Umrah Minor Pilgrimage and its Significance
Muslim religion is loaded with tradition and simbolism. Ceremonies are for its followers a mandatory appointment and millions of them carry out the major pilgrimage, called Hajj, every year, which takes place during the muslim month of du l-hiyya. However, it is very expensive and it is only mandatory of those who have the economic resources to afford it. In order to give muslims the possibility of pilgrimaging in a less formal and strict way, the Umrah Minor Pilgrimage has been established. This pilgrimage can be carried out at any moment of the year and, therefore, it turns out to be more comfortable and less expensive for the faithful who has low monetary resources.
Three Ways of Carrying Out the Umrah Minor Pilgrimage
Contrary to Hajj major pilgrimage, Umrah Minor Pilgrimage is not compulsory for muslims without disability and for those who can afford it, but it is highly recommended and as it can be carried out at any moment of the year, it does not interfere with the work activities of the person who decides to make it. There are three ways of doing this pilgrimage, which is less strict than the Hajj. You will find below the explanation of the three of them:
Assume Ihram: it is not permitted to the faithful, neither in the Hajj nor in the Umrah, to go directly to Kaaba y Mecca and make the pilgrimage, but they have to go through five miqat which situated in the surroundings of Mecca before it. The miqat act as sacred barriers through which the faithful have the obligation to go through before carrying on with the pilgrimage. The aim is that the pilgrims absorb a state of purity that they will maintain along the whole Umrah. The mentioned miqat are: Dhu’l-Hulayfah, Juhfah, Qarn al-Manazil, Dhat Irq, Dhat Irq, to which the Ihram in the city of Yeda (highly recommended by muslim investigators and in which the sacrifice of an animal may be required) and Taneem are added. When the state of purity required to make the Umrah Minor Pilgrimage is assumed, the following actions are forbidden: arguing, shouting, make use of offensive language, being aggressive, showing affection to your spouse, having sexual intercourses, getting married, playing jokes, killing animals if it is not for self-defense or because they are bothering, like in the case of mosquitoes, shaving, perfuming, cutting your nails, men cannot cover their heads, wear socks or closed shoes. The following step is reciting the Talbiyah, a short prayer which aim is to announce God the presence of the pilgrim and his or her intention to complete the pilgrimage.
Performing Rituals of Umrah: once the state of Ihram has been acquired, the rituals of the Umrah Minor Pilgrimage are performed. It is then that the pilgrims go to the Kaaba and they repeat Talbiyah prayer for themselves. After that, the pilgrims perform the Tawaf, that consists of going round the Kaaba seven times in counterclockwise. This event is preceded by a prayer the pilgrim recites. During the Tawaf, praises to God are offered. When Tawaf comes to an end, the Sa’i takes place, which consists of walking from side to side between two mountains called Safa and Marwa. Finally, to leave the state of Ihram, on the seventh day of the ritual the pilgrim shaves his head and, in the case of the women, they only had it cut.
Preparation for the Umrah Minor Pilgrimage: preparation for the pilgrimage is as important as the pilgrimage itself. Therefore, booking the flight and the hotel, getting the visa to enter Saudi Arabia as a pilgrim, getting a health insurance, attending Umrah seminars in your community, packing and being aware of the cultural differences that as a foreigner you will have, are vital to successfully perform the Umrah Minor Pilgrimage.
Importance of the Umrah Minor Pilgrimage
As in the pillars of Islam it is Hajj, major pilgrimage, making the Umrah is very important for the faithful who cannot afford such an expensive pilgrimage as Hajj is. For instance, performing it is almost a moral obligation of every muslim who boasts of such.