Umrah is an integral part of Islamic heritage. Each year, millions flock to the Holy City of Makkah in hopes of salvation hereafter, expiation from sins, and spiritual gratification.
The tradition, which began from the rituals performed by the Prophet (S.A.W), that took root more than a millennium ago has flourished into a prominent socio-cultural ritual that cuts across all boundaries.
Whilst the communal benefits of Umrah are remarkable, its religious aspect can’t be ignored, for which many Muslims gather round Kaaba throughout the year. Here are the promised rewards of Umrah:
Guest of God
Abu Hurairah (RA) said: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: “The guests of Allah are three: The Ghazi (i.e. the warrior who fights in Jihad), the Hajj (i.e. the pilgrim who performs Hajj) and the Mu’tamir (i.e. the pilgrim performing Umrah) (Hadith No. 2626, Book of The Rites of Hajj, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 3.).”
Kaaba, being the house of God, becomes a place of religious communication for the Muhrims who choose to undertake the journey for their spiritual nourishment, which is its own reward.
Aid in times of Poverty
Ibn Abbas (R.A) said: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: “Perform Hajj and Umrah consecutively; for they remove poverty and sin as bellows removes impurity from iron.”
A blessing from God goes a long way for the pilgrims who come to Kaaba with desires in their heart; and whilst not all pilgrims harbor the same wishes, many do visit upon the house of God with hopes that their financial burdens will be alleviated.
Expiation from sins
Abu Hurairah (RA) said: “Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: ‘From one Umrah to another is expiation for what comes in between, and ‘Hajj Al-Mabrur’ brings no reward less than Paradise’ (Hadith No. 2630, Book of The Rites of Hajj, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 3; Hadith No. 2888, Chapters on Hajj, Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 4.).”
Whilst the ‘Gates of Heaven’ are elusive—and the quest towards salvation, a heavy burden—the doctrine is flexible in granting pilgrims easy communal rituals to seek forgiveness. Umrah, thus, is one such ritual in which all that is required of a muhrim is earnestness, loyalty, and devotion.
Umrah as Jihad
Narrated from Abu Hurairah (R.A), the Prophet (S.A.W) said: “Jihad of the elderly, the young, the weak and the women, is Hajj and Umrah (Hadith No. 2627, Book of The Rites of Hajj, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 3.).”
Jihad, an Arabic word, means “to struggle”. Whilst Jihad in modern times has come to mean “to wage a war” against “infidels” (a widespread interpretation), its roots lie embedded in the journey of “effort” from a Muslim (one who submits) to become a Mū’min (a believer); and what better way to struggle, from submission to belief, than to submit in house of God?
Umrah in Ramadan
Narrated by Ibn Abbas, when the Prophet (S.A.W) returned after performing his Hajj, he asked Um Sinan Al-Ansari (R.A): “‘What did forbid you to perform Hajj?’ She replied, ‘Father of so-and-so (i.e. her husband) had two camels and he performed Hajj on one of them, and the second is used for the irrigation of our land.’ The Prophet said (to her), ‘Perform ‘Umra in the month of Ramadan, as its (reward) is equivalent to having performed Hajj with me (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.86).’”
The month of Ramadan offers many rewards to the devout. Fasting in the holy city of Makkah and offering prayers in Kaaba promise as much rewards to the pilgrims performing Umrah as they do to the ones performing Hajj.