What is Umrah?
In Arabic, the word ‘Umrah is derived from I’timaar which means a visit. However, ‘Umrah in Islamic terminology, means paying a visit to Ka’ bah, performing Tawaaf (circumambulation) around it, walking between Safaa and Marwah seven times. A performer of ‘Umrah puts off his Ihraam by having his hair shaved or cut. ‘Umrah can be performed along with Hajj and in other days as well.
‘Umrah can be performed during anytime in the year, there is no fixed time for ‘Umrah.
The Pillars of `Umrah are four:
Previously prohibited during Ihraam.
During ‘Umrah, pilgrims do not go to Minaa, ‘Arafaat and Muzdalifah or throw pebbles on the Jamrahs (stone pillars representing devils) or offer animal sacrifice. These rights are only performed during Hajj.
How to perform ‘Umrah:
As for men, they must assume their Ihraam at the Meeqaat by wearing two pieces of fabric called the Izaar and the Ridaa’. The Ridaa’ covers the top half of the body, while the Izaar covers the lower half. No other clothing is allowed to be worn in addition to these – no underwear, no pants, no shirt, no turban, no hat, etc. are to be worn.
Then the pilgrim makes the intention at the Meeqaat to begin the rites of ‘Umrah by entering the state of Ihraam. The intention must be made in the heart, while the statement made afterwards is: “Labayka ‘Umrah” or “Allahumma labbayka ‘Umrah”. This statement begins the rites of `Umrah. So the first pillar of `Umrah is the Ihraam. The intention is made in the heart, while the tongue recites the opening Talbiyyah. And if you wish, when uttering Talbiyyah, you may state a condition to Allaah fearing that which may prevent you from completion of the ‘Umrah whether illness or fear – saying “in habasanee haabes fa mahillee haithu habastanee” (I come out of the state of Ihraam from the place You prevent me from continuing). So if you do that and are then prevented or become ill – then you may come out of Ihraam. Then repeat the Talbiyyah: “labbayk Allahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk, innal-hamda wan-ni’mata laka wal-mulk, laa shareeka lak” (“In response to your call O Allaah I perform ‘Umrah, here I am O Allaah. In response to Your call. You have no partner. In response to Your call. All Praise and Blessings, and the Ownership of all that You created is Yours (alone). You have no partner”)
Upon arriving at the sacred mosque in Makkah (Al-Masjid Al-Haraam), you should enter with your right foot and say: “Bismillaah, Allaahumma Salli ‘Alaa Muhammad, Allaahumma Ighfirli waftahli Abwaaba Rahmatik. (In the name of Allaah! O Allaah! Exalt the mention of your Messenger. O Allaah! Forgive my sins, and open the gates of Your mercy for me).” You should enter in a manner expressing humility and gratitude to the blessings He, Almighty, conferred upon you.
A pilgrim must walk, keeping the Ka’bah on his left. When you reach the Yamaani corner touch it with your right hand, if possible, but do not kiss it, and say: “Bismil-laahi wa Allaahu Akbar”. If this is difficult for you, then go on performing tawaaf without touching it, pointing at it or even saying “Allaahu Akbar” because this was not narrated from the Prophet on the other hand whenever you reach or are parallel to the black stone, touch it with your right hand, kiss it and say, “Bismillaah Allaahu Akbar”, if it is not possible then it is enough to point at it and say, “Bismillaah, Allaahu Akbar”.
During this Tawaaf it is preferred for a man to do two things:
Make supplication from your heart, for that which will benefit you. Recite whatever you wish, supplicate to Allaah by asking for good, recite the Quran, anything you wish. There are no specific statements or supplications to be recited during the Tawaaf that are authentically established in the Sunnah. However it is recommended to say between the two corners during each circumbulance as it is reported from the Messenger of Allaah : “…Our Lord, grant us good in this life and good in the hereafter and save us from the punishment of the Hellfire.” [Quran: 2:201]
Then pray two short Rak’ahs, as close as conveniently possible, behind Maqaam Ibraheem. If it is not possible then you can pray them anywhere in the sacred mosque. It is preferred to recite during the first Rak’ah the chapter “Al-Kafiroon”  and during the second one the chapter of “Al-lkhlaas” .
Upon completing the two Rak’ahs, return to the Black Stone and touch it, if convenient
“Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar. Laa ilaaha il-lall-llaahu wadahu la shareeka lahu, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu, wa huwa ‘alaa qulli shay’in qadeer. Laa ilaaha il-lall-llaahu wahdahu, anjaza wa’dahu, wa nasara ‘abdahu, wa hazamal ahzaaba wahdahu” (Allaah is the Greatest, Allaah is the Greatest, Allaah is the Greatest. None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah 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.)
There are no particular supplications to be recited between Safaa and Marwah. Seven circuits are to be completed ending the last one on Marwah.
Then one is to have his hair cut although shaving it is better. Women should shorten their hair by a finger-tips length from the end. The rights of ‘Umrah have now been completed.
Hatem Naji Fariz