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How Muslims Can Benefit Spiritually By Performing Umrah

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By Author: Safeena Rahman
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Islamic pilgrimages are performed by millions of Muslims living in different parts of the world to benefit spiritually from them. Such pilgrimages are an opportunity for them to ask The Almighty Allah for His forgiveness of their sins and get His blessings. These pilgrimages also bring certain changes in them as human beings and develop them spiritually. Two of these pilgrimages are Hajj and Umrah. The pilgrims perform these pilgrimages by visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from their place of residence.
Hajj is performed in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, while Umrah can be performed at any time during the year.

Also called the 'lesser pilgrimage', Umrah involves lesser number of rituals when compared with the major pilgrimage of Hajj. This is the reason why it is usually accomplished within a few hours. There are certain similarities that the pilgrimage had with Hajj. One of them is the 'ihram' or the 'pure state', which the pilgrim is required to be in. It is done by performing all the obligatory procedures and putting on the prescribed pilgrim's clothing. After entering the state of ihram, the pilgrims perform the main rituals by visiting the Kaabah.

The rituals of the lesser pilgrimage includes 'tawaf', which is performed by circling the Kaabah in the anticlockwise direction. Male pilgrims do this by circling the Kaabah three times at a quicker pace and the remaining four rounds are done at a leisurely pace while remaining close to the holy Kaabah. Another important ritual is 'Saee', which is performed by walking at a rapid pace back and forth between the Safa and Marwah hills. This resembles the event in which Prophet Ibrahim's (peace be upon him) wife Hajar (peace be upon her) had ran frantically in search of water for her son, Prophet Ismael (peace be upon him), who was an infant at that time.

Pilgrims perform 'Halq' or 'Taqsir' towards the end of their lesser pilgrimage. Halq is performed on the male pilgrims, which involves complete shaving of their heads. Taqsir is done on female pilgrims and involves partial shortening of their hair.  Both of these rituals signify submission to the will of The Almighty Allah and letting go of the obsession with physical appearances. The pilgrim can choose to come out of their state of ihram after performing all these rituals. Many pilgrims also drink water from the Zamzam well towards the completion of their pilgrimage.

Muslims living in countries that are at greater distances from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have to make a long journey from their home countries. This involves a considerable amount of cost, which was unaffordable for many of them in the past. However, this pilgrimage has now become easier and affordable with the packages that are offered by the tour operators or travel companies that specialise in the Islamic religious tours. Upon booking any of such packages several months in advance, the prospective pilgrims can reduce the cost of their chosen package to a great extent, resulting in greater savings for their journey.

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