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Definition of Umrah

In Arabic, the word 'Umrah is derived from I'timaar which means a visit. However, 'Umrah in Islamic terminology, means paying a visit to Ka' bah, performing Tawaaf (circumambulation) around it, walking between Safaa and Marwah seven times. A performer of 'Umrah puts off his Ihraam by having his hair shaved or cut. 'Umrah can be performed along with Hajj and in other days as well.

It should be noticed that Umrah can be performed during anytime in the year, there is no fixed time for 'Umrah.




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Ruling on Umrah

The scholars are agreed that ‘Umrah is prescribed in Islam and is an act of virtue. 

They differed as to whether it is obligatory. Imam Abu Haneefah and Imam Maalik were of the view that it is Sunnah and mustahabb, but not obligatory; this was also the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. 

They quoted as evidence for that the hadeeth narrated by al-Tirmidhi  (931) from Jaabir, who said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was asked whether ‘Umrah is obligatory. He said, “No, but if you do ‘Umrah it is better.” 

But this hadeeth is da’eef (weak); it was classed as da’eef by al-Shaafa’i, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Ibn Hajar and al-Nawawi; by al-Albaani in Da’eef al-Tirmidhi, and by others. 

Al-Shaafa’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: It is da’eef and cannot be used as evidence. There is nothing proven that says that ‘Umrah is a voluntary act of worship.  

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: This was narrated with isnaads that are not valid, and such reports cannot be used as evidence. 

Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (7/6): the scholars of hadeeth are agreed that it is da’eef. 

One of the things that indicate that this is da’eef is the fact that it was proven that Jaabir was of the view that ‘Umrah is obligatory, as we shall see below.  

Imam al-Shaafa’i and Imam Ahmad were of the view that it is obligatory. This view was also favoured by Imam al-Bukhaari. (May Allaah have mercy on them all). 

Those who say that it is obligatory quoted a number of things as evidence: 

1 – The report narrated by Ibn Maajah (2901) from ‘Aa’ishah who said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, do women have to engage in jihad?’ He said, ‘Yes, they must do jihad in which there is no fighting: Hajj and ‘Umrah,’” 

Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (7/4): Its isnaad is saheeh according to the conditions of al-Bukhaari and Muslim. It was also classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah. 

The point in this hadeeth is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said alayhinna i.e., they must do, which means that it is obligatory. 

2 – The famous hadeeth of Jibreel (peace be upon him) in which he asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about Islam, eemaan (faith) and ihsaan, and about the Hour and its signs. This was narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah and al-Daaraqutni from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him), in which ‘Umrah was mentioned along with Hajj: “Islam means to bear witness that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah; to establish regular prayer; to pay the zakaah; to perform Hajj and ‘Umrah to the House; to do ghusl to cleanse oneself from janaabah (impurity following sexual activity) and to do wudoo’ perfectly; and to fast Ramadaan.” Al-Daaraqutni said, “This isnaad is proven and saheeh.” 

3 – The hadeeth narrated by Abu Dawood (1799) and al-Nasaa’i (2719) from al-Subay ibn Ma’bad who said: “I was a Christian Bedouin… I came to ‘Umar and said, ‘O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, I have become Muslim and I found that Hajj and ‘Umrah are prescribed for me, so I entered ihraam for them.’ ‘Umar said, ‘You have been guided to the Sunnah of your Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).’” 

4 – The opinion of a group of the Sahaabah, including Ibn ‘Abbaas, Ibn ‘Umar and Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with them all). Jaabir said, There is no Muslim for whom ‘Umrah is not obligatory. Al-Haafiz said: This was narrated by Ibn Jahm al-Maaliki with a hasan isnaad. 

Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Chapter: The obligation of ‘Umrah and its virtues.” Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: There is no one who does not have to do Hajj and ‘Umrah. Ibn ‘Abbaas said: It is mentioned together with Hajj in the Book of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And perform properly (i.e. all the ceremonies according to the ways of Prophet Muhammad), the Hajj and ‘Umrah (i.e. the pilgrimage to Makkah) for Allaah” [al-Baqarah 2:196] 

Because it is mentioned together with Hajj, this means that it is obligatory like Hajj. 

Shaykh Ibn Baaz said: The correct view is that ‘Umrah is obligatory once in a lifetime, like Hajj. Fataawa Ibn Baaz, 16/355. 

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said in al-Sharh al-Mumti’ (7/9): The scholars differed concerning ‘Umrah and whether it is obligatory or Sunnah. It seems to us that it is obligatory. 

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 11/317

The correct one of the two scholarly views is that ‘Umrah is obligatory, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And perform properly (i.e. all the ceremonies according to the ways of Prophet Muhammad), the Hajj and ‘Umrah (i.e. the pilgrimage to Makkah) for Allaah” [al-Baqarah 2:196] 


And because of the ahaadeeth which say that.

And Allaah knows best. 

See: al-Mughni, 5/13; al-Majmoo’. 7/4; Fataawa Ibn Taymiyah, 26/5; al-Sharh al-Mumti’ by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 7/9.




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The Differences Between Hajj and Umrah

Linguistically, Hajj means repairing to a place for the sake of visit of something glorified, and in the terminology of Shari'ah, it implies the repairing to the House of Allah to observe the necessary devotions as Ihram, Wuquf at Arafah and al-sa'e in a specified time (Shawwal, Zul-Qa'da and Zul-Hijjah).

Umrah means literally a visit, and in Shari'ah it means a visit to the House of Allah at anytime of the year without standing at Arafa, i.e. it consists of Tawaf around the Ka'ba, Sa'yi between Safa and Marwa in the state of Ihram. Other actions as Rami, staying at Mina are only related to Hajj.


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The Pillars of Umrah

Unlike the Hajj that has 4 pillars, Umrah has 3 pillars only, they are; Al-Ihram, At-Tawaf, and As-Sa'y.

1. Al-Ihram: The first pillar of Al-Hajj and Al-Umrah is Al-Ihram, that is the intention to enter into one of the two sacred rituals, Al-Hajj and Al-Umrah, accompanied by the removal of the (normal) clothing and then reviting the Talbiyyah*.


Things Obligatory for Ihram:

The obligations are the deeds that if one of them is left off, blood (i.e. sacrifice of an animal) is required from the person who did not perform, if unable, then he must fast ten days. The obligations of Al-Ihram are three and they are the following:

1. Assumming Al-Ihram from the Miqat: This is the place that the Shari'ah has fixed where AI-Ihram is assumed and it is not permissible to pass it without Ihram for whoever wants (to perform) AI-Hajj or Al-'Umrah. Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) made the Miqat for the people of AI-Madinah, Dhul-Hulayfah; and for the people of AshSham, AI-Juhfah; and for the people of Najd, Qarn-ul-Manazi1; and for the people of AI-Yemen, Yalamlam. They are for them (these places) and' whoever passes by them that is not of their people, for those who want to perform Al-Hajj or Al-'Umrah. And for whoever is nearer (to Makkah) than them, then he makes the Talbiyyah* for assuming Ihram from his people (i.e. his home), and so forth, until even the people of Makkah make the Talbiyyah for Ihram from it (Makkah)." (AI-Bukhari)

2, Removal of stitched clothing: One in Ihram (Al-Muhrim) does not wear a Thawb (long robe-like garment), shirt or hooded robe. He does not wear a turban and he never covers his head with anything. Likewise, he does not wear leather socks, nor shoes (which cover the entire foot), This is due to the Prophet's statement:
"The Muhrim (person in Ihram) does not wear the Thawb (a long robe-like garment) , turbans, pants, hooded robes or leather socks, except for whoever cannot find two sandals, then he wears two leather socks and he should cut them below the ankles" (Al-Bukhari)

Likewise, he does not wear any clothing that has had saffron or Wars (a type of perfume) applied to it. The woman does not wear the Niqab (the face veil were only eyes are shown, instead she can cover all of the face without showing eyes) and she does not wear gloves. This is due to what AI-Bukhari related concerning the prohibition of that (i.e. these aforementioned things).

3. At-Talbiyyah*: This is the saying:
Labbayk Allaahumma labbayk, Labbayka La shareeka laka labbayk. Innal hamda. wan-ni'mata laka walmulk. La shareeka lak.

"I am here at Your service, O Allah! I am here at Your service. I am here at Your service. You have no partner. I am here at Your service. Verily the praise, and the favor are Yours, and also the sovereignty. You have no partner."

One in Ihram says this when he begins his Ihram while he is at the Miqat. He does not neglect (saying) it and it is recommended to repeat it, raise the voice with it and say it again at every appropriate occasion (during travel), whether stopping, or setting out, or (before) the start of the prayer, or after completing it or meeting friends.


The Prohibited Acts during Ihram:

The prohibitions are the deeds that are not allowed and if the believer does them, he is obligated to sacrifice a sheep as compensation or fast or feed (poor people). These deeds are as follows:
1. Covering the head with any head covering.
2. Shaving the hair or cutting it, even if it is a little. It makes no difference whether it is the hair of the head or other than it.
3. Clipping the nails, whether they are the nails of the hands or the feet.
4. Applying perfume.
5. Wearing any type of stitched garment (i.e a garment that has a seam in it)
6. Killing game animals of the land. This is due to Allah the Almighty's statement:
(O you who believe! Do not kill the game animals while you all are in Ihram (for Al-Hajj or Al-Umrah))

7. Petting (i.e. caressing, fondling, etc) that is done before sexual intercourse, such as kissing and similar things. This is due to Allah the Al,ighty's statement:
(So there should be no Rafath, nor sinful transgression, nor quarreling during Al-Hajj)

The meaning of Rafath is those things that are done before sexual intercourse and everything leads to it.

8. The marriage contract or its proposal. This is due to the Prophet's statement:
"The person in Ihram does not perform the marriage (of someone else), nor is he married, nor does he propose (marraige)" (Muslim)

9. Sexual intercourse. This is due to Allah the Almighty's statement:
(So there should be no Rafath, nor sinful transgression, nor quarreling during Al-Hajj)

 Rafath includes sexual intercourse and its precursors.


2. At-Tawaf: Tawaf is going around the House (Ka'bah) seven circuits.

Conditions for its Validity:

1. Having intentions when beginning it, as actions are based upon the intentions. Thus, the person who wants to perfrom Tawaf must have the intention for Tawaf in order to worship Allah the Most High and obey Him, the Mighty and Sublime.

2. Purity from filth and defilement, due to the Hadith below stating that Tawaf around the House (Ka'bah) is like the prayer.

3. Covering the private areas of the body, as Tawaf is like the prayer. This is due to the Prophet's statement:
"Tawaf around the House (Ka'bah) is like the prayer, except that you all speak during it. Therefore, whoever speaks, let him not speak except with good (words)" [At-Tirmithi]


3. As-Sa'y: As-Sa'y is to walk between As-Safa and Al-Marwah coming and going (back and forth) with the intention of worshiping (Allah). It is a pillar of Al-Hajj and Al-'Umrah. This is due to the statement of Allah the Most High:

Verily As-Safa and AI-Marwah are from the symbols of Allah., [2: 158]

And the statement of the Prophet:
"Perfomt As-Sa'y, for verily Allah has enjoined As-Sa'y upon you all" (Ibn Majah, Ahmad and Ash-Shafi'i. i-:e (Ibn Hajar) said in AI-Fath that it is Hasan due to its numerous routes of transmission)


Conditions for the Validity of As-Sa'y:

1. The intention: This is due to the Prophet's statement: "Deeds are judged by their intentions"[Al-Bukhari]Therefore, it is necessary to have the intention to perform worship when making As-Sa'y, in obedience to Allah and carrying out His command.
2. Keeping the proper order between it and At-Tawaf by performing At-Tawaf before As-Sa'y.
3. Making its trips in close succession. However, a brief break between them is not harmful as long as there is a need for it.
4. Completing all seven trips. If one trip or part of a trip is left out, the Sa'y is not acceptable, as its actuality is established upon completing its trips.
5. It should occur after the correct performance of Tawaf, regardless of whether the Tawaf is obligatory (Wajib) or recommended (Sunnah). However, it is better if it is performed after an obligatory (Wajib) Tawaf, like Tawaf-ulQudum,
or a Tawaf that is a pillar (Rukn), like Tawaf-ulIfadhah.


Taken from "Minhaj Al Muslim" By Shiekh Abu-bakr Jaabir Al-jazairy with slight modifications. You can read more about the way to do Hajj&Umrah in more details in the same book. Download it here


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