Umrah, the specific rituals performed during a special visit to the Grand Mosque that can be made at any time of the year, is one of the recommended acts of worship that Muslims are required to perform at least once in a lifetime. Performing Umrah during Ramadan is highly recommended. According to the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the reward of performing Umrah during Ramadan is equal to that of performing Haj.
The first thing you need to do when you want to make Umrah is to have the intention to perform that act of worship. In addition, you need to make Ghusl, whole body wash, as a sign of purification in order to be eligible to perform the rituals of Umrah. Then, men should dress in two white sheets (ihram) while women can put on regular clothes.
My wife and I left home heading toward Aisha Mosque which is located outside the limits of the city. Going beyond the limits of Haram is a required step in Umrah since the Prophet (PBUH) asked his wife Aisha to do that when she wanted to make Umrah. She (Allah be pleased with her), went to the closest spot outside the limits of the Haram, which is the location of Aisha Mosque today, and headed to Haram from there.
We headed to the Grand Mosque from there and started Tawaf as soon as we got there. Tawaf is making seven rounds around Al- Ka'bah, the House of Allah that Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (peace be upon them both) built. We finished making Tawaf a few minutes before Maghrib adhan, which is the time for breaking fast.
As usual, charity can take many forms. I saw many brothers distributing dates, cups of water, and even napkins to people who were making Tawaf. Those brothers were doing that inspired by what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) mentioned that when you provide the Iftar food to somebody you get reward equal to his reward without causing his reward to diminish.
After the Maghrib prayer we proceeded to make Sa'i, making seven trips between Safa and Marwa. Making Sa'i is a sign of tracing the footsteps of Hagar, the wife of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH). She made the same seven trips between those two hills searching desperately for water for her infant Ismail after Prophet Ibrahm (PBUH) had left them there alone as commanded by Almighty Allah.
The writer Dr Fahad Alqurashi is Assistant Professor of English, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah