‘UNPACKING’ UMRAH

What do Umrah Pilgrims do & How they perform Umrah?

Unlike Haj, Umrah is not an obligation for Muslims. Despite the fact that it is not an obligation, many Muslims in Singapore (and around the world) choose to perform it.

Makkah has been constantly under construction for the past 5 years or so. You can see cranes almost everywhere around the Masjidil Haram vicinity. It is impressive to see how the workers manage the construction around the massive crowd as it is impossible to close or shut down the Masjidil Haram for the new works.

‘Haram’ vicinity

Haram comes from the root word ‘haruma-yahrumu’ which takes the meaning of forbidden – forbidden to do something or for something to be done to it. There are two sites that are unchallengably the highest of them all – the Masjidil Haram or Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Masjidil Nabawior Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

Nabi Muhammad pbuh mentioned:

Allah has made this town a sanctuary since the day He created the Heavens and the Earth. So, it is a sanctuary by Allah’s Decree till the Day of Resurrection. Fighting in it was not legal for anyone before me, and it was made legal for me only for an hour by daytime. So, it (i.e. Makkah) is a sanctuary by Allah’s Decree till the Day of Resurrection. Its thorny bushes should not be cut, and its game should not be chased, its fallen property should not be picked up except by one who will announce it publicly; and its grass should not be uprooted.” (HR. Bukhari 3189 & Muslim 3289)

Allah swt has promised that for every good deed or prayer performed within the Haram vicinity, He multiplies the reward 100,000. Who wouldn’t want that?

Umrah

Performing the Umrah is not as complicated as most first-time pilgrims think it to be. Allow me to break it down into steps:

  1. Intention
    Umrah begins with making the intention of performing it and entering the state of Ihram.
  1. State of Ihram
    Ihram is not only the clothing – two pieces of white cloth for the men and clothings that adhere to the Syari’e rules for the women. I find it really beautiful that Allah swt has decreed that the men are to put on the ihram cloth regardless of who they are, their status or where they come from. Because to Him, it doesn’t matter if you are the richest man in the world or the woman who has sinned, Allah invites them and consider them as one in His sacred land.

Ihram is a state of mind that you are going to perform the Umrah and you are required to oblige by certain rules. The rules are different for men and women:

Male Female
Physical
–       Wearing stitched clothes û
–       Wearing make up û
–       Cutting/ Trimming/ Shaving of bodily hair û û
–       Covering the face and hands û û
–       Covering the head û û
–       Pulling teeth or drawing blood û û
–       Involve in foreplay and sexual intercourse û û
–       Use of perfume, scented oils or any scented lotions/ facial products û û
–       Wearing shoes covering the toes and back of the feet û
Environment
–       Hunting of animals û û
–       Damaging plants û û
Events
–       Being a witness at a solemnization
–       Getting married

These list is not exhaustive. Therefore, I strongly suggest the pilgrim to attend lessons conducted by the GSA (tour agent) to ensure that what is taught is align with the pilgrim’s beliefs.

  1. Tawaf
    Tawaf is the act of circumambulating the Kaabah, seven times beginning at the Hajar Aswad.

Being in a state of wudhu’ is an obligation for Tawaf. Performing the Tawaf is akin to being in prayer. A pilgrim faces the Hajar Aswad, lifts both hands and says “Bismillahi, Allahu Akhbar”, ensuring the Kaabah is on his left. He then continues making his round around the Kaabah, raising his hand once again at Rukun Yemen. At the Rukun Yemeni (or Yemeni Corner), the pilgrim should recite:

رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَ فِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَ قِنَا عَذَابَ النَّار

Rabbanā ātinā fid-dunya hasana wafil ākhirati hasana wa qinā `adhāban nār.

[Our Lord! Give us that which is good in this world and in the Hereafter, and save us from the torment of the Fire.]

This act of circumambulation is repeated seven times.

It is the Sunnah for the man during this Tawaf for Umrah to place one side of his Ihram garment under his right arm, thus exposing his right shoulder and arm, whilst keeping the left covered – and placing the excess cloth over the left shoulder.

bSunnah Prayers

Upon completing the Tawaf, the pilgrim will make his way away from the Kaabah and find a spot to perform the sunnah prayers. This Sunnah prayer is to be done right after the Tawaf.

 Drinking of Zam Zam Water

After performing the prayer, the pilgrim looks for the barrels of Zam Zam water and drinks it – facing the Kaabah while standing.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “ZamZam is for whatever one drinks it for.”

In narration, he said: “It (ZamZam) is blessed. It is a nourishment that nourishes, and a cure that remedies.” He also added, “(ZamZam) is the best water upon the face of the earth.”

  1. Sa’ie

Right after drinking ZamZam, the pilgrim makes his way to Mount Safa for the next ritual which is the Sa’ie. At Mount Safe, he will try to see the Kaabah [if possible], raises his hands and praises Allah and glorifies Him as the Prophet (ﷺ) would while saying:

اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ، اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ، اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيْكَ لَهُ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَ لَهُ الْحَمْدُ يُحْيِي وَ يُمِيْتُ وَ هُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيْر؛ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيْكَ لَه، أَنْجَزَ وَعْدَهُ وَ نَصَرَ عَبْدَهُ وَ هَزَمَ الأَحْزَابَ وَ حْدَهُ

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. There is none truly worthy of worship except Allah alone, without partner. To Him belongs all sovereignty and all praise. He alone gives life and causes death, and He is All-Powerful over everything. There is none truly worthy of worship except Allah alone, without partner. He has fulfilled His promise, and helped His servant, and He alone has defeated the confederates.”

Then he descends from Mount Safā and walks towards Mount Marwah until he reaches the green lights. Once he reaches it (for men only), he runs quickly in accordance to his ability, without causing harm, until he reaches the next green light. Then he walks at a normal pace until he reaches Mount Marwah. He ascends it partially and faces the Qiblah and raises his hands and repeats what he did when he ascended Mount Safā. Then he descends Marwah and walks towards Safā.

The circuit from Mount Safā to Mount Marwah is one circuit and from Marwah to Safā is two, then back to Marwah is three. It is a must that seven circuits are completed. If done correctly, one will always finish at Mount Marwah. By reaching Mount Marwah, the Sa’ee is completed.

Whilst walking between Mount Safā and Marwah, he may recite whatever he wishes from dhikr, du’ā and Quran.

  1. Tahalul

Once the seven circuits of the Sa’ie have been completed, a man must either shaveor trim his hair, and shaving is preferable for the man. As for the woman, then she must shorten her hair and not shave her head.

By performing the tahalul rites, a pilgrim has completed his Umrah and is free from the prohibitions of the ihram.

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