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How to perform Umrah

Updated on June 30, 2013
Aerial View of the Holy Kabba
Aerial View of the Holy Kabba | Source

NOTE

This guide is made for Muslim audience and as such contains terms which refer to different concepts of Islam and its religious rites. This guide is meant to show the steps needed to perform Umrah, not necessarily explain what Umrah actually is and what benefits it yields.

Umrah, Brief overview

Umrah or “the minor pilgrimage” consists of four major rites namely

  • Ihram
  • Tawaaf
  • Sa’i
  • Hair Cut/Shaving head



Ihram

The first step in Umrah is Ihram. It is a condition in which restrictions are placed upon Muslims. The figurative meaning of the word has come to denote the two white sheets which most muslim men wear.

The desired dress for men is two clean white sheets of unsewn cloth.

For women there is no particular dress code, they are simple required to cover the entire body in lose clean clothes from head to toe with the exception of the face and hands. The clothes are required to conceal the body shape.

Ihram Procedure

  1. Cut your hair so its small and manageable. Trim your beard and mustache, cut your nails and remove unwanted body hairs. I suggest small hair because this means less chances of hair breakage something which is forbidden during condition of Ihram.
  2. Take a proper bath or shower and apply perfume on the body.
  3. (FOR MEN) Wear the Ihram sheets in the following manner 1) wrap one of the sheets just above the waist line and knot it down, (using belts to hold this sheet is highly not recommended) the sheet should be a little above the ankles and should be worn so as to allow freedom of leg movement for purposes of prayer (Salah) as well as brisk walking. The second sheet should be draped across both shoulders to cover the rest of the body. No need to tie it down using knots. Keep in mind that wearing of hats, stitched cloth like underwear or pants etc are "Haraam: or forbidden for men during the condition of Ihram !! This is Farz, Umrah cannot be performed without wearing Ihram.
  4. (FOR WOMEN) Ordinary clothes are the Ihram, so long as they do not reveal the body shape and figure, women must not cover hands and faces while in Ihram.
  5. Both men and women should wear flip flops or any such footwear which does not cover the middle bones of the upper face of your feet.
  6. If it is not a "Makrooh" or undesirable time, it is sunnah to offer two rakahs of nafl salah while covering the head (For men). Since this Salah is before one formally enters Ihram condition, therefore covering of heads is at this time allowed for men.
  7. The pilgrim will formally enter state of Ihram at Meeqat (a boundary line suggested by the Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H). The requisite is a heartfelt intention to perform Umrah and the reciting of the following statement "Allahumma labbayka 'Umrah" After this one must constantly recite the Talbiyah (Men should recite it in a loud audible volume) till one reaches Masjid Al Haram or Holy Kaaba.

Talbiyah

Limitations of Ihram

During the condition of Ihram pilgrims are forbidden from the following:

  • Covering of head (men), covering of face (women)
  • Covering the middle bone of the upper part of the feet (Both men and women)
  • Shaving / cutting or breaking of body hair
  • Cutting nails
  • Wearing perfume ( as suggested before It is recommended that you apply perfume on the BODY before formally entering the condition of Ihram)
  • Wearing of stitched clothing (men) / (Women can wear their ordinary clothes)
  • Hunting / killing
  • Sex

Tawaf

The second step in Umrah is the tawaf. Once the pilgrim reaches Mecca and has checked in his respective hotel (keep in mind to constantly, if not always, recite the talbiyah before Tawaf) the pilgrim should go directly to Kaaba. The entrance to the holy mosque should be most humble and full of humility with thankfulness in the heart towards the Almighty. Enter with your right foot first into the holy mosque and recite the following prayer

"Bismillaah, Allaahumma Salli 'Alaa Muhammad, Allaahumma Ighfirli waftahli Abwaaba Rahmatik." (In the name of Allaah! O Allaah! Exalt the mention of your Messenger. O Allaah! Forgive my sins, and open the gates of Your mercy for me)."


After this you should enter the mosque with the head bowed down so you do not see the Kabaa and slowly walk till you reach the courtyard of the holy Mosque. Once there you should raise your head and upon the first sight of Kabaa recite whichever prayer or Du'a you wish as it is suggested that the Du'a or prayer made upon the first sight of Kabaa is accepted by the Almighty. At this point you should stop reciting Talbiyah.

Afterwards proceed towards the black stone or Al-Hijr Al-Aswad to begin the tawaf.

Tawaf

Tawaf will begin and end at Black stone or Al-Hijr Al-Aswad
Tawaf will begin and end at Black stone or Al-Hijr Al-Aswad

Tawaf and Salah with Jamaat (congregation)

Often a times the time for Obligatory salah with Jamaat occurs during the Tawaf. In this case if you have completed a minimum 3 rounds of the Kabaa, you may resume from the 4th or whichever round you interrupted to offer the Salah. Otherwise if it was less than 3 full rounds, you must restart the Tawaf.

Procedure for Tawaf

Make sure you are in a state of Wudu (ablution)

1. Firstly (FOR MEN) remove the Ihram sheet from over your right shoulder to under it and then throw this end of the sheet over your already draped left shoulder. In this state only your left shoulder is covered whereas the right shoulder if naked. This method of Ihram clothing is only used during the Tawaf.

2. Go towards al-hijr al-aswad ( the holy black stone) and touch it if possible, (I personally do not recommend this step as the holy black stone has perfume applied to it and touching it directly results in some of this scent rubbing off on the pilgrim which goes against the condition of Ihram). Due to the throngs of crowds usually gathered at the stone, it is suggested to simply point towards the stone and recite

"Bismil-laah, Allaahu Akbar" (In the name of Allaah, Allaah is the Greatest)

3. This formally starts the Tawaf of Kabaa. From now onwards the pilgrim keeps briskly walking in small step with the Kabaa on his left while keeping the shoulders stiff this method of walking is Raml and is not obligatory, one may perform a simple walk as well. Raml is performed for only the first 3 circuits.

4. After beginning the Tawaf, it is recommended that one keeps praising Almighty Allah in whichever way one finds most suitable, however reciting any Quranic verses or even simple prayers or duaa's are deemed okay. This goes on until the pilgrim circles the Kabaa up to Rukn-e-Yamani or the Yamani corner.

5. Once you reach the Yamani corner, either touch it with your right hand if possible or simply point to it BUT do not kiss it. After this recite the following prayer

"Rabbanaa aatinaa fid-dunyaa hasanatan wa feel aakhirati hasanatan wa qinaa ‘adhaaban naar" (Our Lord, grant us good in this life and good in the hereafter and save us from the punishment of the Hellfire. [Quran; 2:201])

after this you may offer any Duaa's or recite anything that you want.

6. Once you reach the black stone again, you have completed one Tawaf. Repeat from step 2 until you have completed 7 Tawafs of the Kabaa. After this once more cover your right shoulder with the cloth.

7. After completing the Tawaf go to Maqam-e-Ibrahim and offer two rakah Salah as closely and conveniently as possible to it. It is suggested to recite Surah Al-Kafiroon during the first Rakah after Surah Al Fatiha and during the second Rak’ah (after Surah Al Fatiha) Surah Al-lkhlaas.

8. Now recite a du'a and drink some zam zam water and also throw some on your head.

This completes the Tawaf stage of the Umra

Sa'i

Sa'i is performed between the mount Saffa and Marwa.

To begin it, proceed towards mount Saffa and climb atop it. Point towards Kabaa and recite three times

"Allaahu akbar allaahu akbar allaahu akbar." (Allaah is the Greatest, Allaah is the Greatest, Allaah is the Greatest.)


Followed by

"Laa ilaaha illa Allah, Wahdahu laa Sharika lah, Lah ul-Mulk, Wa lah ul-Hamd, Wa huwa ‘ala Kulli shay’in Qadeer, Laa ilaaha illa Allah, Anjaza wa’dah, Wa Nasara ‘abdah, Wa hazam al-Ahzaba wahdah" (There is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, Alone. He has no partner, To Him belongs the kingdom, & all praise belongs to Him, & He has power above all things, There is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, He fulfilled His promise, Granted victory to His servant, And alone He defeated the allied army.)

After this descend and proceed to move towards Mount Marwa. When you enter the green Illuminated areas, Men must walk briskly. Women may walk simply and at their own pace. Once you reach Mount Marwa, you have to repeat the steps performed earlier on Mount Saffa. This would complete one round. Repeat this from Mount Marwa to Mount Saffa to complete the second round and so on until you finish all 7 rounds with the 7th ending on Mount Marwa.

After this Sa'i is complete.

Keep in mind that you may recite any Duaa's, prayers or supplications as you desire while performing Sa'i.


Sa'i

Safa and Marwa. Sa'i begins at Saffa and ends on Marwa. Men should walk briskly during the green patches.
Safa and Marwa. Sa'i begins at Saffa and ends on Marwa. Men should walk briskly during the green patches.

Hair cut

Finally Men are required to shave their heads whereas women are required to shorten their hair by a finger tip from the end. This completes the Umrah and the pilgrim finally exits the Ihram. He is now free of all the limitations of Ihram.

Summary

1. Cleanse body

2. Put on Ihram cloth

3. Offer two rakah Nafal Salah

4. Heartfelt Intention for Umrah and Talbiyah recitation at Meeqat

5. Reach Masjid Al- Haram

6. Perform Tawaf, 7 rounds

7. Offer two rakah salah near Maqam-e-Ibraheem

8. Drink Zam Zam water

9. Perform Sa'i, 7 rounds. Beginning at Saffa and ending at Marwa

10. Shave head (Men) or Trim Hair (Women)

Remove Ihram and Umrah is complete.

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