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Why is Umrah in Ramadan so Special?

Performing Umrah during Ramadan is special and nothing compares the ecstasy and spiritual experience of being in Makkah and Madinah during the holy month of fasting

Umrah in Ramadan

With Saudi Arabia opening the Two Holy Mosques for foreign visitors during Ramadan, Umrah seekers will visit the Grand Mosque in Makkah and The Prophet’s Mosque in Madina during the Holy month of fasting after two years of gap.

The lifting of ban on foreign travellers comes barely a month before Ramadan – the Holy month of fasting, likely to descend on the world on April 2, 2022. The final date of beginning of Ramadan 2022 will be decided after sighting of the Ramadan 1443 AH moon on April 1. Nonetheless, worshippers are enthusiastic and rushing for booking so as to travel to the Holy Land and spend there the precious moments of Ramadan.

Hajj and Umrah are momentous for any Muslim. But performing Umrah during Ramadan is special and nothing compares the ecstasy and spiritual experience of being in Makkah and Madinah during the holy month of fasting.

What is Ramadan?

Fasting in Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan, also spelled Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan or Ramathan, is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar, when Muslims around the world observe fast and refrain themselves from dawn to dusk for 30 days.

It is mandatory and compulsory for every adult Muslim – male or female, to observe fast during this month. Though not binding on children, but they too observe fast from dawn to dusk along with their parents with equal zeal and interest.

What is Hajj?

Like fasting in Ramadan, Hajj is also one of the five pillars of Islam. It is however compulsory for Muslims who have means and physical strength to travel to Makkah.

Hajj is performed annually in the sacred month of Dhul Hijjah, also called as Zul Hajj or Zul Hijjah – the twelfth and final month in the Islamic Calendar.

Hajj is performed to commemorate the sacrifices made by Prophet Ibrahim, his noble wife Hager and their son Prophet Ismael – peace be upon them all. More than 2.5 million Muslims perform Hajj every year.

What is Umrah?

Unlike Hajj which is performed only once in a year during the month of Dhul Hijjah – the key ritual falling on the 9th of the sacred month, Umrah is called ‘lesser Hajj’ and can be performed anytime. It is hence Muslims from around the world, as per their convenience and affordability, travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah during whole of the year.

Haj and Umrah travels were restricted for about 02 years due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. But such is the interest of Muslims to perform Umrah that about 10 million Umrah visa was issued in just one and half months – from October 4 when the travel restrictions were removed for the first time till September 17, 2021 that grew to manifold in the following months, as per the government data.

Umrah Steps

Performing Umrah involves four important steps. They are:

1) Ihram

2) Tawaaf around Kaaba, the House of Allah (SWT)

3) Saa’i between Safa and Marwah

4) Shaving head or cutting hair

Umrah in Ramadan

Unlike Umrah during normal days, Umrah in Ramadan is a costly affair. Yet, number of visa issued during the Holy Month of Fasting is ten times than the other months of the Islamic Calendar.

According to a report by Saudi Arabia’s General Statistics Authority, more than 19 million pilgrims performed Umrah in 2017. Of them were about 10 million who performed the ritual in the month of Ramadan.

Why Umrah in Ramadan is so special?

Ramadan, the sacred month of fasting, is the month of reflection and annual period of self-assessment. Unlike the general perception Ramadan is actually more than refraining from eating, drinking and sex.

Islam has clear guidelines for Muslims to stay away from all evil things – fasting or not. But, it is more important for Muslims to adhere to the Islamic guidelines while fasting.

[Video: Glimpses of pilgrims in Ihram performjng Tawaaf – circumambulating around Kaabah, 1 of the 4 key rituals of Umrah.]

Another key feature of Ramadan is charity and Muslims around the world donate millions and trillions during this month to please Allah, The Almighty, and seek from Him forgiveness and blessings.

It is also believed that rewards of good deeds if performed in Ramadan are manifold, and that for Umrah as per a Sahih Hadith is equal to Hajj. There is no limit to the blessings of Allah showered on believers during this month. Al Bukhaari and Muslim narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said:

“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to a woman from among the Ansaar – Ibn ‘Abbaas mentioned her name but I forgot it – “What kept you from performing Hajj with us?” She said: We only have two camels and the father of her son and her son had gone for Hajj on one camel, and he left us the other camel so that we could carry water on it. He said: “When Ramadan comes, go for ‘Umrah, for ‘Umrah in (that month) is equivalent to Hajj.”

As per this narration, Hadith of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) Umrah is best performed in Ramadan as the rewards are equal to that of Hajj. However, performing Umrah in Ramadan doesn’t discharge one of Hajj obligations. Both become equivalent in rewards but not in fulfilling the duty. Umrah is not obligatory whereas Hajj is compulsory for every Muslim if the person is capable of performing it. This explains why every Muslim wishes to be in Makkah during the month of Ramadan.

[The writer is a student of Islamic Studies.]


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