way does Islam encourages causing inconvenience to others. When you reach Rukn al-Yemeni, touch it and say "Allahu akbar". Following supplication can be recited when you are between Rukn al_Yemeni and Hajr-e-Aswad.
O our Lord, grant us the good of this world, the good of the Hereafter, and save us from the punishment of the fire.
When you reach Hajr-e-Aswad that completes your circuit. The last four circuits are to be completed at normal pace. The Tawaf is to be completed in an uninterrupted way. The only possibility of interrupting a Tawaf is if a congregational prayer is about to start. In that case, you must offer the congregational prayer first and resume your Tawaf after completion of the prayer. After completing Tawaf, after two rakat prayer at a place where Maqam-e-Ibrahim is in the middle of the Holy Kaabah and you. If you cannot offer prayer at this place, you can offer prayer at any place in Masjid-al-Haram. It is a great opportunity to make as much dua as possible after completion of prayer.
Now you can drink the miraculous water of Zamzam available at various places around Masjid-al-Haram. You must stand while facing the Kaabah when drinking Zamzam. you can rub the water on your body and face as well. Following is the supplication of drinking
O Allah, I ask You for knowledge that is beneficial, provision that is abundant and a cure from every illness.
After drinking Zamzam you may go to Multazim if you can reach it easily because this place is generally very overcrowded. If you happen to reach Multazim, it is a great opportunity to show your meekness towards your Creator. You must raise your hands above your head and thrust your chest against the wall while clinging to it. It is the place where duas are readily accepted. So plead to your Lord for his mercy when you reach Multazim.
Before beginning Sai, you can do Istilam of Hajr-e-Aswad one last time, as it is sunnat to do so. It would be your ninth Istilam. You may take rest for a while before performing Sai if you are really tired after completing Tawaf, however, if you do Sai immediately it is an act of sunnat. Your state of Ihram shall continue even in Sai. It is most desirable that you perform Sai yourself on your feet, however those who cannot walk for so long such as elderly people may take assistance. Sai begins from Safa and ends at Marwa. There are seven laps to be completed between the two hills. You can make as much supplications as possible when you perform Sai between the two hills. When you perform Umrah there is immense reward for supplicating at each and every step so make most out of this opportunity.
After you complete your Sai offer two rakat nafil in Masjid-al_Haram and make prayers before you leave Masjid-al-Haram. As you step out of the holy mosque, set your left foot first and recite the following supplication:-
In the name of Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah. O Allah, I ask of you from Your bounty.
Shaving your head, also known as Halaq completes your Umrah. This also marks an end to your state of Ihram. There is no compulsion of shaving head. You can also trim your hair by at least an inch which is called Taqsir. However, there is great reward for Halaq.
Hence, your Umrah is successfully completed. Now all that which was unlawful upon you in the state of Ihram becomes lawful. You may wear your regular clothes. Some people go to the city of Madina after performing Umrah to visit the holy mosque of Masjid-e-Nabavi. On the other hand, some people choose to perform another Umrah. In that case, Masjid-e-Aisha serves as the most convenient place from where you can enter the state of Ihram. You may also visit the historical places such as Cave of Hira, plains of Arafat, Jannat-ul-Baqi and other religious sites.