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Umrah

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، أَخْبَرَنَا مَالِكٌ، عَنْ سُمَىٍّ، مَوْلَى أَبِي بَكْرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ السَّمَّانِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا، وَالْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةُ ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “(The performance of) `Umra is an expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing except Paradise.”

Reference
: Sahih al-Bukhari 1773
In-book reference
: Book 26, Hadith 1
USC-MSA web (English) reference
: Vol. 3, Book 27, Hadith 1

What is Umrah?

The Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Hajj. In Arabic, Umrah means “to visit a populated place”. In the Sharia, Umrah means to perform Tawaf round the Kaabaand Sa’i between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, after assuming Ihram (a sacred state), either from a Miqat like Zu ‘l-Hulafa, Juhfa, Qarnu ‘l-Manāzil, Yalamlam, Zāt-i-‘Irq, Ibrahīm Mursīa, or a place in Hill. It is sometimes called the ‘minor pilgrimage’ or ‘lesser pilgrimage’, the Hajj being the ‘major’ pilgrimage and which is compulsory for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. The Umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended.

Why Umrah?

The act of Umrah is known to cleanse one’s soul from past committed sins. It is advised to do Umrah more than once in your lifetime so that it can act as a washing of the sins from the last time one performed Umrah. Abu Hurairah (R) narrates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, ‘An Umrah to another Umrah will be redemption of sins for whatever (minor) occurs between them.’ (Bukhari, Muslim).
Performing Umrah also protects one from poverty since they are there solely for the sake of Allah (SWT) spending their wealth and time in completing the deed. Ibn Mas’ood (R) said that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, ‘Follow up the Hajj and Umrah, because they certainly remove poverty and sins as fire separates the impurities from iron, gold and silver.’ (Tirmidhi). Also Umar bin Khattab (R) said that Prophet (S.A.W.) said, ‘Follow up between the Hajj and Umrah, because certainly succession between the two of them increases the life span and dispels poverty and sins as fire removes impurities.’ (Baihaqi)
Like Hajj, the act of Umrah is amongst the best deeds one can perform when pleasing Allah (swt). Allah (SWT) loves those who strive in his path in hopes of pleasing Him alone and Umrah is an act in which Allah (SWT) considers the pilgrim to be answering His call. Ibn Umar (R) narrates that Prophet (S.A.W.) said, ‘The warrior in the cause of Allah, the pilgrim and the one who is performing Umrah are all the delegation of Allah. He called them and they responded and they will ask of His bestowals and He will give it to them.’ (Ibn Majah)
In the blessed month of Ramadan, the reward of performing Umrah is equal to that of performing Hajj with the Prophet (S.A.W.). On many different occasions, the Prophet (S.A.W.) has told his companions that performing Umrah in the blessed month of Ramadan has rewards which are equal to performing Hajj with the Prophet (S.A.W.) himself. In one Hadith, a woman heard that the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) was going for Hajj and had asked her husband to allow for her to go with the Prophet (S.A.W.). Her husband said to her, ‘I do not possess a conveyance with which I can carry you upon.’ She said, ‘Take me on such and such a camel of yours.’ The husband said, ‘that is held up in the path of Allah.’ The man then went to Prophet (SAW) and said, ‘My wife conveys her Greetings to you and she has asked me to carry her on hajj with you.’ I told her, ‘I do not have something to carry her upon.’ She then told me to carry her upon such and such a camel of mine.’ I told her that it is kept in the path of Allah.’ Prophet (SAW) told him, ‘If you carried her upon it for Hajj, it will still be in the path of Allah. ‘She also told me to ask you (SAW), ‘What equals a Hajj with you O Messenger of Allah? Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Convey my greetings to her and inform her that Umrah performed in the month of Ramadan is equal to Hajj performed with me.’ (Abu Dawood). And finally, amongst the strongest hadith in this regard is the one related again by Ibn Abbas in which he said he heard the Prophet (S.A.W.) say ‘Umrah performed in the month of Ramadan will equal (in rewards) to that of Hajj or Hajj performed with Me (SAW).’ (Bukhari, Muslim)