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What Is Umrah in Islam

In the religion of Islam, the rituals of hajj and umrah are the pinnacle of ibadah (worship). Their history begins with the proclamation made by Hazrat Ibraheem (AS) after building the House of ALLAH Almighty that people must come here to ceremonially dedicate themselves and revive their promise to the belief of tawheed.

This is the highest position a person can achieve in his zeal for worshiping the ALLAH Almighty: he is ready to offer his wealth and life for Him when he is called for this. Hajj and umrah are representative manifestations of this offering. Both are an embodiment of the similar reality. The only difference is that the latter is dense and the former more comprehensive in which the purpose for which wealth and life are offered becomes very evident.

The ALLAH Almighty has informed us that Shaitan has declared war since the very first day on the system according to which ALLAH Almighty has sent Hazrat Adam (AS) in this world. As a result, his servants are now at war with their primary and foremost enemy till the Day of Qayamat or Judgement. This is the very test on which this world has been made and our future depends on achievement or failure in it. It is for this war that we devote our life and devote our wealth. This war against shaitaan Iblees has been symbolized in the rite of hajj.

In Hajj pilgrims fling stones at Shaitan and symbolically offer themselves to ALLAH Almighty by sacrificing animals. They then shave their head hairs and to offer the rounds of promise come to the real place of ibadah (worship) and sacrifice. Then they return back to their camps again and in the next 2 or 3 days fling stones at Shaitan in the manner they had done previously.

Viewed therefore, the ihram worn by pilgrims in hajj and umrah symbolizes the reality that a believer has withdrawn from all kind of amusement, involvements and attractions of this world and wearing 2 unstitched pieces of clothes, bare-headed and to some extent bare-footed too has resolved to feel the presence of the ALLAH Almighty. The talbiyah is the answer to the call made by Hazrat Ibraheem (AS) while standing on a rock after he had re-built the House of ALLAH Almighty. This call has now reached every corner and nook of this world and the servants of ALLAH Almighty while acknowledging His favours and affirming faith in His tawheed respond to it by reciting out these charming words: اَللّهُمَّ لَبَّيْك لَبَّيْك.

The rounds of tawaaf' are the rounds of declare. This is the part of early tradition of the Abrahamic religion. According to this tradition, animals which were to be devoted or sacrificed to the place of ibadah (worship).
The istilam of the hajr-e-aswad symbolizes the revival of the promise. As per this promise, after accepting Islam he has surrendered his wealth and life to Him in return for Jannah or Paradise.

The saaee is the running between the hill of Safa and Marwa, it is performed in rememberance of Bibi Hajra when She ran between these two hills in search of water for Her Son Hazrat Ismaeel (AS).
The rami (not part of Umrah) symbolize cursing Iblees and waging war against him. This ritual is done with the purpose that a believer would not be satisfied with anything less than the defeat of shaitaan Iblees. It is well-known that this everlasting enemy of man is constant in implanting evil suggestions in the minds of people. Though, if confrontation is offered in return, his onslaught decreases slowly. Doing the rami for 3 days first at the bigger Jamaraat and then at the smaller ones symbolizes this very battle.

Animal sacrifice (not part of Umrah) symbolizes that a person is willing to sacrifice one's life for the ALLAH Almighty and shaving the head hairs symbolizes that the sacrifice has been presented and a pilgrim with the mark of obedience and everlasting servitude to the ALLAH Almighty can now return to his home.

    Objective of Umrah

The objective of umrah is the same as its spirit and reality viz. acknowledgement of the blessings of the ALLAH Almighty, affirmation of His tawheed and a reminder of the reality that after embracing the religion Islam we have devoted and dedicated ourselves to ALLAH Almighty. It is these things whose cognizance and comprehension are called the benefits of the places of Umrah. This purpose is very appropriately depicted in the utterances which have been particular for this ritual. Hence after wearing the ihraam, these words flow from every pilgrim’s mouth: لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ لبيك لَبَّيْكَ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ إِنَّ الحَمْدَ وَ النِّعْمَةَ لَكَ وَ المُلْكَ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَكَ

    Difference between Hajj and Umrah

There are many differences in Hajj and Umrah in which few are given below.

    1) Days of Hajj and Umrah

    There is no time has been fixed for performing umrah. It can be offered throughout the whole year whenever people want. Though, the days of hajj have been fixed from 8th to 13th Zil-Hajj and it can be performed in these days only.

    2) Significance

    Hajj is the major pilgrimage and Umrah is considered as a minor or lesser one. From religious point of view, the importance of Hajj is higher than that of Umrah’s.

    3) Rituals

    The rituals for performing Umrah involve the ihram (ritual of purification), circling or Tawaaf of the Holy Kaaba, Saaee (the walk) between Safa and Marwa, drinking water of Zamzam, and shaving or cutting the head hair. Though, In addition to all the rituals practiced in Umrah, Hajj includes extra rituals, such as, spending days and nights in areas neighbouring the city of Makkah (Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah), stoning the devil (rami al jamaraat), and slaughtering the animal (Qurbani) in the name of ALLAH Almighty.

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