Umrah is non-mandatory but one of the best acts of worship in Islam that lead millions of Muslim from all around the world to the sacred city of Mecca. The beautiful word ‘Umrah’ is derived from the Arabic word I’timar, which means ‘a visit’ or ‘visited place’. However, the word Umrah has a different meaning in Islamic terminology; it refers to performing Tawaf around the Holy Kaaba and doing Sa’ee (walking between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times).
Unlike the annual pilgrimage, Umrah can be performed at any time of the year because there is no fixed time performing of this worship.
Moreover, in this period of inflation, Umrah is cheaper than Hajj. Though Hajj has great importance in Islam as it is one of the pillars of Islam but those who can’t afford hajj can quench their thirst of visiting their Lord’s House by performing Umrah package with flights.
Our beloved Prophet PBUH performed four Umrah in His life and recommended Sahabah (companions) and Muslims to perform it as well. Allah’s Apostle said, “The performance of minor pilgrimage (Umrah) is expiation from the sins committed (between this and the previous one)”.
Respected scholars agreed that umrah is a process of excellence and is prescribed in Islam but it is not obligatory. But some disagreed with the last point about whether Umrah is obligatory or not. The most notable Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifa and Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah were of the view that Umrah is beautiful Sunnah of Prophet PBUH and mustahab.
For evidence, they quoted the hadith reported by al-Tirmidhi (931) from Jaabir, who narrated that once Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) was asked whether ‘Umrah is mandatory?’ Allah’s Messenger said, No, Umrah is not mandatory but whoever does so Umrah is better. Al-Shafi, ibn Abd al-Barr, al-Nawwi, ibn Hajar classed the above mention hadith as a weak (da’eef).
Al-Shafi narrates that, this hadith is da’eef and can’t be used as evidence. There is no clear indication that says Umrah is a voluntary act. The hadith was narrated in isnaads that are not considered valid so cannot be used as evidence said by Ibn Abd al-Barr. In al-Majmoo Al-Nawwi said, the scholars classified this hadith as da’eef.
Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmad were of the view that Umrah is obligatory and their view was also favoured by Imam al-Bukhari. They present the number of things like evidence to confirm that Umrah is obligatory. Let us shed light on some of them;
- Ibn Maajah narrated from Hazrat Ayesha R.A, “I said, ‘O Prophet PBUH, do women have to take part in jihad? He PBUH said, yes, they must do jihad in which there is no fighting; hajj and Umrah”. Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo, according to the conditions of al-Bukhari and Muslim its isnaad is saheeh which is also classed saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh ibn Maajah. The Holy Prophet PBUH said alayhinna in hadith i.e. “they must do”, which means it, is obligatory.
Two Subsidiary Issues regarding Umrah:
The obligation of al Umrat almufradah is not linked with the istita’ah for the Hajj. For a pilgrim it is possible to go the Mecca at a time other than the time of Hajj but not possible to visit during Hajj time then Vip Umrah packages London instead of Hajj becomes compulsory for him. If he dies before performing, the expense will be taken out from his inheritance. Likewise, if anyone has ability for Hajj al’ifrad rather than Umrah, then it becomes compulsory upon him.
The Imamiyyah agree on a point that it is not allowed for one intending to enter Makkah to cross the miqat or enter its Haram without entering into a state of ihram; even he has performed Hajj and Umrah before many times. Except when the entry and exit recur several times during the month or when he reenters for a second time within 30 days, it is not compulsory. According to Abu Hanifa, it is not allowed to go beyond miqat and enter to Haram without entering into the state of Ihram but it is permissible to visit other areas without Ihram.