How to Perform Umrah?

Many texts emphasize the virtues of performing ‘Umrah (minor pilgrimage). Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said: “From one ‘Umrah to another is an expiation for the sins committed between them, and the complete and perfect Hajj has no less a reward than Paradise.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

The following points summarize the correct way to perform ‘Umrah:

First: As one arrives at the Meeqaat (i.e. designated places where pilgrims assume Ihraam), he should assume Ihraam (sacral state) by bathing and applying perfume to his body, not to the clothes of Ihraam. If some of the perfume inadvertently rubs off on the clothes, then it should be washed off. For men, it is preferable to wear two clean, white pieces of cloth and to take off all tailored and sewn clothes. Women may wear anything they like, as long as it is in accordance with Islamic regulations. One may wear a ring, a watch, sun glasses or a belt. If it is difficult to stop at the Meeqaat, as is the case of people who travel by air, then the pilgrims should bathe at home, and assume Ihraam when they are parallel to the Meeqaat,saying, “Labbayka Allaahuma ‘Umrah (O Allaah! In response to your call I perform ‘Umrah).”

If one is afraid that something could prevent the completion of the rituals, then he should make his Ihraam conditional, by saying, “In habasani haabisoon fa mahilli haythu habastani” (O Allaah! My Ihraam will terminate at the point where You prevent me).” Therefore, if anything were to happen to prevent one from completing the rituals, then one would come out of the state of Ihraam without facing any penalty.

It is Sunnah to exert great effort in the remembrance of Allaah The Almighty and to repeat the Talbiyah, which is as follows: “Labbaykallaahuma labbayk, labbayka laa shaareeka laka labbayk. innalhamda wanni’mata laka walmulk. laa shareeka lak (In response to Your call O Allaah! In response to Your call. In response to Your call, there is no partner with You, in response to Your call. Gratitude, favours and the Kingdom belongs to You, there is no partner with You).” This is to be uttered loudly by men, but women should utter it to themselves if there are men around.

It is important for the pilgrim to note that:

Some women mistakenly think that their Ihraam clothes should be of a certain colour, such as white or green, and this is incorrect.
Collective Talbiyah was never the practice of the Prophet or his Companions.
It is permissible for men or women to replace the garments of Ihraam with other garments of like nature.
One should always make sure that his ‘Awrah (area of the body which should Islamically be covered) is covered while sitting down or sleeping.
Some women believe they may uncover their faces in front of men as long as they are in the state of Ihraam, which is wrong. Women should cover their faces according to the following evidences:

  1. ‘Aa’ishah said, “Whenever men used to pass next to us while with the Prophet in the state of Ihraam, we used to draw down our veils on our faces, and uncover when they were gone.” [Ahmad, Abu Daawood]
  2. Asmaa’ said, “We used to cover our faces so that men would not see us, and comb our hair while in the state of Ihraam.” [Al-Haakim]

The following prohibitions apply until the pilgrim is in Ihram:

Shaving or cutting the hair of the head or the body, or removing it by any other
Clipping one’s nails.
Wearing perfume.
Hunting (does not include fishing).
Wearing trousers, or other sewn men’s clothing which reveal the shape of the body. However, clothing that has been sewn and does not shape the body i.e. belts or shoes is permissible.
Covering the head with something which directly touches it, like a hat or a turban. One may go under the shade of an umbrella, inside a tent, or under the roofs of cars; he may also carry his belongings on his head as long as he does not intend to cover his head.
Wearing gloves or any facial cover for women which directly touches the face (unless men are present, then she must draw down a veil on her face).
Sexual intercourse and related issues, (i.e., lustful touching, eye contact, passionate kissing, masturbating), whether it leads to ejaculation or not.

Second: It is Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) to enter the Haram mosque (or any other mosque) with the right foot first, whilst saying the following supplication, “Bismillaah, wassalaatu wassalamu ‘alaa rasoolillah. Allaahumma ighfir lee waftah lee abwaaba rahmatik. (In the name of Allaah, may Allaah send peace upon His Messenger and exalt his mention, O Allaah forgive my sins and open your gates of mercy for me).”

Third: Begin Tawaaf, which is to be performed counter-clockwise, starting from the Black Stone or the line that runs parallel to it. It is important that one does this without pushing or harming fellow worshippers. If possible, one should kiss the Black Stone; if this is not possible, then one should touch it with his right hand, or any object such as stick, and then kiss that. If neither of these things are possible, then one should point at the black stone, whilst standing on the black line that runs parallel to it, and say, “Allaahu Akbar”. This should be done upon each circuit of the Ka’bah, each one starting and ending at the black stone or the line that runs parallel to it. Go around seven times, and it is recommended for men to walk quickly during the first three rounds, and this is known as Raml, then walk normally for the remaining four. It is recommended for men only to have their upper garment in the position of Idh-tibaa’, which is to have it wrapped in such a way that the left shoulder is covered and the right shoulder is exposed. This is achieved by wrapping the upper garment under the right armpit. This should only be done in one of two cases: either the Tawaaf of arrival, or for ‘Umrah. Also, one should make plentiful supplication, remembrance and glorification of Allaah The Almighty as well as beseeching Him for forgiveness.

It is recommended that one touches the Yemeni Corner, which precedes the corner that contains the Black Stone, with one’s right hand without kissing it and say, “Bismillaah, Allaahu Akbar.” If this is not possible, then one should notpoint at this corner as they do with the corner that contains the Black Stone. Also, the Sunnah isto recite the following supplication between the Yemeni Corner and the cornerthat contains the Black Stone, which is a verse in theQuran: “Rabbana aatina fid-dunya hasanah wa fil-aakhirati hasanah waqina ‘athaaban-naar,” which means: {Our Lord! give us in this world (that which is) good and in the Hereafter (that which is) good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire} [Quran, 2: 201]

The pilgrim should also know that there is no special supplication for each round during Tawaaf. He should also note that: Tahaarah (purity) is an essential precondition for the soundness of Tawaaf, according to the opinion of the majority of scholars, so if you nullify your Wudoo’ (ablution) during Tawaaf, you need to leave and perform Wudoo’ and repeat your Tawaaf (from the last round before nullifying it).Ibn ‘Abbaas, said, ‘When Allaah revealed the verse (which means): {Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error}Allaah The Almighty said: “I did.” [Muslim]

If the Iqaamah was called whilst in Tawaaf, or a prayer on the dead was called for, the pilgrim must pray with the congregation and resume from the place where they stopped. The pilgrim should not forget to cover their shoulders during prayer, because this compulsory during prayer.
There is no harm in sitting and taking a rest for a short while during Tawaaf, or drinking water, and moving between floors in the Haram.
If the pilgrim doubts the number of rounds of Tawaaf they have finished, they should base their judgment on the number they are certain of. For example, if you doubted whether you circumambulated three or four times, make the count three and finish the remaining four, but if you thought and remembered the number for sure, then you may act upon what you are certain of.
Some people remain in the state of Idh-Dhtibaa’ from the time they wear their Ihraam until they finish the entire ‘Umrah, and this is wrong, because one is supposed to do this only during certain types of Tawaaf as mentioned above.

Fourth: Upon finishing Tawaaf (circumambulation), men should cover their right shoulder again (from the position of Idh-Dhtibaa’) and then go behind Maqaam Ibraaheem (the place where Prophet Ibraaheem stood), if possible, and recite the verse of the Quran (which means): {Take as your place of worship the place where Ibraaheem stood}[Quran, 2: 125].Then the pilgrim should pray two Rak’ahs there. One may also pray anywhere else in the mosque. During these two Rak’ahs, the pilgrim should recite the Chapter Al-Kaafiroon in thefirst Rak’ah, having recitedChapter Al-Faatihah, and then in the second Rak’ah recite the Chapter As-Samad. Sadly, many people push and harm others in order to pray behind the Maqaam, although it is permissible to pray anywhere in the Haram.

Fifth: After praying these two Rak’ahs one should head towards the Black Stone and try to kiss it if possible. If this is not possible, then the pilgrim should touch it, and if this is also not possible, one should simply point to it from a distance. Then the pilgrim should go and drink from the water of Zamzam.

Sixth: After this, one should climb mount As-Safa and recite the verse of theQuranwhich states (what means): {Indeed Safa and Marwah are of the symbols of Allah. So there is no harm on him who performs Hajj or ‘Umrah to the house to perform the going (Sa’y) between them. And whoever does good voluntarily, then indeed Allaah is All-Recognising, All-Knowing} and say, “I will start with what Allaah The Almighty started with.” After this, it is recommended to face the Ka’bah and recite the following,

“La ilaaha illallaah wallaahu akbar. Laa ilaaha illallaah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahulmulku wa lahulhamdu, yuhyi wa yumeet wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer, la ilaaha illallaah wahdah, anjaza wa’dah wa nasara ‘abdah wa hazamal ahzaab wahdah. (None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone without partner, to Him belongs all sovereignty and praise, He gives life and causes death, and He is over all things omnipotent. None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone, He fulfilled His promise, gave victory to His slave (Muhammad) and defeated the confederates (alone).”

The pilgrim should repeat this supplication three times and then supplicate with any other desired supplication depending on his inclination.

Seventh: Having carried out these rituals, the pilgrim should descend from Mount As-Safaand begin walking towards Mount Al-Marwah. When one reaches the green marking, men only should walk hurriedly until one reaches the second green marking, then one should walk at a normal pace again until one reaches Al-Marwah. This is considered as one leg of the Sa’y and seven of these are required. This means that one begins their first leg from As-Safa and finally ends at Al-Marwah. There are no special supplications for each round during Sa’y.

There are some common mistakes made by pilgrims during Sa’y:

There are two innovated acts which are widespread among people which you need to be on your guard against:

Some people use specific supplications for each round during Tawaaf, as they find it in some booklets they buy to help them during ‘Umrah.
One person takes the lead and loudly utters supplications, and people collectively repeat after him.

One should shun these two innovations because this was not the practice of the Prophet, , or his Companions .

Eighth: When the pilgrim finishes the Sa’y, theyshould either cut or shave their hair. It is recommended for men that they shave their hair, unless they are about to perform Hajj soon after their ‘Umrah, in which case it is better to simply cut their hair and postpone the shaving until after Hajj. It is not sufficient to cut only parts of the hair; the hair on all parts of the head must be cut. Women should gather their hair and cut a tiny piece from the end of their hair collectively. By this one would have concluded their ‘Umrah.

Some people mistakenly think that they may repeat the ‘Umrah. However, this was neither the way of the Prophet, , or his Companions ; had it been something virtuous, they would certainly have done it