Lots of Muslims worldwide are diligent to perform the Umrah pilgrimage to Makkah throughout the year to restore faith, seeking to cleanse themselves of their sins surrounded by the deep feeling of tranquility the Holy Kaaba awakens. Although Umrah could be performed any time of the year - except during the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah which marks the once-in-a-lifetime Hajj duty-, performing Umrah during the holy month of Ramadan is the most preferable and especially rewarding timing. The great value of a Ramadan Umrah has been emphasized by the Prophet (PBUH): “From one Umrah to another is expiation for what comes in between, and ‘Hajj Al Mabrur’ brings no reward less than Paradise.”
Umrah Key conditions
Four key conditions must be met by both men and women to perform Umrah rituals:
1. Islam: You must be a Muslim to perform all the religious rituals.
2. Maturity and Sanity: Umrah could not be performed unless the pilgrim is mature and sane.
3. Freedom: Freedom is a must to perform Umrah.
4. Capability: Only adult male or female Muslims who are physically and financially capable should perform Umrah.
Pillars of Umrah
Umrah is based on four fundamental pillars, without which it is not complete:
- Sa’i of Safa and Marwa
- Halq or Taqsir
How to prepare for Umrah?
A person intending to perform Umrah should plan his/her journey ahead, to fully enjoy the spiritual experience.
The following are crucial arrangements to ensure a fruitful and seamless journey:
Before Heading to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
- Focus on your mental and physical fitness.
- Obtain your Umrah visa through Nusuk platform and application or through Maqam platform. You can also perform Umrah with your eVisa from the official Visit Saudi portal visitsaudi.com, your MOFA Family Visit visa, or even a visa obtained through the Embassy or Consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in your country.
- Book a round-trip ticket.
- Obtain an insurance policy.
- Book your accommodation, transportation, and field service package through an accredited Saudi Umrah company, Makarem Hotel offers online booking service, and you can also get various Umrah offers makaremhotels.com
- Download Nusuk, an indispensable holistic Hajj and Umrah application.
- Make sure to bring all the important official documents with you.
- Pack your suitcase carefully so that it contains all the essentials such as clothes and sets of Ihram (in case you want to enter the Ihram state on board), in addition to your prescriptions, painkillers, and emergency medications.
- Avoid carrying any of the materials prohibited from entering the Kingdom. Find more about prohibited items here.
After Arriving in the Kingdom:
- Book the Umrah permit for you and your companions via Nusuk application. You can also book the permit prior to arriving in the Kingdom.
- You can purchase a SIM card from the branches of telecom companies at the airport.
- You can exchange currency, when in need of cash, through bank branches at the airport or exchange offices in Makkah, Madinah, or Jeddah.
- In case you wish to change your hotel accommodation, you can book upon arrival either through the hotel representatives available at the airport or by directly contacting the hotel or going there in person.
How to reach Makkah Al-Mukarramah by a number of transportation means.
- Incoming arrivals to the Kingdom: Overseas pilgrims can arrive in Makkah through King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, the nearest to Makkah, Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah, or any of the Kingdom’s international airports as well as the Saudi land and seaports.
- Pilgrims arriving in Jeddah and Madinah can head to Makkah by the Haramain High Speed Railway, taxi, or public transport via Makkah Transit Mobile application. They can also rent a car, or benefit from ride-hailing applications such as “Uber”, “Careem”, and others.
- Domestic travelers: Pilgrims from different Saudi regions can come to Makkah by car, taxi, public transport, or take a plane to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and from there they can get to Makkah by the Haramain High-Speed Railway, taxi, or public transport via Makkah Transit Mobile application. They can also rent a car, or benefit from ride-hailing applications such as “Uber”, “Careem”, and others.
Notes and the latest Umrah news:
- Payment can be made in cash or by credit card.
- Avoid riding cars unlicensed by the Ministry of Transport and Logistics Services.
- A new pilgrims’ transport service from and to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Masjid al-Haram (the Great Mosque of Makkah has been launched. Pilgrims will benefit from free rides during the pilot phase.
- All means of transport stop outside Masjid al-Haram's central area to avoid congestion, after which pilgrims continue their journey either on foot or via shuttles provided by the Great Mosque’s administration.
Rites before Umrah
- Upon arriving in Meeqat, Umrah seekers, including Menstruating women or those experiencing postnatal bleeding, should preferably wash and clean up. Menstruating and postpartum women however must not perform Tawaf until they become pure and perform ghusl, or bathe.
- A man can freshen up before wearing his Ihram garment, as there is nothing wrong if it is not possible to wash in Meeqat. Upon arriving in Makkah, he should preferably bathe (ghusl) before performing Tawaf.
- A man replaces all stitched clothes with a special clean white garment of two seamless toweling fabrics or sheets, rida and izar. A woman performs Ihram with her ordinary clothes, as long as all of her body-except for the hands and face- is covered, refraining from using cosmetics or wearing jewelry. They then intend with their whole heart to perform Umrah rituals and say, “Here I am at your service, Oh Allah.”
- Before arriving at Masjid al-Haram, Talbiyah should be recited as much as possible.
- When a pilgrim enters Masjid al-Haram, he puts forth his right foot first and says, “In the name of Allah, may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah. Oh Allah, forgive me my sins and open to me the doors of Your mercy. I seek refuge in Allah the Almighty and in His Eminent Face and in His Eternal Dominion from the accursed Satan."
Prohibitions during Ihram:
- Removing body hair
- Sexual intercourse
- Wearing perfume
- For males: covering the head and wearing sewn clothes and tight shoes
Rituals of Tawaf around the Kaaba (Circumambulation)
- Upon arrival to Makkah, a pilgrim should recite Talbiyah and then head towards the Black Stone (al-Hajar-al-Aswad), touching it with his right hand and kissing it, if possible, without crowding out. He then says, “In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest.” If it isn’t possible to reach the stone, perform a symbolic istilam from afar and say, “Allah is the Greatest.”
- To validate Tawaf, a pilgrim should purify himself and circumambulate the Kaaba in a counterclockwise direction seven times. In case he adjoins the right pillar, he touches it with his right hand if possible and says, “In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest”. If it isn’t possible to reach the Black Stone, proceed with the circumambulation, neither pointing to it, nor doing Takbir.
- Whenever a pilgrim adjoins the Black Stone, he touches and kisses it.
- It is preferable for a male pilgrim to perform idtiba by putting the clothing of Ihram under his right armpit and draping the end of the top of the attire over the left shoulder throughout the arrival circumambulation circuits or Tawaf al-qudum.
- It is also preferable to read plenty of prayers throughout the circumambulation, saying between the two corners (Ruknain), “O Allah our Lord give us goodness in this world and goodness in the Hereafter and save us from the torment of The Fire” throughout each circuit, then ending the seventh circuit by touching the Black Stone and kissing it if possible or performing a symbolic istilam from afar and saying, “Allah is the Greatest.”
- After completing the circumambulation rituals, a male pilgrim dons his rida on his shoulders, draping the ends of the attire on his chest. He then prays two Rakats behind Maqam if possible, and if not, he may perform them anywhere in the Holy Mosque.
Sa’i of Safa and Marwa Rituals
- After performing the two Rakats, the pilgrim proceeds to the hill of Safa and reads, “Indeed, Safa and Marwa are from the Signs of Allah”, preferably facing Qibla, raising his hands and saying, “Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest, and to Allah belongs all praise. There is no deity except Allah, alone without a partner. To Him belongs the Dominion, and to Him belongs all praise. He gives life and death and He has power over everything. There is no deity except Allah alone. He fulfilled His promise, supported His slave and defeated the confederates alone.” This prayer shall be repeated three times, alongside other prayers.
- From Safa, he makes his way toward Marwa, encountering two sets of green fluorescent lights. Between these two markers, it is Sunnah for men to run at a medium pace while women should continue normally in order to get to higher ground and repeats the prayers read in Safa.
- He walks back and runs when possible until he reaches Safa, performing this seven times back and forth. It is all right for a pilgrim be on wheel chairs during the Sa’i (If required).
- During Sa’i, it is preferable to read plenty of prayers and dua. A pilgrim must be purified so that his/her Sa’i is valid.
After Umrah Rituals
- After Sa’i, a man must have his hair shaved or trimmed and it is more virtuous to have his head shaved completely in order to leave the state of Ihram. As for women, they may have their hair trimmed by the length of a fingertip.
- After performing all these steps, a pilgrim has completed his/her Umrah.
Planning to Perform More Than One Umrah in the Same Journey:
- To perform second Umrah, a pilgrim must book another Umrah permit via “Nusuk” application.
- Pilgrims must exit Makkah boundaries and then re-enter or enter Ihram at Masjid Aisha in Taneem.
- Pilgrims must perform Ihram again, then go to the Great Mosque and perform Umrah rituals.
- Upon performing an extra Umrah on behalf of someone else, name the person you intend to perform Umrah for.
- It is preferable to perform only one Umrah during the peak seasons to avoid cramming and make way for other pilgrims.
Tourism and religious activity that can be done in Makkah Al-Mukarramah
- After performing Umrah and before leaving Makkah, a pilgrim finds plenty of things to do such as roaming the Holy City and performing lots of other activities, including:
- Performing various prayers at Masjid al-Haram and enjoying the spiritual ambiance.
- Visiting historical landmarks and museums such as Jabal Alnour/ Mount of Revelation, Mount Arafat, Thawr Cave, Hira Cave, Taneem Mosque, Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque, and others.
- Visiting special destinations such as Makkah Clock Royal Tower, Clock Tower Museum, ZamZam Factory, The Two Holy Mosques Architecture Exhibition, The Kiswa factory of the Holy Kaaba, and The Library of Makkah Grand Mosque along with others.
- Visiting gardens, parks, and recreational facilities such as Al Hukair Time, Mahbas- Al-jin Park, and Hussainiya Park.
- Shopping and purchasing souvenirs and historical antiques from various shopping centers in close proximity to the sanctuary in King Abdulaziz Endowment, Makkah Towers, Jabal Omar Towers, and Al Khalil Courtyard, in addition to Makkah Mall, Souq al Hijaz, Gold and Jewelry Souq, and others.
- You can also go to Madinah and visit Masjid Nabawi, where you can enjoy praying in Rawda Sharifa, explore the city’s historical and cultural landmarks, and visit the International fair and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization from the southern direction of Rawda near Masjid Nabawi (here).
- Umrah visa holders can also explore the Kingdom’s culture and visit all the regions, including prominent cities such as Taif, Abha, Ola, etc..
Hajj and Umrah Latest News 2023:
- The number of pilgrims is back to its pre-pandemic level without any restrictions.
- Umrah visa holders are now able to tour the Kingdom, while all types of visa holders are permitted to perform Umrah.
- Saudi Arabia has extended the validity of the Umrah visa from 30 to 90 days.
- The Saudi government has reduced the cost of comprehensive insurance for overseas Umrah performers from 88 SAR to 29 SAR.
- Airport exit procedures have been accelerated, with automated registration processes, starting with fingerprint registration, facial recognition and baggage checks.
- Pilgrims heading to Makkah and Madinah are provided with special Haramain High Speed Railway tickets. Later this year, railway and airline reservation systems will be integrated.
- All financial transactions have been digitalized for a seamless experience. Pilgrims and visitors can pay by Visa card, Master card, and Apple Pay, or pay in cash.
- The next phase will introduce new technologies and state-of-the-art digital solutions that cater to all pilgrims.
- To enrich the pilgrims’ spiritual journey, some historical and Islamic sites along with museums have been set with 40 other sites under development.
- National Saudi carrier, Saudia Airlines, has announced issuing a ticket that permits its passengers to stay in the Kingdom for four days, perform Umrah, and tour the country without a visa. The procedures will be announced later on.
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These establishments include Makarem Ajyad Makkah, plus a number of other hotels across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.