Every year thousands of Muslims from around the world take part in a spiritual pilgrimage called Hajj and Umrah. They are both important religious journeys for all Muslims. Let’s discuss what are the differences between Hajj and Umrah.
Hajj is a pilgrimage that all Muslims are obligated to take as long as they are physically, mentally, and financially able to undertake the journey. It is compulsory to visit Kaaba, the house of God, at least once in a lifetime. Every year, 3-4 million pilgrims from across the world make the major pilgrimage to Mecca, making it the largest single gathering of people on the planet.
This journey is so important that Hajj is one of the 5 pillars of Islam and has greater religious significance than Umrah. It is one of the most spiritual and rewarding acts and deepens one’s connection with Allah. Once completed, all past sins will be cleansed and Jannah (paradise) can be reached.
Hajj must be undertaken at a specific time of year in the last month of the Islamic calendar, Dhu’l-Hijjah. The pilgrimage takes place once a year from 8th to 12th in Dhu’l-Hijjah, taking at least 4-5 days to complete, and cannot be performed in any other month or time of year.
During Hajj, Muslims perform a number of different religious rituals and acts of worship to demonstrate deeds of obedience and submission towards Allah. These rituals begin the same way as Umrah but Hajj continues with further travel and more complicated rituals. These rituals involve:
- Ihram – pilgrims must be in a state of Ihram – a state of cleanliness and intention in which they must not participate in sexual activity, fight, or commit sin, and must wear white garments which symbolise purity, equality, and unity.
- Tawaf – this involves circling the Holy Ka’aba in Masjid Al-Haram, the most sacred site in Islam, seven times.
- Praying two rakat
- Drinking Zamzam holy water
- Sa’ae – passing between the Al-Safa and Al-Marwah mountains seven times to remember the trials of Hajar.
- Travel to and stay overnight in Mina.
- Mount Arafat – pilgrims go to the plains of Mount Arafat to hear the Hajj Khutbah sermon, the last sermon by Prophet Muhammad, and pray Asr and Maghrib prayers.
- Stoning Shaitan – Muslims travel to Muzdalifah to perform a symbolic stoning ritual in which pebbles are thrown at three walls known as jamarat which symbolises how Shaitan (satan) tried to tempt Ibrahim.
- Muzdalifah – pilgrims stay overnight in the open air to symbolise equality in the eyes of Allah regardless of race, colour, and status.
- Qurbani – the sacrifice of animals and livestock during Eid ul Adha commemorates the sacrifice and obedience of Ibrahim when Allah asked Ibrahim to sacrifice his son for him.
- Taqsir – men shave their hair off and women cut off a piece of their hair.
- Ghusl – ritual washing of the whole body in preparation for prayer.
Umrah, like Hajj, is a pilgrimage to Mecca, but unlike Hajj, is not compulsory, only recommended. Hajj is of lesser importance than Hajj as is not one of the pillars of Islam. It is, for this reason, known as the lesser or minor pilgrimage.
Umrah also differs from Hajj because it does not have to be carried out at a specific time of year. It can however, be performed any time of the year or month except at the time of Hajj.
However, like Hajj, Umrah is an act of total spiritual cleansing and strengthens one’s connection with Allah through rituals which remember the trials of Hajar, Prophet Ibrahim, and Prophet Muhammad.
Hajj and can be completed in a much shorter time within 2-4 hours. There a couple of rituals which are carried out in Umrah and Hajj. They include Ihram – the state of cleanliness, Tawaf – circling the Holy Kaaba, praying, drinking Zamzam water, sa’ae – passing between the mountains Safa and Marwa seven times, and Taqsir – shaving the head for men and cutting a piece of hair for women.
The Main Differences Between Hajj And Umrah Are:
- Importance – Hajj is of higher religious importance as it is compulsory and a pillar of Islam, whereas Umrah is advisory and a minor pilgrimage.
- Timing – Hajj must be carried out from 8th-12th of the month of Dhu’l-Hijjah and Umrah can be carried out any other time of year.
- Rituals – Umrah involves Ihram, Tawaf, sa’ae, and Taqsir. Hajj takes longer and involves all of these rituals as well as travel to Mina, Mount Arafat, stoning Shaitan, stay in Muzdalifah, and Qurbani sacrifice.
While there are differences between Hajj and Umrah, both are religious pilgrimages to Mecca and important experiences for all Muslims to partake in. Both pilgrimages are incredibly rewarding and spiritually cleansing acts and deepen one’s understanding of the trials of Hajar, Ibrahim, and Muhammad, and strengthen a believer’s connection with Allah.
For more information on Hajj and Umra Express, visit the links below.
Hajj and Umra Express is the UK’s favourite Hajj and Umrah tour operator offering a range of Umrah and Hajj packages prepared and designed with you in mind.