Among the two significant pilgrimages undertaken by Muslims, Umrah is often referred to as the minor journey. Featuring short and simple rituals, it cleanses the mind, body, and soul of the pilgrims. Though Umrah is not obligatory, performing the pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime is highly recommended by the believers of the Islam. The journey needs planning and prepping, and this blog is the Umrah guide you need to plan it well.
What is Umrah?
Umrah or the minor pilgrimage is a pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah. Muslims from around the world take on this journey to renew their faith in Islam and Allah. Unlike Hajj Umrah is not obligatory but makes an essential part of Islam.
Umrah requirements 2023
Here are the essential requirements to take on the Umrah journey:
1. Valid passport
Pilgrims are required to carry valid passport to Saudi Arabia for at least 6 months before embarking on the journey.
2. Umrah age requirements
There are no specific age requirements for performing Umrah. However, it is generally recommended that individuals be physically and mentally capable of performing the necessary rituals. Children are allowed to perform Umrah with their parents or guardians. However, it is important to ensure that children are able to tolerate the physical demands of the journey and the rituals, such as walking long distances and standing for extended periods of time. Elderly individuals or those with medical conditions should consult with their doctor before undertaking the journey and performing the rituals. They should also take any necessary medications with them and be prepared to adjust their activities and pace accordingly.
3. Umrah visa
One must obtain an Umrah visa, which can only be obtained through an authorized travel agency. The visa application process usually requires a passport-sized photo, a valid passport, and proof of vaccination against certain diseases.
4. Umrah vaccine requirements
Pilgrims are required to produce vaccinations against many deadly diseases such as chicken pox. Further in the lights of COVID-19, pilgrims will also need vaccination certificate for the same.
5. Round-trip ticket
Pilgrims must have a confirmed round-trip ticket, with a specific date of departure from Saudi Arabia.
Pilgrims must have a confirmed reservation for accommodation in Makkah and Madinah for the duration of your stay.
Best time to do Umrah
The journey of Umrah is not time-sensitive, but December and January are the popular months when many Muslims prefer to travel to Makkah. This is because of two reasons – one, it is the end of the Hajj season, and two because the weather during months is pleasant in Makkah. As a result, hotel bookings are also easier. Other months preferred by Muslims to go for Umrah include the first and second months of the Islamic calendar, that is Muharram and Safar. Since the Islamic calendar is 10 to 12 days shorter than the solar calendar, these months do not fall on the same date every year but this year the month of Muharram will begin on 9th or 10th August.
How to reach Makkah for Umrah?
Nearest airport : King Abdulaziz International Airport (IATA: JED) in Jeddah
From the airport : Cab is the most preferred mode of transport from the Jeddah airport to Makkah city.
Intercity Travel : Tourists can choose to see the city by bus or taxi. You can also rent a car. However, there are a lot of religious places around the mosque that are at walking distance.
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia issues a special visa for Umrah pilgrims that is valid for 30 days from the date of issue. To apply for the same, pilgrims need to approach the authorized travel agencies. They need to fill in an online application form and submit the NOC certificate from their employees and a letter proving their religion, amongst other things. Besides authorized agencies, government-approved agents are also responsible for looking after pilgrims’ travel and lodging arrangements and can be contacted for the same.
Rituals of Umrah
Umrah brings peace and earns pilgrims many rewards in this life and the life hereafter. It consists of four rituals that Muslims need to perform in order to complete the journey. The first step is Ihram when the pilgrims enter the state of purity and devotion after performing Ghusl and donning Ihram garments. Next, they perform Tawaf around the Kaaba, circling it seven times counter-clockwise. In the third step – Sai, pilgrims walk between the hills of Safa and Marwa while reciting supplications. Lastly, the pilgrims shave their heads and officially complete the pilgrimage.
Umrah guide for females
For women performing Umrah, there are some special rules and guidelines that they need to observe during the pilgrimage. These rituals are mainly established to avoid attention so that everyone appears equal before Allah. One of these rules is that the female pilgrims should not wear any kind of makeup during Umrah. They must not wear a headdress that covers their forehead. Also, females must not undertake Umrah during their menstruation cycle.
Must Read: How To Perform Umrah For Women?
Accommodation near the Grand Mosque
Countless people visit the holy Kaaba every year to pay their respects to Allah. The city is home to several accommodation options including luxurious 5 star properties, as well as standard budget hotels.
Top 5-star properties near al-Haram mosque: Park Inn By Radisson Makkah Aziziyah, Pullman ZamZam Makkah, Millennium Makkah Al Naseem, and Hyatt Regency Makkah Hotel
Good Budget Stays near the Kaaba, Makkah: Dana Al Taj, Wisam Al Taj Hotel, Malak Ajyad Hotel, and Jawad Al Taj Hotel
Ziyarat Guide for Makkah
Performing ziyarat means visiting a holy place or a tomb or a shrine. In the holy city of Makkah, there are many religious sites that one must visit while they are visiting Makkah for the purpose of performing Umrah. The city is home to several beautiful mosques like Aisha Mosque where the beloved wife of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) prepared for entering Ihram and Quba Mosque, which is the second-largest mosque in the city of Makkah and the first mosque in the history of Islam. Other important sites include Jabal Al Nour, where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received his first revelation and Jabal Al Thawr, where the Prophet took refuge to escape from the Quraysh tribe.
Umrah Guide of Essentials
Before undertaking the holy pilgrimage of Umrah, it is better to plan meticulously in order to avoid any issues later. Pilgrims visiting Makkah should carefully research and book their flight tickets in order to avoid any inconvenience. They should pack according to the weather and the key Umrah rituals. In order to help pilgrims in avoiding any mistakes, here is a checklist for intending Umrah pilgrims .
Umrah Guide 2023 FAQs
What is the best time to perform Umrah?
The pilgrimage of Umrah is not time-dependent, yet December and January are the preferred months when numerous Muslims like to head out to Makkah. This is because of two main reasons: primarily it is the end of the Hajj season, and secondly because the weather during these months is pleasant in Makkah which makes it easier for the pilgrims to come to perform the rituals.
How to reach Makkah for Umrah?
The nearest airport to Makkah is the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. From the airport to Makkah city, cabs are the most preferred mode of transport as the airport is just 97.7 km away from the city. Moreover, tourists can choose to reach the city by bus.
Why do pilgrims walk around the Kaaba seven times?
During Hajj, pilgrims should circulate around it seven times in counterclockwise direction to guarantee that the Kaaba stays on their left side. The circumnavigating is known to demonstrate the unity and solidarity of the believers in the love of the one true God, Allah.
What is the Ziyarat Guide for Makkah?
Performing Ziyarat implies visiting a sacred spot or a tomb or a shrine. In the holy city of Makkah, there are many religious sites that one must visit while he/she is visiting the city for the purpose of performing Umrah.
Can you drink water during tawaf?
Tawaf should be finished in one go, and the pilgrims ought not to leave until every one of the seven rounds is finished. When the seven rounds are finished, the pilgrims should remain in Masjid Al-Haram and supplicate two rakats. After that, they must drink water from the Zamzam while reciting the dua.
How much does Umrah cost from India?
Embarking on the journey will cost you around INR 40,000 to INR 1,50,000.
What is the difference between Umrah and Hajj?
Hajj is a mandatory journey that every Muslim have to take once in their lifetime. Whereas Umrah is non-obligatory. Further, Hajj can only be done at a particular time in the year, while Umrah can be done at any time of the year.
How many days are required to complete Umrah?
Generally, one would require around 3 to 7 days to complete the journey for a memorable experience.