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GUIDE TO UMRAH

A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Perform Umrah

The lesser albeit sacred pilgrimage of Umrah is a devoted act of worship, based on the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and his Sunnah. It is a visit to the House of Allah, and Muslims can carry it out multiple times at any time of the year. Although regarded as minor than Hajj, Umrah carries significant blessings and holds great value in the eyes of Allah.

There are four rites (or rituals) of Umrah that Muslims must perform for a successful pilgrimage. These are:

  1. lhram
  2. Tawaf
  3. Sa'i
  4. Taqseer or Halq

The following is an overview of each Umrah ritual to help first-time pilgrims understand the sacred journey better and be successful in their pilgrimage.

1. lhram

Ihram is the act of making formal "intention" to perform Umrah. To do this, pilgrims must take a ghusl (bath to wash away impurities) and change into specific clothing. Men must wear two pieces of unstitched fabric (also called Ihram), while women must wear modest apparel that covers the body and head, leaving their face and palms exposed.

Upon taking ghusl and changing into Ihram, pilgrims should perform the obligatory prayers, or two rakats of Sunnah. Next, pilgrims must face the direction of Qibla and officially enter into the spiritual state of Ihram before leaving for the Miqat in Makkah.

At the Miqat, pilgrims must declare their intention (Niyyah) to perform Umrah. You may do this by declaring “Labbayk Allahumma Umratan,” which means “O Allah! Here I am to perform Umrah.”

After this, pilgrims must recite Talbiyah, as it validates their pure intentions to enter into the sacred state of Ihram. The Talbiyah prayer to recite is, “Labbayka Allahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-hamd wa’l-ni’mata laka wa’l-mulk, laa shareeka lak.” Translated, it means, “Here I am, O Allah, here I am. At your service, You have no partner, here I am. Truly, all praise, sovereignty, and blessings are Yours. You have no partner.”

Once pilgrims enter the state of Ihram after reciting the Talbiyah, they are Muhrim.

Prohibitions in Ihram :

2. Tawaf

Tawaf is the next mandatory Umrah ritual, involving circling the Holy Kaaba seven times in a counter-clockwise direction. Each circle of Tawaf begins and ends at the Black Stone (Hajar al-Aswad).

To perform Tawaf, pilgrims must enter Masjid al-Haram with their right foot and be in a state of Wudhu - free from all impurities. If the Wudhu ends at any point during the Tawaf ritual, pilgrims must carry out the ablution again before resuming their Tawaf from where they left it.

At the starting point, pilgrims must make the Niyyah (intention) to perform Tawaf by reciting this intention: "Bimillahi Wallahu Akbar, Allahumma Imanan bika wa tasdiqan bika kitabika wa wafa’an bi ahdika wattaba’an li sunnati nabiyyika Muhammad." Translated, it means, "I start in the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest. O Allah, out of faith in You, belief in your Holy book, in fulfilment of Your covenant, and in the emulation of the Sunnah of Your Prophet."

After this, pilgrims must turn to the right to begin the Tawaf, so the holy Kaaba is on their left.

Men must keep their right shoulder uncovered (Idtiba) during all seven rounds. Also, while performing the first three rounds of Tawaf, men must practise Raml, which means walking fast with purpose while taking forceful steps, mimicking a warrior. They can return to their normal gait after the three rounds.

Kissing, Touching, or Saluting the Black Stone (Hajar al-Aswad) :

It is extremely virtuous to kiss the Hajar al-Aswad, but may be impossible for all pilgrims because of the crowds. Pilgrims must not harm others in their endeavour to reach the Black Stone. Here are the scenarios to follow:

After Completing Tawaf : Follow these steps after you complete your Tawaf.

3. Sa'i

Also written as Sa'ee, Sa'i is the next mandatory step in Umrah, which involves walking between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times. The ritual honours Lady Hajar, the wife of Prophet Ibrahim, when she walked between the hills in search of water for her son, Prophet Isma'il.

To perform Sa'i, pilgrims must return to the Black Stone (Hajar al-Aswad) after completing Tawaf, to carry out Istilam again. Then, they can proceed to the Safa hill first to begin the Umrah ritual of Sa'i.

Pilgrims must make this recitation when approaching the Safa hill: "Inna s-safa wa l-marwata min sha’a’iri llah." It means, "Indeed, Safa and Marwah are the Signs of Allah." Next, pilgrims must recite this dua: "Abda'u bima bad'allahu bihi." It means, "I (pilgrim) begin with that which Allah began with."

These duas can be recited only once at the start of Sa'i, and need not be repeated at the beginning of all seven walking (or running) rounds. However, you can make additional supplications and duas at the start of Sa'i.

Performing Sa'i :

After completing Sa'i, pilgrims should leave the Haram by stepping out with their left foot first. They must also recite this dua while leaving the holy mosque, as was the Sunnah of the blessed Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam): "Bismi Llāhi wa ṣ-ṣalātu wa s-salāmu ʿalā rasūli Llāh. Allāhumma innī as’aluka min faḍlik." It translates to: "In the name of Allah, peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah. O Allah, I ask of you from your bounty."

4. Halq or Taqsir

This is the last Umrah ritual. Pilgrims must perform Halq (shaving the head completely) or Taqsir (trim the hair on the head by at least an inch) to leave the state of Ihram. This completes the Umrah pilgrimage.

It is more virtuous for men to shave their head completely. Women are required to trim their hair from the end, equal to the length of a fingertip. Even pilgrims who have little to no hair are required to run a razor over their heads to complete the final Umrah ritual.

There are many barber shops in Makkah and nearby the Haram that close only during Salah times, so pilgrims can perform Halq or Taqsir without difficulty. Alternatively, they may shave or trim their own hair to come out of the state of Ihram.

Congratulations! Your Umrah is now complete!

Pilgrims are free to change into their regular clothes after leaving the state of Ihram.

If you plan to perform another Umrah, you must go to the boundary of the Haram to enter into Ihram again. A majority of Umrah pilgrims choose to enter into Ihram state at Masjid Aisha, since it's nearest to the Masjid al-Haram. 

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