Called the lesser or minor Hajj because it's not obligatory, Umrah is nevertheless considered commendable because it pleases Allah. This guide to Umrah explains the steps and requirements.
Umrah is similar to Hajj but can be performed at any time. To maximize pilgrimages, believers often perform Umrah during the holy month of Ramadan.
Unlike Hajj, Umrah rituals are shorter and simpler.
These are the essential steps of Umrah:
• Enter into Ihram (state of purity and devotion) by washing your body and donning Ihram garments.
• Recite the Talbiyah in the miqat station to declare intention to make the pilgrimage.
• Travel to Makkah.
• Enter Al Masjid Al Haram (Holy Mosque) and perform Tawaf – circling the Kaaba seven times in a counterclockwise direction.
• Perform Sa’ay – walking 7 times between the hills of Safa and Marwah beside the Kaaba.
• At the end of Umrah, men exit from Ihram by shaving their head (taqseer). Completing Umrah for women requires cutting off a short lock of hair.
Note that while you can perform this pilgrimage at any time of the year outside of Hajj, international pilgrims still need Umrah visas and must travel with authorized tour operators. Saudi and GCC citizens do not need special permits for Umrah.
The following is a sample itinerary, with required Umrah procedures and side trips to deepen your understanding of Islam.