Difference Between Umrah And Hajj

The Hajj and the Umrah, pilgrimages to Makkah, are both significant tokens of the pilgrim's devotion to the belief; though, there are important differences between the two.

The Hajj is a major pilgrimage and it is one of the five basic pillars of Islam. Every Muslim who is financially and physically able of carrying out the Hajj and supporting their family in their absence has a religious responsibility to complete it at least once in their lifetime. The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to the 12th of Zil-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, and each and every year it creates the largest gathering of Muslim people on the earth.

In comparison, the Umrah is often referred to as a lesser or minor pilgrimage, this is not, of course, to say that it is unimportant, the Umrah is not compulsory or obligatory; it is extremely recommended and is a way to show unity with Muslims worldwide and affirm your belief. Unlike the Hajj, the Umrah can be done at any time throughout the whole year.

Both the Umrah and the Hajj share some aspects. For performing both, you will enter the state of Ihraam before you reach city Makkah. This holy state requires cleansing rituals, prescribed clothing and declaring the intention (niyyat) to perform a pilgrimage. You will also be required to refrain from certain things that you may be familiar to, such as the use of scented soap, perfumes and deodorants, or applying makeup. The rituals of the Umrah are:

Tawaaf (circumambulation): Circling the Holy Kaaba 7 times in an anti-clockwise direction. Men are encouraged to do this 3 times at a quick pace, and then 4 times slowly and closer, though the number of pilgrims and crowd may affect your pace.

Saaee is running seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah; this is a re-enactment of Bibi Hajra's search for water in the desert for Her Son Hazrat Ismaeel (AS). Be aware that this is a fair distance in burning conditions; it is wise to get ready for your Umrah or Hajj by walking for at least thirty minutes a day before you go.
Halq or Taqsir: A cutting of the head hair. This may be a complete shave (halq for men) or a partial shortening (taqseer for women). Many pilgrims also drink water from the Well of Zamzam. With these rituals the Umrah is done.

The natures of both pilgrimages are different. An umrah is a highly recommended and not obligatory pilgrimage, but a hajj is an obligatory one. There are also more qualifications and requirements for a pilgrim in conducting a hajj. Although both umrah and hajj are holy pilgrimages, there are many differences between these two. For instance, an umrah is considered as a lesser or minor pilgrimage whereas a hajj is a major pilgrimage among Muslims.

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