Step by Step Guide to Performing an Umrah
May Allah (SWT) Accept it
Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage and is, in short, an act of worship of Allah (SWT). It is based on the teachings of the Holy Prophet (SAW) (PBUH) and his Sunnah. The pilgrimage is a visit to the House of Allah (SWT) and can be carried out any time of the year. It is known as a ‘minor pilgrimage’ in comparison to the ‘greater pilgrimage’ of Hajj. However, it holds great value and virtue in the eyes of Allah (SWT).
Umrah consists of four essential practices. Firstly, you get changed into the Ihram garments before the Miqat, perform two Rakahs of Salah and make your Niyyah as the Miqat approaches, thereafter reciting the Talbiyah frequently. Secondly, you perform Tawaf al-Umrah of the Kaaba followed by two Rakahs of Salah, preferably near Maqam Ibrahim. Thirdly, you do Sa’i of Safa and Marwah. Lastly, you shave (Halq) or shorten (Taqsir) your hair allowing you to leave the state of Ihram and complete your Umrah.
2 Tawaf al-Umrah
4 Halq or Taqsir
Main article: Ihram
Before getting into changed into the Ihram garments, take care of your personal hygiene by clipping your nails and removing the hair under your armpits and beneath the navel. You should then do Ghusl, a highly emphasised Sunnah for those intending to enter into a state of Ihram. If you can’t perform Ghusl, doing Wudhu will suffice. Men may apply Attar / perfume to their heads / beards, ensuring not to get any on the Ihram garments. This should all be carried out at your place of residence before your flight (assuming you’re flying).
You will then get changed into your Ihram garments which for men consists of two, normally white, clean seamless pieces of cloth. The sheet which wraps around the waist covering the lower body is known as the Izar and the sheet that is draped over the upper body like a shawl is known as the Rida. Sandals shouldn’t cover the heel and ankle. The Hanafi school of thought also stipulates that the top part of the foot should also remain exposed.
Ensure you put on your Ihram attire before crossing the designated Miqat. You will likely be travelling to Saudi Arabia via plane, so is advisable to get changed into your Ihram at the airport prior to departure or during a stopover if you have one. Check-in first and get changed in the prayer room or bathroom. Alternatively, you can put on your Ihram in-flight although bear in mind that airplane bathrooms are usually very limited in space and there may well be a rush of people intending to do the same thing as the Miqat approaches. If you decide to slip into your Ihram attire on the plane, do so at least an hour before the Miqat is crossed.
Main article: Miqat
You may delay making your intention until the Miqat approaches. Just before crossing, remove any articles of clothing that you may still be wearing that violate the conditions of Ihram such as socks, headwear and underwear.
Women aren’t required to conform to a specific dress code. Clothing should be normal modest Islamic dress with a head covering of any colour. Hands and faces must remain exposed although socks may be worn.
Note: if you’re going to Madinah before Makkah, you don’t need to enter into the state of Ihram at this point. You will do so after your stay in Madinah.
It’s Sunnah to perform two Rakahs of Salah before entering into the state of Ihram. This can be performed after getting changed at the airport or in-flight before crossing the Miqat providing there are prayer facilities on-board. Observe the prayer with the intention of performing two Rakahs Nafl for Ihram.
Since you’re not yet in the spiritual state of Ihram, the prayer may be observed with the head covered. It is recommended to recite Surah al-Kafirun (Surah 109) in the first Rakah and Surah al-Ikhlas (Surah 112) in the second, although other Surahs may be read. Don’t forget to make Dua after this Salah.
The Niyyah for Umrah should be made at the Miqat or close to it as you move in its direction. Ideally, you should delay making the intention until the last moment so you aren’t restricted by its prohibitions for longer than need be. It is recommended (Mustahabb) that you make the intention verbally, as well as reiterating it internally.
Following are three examples of intentions that may be uttered in Arabic:
Labbayka llahumma ‘umratan.
O Allah, here I am to perform Umrah.
Allahumma inni uridu l-‘umrata.
O Allah, I intend to perform Umrah.
Allahumma inni uridu l-‘umrata fa yassirha li wa taqabbalha minni.
O Allah, I intend to perform Umrah, so accept it from me and make it easy for me.
After making your Niyyah, you must recite the Talbiyah to validate your intention and enter into the state of Ihram. The utterance of the Talbiyah is Wajib according to the Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought. The Shafi’i and Hanbali schools consider it a Sunnah.
You must recite the Talbiyah at least once after making your intention for Umrah. Failure to do so will result in an invalid Umrah!
The Sunnah method of reciting the Talbiyah is to briefly pause at four places, indicated by the dashes. The prayer is as follows:
Labbayka llahumma labbayk(a), labbayka la sharika laka labbayk(a), inna l-amda wa n-ni’mata, laka wa l-mulk(a), la sharika lak.
At Your service, Allah, at Your service. At Your service, You have no partner, at Your service. Truly all praise, favour and sovereignty is Yours. You have no partner.
Main article: Talbiyah
After uttering the Talbiyah, you will now be in a state of Ihram and be known as a Muhrim. Make sure you’re well aware of the prohibitions of Ihram and ensure you don’t fall foul of its rules. If a rule of Ihram is violated, Damm or Sadaqah will be required as expiation.
Main article: Violations & Penalties
It it recommended to send Salawat on the Prophet (SAW) after reciting the Talbiyah and to make Dua for yourself and others. Continue reciting the Talbiyah for the rest of your journey until you reach one of the doors of Masjid al-Haram prior to performing Tawaf.
Haram of Makkah
The Haram of Makkah is a sacred area which extends a number of miles around Masjid al-Haram in all directions. In this area, it is forbidden to:
Cut or damage grass, trees or any other type of vegetation.
Harm or kill wild animals. This includes scaring away pigeons and other birds.
Fight or behave in a way that will violate the sanctity of this area.
Although you’re unlikely to breach one of these rules, keep in mind the sanctity of Makkah.
Note: If you intend to perform an additional Umrah later on, you must assume Ihram outside the boundary of the Haram before going back to Masjid al-Haram to perform Umrah. Many choose to enter into Ihram at Masjid Aisha which is the nearest and most convenient location from Masjid al-Haram. Transportation to get there is available near the mosque.
As you reach the limits of the Haram, constantly recite the Talbiyah, do Dhikr and send Salawat upon the Prophet (SAW) . Recital of the following Dua is recommended upon entering the Haram:
Allahumma hadha aramuka wa amnuka fa arrimni ‘ala-n-Nar, wa amminni min ‘adhabika yawma tab’athu ‘ibadak, wa j‘alni min awliya’ika wa ahli a’atik.
Allah, this is Your sanctuary and security, so make me unlawful to Hell-Fire, make me safe from Your punishment on the day You resurrect Your servants; and make me one of Your friends and one of the people who obey You.
After arriving at your accommodation in Makkah, you may want to freshen up or take a rest before making your way to Masjid al-Haram to perform Tawaf al-Umrah. If you decide to take a shower, ensure you don’t use any items that are prohibited in the state of Ihram e.g. scented soap or shampoo. It is recommended you present yourself at Masjid al-Haram as soon as possible.
When you’re ready, decide which of your belongings you want to take with you bearing in mind there are thieves that operate in the mosque.
Tip: It is recommended that you take a drawstring bag for your shoes. Keep them close to you because they can get lost fairly easily.
Entering Masjid al-Haram
It is Sunnah to enter Masjid al-Haram via Bab al-Salam (the Gate of Peace). If you can’t do this, you may proceed through any other door. Step through with your right foot first and recite the supplication for entering a mosque. Either or both of these supplications may be recited:
Bismi-llah, Allahumma alli ala Muhammad (SAW). Allahumma-ghfir li wa-fta li abwaba ramatik.
In the name of Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad (SAW) . O Allah, open for me the doors of Your Bounty.
A‘udhu bi-llahi-l-Aim, wa bi-wajhihi-l-karim, wa sulanihi-l-qadim, mina-sh-Shayani-r-rajim.
I seek protection in Allah the Tremendous, His Noble Countenance, and His pre-eternal Sovereign Might from Shaytan the rejected.
Don’t perform Tahiyatul Masjid (prayer for greeting the mosque) if you intend to; your Tawaf will suffice as the “greeting” for Masjid al-Haram.
If you don’t have the intention of performing Tawaf immediately, you may perform Tahiyatul Masjid.
In Masjid al-Haram, it is permissible for anyone to walk across those performing Salah. However, their place of prostration should be avoided.
First Sight of the Kaaba
After entering the mosque, keep your gaze lowered until you reach the Mataf area, which is the open space where Tawaf takes place. When you’re ready, with humility, awe and reverence, lift your gaze to set sight on the beatific vision of the Holy Kaaba.
Upon seeing the Kaaba for the first time, raise your hands and make Dua with the utmost concentration and sincerity as this is among those places where prayers are answered. Remember to recite Salawat upon the Prophet (SAW) when making Dua. Umar ibn al-Khattab I narrated:
Dua is suspended between heaven and earth and none of it is taken up until you send blessings upon your Prophet (SAW).
[Narrated in Sunan al-Tirmidhi]
Imam Abu Hanifa I would use this opportunity to make Dua to Allah that he be among those whose supplications are always accepted.
Recite the following three times:
Allahu akbar. Allahu akbar. La ilaha illa-llah.
Allah is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest. There is no God except Allah.
It’s a Sunnah to recite the following Duas:
Allahumma zid hadha-l-Bayta tashrifan wa ta’iman wa takriman wa mahabah, wa zid man sharrafahu wa karramahu mimman ajjahu awi-’tamarahu tashrifan wa takriman wa ta’iman wa birra.
Allah, increase this House in honour, esteem, respect and reverence. And increase those who honour and respect it—of those who perform Hajj or ‘Umrah—in honour, respect, esteem and piety.
Allahumma Anta-s-Salamu wa minka-s-salam, ayyina Rabbana bi-s-salam.
O Allah, You are Peace and from You is peace. Make us live, Lord, in peace.
Do Dhikr, make Dua and send Salawat upon the Prophet (SAW) in abundance here. Make the most of this opportunity before you begin your Tawaf, especially if it’s the first time you’ve set eyes on the Kaaba.
Main article: Tawaf
For the Tawaf to be considered valid, the following is necessary:
Pilgrims performing Tawaf al-Ziyarah
Pilgrims performing Tawaf
To perform Tawaf yourself.
To make an intention (verbally or not).
To do Tawaf in Masjid al-Haram.
To be in a state of Wudhu and free of anything that requires Ghusl e.g. menstruation.
To conceal the Awrah.
To start Tawaf from Hajar al-Aswad.
To move in an anti-clockwise direction.
To avoid the Hatim (the semi-circle area outside the Kaaba).
To perform Tawaf by foot, for those who are able.
To perform seven circuits.
To perform two Rakahs of Salah after the Tawaf.
Ensure you’re in a state of Wudhu and if you’re a male, uncover your right shoulder by passing the top sheet of your Ihram under your right armpit, allowing the garment to hang over your left shoulder (Idtiba) .
Tawaf starts at al-Hajar al-Aswad
Tawaf starts at al-Hajar al-Aswad
Position yourself in line with the corner of the Kaaba where the Hajar al-Aswad is situated. This corner is the one that faces a single minaret (the other three corners face two minarets). There is a green light on the wall of the Masjid opposite the Kaaba which indicates where the Tawaf starts from. This is the starting point of each Shawt (circuit). Stand just before this starting point facing the Kaaba ensuring the Hajar al-Aswad is on your right side.
As with any other act of worship, make the Niyyah to perform Tawaf solely for Allah. You may also ask for the acceptance and ease for your Tawaf. The following words may be said:
O Allah, I intend to perform the Tawaf of Umrah of the Kaaba for your sake and your sake alone. Please accept it from me and make it easy for me.
You may make the following intention, which is in Arabic:
Allahumma inni uridu l-awwafa baytika l-arami fa yassirhu li wa taqabbalhu minni.
O Allah, I intend to perform Tawaf of the Sacred Mosque, so accept it from me and make it easy for me.
The Niyyah doesn’t have to be verbal.
Kissing, Touching or Saluting the Hajar al-Aswad (Istilam)
Although kissing the Hajar al-Aswad is very virtuous, don’t harm others around you in an attempt to reach it.
Kissing – If you reach the Hajar al-Aswad, place your hands on it, put your face between your hands, say “bismi llahi wallahu akbar ” and kiss it lightly. Some scholars have said it is preferable to kiss it three times, if you have the chance.
Touching – If you’re in reaching distance but unable to kiss it, touch it with your hand(s) and kiss your hand(s).
Saluting – If it isn’t possible to reach the stone, as is likely to be the case, perform a symbolic Istilam from afar by directly facing the Hajar al-Aswad and raising your hands up to your earlobes (as you would do when starting Salah). Ensure your palms are also facing it, as though your face and hands are on the Hajar al-Aswad and say “bismi llahi wallahu akbar .” You may kiss your palms if you wish.
The following supplication, a Dua of Ali I, may be recited when coming parallel to the Hajar al-Aswad in each circuit:
Bismi llahi wa llahu akbar, Allahumma imanan bika wa tadiqan bi kitabika wa wafa’an bi ahdika wattiba’an li sunnati nabiyyika Muammadin .
In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest. O Allah, out of faith in You, conviction in Your book, in fulfilment of Your covenant and in emulation of Your Prophet’s Sunnah.
Other forms of Dhikr such as Tahlil (la ilaha illa Allah) and Salawat upon the Prophet (SAW) may also be uttered at this point.
Start the Tawaf
Turn to your right and start the first circuit of your Tawaf, ensuring the Kaaba is on your left. Proceed in an anti-clockwise direction and avoid walking through the Hijr Ismail. If you happen to walk through it, the circuit won’t count and it will have to be repeated.
In the first three circuits, men should perform Raml, which is the practice of walking briskly, lifting the legs forcefully and sticking out the chest. However, if there is congestion, which is likely to be the case if you’re closer to the Kaaba, only perform this Sunnah if you’re sure you won’t harm or inconvenience others.
Dhikr & Dua
During your Tawaf, you may recite prayers and supplications of your choice. Duas are accepted during Tawaf so make the most of the occasion and remember Allah with sincerity and devotion. It’s perhaps advisable not to read from a Dua book, especially if you don’t understand the Arabic. Imam Ibn Hibban V said:
Specifying a Dua would take the moment away, because with specific Duas, one will merely be repeating words, whereas this occasion is for any Dua and for remembering one’s Lord with humility and sincerity.
Thus you should supplicate in any language and in any manner that you prefer. If you want to make Quranic and Prophetic supplications during your Tawaf, make an effort to memorise and learn the meanings of them. Reciting Quran and sending Salawat upon the Prophet (SAW) during Tawaf is also recommended.
Upon reaching the Rukn al-Yamani (the Yemeni Corner), the corner preceding the Hajar al-Aswad, touch it with your right hand or both hands and say “Allahu akbar ” if you manage to get close enough. If there’s too much congestion, as is likely to be the case, proceed without saying Takbir or gesturing towards it.
It is a Sunnah to recite the following Dua between the Rukn al-Yamani and the Hajar al-Aswad:
Rabbana atina fi d-dunya asanatan wafi l-akhirati asanatan wa qina ‘adhaba n-nar.
O our Lord, grant us the good of this world, the good of the Hereafter, and save us from the punishment of the fire.
[Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:201]
Imam Shafi’i V recommended this Dua to be recited throughout the Tawaf.
End of Circuit at the Hajar al-Aswad
Returning to Hajar al-Aswad marks the completion of one circuit. Begin the second by doing Istilam of Hajar al-Aswad as previously described and saying “Allahu akbar ”. You should say Allahu akbar while doing Istilam in all subsequent circuits. You will be performing Istilam eight times in total during the Tawaf; one before the start of the Tawaf and one at the end of each of the seven circuits.
The Tawaf should be completed in a continuous manner with no interruptions between circuits. However, if a congregational prayer is due to start, you must join the congregation and resume your Tawaf from the position that you stopped. The circuit need not be repeated. These rules also apply if you need to repeat your Wudhu.
Complete the Tawaf
Proceed in the same manner until have you completed seven circuits. Performing Istilam at the start of Tawaf and at the end is a highly emphasised Sunnah and performing Istilam on the other six occasions is desirable.
If you are in a state Idtiba, cover your shoulder with your Ihram.
Upon finishing the Tawaf, perform two Rakahs of Salah, preferably in a position where Maqam Ibrahim is between you and the Kaaba. However, keep in mind that since Maqam Ibrahim is situated within the Mataf, there is often nowhere for pilgrims performing Tawaf to move, except around and almost over the top of those praying just beyond Maqam Ibrahim, resulting in a great deal of congestion. If it isn’t possible to perform the prayer there as a result of crowding, it can be performed anywhere in Masjid al-Haram.
While moving to the place where you intend to perform the two Rakahs, it is recommended to audibly recite the following:
Wattakhidhu min maqami Ibrahima mualla.
And take the Maqam Ibrahim as a place of Salah.
[Surah al-Baqarah, 2:125]
It is Sunnah to recite Surah al-Kafirun (Qul Ya Ayyuha-l-Kafirun) in the first Rakah and Surah al-Ikhlas (Qul Huwa-llahu Ahad) in the second, after Surah al-Fatiha. Make sure you make plenty of Dua after completing the prayer.
Zamzam is available throughout the Haram
Zamzam is available throughout the Haram
After completing Salah and making Dua, drink you fill of Zamzam water which is available around the Tawaf area and from various water fountains and dispensers in Masjid al-Haram. The entrance to the old well of Zamzam has been covered to allow for more room to do Tawaf.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “The water of Zamzam is for whatever purpose it is drunk for.” Before drinking the Zamzam water, make an intention that its consumption will be a means of fulfilling your wishes, whether that is good health, success in this world, or protection from the tribulations of the grave. When drinking the water, it is Mustahabb to should stand and face the Kaaba, say Bismillah, pause to take a breath three times, and say Alhamdulillah after finishing. You can also rub it on your face and body. You may recite the following Dua after drinking the water:
Allahumma inni as’aluka ‘ilman nafi’an, wa rizqan wasi’an, wa ‘amalan mutaqabbalan, wa shifa’an min kulli da’.
O Allah, I ask You for knowledge that is beneficial, provision that is abundant and a cure from every illness.
You may also make any other supplication of your choosing as it’s another station where Duas are accepted.
Pilgrims clinging on to the walls of the Kaaba
Pilgrims clinging on to the walls of the Kaaba
After you have finished drinking Zamzam water, you may proceed to the Multazam which is the area between Hajar al-Aswad and the door of the Kaaba.
The Multazam is almost impossible to get to during Hajj season due to the large crowds that gather. However, it is accessible during other parts of the year.
If it possible to reach the Multazam, raise your hands above your head, cling to the wall and press your chest and cheeks against it. It is a Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) and yet another station where supplications are accepted, so you should lengthen your Dua here.
If you can’t reach the Multazam due to the crowds, you may face towards it and supplicate from a distance.
Main article: Sa’i
It is a Sunnah to perform Sa’i immediately after Tawaf, although you may take a break if you need to. If you feel tired after Tawaf or your feet are aching, you may take a rest in the pavilion until you feel you’re ready. Remember, you will be covering over three kilometres during Sa’i, so make sure you have sufficient energy to complete the rite before starting.
For the Sa’i to be considered valid, the following is necessary:
To perform Sa’i yourself.
To have entered into Ihram before performing the Sa’i.
To stay in Ihram until the Sa’i has been completed.
To perform Sa’i at its correct time.
To begin Sa’i at Safa and finish at Marwa.
To perform Sa’i after having done Tawaf.
To perform Sa’i on foot, unless you have a valid excuse.
To perform seven laps.
To cover the complete distance between Safa and Marwa.
Istilam of the Hajar al-Aswad
Before Sa’i, it is Sunnah to do Istilam of Hajar al-Aswad one last time. This will be the ninth time, following the eight times you performed Istilam during Tawaf.
If you’ve forgotten to perform this Istilam, or you’re finding it difficult to return to the line of the Hajar al-Aswad due to crowding or tiredness, it may be omitted. However, you can do Istilam anywhere else in Masjid al-Haram, as long as you’re facing the Hajar al-Aswad.
Proceed to Safa
A sign indicating the location of Safa
Proceed to the hill of Safa, which is located in line with the Hajar al-Aswad. There is a white sign which indicates where it is. As you’re approaching Safa, it is Sunnah to recite the following:
Inna -afa wa l-marwata min sha’a’iri llah(i).
Indeed, Safa and Marwa are from the Signs of Allah.
[Surah al-Baqarah, 2:158]
Abda’u bima bad’allahu bihi.
I begin with that which Allah has begun with.
These should only be recited once before Sa’i and not at the start of each lap.
The hillock of Safa which is now enclosed
The hillock of Safa is now enclosed
Make Dua at Safa
Upon reaching the hill of Safa, face the direction of the Kaaba and raise your hands in supplication. Your view of the Kaaba will be obscured so make an educated guess about its location and face this direction. Don’t raise your hands up to your earlobes or gesture towards the Kaaba as you would have done during Tawaf. You may say Takbir (Allahu akbar), Tahlil (la ilaha illa Allah) and send Salawat upon the Prophet (SAW).
It is Sunnah to recite the following Dua:
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, wa lillahi l-amd.
Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest, and to Allah belongs all praise.
La ilaha illallah wadahu la sharika lah(u), lahu l-mulku wa lahu l-amdu yuyi wa yumit(u), wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadir.
There is no deity except Allah, alone without a partner. To Him belongs the Dominion, and to Him belongs all praise. He gives life and death and He has power over everything.
La ilaha illallahu wadah(u), anjaza wa’dahu wa naara ‘abdahu wa hazama l-azaba wadah.
There is no deity except Allah alone. He fulfilled His promise, supported His slave and defeated the confederates alone.
After reciting this Dua, you may recite your own supplications. Read the Dua a total of three times, making your own supplications in between each time, as was the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW).
Proceed to Marwa
From Safa, make your way towards Marwa. Between Safa and Marwa, you will encounter two sets of green fluorescent lights approximately 50 metres apart, which indicate the distance that Hajar ran in order to get to higher ground. These two markers are known as Milayn al-Akhdharayn (the two green mileposts). Between these two lights, it is Sunnah for men to run at a medium pace while women should continue normally.
Green fluorescent lights indicating where Hajar ran to get to higher ground
Dhikr & Dua
There is no fixed Dhikr or Dua that has been prescribed to be read during Sa’i, so you may recite any prayers or supplications of your choice and send Salawat upon the Prophet (SAW) .
Make Dua at Marwa
Upon reaching the hill of Marwa, face the direction of the Kaaba, raise your hands in supplication and repeat the same supplications you recited at Safa.
This completes one lap of Sa’i. Returning back to Safa is considered a second lap.
End of Sa’i
Repeat this procedure until you have completed seven laps, at which point you should be at the hill of Marwa.
A sign indicating the end of Sa’i
Dua and Salah
It is recommended to make a final Dua here and also to perform two Rakahs of Nafl Salah in Masjid al-Haram following Sa’i.
Leave the Haram
As you leave Masjid al-Haram, step out with your left foot and recite the following Dua, as was the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) when leaving the mosque:
Bismi llahi, wa S#alatu wa s-salamu ‘ala rasuli llah. Allahumma inni as’aluka min fadlik.
In the name of Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah. O Allah, I ask of you from Your bounty.
Halq or Taqsir
After Sa’i, you must have your hair shaved (Halq) or trimmed by at least an inch (Taqsir) in order to leave the state of Ihram and complete your Umrah. It is more virtuous for a man to have the head shaved completely.
Women may only have their hair trimmed.
Make sure you use a licensed barber rather than an unlicensed street barber. There are a number of licensed barber shops in Makkah, which are open 24 hours a day and generally only close during Salah times. There are many barber shops in the Zamzam Towers, Hilton shopping complex and al-Safwa Towers. You will also see many barbers located outside the Marwah door after you finish Sa’i. They are located directly to your left on the ground floor, or to your right if you exit from the middle floor.
Alternatively, you may shave or trim your own hair in order to come out of the state of Ihram.
Congratulations on your Umrah!
Your are now free from the restrictions of Ihram and you may change into regular clothing. If you plan on performing another Umrah, you must travel to the boundary of the Haram in order to once again enter into Ihram. Most pilgrims choose to enter into Ihram at Masjid Aisha which is the nearest and most convenient location from Masjid al-Haram. Transportation to get there is available near the mosque.