Umrah

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The Umrah or () is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. In Arabic, Umrah means "to visit a populated place". As a technical term used in the Sharia, Umrah means to perform Tawaf round the Kaaba and Sa'i between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, after assuming Ihram (a sacred state), either from a Miqat like Zu 'l-Hulafa, Juhfa, Qarnu 'l-Manāzil, Yalamlam, Zāt-i-'Irq, Ibrahīm Mursīa, or a place in Hill. It is sometimes called the 'minor pilgrimage' or 'lesser pilgrimage', the Hajj being the 'major' pilgrimage and which is compulsory for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. The Umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended.

Umrah rituals

The pilgrim performs a series of ritual acts symbolic of the lives of Ibrahim (Abraham) and his second wife Hajar, and of solidarity with Muslims worldwide. These acts of faith are:

  • Perform a tawaf "طواف", which consists of circling the Kaaba seven times in a anticlockwise direction. Men are encouraged to do this three times at a hurried pace, followed by four times, more closely, at a leisurely pace.
  • Perform a sa'i "سعي", which means rapidly walking seven times back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah. This is a re-enactment of Hajar's frantic search for water. The baby Ishmael cried and hit the ground with his foot (some versions of the story say that an angel scraped his foot or the......
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