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What is Umrah?
Umrah is sometimes known as the lesser pilgrimage or the minor pilgrimage, in comparison to the annual Hajj pilgrimage of Islam. It is a visit Muslims take to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, outside of the designated Hajj pilgrimage dates. The word “umrah” in Arabic means to visit an important place. Alternate spellings include umra or ‘umrah.
During Umrah, some of the same pilgrimage rites are performed as those performed as Hajj:
- Wearing of the ihram
- Tawaf: walking seven times around the Ka’aba
- Sa’y: running between the hills of Safa and Marwa
- Shaving or clipping of the hair
However, the other steps of Hajj are not done during Umrah. Therefore, performing Umrah does not meet the requirements of Hajj and doesn’t replace one’s obligation to perform Hajj. The Umrah is recommended but not required in Islam.
The pilgrim completes the Tawaf and Sa’y rituals, and Umrah ends with the man shaving his hair and the women shortening hers only by a fingertip’s length from the end.