The Umrah may be considered as “a lesser pilgrimage” compared to the Hajj, but most of the acts of worship are shared between the Hajj and Umrah. The Umrah asks the pilgrims to follow in the footsteps of Ibrahim (AS) and to revive their will to sacrifice in the way of Allah.
The Miqaat are five points around the Mecca region that serve as a boundary between the holy grounds and the rest of Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslims are not allowed into the Miqaat and Muslims must first assume the state of ihram before entering the area. For those who would be travelling directly to Mecca from Pakistan should be in the state of Ihram before taking the flight. Those who choose to go to Madinah city first in their Umrah program adorn the ihram at the Miqaat point of Dhu’l - Hulayfah, on their way to Mecca. Please note that Jeddah Airport lies inside the Miqaat zone.
The Ihram is a state of spiritual purity. Physically, it is denoted by wearing two sheets of white cloth for men and for women the Ihram can be the ordinary day to day clothes that are not revealing at all. This uniform denotes the mental state of the pilgrim – the order of devotion and simplicity in which the pilgrim must remain for the rest of pilgrimage. The niyah of the Ihram is made after a mandatory bath, ablution and performing two rakats. Once the pilgrim assumes the Ihram, he cannot argue, quarrel or shout at anyone. Pilgrims in Ihram are not allowed to engage in any sexual activity. Shaving, excessively scratching the body, using perfume and deodorants or clipping the nails is forbidden in this state. One must also refrain from wearing any headgear like caps and socks or close-toed shoes. The use of umbrellas, however, is permissible to get shelter from the sun.
It is also essential to recite the Talbiyah at the Miqaat point. The Talbiyah is an invocation and a proclamation chanted by the pilgrims who desire the blessings and mercy of Allah in the most blessed place on earth. The recitation of the Talbiyah continues throughout the Umrah, and many chant it even before the flight embarks for Saudi Arabia from Pakistan.
Labbayka-Allahumma labbayk, Labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Innal-Hamda wanni’mata laka wal-Mulk, laa shareeka lak
Which translates to: Here I am O Allah! I am here! I am here, You have no partner, here I am! Surely, all praise, blessings, and dominion are for You. There is no partner for You!
Moving towards the Kaba’ah –the Most Sacred Mosque in Islam – the minarets of the structure would become visible even from the Miqaat point. Keep reciting the Talbiyah to yourself as you prepare to perform your first Tawaf. There are many variations of dua and many sets of passages from the Quran that the pilgrim is encouraged to recite. However, it is more important to maintain the spirit of devotion and extreme humility in the House of Allah.
The Tawaf is essentially the circumambulation of the Kaba’ah in the counterclockwise direction. One Tawaf is complete after circling the Kaba’ah seven times. The start of the circuit is from the ‘Rukn-e-Aswad’ or the corner of the Kaba’ah that has the Black Stone (Hajr-e-Aswad) affixed to it. If the pilgrim notices, there would be a prominent brown line on the floor marking the starting point.
Before starting the Tawaf, make a quick niyah that you intend to perform the Tawaf. Pausing at the line make the intention by saying:
“In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest. O, Allah! Having faith in you, confirming the truthfulness of Your Holy Book, fulfilling Your promise and following the Sunnah of Your Prophet (peace be upon him)”
Please note that there is going to be a crowd behind you circling the Kaba’ah. Taking much time in making the niyah would disrupt the flow of traffic, so make the intention quickly. Males must expose their right shoulder by tucking their robe underneath the shoulder before beginning the Tawaf.
The first three circuits of the Tawaf are completed at a faster pace. Slow down on the fourth and recite dua, the Talbiyah and praise Allah as you go about the Kaba’ah. It is not a necessity but if you can, try to kiss the Black Stone at the end of the Tawaf. However, if there are too many people at the Rukn-e-Aswad, kiss your index finger and point it at the Black Stone to fulfil this ritual.
The second important part of the Umrah, after the Tawaf, is the Sa’ee. The Sa’ee is pacing back and forth between the mountains of Safa and Marwa. The pathway between these mounts is through an air-conditioned corridor. Starting at Mount Safa, walk towards Mount Marwa to complete one circuit. Go back and forth a total of seven times between these points, stopping eight times at the hills. Each time you stay at the Safa or Marwa Hills recite the following dua:
Allahu Akbar! × three times
Laa ilaaha illa Allah wahdahu laa shareeka lah. Lahul-Mulku walahul- Hamdu wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shay’in Qadeer. Laa ilaaha illa Allahu wahdahu, Sadaqa Wa’adahu, wa nasara ‘abadahu wa hazamal-Ahzaaba wahdah!
Which translates to: There is no god but Allah. He is One and has no partner, to Him is the dominion, and all praise is due to Him. We are returning, repenting, worshipping, prostrating, and to Allah, we are very grateful. Allah is faithful to His promise; He gave victory to His servant and defeated the confederates all by Himself.
Men must walk at a faster pace between the two green lines indicated on the floor of the Sa’ee corridor. Pilgrims are encouraged to read excerpts from the Quran and make dua with intense reverence and gratitude of Allah. The Sa’ee mimics the frantic run Hazrat Hajrah (R.A) performed to search for water for her baby son, Hazrat Ismail (A.S), when her husband, the Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) left them both in the middle of the desert, upon Allah’s command. The Sa’ee asks the pilgrims to trust in Allah, to believe that the test of life is only but temporary and that in the end forgiveness and bliss awaits all Muslims. It implies that Allah can provide miraculous solutions to all your problems, just like Hazrat Hajrah (R.A) suddenly found the waters of the Zam Zam fountain erupt from under the heels of the baby Ismail (A.S).
The third essential element of the Umrah is the cutting or shaving of the hair. Men are strongly advised to shave off their hair completely. The cutting of the hair is a symbolic act of letting go of the past and having a new beginning. Women perform this ritual by braiding the twin-tails on either side of their heads and cutting the last one inch of uneven hair. There are barbers available that for a price would trim or shave your head. After shaving the hair, your Umrah would be complete, and the state of Ihram would end.