Tips on the Performance of Umrah (Lesser Hajj)
Dr. Saleh Okenwa
Fmr. Commissioner (Planning, Research, Statistics, Information and Library Services)
Literally, Umrah means a visit.
Here, it means paying a visit to the Ka’abah (the Grand Mosque of Makkah), tawaf around it, walking between Mount Safa and Mount Marwa seven times and then shaving one’s head or cutting one’s hair short, in worship to the Almighty Allah.
Time for Umrah
Umrah may be performed anytime during the year. Imam Abu-Hanifah, however, is of the opinion that it is disliked to perform Umrah on five days: 9th - 13th of Dhul-Hijjah (that is: the day of Arafat, the day of Nahr and the three days of Tashriq).
Umrah can be performed before Hajj. The Prophet (SAW) himself performed Umrah before Hajj. It can also be performed after it. Jabir has reported that: Aisha’s menstruation started while she was performing Hajj. She performed all the rites of Hajj except tawaf around the Ka’aba. When her menstruation ended and she was clean, she performed the tawaf and then complained to the Prophet (SAW) saying “O Prophet of Allah, everyone has performed Hajj and Umrah, but I have performed Hajj only”. Thereupon, the Prophet (SAW) commanded her brother, Abdur-Rahman to accompany her to Tan’im so that from there she can put on her ihram for Umrah. So, she performed Umrah right after Hajj in the month of Dhul-Hijjah.
However, the best time to perform Umrah is during the month of Ramadan. Imam Ahmad and Ibn Majah have reported from Ibn Abbas that the Prophet (SAW) said: “An Umrah in the month of Ramadan is equal (in reward) to performing a Hajj.”
The Position of Repeating Umrah after Hajj
It is important to note here that the story of Aisha (RA) mentioned above is not an invitation to initiate a new Umrah after Hajj for someone who has already performed Hajj and Umrah combined.
It is necessary to say this because the pilgrims of some countries (alhamdu lillah Nigeria doesn’t seem to be one of them) are in the habit of repeating Umrah after having completed Hajj and Umrah combined. They go out to Tan’im or Jiranah, citing the story of Aisha (RA) in support.
The story of Aisha doesn’t support that practice. The story of Aisha simply shows that there is nothing wrong in performing Umrah after Hajj for someone who has a similar excuse.
Moreover, the majority of scholars frown at repeating Umrah at close intervals because the Prophet (SAW) and his Companions did not do that and also because it only aggravates the problem of congestion.
Miqat for Umrah
Miqat is a special place where a pilgrim intending to visit Makkah for Umrah must declare his intention to do so and put on the pilgrim garb (ihram). A pilgrim is not allowed to pass beyond the miqat without ihram.
The Prophet (SAW) himself specified the mawa`qeet (plural of miqat) for both Hajj and Umrah as follows:
i) Dhul-Hulaifah – a place 450 kilometres to the north of Makkah, for the people of Madinah
ii) Al-Juhfah – a place 187 kilometres to the north-west of Makkah and close to Rabigh, for those coming from Africa, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon.
Al-Juhfah is the original miqat for people proceeding from Nigeria, but as it has been submerged by the Red Sea, it has been replaced by Jeddah which is near to it. So, the miqat for Nigerian pilgrims now is Jeddah.
iii) Qaru al-Manazil – a mountain 95 kilometres to the east of Makkah overlooking Arafah, for the people of Najd
iv) Yalamlam – a mountain 54 kilometres to the south of Makkah, for
the people of Yemen
v) Dhat Irq – a place 94 kilometres to the north-east of Makkah,
for the people of Iraq
After specifying these places, the Prophet (SAW) said: “These places are for the people as well as for others who pass by them on their way to perform Hajj or Umrah”
That is, Dhul-Hulaifah for instance, is for the people of Madinah as well as for any other person who passes through Madinah on his way to Makkah for Hajj or Umrah. In other words: if a Nigerian passes through Madinah on his way to Makkah for Hajj or Umrah, his miqat is the miqat of the people of Madinah. So the specified miqat for Nigeria will only apply in a situation where a Nigerian pilgrim is proceeding directly from Nigeria to Makkah.
For a person who is already in Makkah before deciding to perform Umrah, he should go outside the holy precincts of Makkah and make his ihram from there, as the case of Aishat (RA) cited above.
Performing the Umrah
When a pilgrim arrives the miqat, he should take bath, apply some perfume and then don the pilgrims’ garb known as ihram. After that, he should offer a two-rak’ah prayer and then declare his intension to perform Umrah by saying :
لبيك اللهم عمرة
Labaika Allahuma Umratan
Wearing ihram and declaring intension for Umrah are essential parts of Umrah, and no Umrah may be considered valid without them. Having done that, the pilgrim is said to have entered the state of ihram and one who has entered that state is known as muhrim.
A muhrim must avoid sexual intercourse and all things that lead to it; he must avoid wrangling and useless bickering; he cannot marry or join others in marriage. He must not wear any sewn clothes or shoes that cover his feet above his ankles. He must not cover his head. He must not use perfume or cut his hair or nails, nor engage in hunting any game, nor cut trees or grass within the sacred precincts of Haram.
When he enters Makkah, he should go straight to the Grand Mosque. When he arrives the Grand Mosque, it is Sunnah that he enters through the entrance known as Bab as-Salam. If this is not convenient, he can enter through any other entrance. But, he should enter with his right foot first and recite humbly:
بسم الله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله
أعوذ بالله العظيم
وبسلطانه القديم من الشيطان الرجيم
اللهم افتح لى أبواب رحمتك
In the name of Allah,
And may blessings and peace be upon the messenger of Allah, I seek refuge in Allah the Supreme,
And in His noble countenance,
And His eternal authority from Satan the accursed,
O Allah, open your doors of mercy for me.
On seeing the Ka’aba, he should raise his hands and supplicate to Allah for His bounties. Then, he should proceed directly to perform the tawaf.
The tawaf takes the place of the traditional two rak’ah performed as tahiyat al-masjid (salutation prayer) when one enters an ordinary mosque. Tawaf of the Ka’bah as the Prophet (SAW) has made it clear in an authentic tradition of his, is its own salutation. However, if one enters at the time of obligatory prayer, he should do this before the tawaf.
In performing the tawaf, the starting point is the Black Stone. He should kiss it or touch it with his hand and kiss the hand. But, if he cannot reach the Black Stone due to congestion, he should not insist. It is just enough to point toward it from a distance.
After that, he begins his tawaf around the Ka’bah, supplicating to Allah. In the first three rounds, it is recommended that the male pilgrim uncover his right shoulder and jog at a slow pace (ramal). In the remaining four rounds, he should walk at a normal pace. After completing the seven rounds of the tawaf, he should go behind the Station of Ibrahim and pray two rak’ahs of tawaf.
After that, he should go to the well of Zam-zam and drink of its water as much as possible. Thereafter, he should go to al-Multazim, stand there and supplicate to Allah for whatever good he may wish in this life and the hereafter. Then, he should approach the Mount of Safa through the as-Safa Gate, climb the Mount, look towards the Ka’bah and then make supplication to Allah. After that, he should walk towards Mount Marwa as a start of his seven-round walk between the two hills, supplicating to Allah.
On approaching one of the two green markers, he should jog to the second green marker. After that, he should resume his normal walking speed towards Mount Marwah.
Upon reaching Mount Marwah, he should climb it, turn towards the Ka’bah and make supplications and glorification to Allah. With this, he has completed one round. Then, he should make the remaining six rounds in like manner, till he has completed the seven rounds, noting that from Mount Safa to Mount Marwah counts as one round and from Mount Marwah to Mount Safa counts as another round.
Finally, when he has completed the seven rounds, he should either shave off his head or trim his hair short. With that, the Umrah is over and all the restrictions of the state of ihram and all things that were prohibited to him in that state become permissible.
Tawaf al-Wada (Farewell Circuit)
Tawaf al-wada is the last rite performed by the pilgrim. It is in essence bidding farewell to the House of Allah (the Ka’bah). It marks the departing of a pilgrim from Makkah. Strictly speaking, it is not an integral part of Umrah. But it is something any person who has travelled to Makkah for the sake of worshipping Allah is required to do when he has finished his ibadat and wants to return to his country. Residents of Makkah as well as menstruating women pilgrims, are not required to perform it.
After performing tawaf al-wada, the pilgrim is required to leave Makkah without engaging in anything else or staying on for long thereafter, otherwise he has to repeat the tawaf before leaving.
When departing, he is recommended to stand by al-Multazim and thank Allah for enabling him to visit His house. He should also implore the Almighty to grant him grace, pleasure, safety, health, purity of religion for the rest of his life etc.
Finally, it is pertinent to mention here that there is disagreement among the scholars regarding the legal position of the Farewell Tawaf in Hajj, not to talk of Umrah. In the view of Imam Malik, it is Sunnah, and by leaving it one does not incur any penalty. Imam ash-Shafie is also of this view in one of two narrations attributed to him. However, the Hanafi and Hambali Schools of Thought are of the view that it is obligatory, and a pilgrim who misses it must slaughter an animal to atone for it. This is supported by the other narration of Imam ash-Shafie.
Wishing you the best of Umrah.