MAKKAH – The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday, September 4, that the new Umrah season of the next Hijri year 1440 will start a month earlier, in the month of Muharram, the 1st Hijri month.
The first day of Muharram will be celebrated by Muslims worldwide on September 11. In fact, this is the second year that Saudi Arabia has fixed the start of the Umrah season in Muharram compared with the previous years when it was held in Safar, the second month in the Hijri calendar.
According to Mashat, the number of foreigners who performed the Umrah last year exceeded seven million worshippers.
The Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah in Hijaz that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Ḥajj which has specific dates according to the Hijri calendar.
In Arabic, Umrah means “to visit a populated place.” Islamic Shari’ah describes Umrah as performing Tawaf round the Ka‘bah, and Sa’i between Safa and Marwah, both after assuming Ihram (a sacred state).
Umrah is called the minor or lesser pilgrimage because unlike Hajj it’s not compulsory but highly recommended. Although they share common rites, Umrah can be performed in a few hours and involves fewer rituals.
A certain type of the Umrah exists depending on whether or not the pilgrim wishes to perform Umrah in the Hajj period, thus combining their merit.
When performed alongside the Hajj, Umrah is deemed one of “enjoyment” (Umrat al-tamattu) and is part of a fuller Hajj of enjoyment (Hajjul tamattu). The rituals of the Umrah are performed first, and then the Hajj rituals are performed.
Otherwise, when performed without continuing to perform Hajj, the Umrah is considered a “single” Umrah (Umrah Mufradah).