Hajj and Umrah, both remain the most significant and the only two holy pilgrimages of Islam. These pilgrimages are observed in the Holy city of Makkah in Saudia Arabia. Every year, tens of millions of pilgrims arrive for the holy rituals in the kingdom as they Book Hajj Package. While there are a lot of similarities between these pilgrimages, some of the things differ as well.
Here’s a brief description of the differences that lie between Hajj and Umrah.
Hajj or the ‘Major Pilgrimage’ is an obligation in Islam as the 5th pillar. Every Muslim who is able to afford all the travel, accommodation, and staying expenses for the Hajj pilgrimage while also fulfilling the needs of his family; remains mentally sane as well as has the physical ability to perform the holy rituals, must offer Hajj. It’s a religious obligation for him/her. That’s why Hajj is also known as the ‘Obligatory Pilgrimage’.
That’s why when hajj becomes obligatory on a person, it is advised to perform it as soon as possible i.e., not delaying the holy rituals.
Hajj is only observed once a year. During the month of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of an Islamic Lunar calendar, the hajj rituals are observed for 5 days i.e., from the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah to the 12th. So, annually, hajj gets performed by millions of Muslims who gather in Haram at the same time and offer the holy rituals together.
While some of the Hajj rituals are the same as those of Umrah i.e., assuming Ihram from Miqat; Tawaf of the Holy Kaabah; Sa’ae between Safah and Marwah hills and Taqsir, there are additional rites as well. Such as;
• Travel to Mina Region and staying there overnight.
• Hearing Hajj Khutbah at Mount Arafat.
• Stoning of the Devil (Rami-al-Jamarat).
• Stay in Muzdalifah.
• Qurbani sacrifice.
• Farewell Tawaf.
Umrah or the ‘Minor or Lesser Pilgrimage’ isn’t an obligatory pilgrimage rather a Sunnah of our Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAWW). Anyone who can afford it, by all means, should perform it. However, if one doesn’t travel for umrah despite having the means for it, there’s no sin because it is a non-obligatory pilgrimage. Since it holds great rewards for pilgrims i.e., no less than that of Hajj, it remains advised to follow up on the performance of Umrah.
Umrah can be performed at any time of the year i.e., the umrah season lasts all-round the year but the days of Hajj. Therefore, one can easily travel for umrah whenever he desires, depending on the ease of travel and availability of time. Remember that, Ramadan is the busiest time for Umrah performance yet the most rewarding time as well.
Umrah rituals are few;
• Assuming Ihram from Miqat Boundary.
• Performing tawaf around the Holy Kaabah.
• Observing Sayee of the hills of Safah and Marwah.
• Shaving/trimming head hair.
All of the umrah rituals can be completed in a matter of few hours (only if all the rituals are performed consecutively).
These are some of the major differences between the pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah in Islam.