What Is Umrah?

Umrah is among the most beautiful spiritual journeys in Islam. It is an act of worship performed to gain the mercy and pleasure of Allah SWT. Umrah, called the minor pilgrimage or lesser pilgrimage, is an Arabic word that means visiting a populated place. It purifies oneself from sins and should be carried out with sincerity, devotion, and reverence.

Origin Of Umrah

Umrah dates back to 622 CE when Prophet Muhammad PBUH asked the Makki Muslims to migrate to Madina to be safe from the people of Quraysh. Although the sacred city of Madina provided the peace and freedom Muslims needed, the desire to visit their homeland and perform Umrah stayed in their hearts.

In 6 AH (628 CE), Prophet Muhammad PBUH dreamed he was performing Umrah. When he discussed the dream with his companions, they were delighted. They took it as a sign from Allah SWT and advised the Prophet PBUH to perform Umrah.

Therefore, Prophet Muhammad PBUH, with his 1400-1500 companions, entered the sacred state of Ihram and went to Makkah to perform Umrah on the 1st of Dhul Qadah. But as soon as the Quraysh heard about the pilgrims, they thought the Muslims had come to attack them. Knowing this, as soon as he reached the outskirts of Makkah, Prophet PBUH sent an emissary to inform the people that he and his companions had only come here to perform Umrah and that they meant no harm.

But the Quraysh refused to grant them entry. Therefore, Prophet Muhammad PBUH had no choice but to wait at Masjid Al-Hudaibiyah because he refused to enter forcefully. As a result, the Quraysh and Prophet Muhammad PBUH signed a ten-year peace contract called the Treaty of Hudaibiyah.

Although the contract’s terms mostly favored the Quraysh, it allowed the Muslims to return for Umrah without commotion. Hence, it was a victory for the Muslims. Therefore, the Prophet PBUH and his companions returned home without performing the Umrah.

As per the treaty, Muhammad PBUH, accompanied by 2000 companions, including women and children, returned in 229 CE to perform the first-ever Umrah in Islamic history.

Process Of Umrah


Whether one is performing hajj or Umrah, it all starts with miqaat. Miqaat, in Islamic scriptures, literally means a stated place and represents a boundary at which Muslims intending to perform Umrah or hajj enter the state of Ihram. If someone doesn’t enter the state of Ihram while crossing Miqaat, he has to go back to the Miqaat boundary and enter Ihram. If one enters Ihram after crossing the miqaat, then, according to most scholars, they have to sacrifice a sheep in Makkah. The meat of the sheep must be distributed among the poor people there, and the pilgrim should consume none of it. If sacrificing a sheep is impossible, one should repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness.


Tawaf is the name given to the seven anti-clockwise rotations around the Kaaba in Masjid ul Haram, Makkah. Derived from the Arabic language, tawaf means to walk around something and is an integral part of both pilgrimages. Tawaf requires wudu (half ablution), and one has to be completely purified (i.e., not be involved in any impurity that requires ghusl) to perform tawaf. Therefore, women on their period can’t perform tawaf unless they are purified.

During tawaf, it is Sunnah to touch or kiss Hajr e Aswad in every circuit of the tawaf. If that isn’t possible, one should touch the stone with their hand and then kiss the hand. If that also seems possible, pointing towards the stone and reciting takbeer and the dua is sufficient.

Maqam e Ibrahim

After performing tawaf, all pilgrims should pray two rakats at Maqam e Ibrahim. Maqam e Ibrahim is a small, blackish-red stone with the footprints of Prophet Ibrahim AS. The stone symbolizes the place where Prophet Ibrahim AS stood during the construction of the Kaaba. This stone is located outside the Kaaba’s front doors and is 46 feet away from the Kaaba.

Worshippers must ensure that, when praying, Maqam e Ibrahim is between them and the Kaaba. Being directly in front of the stone is not a requirement. If the place is exceptionally congested, pilgrims can pray the two rakats anywhere in Masjid ul Haram. After this, all the pilgrims should drink Zamzam water from any of the water points.


Sa’ee is the fourth ritual of performing Umrah and involves seven lengths between Safa and Marwa. This act commemorates the event of Bibi Hajra and Prophet Ismail AS, as she ran seven times between Safa and Marwa to look for water for her son (Prophet Ismail AS). The pilgrims are supposed to walk seven times between the two small hills (walking from Safa to Marwa is considered one length). It is Sunnah for the men to jog during Saee, whereas the women can walk normally. After completing Sa’ee, one should recite the dua and go for Halaq.

Hair Cutting

The final ritual of Umrah, also called Halaq, includes cutting one’s hair. Men should completely shave their heads as part of the Sunnah, but if they choose not to, they should cut their hair short. For women, halaq involves only trimming an inch of hair. After this ritual, Umrah is completed, and the pilgrims can remove the Ihram.

What Invalidates Umrah?

Umrah is invalidated if any rules of the Ihram are broken. Some activities allowed at normal times become prohibited in the state of Ihram.

For men

  • Men can’t wear anything sewn. Not even undergarments.
  • Men can’t wear shoes that are made to fit their feet. Ankles, toes, and heels should remain uncovered.

For Women

  • Covering the face. (In non-mahrams’ case, they can instantly cover the hand or face and uncover it afterward.)
  • Covering the hands below the wrist.

For Both Men and Women

  • Shaving any part of the body or cutting any unwanted hair. [Sural Baqrah: 196]
  • Cutting or trimming the nails. If there is a need to shorten the nails, one should cut them before entering the state of Ihram.
  • Sexual intercourse with the spouse. [Surah Baqrah: 197]
  • Touching one’s partner with desire, as it may lead to copulation.
  • Wearing perfume. Although, if one wants to apply perfume, men are permitted to do so. But that should be done before entering the state of Ihram. [Sunan an-Nasa’i: 1904] & [Sunan Ibn Majah: 3042]
  • Hunting or killing any animal. [Surah Maida: 95]
  • Using scented products also invalidates the Ihram because the scent can be left on the skin. If one has to shower, make sure to use unscented products.
  • Proposing or arranging a marriage.
  • Cutting down trees in the sanctuary of Haram.


The penalty, also known as dam or fidyah, is an expiation given if one breaks the rules of Ihram. A penalty is given for the following reasons:

  • If one breaks any rules of Ihram, such as applying perfume or covering the head.
  • If one forgets to perform any ritual of Umrah.

If one breaks a rule unknowingly, there is no penalty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.