Umrah 2024: History, Booking, Rituals & More
Check out this comprehensive Umrah guide; its history, purpose, rituals, dos and don’ts, hotel stays, travel options, news, and highlights, so that you can have time to prepare for this mentally, physically, and spiritually challenging journey, and avoid last-minute rush. Perform the spiritually uplifting trip in the most correct way as per Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) Sunnah and reap its full rewards from Allah the most Gracious, In’sha Allah.
Table of Contents
What is Umrah?
Umrah is a spiritual journey, also known as a ‘minor’ or ‘lesser’ pilgrimage, performed by Muslims at Islam’s most sacred place – Makkah. Derived from an Arabic word, “E’atmar” means “Visit”, one performs Umrah to purify his soul, get in touch with his inner peace, and get closer to Allah.
Umrah is not a mandatory pilgrimage like Hajj, but rather a voluntary spiritual journey, undertaken by Muslims of every ethnicity, gender, age, and culture, as a sign of their devotion to Allah. The act of performing it once in a lifetime is a confirmed Sunnah.
There is no specific time for performing it, no specific month, day, or year for Umrah as is the case in Hajj, so Muslims can perform it at any time of the year.
The Umrah rituals begin at the Miqat (a principal boundary where Muslim pilgrims intending to perform Ḥajj or Umrah enter the state of Iḥram) with pilgrims entering into Ihram.
What is the history of Umrah?
During the early days of Islam, tensions were constantly on the rise in Makkah between the Muslims and the pagans, who prevented the former from performing Hajj in Makkah.
In 628 AD (6 Hijri), Muslims traveled from Madinah to Makkah, after the Prophet (PBUH) had a vision of the Muslims performing the rituals of Umrah.
They were, however, refused entry by the Quraysh tribe, and the Prophet (PBUH) did not wish to enter the holy site by force out of respect for Al Ka’aba. Diplomatic negotiations occurred between the two parties, concluding with the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah that promised a period of 10 years free of hostilities, and access to Al Ka’aba for three days annually.
In the subsequent Hijri year, the Prophet (PBUH) made his way to Makkah together with 2000 Muslims, men, women, and children, where they performed the rituals of what would become the first Umrah in Islam.
Learn more about the history here.
Why is Umrah important?
Umrah is a sunnah, not an obligatory act, and Muslims are advised to strive to perform it not once, but for as many times as they are able during their lifetime.
This is evident in a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him), wherein the Prophet (PBUH) says:
“The performance of Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous ones. And the reward for Hajj Mabrur (pilgrimage accepted by Allah) is nothing but Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari)
Performed with the truest of intentions, Umrah can be a way to purify the mind and soul troubled by sin and blemished by negativity, for it has been reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“Alternate between Hajj and Umrah, because both rid one of poverty and sins just as the blacksmith’s bellows remove all impurities from metals like iron, gold, and silver.” (At-Tirmidhi)
How to apply for Umrah visa?
Citizens from countries like Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE, and Bahrain need not apply for an Umrah visa but need to show their national ID cards upon entry to Saudi Arabia.
However, all other foreign visitors, require an Umrah visa. This can be conveniently organized through Umrahme. Get in touch with us today. With our service, you can secure your visa in just a few minutes, sidestepping the typical long wait, while also pre-booking accommodations and transfers for a stress-free journey.
In addition to this, those travelling to Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa can now perform Umrah on that same visa. Planning a visit? Let Umrahme simplify the process for you with our comprehensive Umrah packages.
For detailed information on the Saudi visa, we invite you to read our post ‘Everything You Need to Know About Saudi Visa‘.
Who can apply for an Umrah visa?
Umrah can be performed by any Muslim around the world. Saudi Arabia offers 4 types of visas to perform Umrah (i.e.) tourist visa, business visit visa, Umrah visa, and eVisa.
Umrah for Women
Saudi Arabia has made the historic decision of allowing Muslim women to perform Umrah without a male guardian (or mahram) irrespective of their age or country of origin.
They can follow the same procedures as men when applying for an Umrah visa. At Umrahme, we provide top-notch service for single ladies wishing to perform Umrah alone. Our goal is to ensure every pilgrim has a relaxing, memorable, and special umrah trip.
You can get in touch with one of our customer service agents to learn more about the Umrah visa.
Umrah with kids
This could be the most daunting and challenging task for any parent to travel to Umrah with their kids, especially in a place where there are huge crowds. But with proper preparation and advance planning, parents can feel at ease and tension-free when performing Umrah with their children.
8 Essential tips for parents traveling with kids for Umrah:
1. Teach them about Umrah
Enlightening your kids about the importance of Umrah, its significance in Islam, and the rewards of performing Umrah, can pique interest in them.
You can make them read through several online resources and interactive Umrah books to develop the excitement and interest of looking forward to a much-awaited trip to the House of Allah Almighty.
2. Prepare a travel to-do list
One of the most underrated tasks many people ignore is to note down all the things that are required to pack.
Categorizing them on a sheet of paper such as clothes, shoes, toiletries, medicines, snacks, and more, filling them with all the requirements can help you be well prepared in advance and give you enough time to shop and pack.
3. Book flight tickets instead of a long road trip
If you have kids around the age of 5 and above, avoid road trips as they can get irritated and travel sickness can kick in during the long journey. Look for direct flights to keep your kids refreshed and excited.
4. Book hotels closer to Masjid Al Haram
If you’re traveling during peak seasons like Ramadan or winter season, often kids get overwhelmed when they see huge crowds around. To make your trip comfortable, book hotels that are a minute or two away from the Masjid, so that kids can get enough time to rest and rejuvenate after a tiring day.
5. Hotels that cater to kids
Makkah has some of the finest hotels in the world which are fully equipped for guests traveling with kids. When researching hotels, look out for hotels that offer kids’ clubs, daily activities that keep them entertained, and kids’ dining options.
Where to eat? Check out The Best 10 Restaurants in Makkah
6. Arrange hotel transfers
Umrah can be tiring and hectic for smaller children. Make sure to arrange transfers for pick-ups and drop-offs when commuting around Makkah and make your trip as child-friendly as possible.
7. Essentials to pack
Be prepared for much walking during Tawaf and Sa’i, so it would be best if each child is looked after by one adult. Also, carry a safety harness for toddlers who tend to run away from you.
8. Safety precautions
A basic medical kit and first-aid box are essential to carry. Attach a wristband or a chain to your kid with their name, your telephone number, and hotel information in case of an emergency when you get separated.
The best way to do it is to decide on a family meeting point. The masjid has several gates which have unique names and numbers. The family can decide on a gate number to meet in case someone gets lost.
The best way to teach your kids about Islam is by giving them a first-hand experience. Taking them for Umrah at a young age can instill a love for Allah and imbibe true Islamic values.
They get the opportunity to learn by seeing and experiencing themselves. Blessings of this highly spiritual journey are bestowed upon them just like us while they are in Al Haram. Take your kids to Umrah and let their love for Islam grow and the feeling of belonging to this great religion prosper.
How to choose and book the right hotel for Umrah?
With millions of pilgrims visiting Makkah every year, this holy city has plenty of options to stay in. However, your Umrah trip can be even more tiring and stressful if you don’t do enough research on hotels and choose the wrong one.
To avoid this situation, here are 5 tips to consider when choosing the right hotel.
1. Location – We cannot stress this enough. Location is the first factor that you need to consider when booking a hotel in Makkah. If budget isn’t a criterion, consider booking hotels that have direct access to Masjid Al-Haram.
You can choose hotels that are a walking distance of the masjid and save on transportation fees.
You can check more hotel options here.
2. Budget – There is an array of hotels from 3-star and 5-star to lodgings in Makkah with different budgets. Hotels closer to the masjid are pricier than the ones that require a little walking. Make sure to read hotel reviews not only on their website but other credible travel sites and compare other room rates before booking your ideal hotel.
3. Stay duration – If you’re going for Umrah for the first time, we would recommend staying 4 days in Makkah and 3 days in Madinah. Generally, Umrah can be performed in one night, but prolonging your stay gives you the advantage of getting closer to the Ka’aba, spending your time reciting the Quran and praying in the beautiful Masjid Al-Haram for more days.
4. Hospitality and service – This is an important factor to consider. During peak seasons like Ramadan, Hajj, or peak prayer times, you want to come back to a cozy bed, good food, and clean rooms. Reading hotel reviews and researching hotels offering impeccable service can help facilitate your decision on booking the ideal hotel.
5. Dining options – Makkah is visited by pilgrims from all over the world prompting hotels to serve different cuisines to their guests. There is no shortage of dining options be it either in-room, buffet restaurants, fine-dining restaurants, or local street shops.
6. Facilities – Not many consider hotel facilities and amenities while booking their stay, but these factors equally contribute to the whole experience of your Umrah trip. For instance, having free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, a good-working AC unit, clean washrooms, towels, kids club, a separate elevator for pilgrims, and other hospitality services play a vital role in enhancing the guest experience.
Check out the finest hotels in Makkah here.
What to pack for Umrah?
Packing for Umrah can be daunting, especially for first-time pilgrims. This guide covers everything you need to know, from essential clothing and toiletries to travel documents and medications.
Embarking on a journey of faith to perform Umrah is a deeply spiritual and transformative experience. To ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip, it is crucial to pack the right essentials. We will guide you through the process of packing your Umrah essentials, ensuring you have everything you need for a comfortable and fulfilling pilgrimage.
- Your travel documents: Before anything else, ensure you have all the necessary travel documents, including; your passport, visa, identification cards, flight tickets, vaccination certificates, hotel booking confirmation, passport-size photographs, relationship certificate (if you are performing Umrah with your spouse), the itinerary for your trip, and contact numbers for emergencies. Keep them in a secure and easily accessible place.
- Al Ihram: Pack at least two sets of Ihram to ensure you have a spare. Opt for lightweight and breathable fabric, as you will be wearing it throughout your journey.
- Clothing essentials: Pack modest and comfortable clothing suitable for the climate in Makkah and Madinah. Keep in mind that you will be visiting holy sites, so choose attire that covers your shoulders and knees. Carry enough undergarments, socks, and sleepwear for the duration of your trip.
- Footwear: Invest in a comfortable and sturdy pair of sandals or slippers that are easy to slip on and off, as you will be required to remove your shoes frequently during prayers and visits to the mosque. Also, make sure that the footwear you will be wearing during Tawaf and Sa’i is not stitched.
Umrah Essentials for Women
For ladies planning to undertake this sacred journey, it is essential to be well-prepared and equipped with the knowledge and essentials that will ensure a comfortable and spiritually fulfilling experience.
Consider these essentials while preparing for Umrah;
Modest Clothing, loose-fitting garments that cover the entire body, such as abayas, hijabs, and niqabs. It is advisable to carry lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for the varying weather conditions in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and comfortable Footwear.
Always keep new, unused shoes in order to wear them during Tawaf and Sa’i it is more comfortable and practical and protects your foot.
Personal hygiene products: Pack a small toiletry bag with essential items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and a travel-sized towel. Consider carrying unscented products to maintain the sanctity of the holy places.
Medications and First Aid Kit: If you have any prescribed medications, ensure you carry an ample supply for the duration of your trip. Additionally, pack a basic first aid kit with band-aids, pain relievers, and any other necessary medications.
Money and travel essentials: Carry enough local currency and have a secure place to store your money. It is also wise to have a small bag or pouch to keep your valuables, such as your phone, wallet, and passport, close to you at all times.
A Prayer Mat and Travel size Quran: A lightweight prayer mat is essential for performing your daily prayers. Additionally, bring a small pocket-sized Quran or a digital Quran app on your phone to recite and reflect upon during your journey.
Electronic devices and accessories: Carry necessary electronic devices such as your smartphone and chargers. Don’t forget to bring a universal adapter if you’re traveling from a different country to ensure compatibility with local power outlets.
Snacks and water bottles: Keep a few energy bars or snacks handy to sustain yourself during long journeys or while waiting at airports. Also, carry a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your trip.
Packing your Umrah essentials requires thoughtful planning and consideration. By ensuring you have the right items, you can focus on the spiritual aspects of your journey without worrying about practicalities. Remember, it’s not just about the physical items you pack, but also the intention and sincerity you bring along. May your journey be blessed and may you find solace and closeness to Allah during your Umrah.
Check out this Umrah Essentials Checklist before traveling
Which apps to download before going for Umrah?
In today’s digital age, planning your Umrah journey has never been easier. There are a number of specialized apps available to assist pilgrims, covering everything from acquiring essential permits and high-speed railway bookings to locating the Qibla direction and accessing digital Quranic resources. Leveraging these tools not only simplifies logistics but also enriches the spiritual experience of your pilgrimage.
Which travel option to prefer for your Umrah trip?
There are 3 options you can consider when planning your Umrah trip. Based on your budget and the number of days you are willing to stay, you can select either a car, bus, or a flight.
Umrah By Road
If you love long drives and want to satiate your appetite for an adventure on the road, you can drive to Saudi in your own car. The excellent road conditions are a great way to enjoy the road trip. Make sure you have a valid driving license or an international driving license that is permitted by both countries.
Drive towards the Salwa Border crossing ahead of time, as it takes about 2 hours to pass through the traffic, clear the formalities, and enjoy a memorable drive to Riyadh or Jeddah.
For a captivating road trip through Saudi, check out our detailed guide full of insider tips and best routes.
Umrah By Flight
Every major airline company, like FlyDubai and Saudia Airlines, flies from Dubai to Jeddah. After your Umrah visa has been issued, you can book tickets to Jeddah and book an airport taxi to reach Makkah to perform your Umrah journey.
After your Umrah, you can either book a taxi or use the Haramain High-speed Railway train to travel to Madinah.
Unlock Madinah’s hidden gems to top restaurants – with our insightful guide. Don’t miss this compact yet essential read for every visitor.
How to perform Umrah step-by-step?
Umrah can be performed by completing a set of rituals in a certain way, in a specific order, and by a defined number of times. You should be aware of the correct Umrah procedure in order to receive maximum rewards and benefits.
The Umrah pilgrimage comprises 3 main rituals;
- Tawaf, which is also called the Circling around the Kaaba in an anti-clockwise direction.
- Sa’i, which is to walk back and forth between Jabal Al Safa, south of the Kaaba, and Al Marwa, north of the Kaaba for seven times.
- Halq is the shaving or trimming of the hair for male pilgrims. Women can cut an inch length of their hair.
Here’s a simple step-by-step guide where you can learn how to do Umrah:
Step 1: The pilgrim first reaches the place at Miqat (a predefined place in which a Muslim can intend to start his Ihram) and has a firm intention to start the rituals of Umrah by entering Ihram. The first phase of Umrah starts by donning the Ihram clothes with firm and pure intention.
Make sure pilgrims are not allowed to shave hair, wear perfumes, cut nails, or trim their beards once they are in Ihram. This is a state when you will need to keep your worldly matters out.
Step 2: After wearing your Ihram, travel to Makkah by reciting Talbiya on your way.
Step 3: Once you reach Makkah, enter Masjid Al Haram. Make sure to lower your gaze until you reach the Mataf area. Don’t look at anything and lift your head to view the beautiful and magnificent holy Kaaba. Let it be your first glance.
Step 4: Perform Tawaf by circulating around the Ka’aba in an anticlockwise direction. Start from where Hajar Al Aswad is. You can easily find that out by searching for a green light on one of the walls of the masjid on top. It is completed by encircling the Ka’aba seven times.
There is a set of duas to be recited while performing Tawaf which has been shared below.
After completing Tawaf, perform 2 Rakats of Salat-ul-Tawaf near Maqam e-Ibrahim and drink a glass of Zamzam whilst continuing to make duas.
Step 5: Now time for Sa’i. You can head towards the Safa-Marwah hills to perform this ritual. Male pilgrims can move swiftly back and forth seven times. Start from Safa and end at Marwa Hills.
You can recite any dua you wish during Sa’i.
Step 6: After Sa’i, you need to perform ‘Halq’ or ‘Taqsir’. It means to either shave your head or trim your hair.
Step 7: Once the 3 rituals are completed, you will exit the state of Ihram. You can either go back to your room or if you’ve performed Umrah at night, you can stay till Fajr prayers and then head back to your hotel rooms.
Watch this Umrah rituals video for a detailed explanation of how to perform Umrah step-by-step.
If you need any assistance on how to book your Umrah trip or need a more detailed version of Umrah, you can get in touch with us.
What duas and adhkars to say during Umrah?
Start preparing your list of Umrah Dua. For you have been chosen by Allah to go on a sacred journey that will leave you sins-free, like a newborn baby. You should prepare yourself well for this trip physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Prepare yourself physically by going to the masjid for prayers, doing some exercises, and eating healthier. You can start reading about Umrah, its rituals, and its graciousness to prepare yourself mentally.
For the spiritual part, you can start doing Nawafel, Sunnah, Sadaqa, and Dhikr to cleanse your soul and get ready for the divine wave of spirituality that is about to hit you.
Get the Umrah dua list here.
What are the benefits of Umrah?
There are profound benefits when a pilgrim performs Umrah with utmost love, deep faith, and complete dedication.
You become a guest in the House of Allah the moment you step into the premises of Masjid Al Haram. A blanket of peace, tranquility, and calmness resides in your heart. If this is going to be your first Umrah trip and the moment has arrived to enter the masjid, make sure to not look at anything except make the first glance at the beautiful Holy Ka’aba.
One of the most beautiful Sunnahs of the beloved Prophet of Allah SWT is Umrah.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) responded, “Perform Hajj and Umrah consecutively, for they cleanse poverty and sin like hollers take impurity from iron,” when they asked about the advantages of Umrah.
Other benefits are getting a chance to wipe out your past sins when Umrah is performed with true faith and being forgiven by Allah. Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “From one Umrah to another is expiation for what comes in between, and ‘Hajj Al-Mabrur’ brings no reward less than Heaven.”
Why should we do Umrah during Ramadan?
Perform Umrah during the holy month of Ramadan to reap maximum rewards.
Al Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said:
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah 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” Umrah is best performed during Ramadan. As the rewards are equal to that of Hajj. When the pilgrim returns from Hajj, all his sins are omitted, and he starts again with a clean slate.
However, performing Umrah in Ramadan is equal to 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 can perform it.
It is truly a breathtaking sight, thousands of people gathering from all over the world in the Grand Mosque to worship Allah while fasting. Their only intention is to earn Allah’s pleasure, acceptance, and mercy.
Check out the benefits of Umrah during Ramadan.
What are the do’s and don’ts of Umrah?
As you embark on your Umrah journey, many pilgrims tend to make mistakes due to their lack of knowledge. We have jotted down 6 mistakes that you can avoid and have a fruitful and enlightening experience.
1. Don’t tire yourself before traveling. Pack ahead of time, organize everything in advance like airport transfers, and take adequate rest before the big day.
2. Don’t overshop. It is always nice to get some souvenirs for family and friends when you go back, but don’t waste your time shopping as you would want to spend more time in the House of Allah.
3. Don’t jostle or push others to reach Al Ka’aba or The Black Stone. It is important to maintain order and respect others, to avoid any major injuries.
4. Don’t leave your group at any point. Always keep a card with your guide’s contact details, your information, and the hotel information in case you get lost.
5. Don’t get distracted with worldly matters. Your main focus should be to reconnect with Allah and find solace in worship.
6. Keep Masjid Al-Haram clean. Do not litter and leave trash in the masjid as this is the House of Allah.
How to stay fit and healthy during Umrah?
Taking care of one’s health and well-being is equally crucial to fully embracing this sacred experience. From dealing with the desert climate to keeping your energy levels up, there’s much to consider. Dive into our detailed guide for vital health-centric tips to fortify both body and spirit during your Umrah. Make the most of this spiritual voyage by ensuring you’re well-prepared in every aspect.
What are the best places to see in Makkah after performing Umrah?
Once you’re in Makkah, why not take advantage of visiting and exploring the ancient city, also historically known as the ‘Birthplace of Islam’. You can opt for day tours and excursions to the outskirts after completing your Umrah.
These places play a vital role in the history of our Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him). As a Muslim, visiting these 10 important sites in Makkah can deepen your understanding of Islam and increase your love for our Prophet (peace be upon him) and his immense effort to make an impact around the world.
- Jannat Al Mu’alla: The second most famous cemetery in the history of Islam.
- Jabal An Noor: The mountain is the home of cave Hira where the first revelation was given to our Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him).
- Mount Arafat: The mountain where our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave his last sermon and a mountain sacred to Hajj pilgrims.
- Masjid Ayesha: You can make a short visit to the second-largest masjid in Makkah. This place serves as Miqat where pilgrims wear their ihram.
- Maktabat Makkah Al Mukarramah: A small library stands proudly on the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
- Cave of Thaur: Popularly known for the story of a spider who spun his web around the entrance of this cave when our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) was hiding from his enemies while migrating to Madinah.
- Medina: After your visit to Makkah, you can either book a taxi or commute using the Haramain railway to visit the second-holiest city in Islam.
Get insider tips on the best places to see in Makkah here.
How to carry the spirituality of Umrah forward?
After your incredible journey to the House of Allah and performing one of the best acts of worship, it is time to change and reflect upon yourself.
It is the moment to change your inner self, stay more connected to Allah, stay humble and kind with your near and dear ones, and strive towards earning the pleasure and mercy of Allah daily with your prayers.
After you return home from Umrah, maintain the same faith and connection with Allah, feel less distracted by worldly matters, give more charity, adopt good habits, and stay more composed towards the ups and downs in life, knowing that everything that happens is from Allah and it is He who takes you out in every problem or situation.
Read more on post-Umrah reflections.
How to have a meaningful Umrah?
Umrah is a spiritually rewarding pilgrimage to Makkah, undertaken by Muslims. This voyage strengthens one’s bond with Allah and offers immeasurable spiritual benefits. The experience, however, can be reaped based on one’s preparation, both spiritually and physically.
You need to work on the essence of preparing for this sacred journey, covering aspects such as:
- Aligning your spiritual intentions.
- Enhancing your understanding of rituals.
- Practical preparations for a smooth trip.
- Navigating the bustling city of Makkah.
- Spend your non-Umrah hours more efficiently
Discover our best deals on Umrah packages. For an unforgettable spiritual journey, book your Umrah with us today!
How has modern technology helped enhance the Umrah experience?
The digital age has left no stone unturned, and even the deeply spiritual journey of Umrah has felt its transformative touch. From seamless online bookings to the way pilgrims share their sacred moments, technology has reshaped the entire pilgrimage experience.
Interested in exploring the blending of tradition and technology during this sacred pilgrimage? Learn how modern advancements have enhanced both convenience and connectivity, resulting in a unique experience like never before.
Our approach to delivering a profound Umrah experience is continually adapting. As recognized industry leaders, we ensure that every pilgrim’s journey is seamless, full of enlightenment, and spiritually nurturing. We stand beside you at every step, making your spiritual journey an unforgettable one.
We proudly offer specially crafted Umrah and Umrah Plus packages, tailored to fit your unique needs, ensuring an untroubled pilgrimage. Book your personalized Umrah package with us today.
Let us take you there!