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The ‘Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca (the most sacred city for Muslims situated within the Hejazi region of Saudi Arabia) that can be completed at any point during the entire year. This is as opposed to pilgrimages like the Hajj(“pilgrimage”) that have specific dates based on the Islamic lunar calendar.
According to Shariah Shariah (Law that Islam follows) For both journeys, one Muslim must first enter the state of purification through cleansing rituals in the prescribed dress and abstaining from certain actions. This is achieved by you reach the Miqat which is a major boundary point in Mecca, Juhfah Qarnu ‘l-Manazil Yalamlam Zat-i-‘Irq Ibrahim Mursiyah, or an area in Al-Hill. Different requirements apply to air travelers who must adhere to the rules of Youram when they enter the boundaries of the city.
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Umrah demands Muslims to observe two major rituals: Tawaf as well as Sa’i. Tawaf is a circling of the Kaaba. For males, it is advised to complete the first three rounds at a fast pace, then do four rounds that are performed at a relaxed pace. Then comes the Sa’i which is between Safa as well as Marwah within Mecca’s Great Mosque of Mecca as a way to remember Hagar’s search to find water in search of her child and the mercy of God in answering prayers. The pilgrims end their journey by performing Halq which is a shorter or completely shorter lengthening of hair.
Umrah is sometimes regarded as to be the “lesser pilgrimage”, in that it’s not required however it is highly advised. It can generally be completed in just a couple of hours, compared to Hajj which could take several days. It’s not intended to be used as an alternative to Hajj. Both are a demonstration of the strongest among the Muslim people and their faith in Allah(God).
The pilgrim engages in a series of rituals that are symbolic of the life of Ibrahim (Abraham) and his second wife Hajar as well as of his solidarity with Muslims across the globe. Pilgrims travel to the outskirts of Mecca in an ecstatic state Ihram in order to perform
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- Tawaf, Circumambulation of The Kaaba In Worship. This is the practice of circling Ka’bah seven times in the direction anticlockwise. The men are advised to make one small change in the Shema cloth and cover the shoulders on the left and then open the right shoulder. This is a step that was performed by Muhammad known as Idtiba. Muslims go to the Tawaf beginning location (Hajar al Aswad The Black Stone). Muslims sit in front of the Kaaba and raise their hands in Salah and say ” Bismillahi Allahu Akbar” before moving to their right. The first three rounds should be performed at a fast speed (called “Ramal”) followed by four times, and more carefully, and at a slower pace. Perform seven rounds in the same way.
- Sa’i means walking seven times among the mountains of Safa along with Marwah. Men are encouraged to walk quickly in the green light zone. This is a recreation of Hajar’s hunt for water. The infant Ismail was crying and hit the floor with his feet (some versions of this story claim that an angel slapped one of his feet or even the edge of his wings along the ground) Then, water miraculously burst forth. The source of the water is now known as Zam-Zam. Well of Zam Zam.
- Halq, also known as Taqsir. Taqsir is a shortening of hair that is usually restricted to women cutting a minimum of a millimeter or so of their hair. A Halq is an entire shaving of the head generally performed on men. Both signify the surrender of one’s will to God over the importance of appearances. The cutting or shaving of the head is only permitted until the conclusion of Umrah.
These ceremonies complete the Umrah as well as the pilgrim may choose to leave the ihram. While not part of the ceremony, many pilgrims will drink water from the Well of Zamzam.
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