How do you feel when you plan a journey? You feel excited, downright nervous and can’t stop babbling about it.
You plan everything in advance, the food you plan to eat, the clothes you plan to wear and how you will be spending your day and night, etc. everything is planned ahead of the journey. Now, this is about a regular journey but what if you are planning to go on a spiritual journey?
As Angeles Arrien has said,
“There comes a time in the spiritual journey when you start making choices from a very different place. And if a choice lines up so that it supports truth, health, happiness, wisdom, and love, it’s the right choice.”
A holy journey is all about truth, health, happiness, wisdom, and love. But what really matters is the spirit of righteousness you become aware of…such is the wonderful journey of Umrah.
Umrah – The Holy Journey:
The root meaning of the word Umrah means “to visit” derived from the word I’timar. Now, what does it mean to visit? Pay a visit to Kaaba, to perform Tawaf (circumambulation), a walk between Safa and Marwah (7 times) just for the sake of God.
Like any other pillar in Islam, Umrah is held in high regime by Muslims all over the world. With the flexibility to perform at any time of the year, you can easily make a plan and book yourself a flight via a cheap Umrah package and plan accordingly.
How can you differentiate between Hajj and Umrah?
Mostly the rituals are the same, with a few differences in technicalities such as during Umrah Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah are not visited, and these rights are restricted on for time period of hajj only along with the animal sacrifice. And Umrah can be done for as long as one can think of.
Before you decide to perform Umrah you have to gather some basic information about the details. For every religious zeal, a basic guideline is always followed up since ancient times.
What to Do and How to Do?
Let’s recall the steps to perform Umrah:
If you want to bake a cake, you follow the recipe, quantity of ingredients and time set to bake a perfect cake, likewise is the preparation for Umrah journey as well. There are certain steps you need to follow, in sequence, and learn more about it;
A bath is a foremost step in the process. When you want to perform Umrah, and you ascend to your journey, it is recommended to take an obligatory bath when you reach the point of Meeqat. Although it is said only because of the convenience for women and men if you do not take a bath on arrival at Meeqat than it’s absolutely fine also.
However, you need to avoid any product that has a fragrance. Non-fragrant hygiene products are to be used even for a bath. So you have to pay close attention to this.
Although you are coming with the desire of performing Umrah, you still need to make an official intention of doing so. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you have to sign a statement but you have to make an intention to perform Umrah by reciting duas and changing into Ihram.
Ihram is a two-piece fabric; Ridaa’ is used to cover the upper half of the body while Izar covered the lower half of the body.
While men have to wear Ihram, women can wear their regular clothing (but extremely modest and loose fittings). Usually, you will see all females wearing gowns (abayas) till floor-length and heads to cover by the scarves although covering their faces are not allowed during the prompt journey. Another thing to remember is that women are to not wear any jewelry either. You have to keep yourself bare from gems during your Umrah as an obligation.
The Muslim pilgrim enters Meeqat by stating the statements Labbayka ‘Umrah” or “Allahumma labbayka ‘Umrah”. Once the words are laid out loud, your journey begins with ease.
Once you arrive at Kaaba, approach the Black Stone, and also stop reciting the Talbiyyah. Once you make past it, you need to touch it with the right hand. But what makes the Black Stone so famous for the tale woven around it. It is said on Allah’s order, Angel Gabriel descended from heaven to earth to place the stone right at the corner beside the main entrance in Kaaba.
Whether you touch the stone or is unable to (due to massive crowd) you can face towards it and recite “Bismillah, Allahu Akbar” (In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest) or “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest).
Afterward, the pilgrim has to keep walking while Kaaba is on his left. Sometimes when pilgrims do reach the parallel side of the stone, they touch it again reciting the words but according to Sunnah (acts of Prophet PBUH), it is not compulsory.
One thing to remember, for men especially, when Tawaf begins, you have to place your Al-Idhitbaa to the right arm while its ends are over the left shoulder. When you are done with Tawaf, you can shift Ridaa to its original state. During the Tawaf, on the first three rounds, you have to walk a little faster but take small steps, known as Ar-Raml.
You are free to make duas for yourself, family and friends. You can recite other duas as well, and keep performing the Tawaf.
With no specific statement in mind, you can recite varying supplications. Once you have completed the 7 compulsory rounds, you will approach the point of Maqam-Ibrahim. On reaching this point offer two short Rakaahs (prayer), and it comes highly preferable to recite chapter Al-Kafiroon (at first Rakaahs) and Al-Ikhlass (at second Rakaahs).
After you have offered the prayer, return to the Black Stone and if possible, touch it.
Afterward, reach to Safa, and recite the obligatory verse.
Once you start climbing mount Safa, you have to make it to the top or till up far until Kaaba is visible from the high point and recite the following dua (translation is written down below);
“Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah alone, Who has no partner. To Him belongs the dominion, to Him belongs all praise, and He has power over everything. He fulfilled His promise, gave victory to His servant, and defeated the confederates alone.”
Descend towards Marwah, and make a small run (men are to do it) and then again climb and repeat. While you do it, recite the verse of the Quran as mentioned above.
You have to repeat the same step for Safa as well but without any recitation, as it has to be recited while ascending Safa for the first time only.
While you make an as short run in between from Safa to Marwah there is no supplication to recite (none in particular) but do remember to end your running at Marwah. Repeating this stance 7 times is compulsory, however.
Once done with it, you have to get a haircut or a trim but if you do shave your head, it is much obliged (for men only). On the other hand, women have to trim their hair measured at the tip of their fingertips.
Once you have trimmed/shaved your hair. You Umrah has been completed.
Every Journey Ends:
Every journey will end after a while, no matter how much you learn from it, or how contend you feel afterward. Pilgrims say that it’s sad to leave such a place where there is only peace, you forget the worldly problems and think of only what is the right way to please God. But whatever the case, maybe, you have to return to your homes and remember the journey for its worth.
After completion of Umrah, you can take a tour of surrounding areas if you like and stay a day or two extra visit historical places as well to make it a journey full of history and wisdom all sewn into one.