Giving the Dream 19th August, 2015
Umrah is classified as the smaller, non-obligatory pilgrimage in Islam. The main obligatory pilgrimage is known as Hajj. The word Umrah is defined as visiting a place of great importance. The key aim in both Umrah and Hajj is to visit the blessed lands (Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia) and to perform the rites associated with these pilgrimages.
There are, of course, several differences between both pilgrimages. Some of these have been identified below:
- There is no set date for Umrah, unlike Hajj, which is performed during a set month in the Islamic calendar every year (Zilhajj). Umrah can be performed at any time of the year, and a lot of people tend to perform Umrah during the Holy month of Ramadan.
- Hajj is obligatory and forms one of the Five Pillars of Islam, whereas Umrah is recommended.
The rites that are performed during Hajj are slightly different to those that are performed during Umrah.
- Hajj takes longer as it is a lot more intense and detailed, whereas Umrah can be performed within a few hours. Hajj consists of further sacraments, such as stoning the devil, spending nights in neighbouring cities and the slaughtering of an animal (Qurbani).
There are, however, some similarities between the two pilgrimages as well. Some of which include:
- Tawaf – Circulating the Ka’aba seven times. Amongst other attributes, this represents unity.
- Ihram – a sacred state which a Muslim must enter in order to perform Umrah or Hajj.
- Part of Ihram includes men having to wear clothing consisting of a white, unstitched & seamless garment which represents a state of purity. For women, the clothing requirements vary and they are allowed to wear stitched or sewn clothes, including their normal clothes.
- Shaving/cutting of the hair – for men. Cutting a fingertip of hair is prescribed for women.
- Clipping of the nails – This is not permissible for those who are in the state of ihram.
- Sa’y / Saee – This is known as the going back and forth between the two hills, As-Safah and Al-Marwaa, a ritual performed seven times starting from Mount Safah.
- Drinking water from the Well of Zamzam, regarded as the most sacred water in Islam.
All in all, Umrah is a truly spiritual act of purity, blessing and virtue. One who has the opportunity to perform Umrah is truly fortunate and of privilege, but to be able to give someone the gift of Umrah is even more incredible!
And that’s why Islamic Help has launched a very special programme called Umrah for Orphans. It aims to send more than 1000 Palestinian orphans to Umrah in 2016, with your support.
For full details on how you can sponsor an orphan and/or send an orphan to Umrah, browse Islamic Help’s newly designed website or click here.
You could be on your way to fulfilling an orphan’s dream this year.