In the 5th of February, 2011, I had the utmost honor and pleasure of performing Umrah. This was not my first time, it was my second, but it was different. I believe my last Umrah was different I don’t know why but maybe I am different now! For starters, I never imagined myself the kind of person who would blog about a religious ritual, but while I was packing my baggage, I stopped for a moment and decided that I should write a report about what I am about to do, Umrah!
Enough about me and let’s get back to the pilgrimage. This blog is intended for people from all over the world, Muslims or non-Muslims, who are misinformed about Umrah, or just curious to know about it.
As most, if not all, people know, Mecca is the holiest city of Islam. It is located in the western part of Saudi Arabia. It is the most important city which receives pilgrims from all part of the world. Mecca, unfortunately, has no airport. But there are a number of ways of getting there. There is a large number of expressways that are connected to the city center and its interiors.
Now for me, I arrived by means of airway, to Jeddah Airport (King Abdulaziz International Airport). And then took the Jeddah-Mecca Highway, which stretches in a total of 80 kilometers. It is one of the most convenient and popular ways of getting to Mecca. The road trip was unusually amusing. I recorded some segments of it, you can watch it on YouTube.
We already booked a suit in Zamzam Hotel, ZamZam Tower. Its location is overlooking the Haram, great view. The five-star hotel is overcrowded, the whole time, the lobby, and the restaurant are packed with people, which resulted in a poor reception service. We had to wait a couple of hours before getting our room cleaned and ready. But still the location is genius, it’s worth it. Besides, the food there is marvelous and very clean.
I will start off discussing Umrah performance, a straight-forward, step-by-step, explanation.
As for my Umrah, it was rewarding, yet extremely tiring one. Although I am born a Muslim, and studied in the most Islamic country in the world, I still find it confusing to perform Umrah. I did some googling of my own, before going to Mecca that is, and I read a lot of information and guidelines on the proper and correct way of doing it. To my surprise, when I looked deeply into the topic, it was unbelievably simple!
I can sum it up in the following steps, which are easy to comprehend and remember , especially after putting them down to experience. (Note that they are very brief, I might, in fact I will miss some points. This explanation is intended for people like me, who already have a solid background on Umrah but want to revisit what they already know, get it right from a reliable “Sunni” source.)
Umrah consists of four acts that are done in order, they are sometimes referred to as ‘the Four Pillars of Umrah’.
First: Ihraam, which is assumed at the Meeqaat. Ihram is more than two pieces of white cloth worn by men, it is a “state”, a state a Muslim should be in while performing the rituals of Umrah. The most important thing here is to make the intention of Ihraam. Of course we did Ihraam while on board, in the plane. Occasionally you can recite the Talbiyyah. Upon arriving to K’abah, you can stop reciting and move on to the second step.
Second: When you get inside the Haram, you should do “Tawwaf”. Tawwaf is the action of circuiting and circumambulating seven times around the Ka’bah in an anti-clockwise direction. Where to start was confusing for me! I mean it is a circle!!! Thankfully, Islam, unlike other religions, never leave questions unanswered. The rounds should should begin from the Black Stone and ending at it. There is a green fluorescent light adjacent and opposite to the Black Stone, where I started my Tawwaf.
Third: The third pillar of Hajj is the Say’ee which is the walking, again seven times, between mount Safa and Marwa. There are no particular supplications to be recited between Safaa and Marwah. Seven circuits are to be completed ending the last one on Marwah. This was a bit puzzling for me, counting how many circuits I did, but I’ve done them and I had to shorten my hair to end my Umrah.
Fourth: Tahal-lul, which means coming out of the state of Ihraam. For me I did that by simply shortening my hair by a finger-tip length from the end. Men are encouraged to have their hair shaven completely although trimming is also permitted but there is less reward in this. By shortening the hair, my Umrah has been completed and hopefully accepted by Allah.
Thank you for reading this blog. If you are planning to an Umrah, I recommend visiting this post
you can also download a PDF version of the guideline of the above link.