The Essentials of ‘Umrah

    Question: What are the basic rituals of ‘Umrah? Also what is their significance?
    Answer: Following are the essential rituals of the ‘Umrah:
    1. Ihram
    2. Tawaf
    3 .Sa‘i
    4. Tahliq/Taqsir 

    These are explained below in their order of observance:
    1. Ihram: Two un-sown sheets of cloth are worn from the Miqat (certain places that signify the beginning of the limits of the Ka‘bah). 
    This apparel signifies one’s detachment from this world as they resemble the coffin cloth in which one will ultimately be buried. 
    2. Tawaf: A person then circumambulates the house of the Almighty seven times. At the beginning of each round, one raises the hands towards the Hijr Aswad. This is called Istilam
    In ancient Arabia, covenants and agreements were strengthened by raising hands and by moving around in circles. The significance of Tawaf and Istilam is that one actually revives the covenant of pleasing the Almighty through them. 
    3. Sa‘i: After completing the seven rounds of Tawaf, a person is required to walk seven times between the two hillocks of Safa and Marwah.
    This ritual symbolizes one’s struggle and endeavour for Islam which one should do in one’s normal life. 
    4. Tahliq/Taqsir. After that, one is required to either have a complete hair shave (Tahliq) or to have a hair cut (Taqsir). Women are required to remove a few strands of their hair only. 
    This symbolizes servitude to Allah. In ancient times, a shaved head signified a slave person. Kings had the hairs of their slaves shaven off to show that they were their slaves. 
    ‘Umrah becomes very meaningful if this symbolism is known to a person.