Differences Between Hajj and Umrah

Hajj and Umrah are two critical spiritual journeys for Islam followers. People usually speak these two terms together. However, these terms differ from each other in terms of their significance, timing, requirements, rituals, etc. Before knowing the differences between Hajj and Umrah, you should be well aware of what they are. 

What is Hajj?

hajj tawaf

Hajj also spelled as Haj is an annual spiritual/religious journey that Muslims across the world consider one of the five pillars of Islam. Prophet Muhammad established the rites that Muslims perform in this spiritual journey. However, as per the Quran, the rituals have an association with Prophet Ibrahim, who had to leave his wife with a son in the Mecca desert. Islamic beliefs suggest that performing these rituals with trust in Allah shows submission to God and helps Islamic followers get rewards/blessings.   

What is Umrah?

A large crowd of people in a mosque with the words mecca on the bottom left.

Umrah is a religious journey to Mecca, the holy city in Islam. Muslims can do this pilgrimage at any time of the year. Islamic followers call it a mini or minor pilgrimage that purifies a pilgrim and absolves him/her from all his/her sins and wrongdoings in the past. Islamic spiritual leaders recommend people perform it as an act of worshiping and know Allah well. 

Difference Between Hajj and Umrah  

Both Hajj and Umrah are important in Islam. And Muslims from all over the world perform both at the Holy Kaaba. However, these two religious terms are quite different based on their significance, rituals, timing, time needed for rituals, and pillars. Have a look at the differences based on these criteria:  

  • Significance – As per Islamic beliefs, people perform Hajj and Umrah to get forgiveness and additional merits. However, the significance level of both spiritual journeys is distinguished. Hajj is an obligatory pilgrimage that every Muslim must perform once in his/her life based on his/her physical, mental, and financial capability. On the other hand, performing Umrah is not compulsory. 
  • Obligatory acts – The obligatory acts for Hajj include standing on Arafah until sunset, keeping Ihram from Meeqat, spending the night at Muzdalifah, and passing the night in Mina during Tashreeq. Further, Hajj obligatory acts include shaving the hair, stoning the Jamarat, and performing farewell circumambulation. On the other hand, Umrah’s obligatory acts include performing Tawaf, assuming the state of Ihram, keeping Sayi between the hills of Marwa and Safa, and shaving the head hair or clipping one portion of it. 
  • Timing for Hajj and Umrah – Islamic followers can go for Hajj (Haj) during the month of Dhu al Hijjah, which is the last month of the lunar calendar. They can perform the associated rituals between the 8th and 12th day of that month. On the other hand, you can perform or go for Umrah at any time of the year. 
  • Time requirements for rituals – As an Islamic follower, you need to give at least 5 to 6 days for your Hajj. For Hajj, you need to be physically, mentally, and financially sound. On the opposite side, you can complete the Umrah ritual in a few hours.   
  • Pillars of Hajj and Umrah – Hajj has four pillars – Ihram, Sayi, Waqfat, and Tawaf al Ifaadah. On the other hand, Umrah has four pillars that are quite different from Hajj pillars – Ihram, Tawaf, Sayi, and Tahallul      

Muslims across the globe wish to perform both Hajj and Umrah. They believe that performing these religious journeys will make them close to Allah and seek blessings apart from having purity.   

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