Benefits to perform an Umrah:
Umrah is known to be the ‘minor Hajj’ and is a Sunnah act performed at any time of the year except for the five days of Hajj, in which it is makrooh, or disliked, to perform Umrah.
One who steps out in the path of Umrah is considered a pilgrim until he reaches back home.
In a hadith found in the book of Ibne Maajah, The Prophet (S) said: “The performers of Hajj and Umrah are deputations of Allah (SWT). If they call Him, He answers them and if they seek His forgiveness, He forgives them.” This hadeeth clearly shows the great significance of Umrah and how much Allah (SWT) loves those who sacrifice their time and wealth for His cause.
In another hadeeth, the Prophet (SWS) says: One Umrah is expiation for the sins committed between it and another Umrah. (Bukhari, Muslim)
The above hadeeth implies that Umrah is not something we perform just once, but rather one should strive to perform Umrah multiple times in their lives.
Let us start with the virtues of Umrah in order to truly understand the immense amount of impact the journey has on one’s spiritual state. The Prophet (S) has related various hadiths about the great blessings and rewards of performing Umrah throughout one’s life.
1- The act of Umrah is known to cleanse one’s soul from past committed sins. It is advised to do Umrah more than once in your lifetime so that it can act as a washing of the sins from the last time one performed Umrah. Abu Hurairah (R) narrates that the Prophet(S) said, ‘An Umrah to another Umrah will be redemption of sins for whatever (minor) occurs between them.’ (Bukhari, Muslim).
2-Performing Umrah also protects one from poverty since they are there solely for the sake of Allah(SWT) spending their wealth and time in completing the deed. Ibne Mas’ood (R) said that the Prophet (S) said, ‘Follow up the Hajj and Umrah, because they certainly remove poverty and sins as fire separates the impurities from iron, gold and silver.’ (Tirmidhi, Ibne Khuzaimah, Ibne Hibbaan). Also Umar bin Khattab (R) said that Nabi (SAW) said, ‘Follow up between the Hajj and Umrah, because certainly succession between the two of them increases the life span and dispels poverty and sins as fire removes impurities.’ (Baihaqi)
3-In the blessed month of Ramadan, the reward of performing Umrah is equal to that of performing Hajj with the Prophet (S). On many different occasions, the Prophet (S) has told his companions that performing Umrah in the blessed month of Ramadan has rewards which are equal to performing Hajj with the Prophet (S) himself.
4- Another absolutely breathtaking virtue of Umrah is that if one passes away in their journey of Umrah, the reward for them is Jannah. ‘Aisha (R) said that the Prophet (S) said, ‘Whoever leaves his home only for the purpose of Hajj or Umrah and he dies, nothing will be presented to him nor will he have any accountability on the day of Reckoning and it will be said to him, enter into Jannah.’ (Tabraani Baihaqi)
Ritual of the Umrah:
The pilgrim performs a series of ritual acts symbolic of the lives of Ibrahim (Abraham) and his second wife Hajar, and of solidarity with Muslims worldwide. Pilgrims enter the perimeter of Mecca in a state of Ihram and perform:
State of Ihram:
This is considered the first step for any pilgrim wishing to perform Umrah. To enter the state of Ihram, a pilgrim has to recite an intention to perform hajj called the Talabiya. This is when a pilgrim prepares one’s soul, mind and body for journey to the Almighty God. Entering the stage begins from the Miqat, or a place that is outside the pilgrimage area.
Men and women going on hajj adhere to a specific dress code which is aimed at showing modesty and shedding all signs of wealth. Men don unstitched white garments, while women wear normal stitched clothes and a headscarf. Women are forbidden however from wearing the burqa or niqab.
The ritual aims to remind Muslims that there are all equal in front of Him, regardless of their social and economic background, and that Allah judge humans only based on their faith and character.
Upon arrival to Makkah, Pilgrims should make Tawaf or circumambulation. It is considered an integral part of the pilgrimage, and refers to the seven times pilgrims circle around the Kaaba at the beginning, and at the end of Umrah.
“and We commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ismail (Ishmael) that they should purify My House (the Ka‘bah at Makkah) for those who are circumambulating it, or staying (Itikaf), or bowing or prostrating themselves (there, in prayer)” [al-Baqarah 2:125]
Sa’ey: To traverse the distance between the hills of Safa and Marwah for seven times, this is what is called Sa’ey. The term in Arabic means to walk or move quickly.
After Tawaf, pilgrims perform Sa’ey, in what commemorates the journey by Prophet Ibrahim’s wife to find water for her infant prophet Ismail, after they were left in the desert of Makkah at God’s command. The hills are now enclosed by the Grand Mosque.
Taqsir or halq : Taqsir is a partial shortening of the hair typically reserved for women who cut a minimum of one inch or more of their hair. A halq is a completeshave of the head, usually performed on men. Both of these signify the submission of will to God over glorifying physical appearances. The head shaving/cutting is reserved until the end of Umrah.