Umrah vs Hajj
If you are a Muslim, you very well know the difference between Hajj and Umrah. However, for a non-Muslim or kafir, as people belonging to other religions are called in Islam, it becomes difficult to differentiate between hajj and Umrah for the simple reason that both are pilgrimages with the same destination and nearly the same rituals to be observed by Muslims during Hajj and Umrah. This article tries to clear out the differences between Hajj and Umrah for all readers.
Hajj is a pilgrimage that is obligatory on all Muslims, and it has to be performed provided a Muslim has the means and is physically and mentally fit to undertake the journey. Before Muhammad undertook Hajj in 631 AD, it was a common pilgrimage for all and even non Muslims could undertake the journey to Mecca. There were even idols belonging to pagans in holy Mecca. Muhammad undertook upon him, to destroy all idols to cleanse Kaaba, the house of God, and made it compulsory for all Muslims to pay a visit to God’s house once in his life time. It was after this incident that Hajj became one of the 5 pillars of Islam.
When a Muslim arrives in Mecca on Hajj, he has to wear the pure garment called Ihram and perform some rituals that are believed to be symbolic of the life of Abraham and his wife Hagar. These rituals are believed to be functioning for the solidarity or unity of Muslims worldwide.
Umrah is a pilgrimage similar to Hajj except that it is only recommendatory in nature and not obligatory for all Muslims. In addition, the rituals involving Umrah at Mecca are lesser in number than in Hajj. Umrah is considered of lesser importance and is thus called small pilgrimage.
What is the difference between Umrah and Hajj?
• Umrah is not compulsory while Hajj is obligatory in nature provided a Muslim has financial and physical means to undertake the journey to Kaaba, the house of God.
• Hajj is undertaken during a specific period of the year, while Umrah can be undertaken any time of the year.
• Hajj is one of the 5 pillars of Islam while Umrah is not a pillar of Islam.
• Umrah can be performed alongside Hajj if an individual so desires.
• The rituals of Tawaf and sa’i are performed in Umrah, while hajj is more complicated, involving staying in Mina, stone pelting and even performing sacrifice.
• The months of Shawwal, Dhu’l-hijjah, and Dhu’l-qada are considered to be Hajj months.