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Difference Between Hajj and Umrah

A guide to umrah pilgrimage

Have you ever wondered about the difference between Hajj and Umrah? Both are Islamic pilgrimages undertaken by Muslims from around the world. And while it may seem like there isn’t much of a difference between Hajj and Umrah, there are distinct differences between a lot of fundamentals of Hajj and Umrah. From the significance to time needed, and from obligatory acts to non-obligatory, Hajj and Umrah have clear distinctions. Comprehending these differences is important to grasp the factors that fundamentally separate the two pilgrimages. 


Understanding the differences between Hajj and Umrah helps Muslims worldwide prepare better for their spiritual journey to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For instance, if someone is facing financial and physical constraints, they may not be able to perform Hajj but they can still visit Mecca for Umrah. Without the understanding of the difference between the two, pilgrims cannot decide what is best for them according to their financial and physical stature. 

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Understanding the differences between Hajj and Umrah helps Muslims worldwide prepare better for their spiritual journey to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For instance, if someone is facing financial and physical constraints, they may not be able to perform Hajj but they can still visit Mecca for Umrah. Without the understanding of the difference between the two, pilgrims cannot decide what is best for them according to their financial and physical stature. 


The most distinct and important difference between Hajj and Umrah is the significance and rewards. There is no doubt that Umrah also rewards the pilgrims and is a significant pilgrimage but the weight Hajj carries is substantially more because it is one of the five pillars of Islam. 
Let’s dive deep into the fundamental differences that separate Hajj from Umrah for a more refined understanding of this fantastic topic.  

What is Umrah?

Umrah is a spiritual journey undertaken by Muslims around the world. It is a simpler and smaller version of the main pilgrimage – Hajj. Umrah can be performed in a few hours at any time of the year without any restrictions. The pilgrimage of Umrah is not compulsory but recommended and it is believed that performing Umrah helps worshippers purify themselves spiritually and seek blessings from Allah.
As previously mentioned, it is neither compulsory nor a pillar of Islam but still, Umrah tour is a sacred journey undertaken by millions of Muslims from around the world to purify themselves and come close to God almighty.

What is Hajj?

Hajj is an annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is a sacred journey and one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a mandatory duty of every believer of Islam to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime, granted they have financial means alongside physical and mental health. Hajj is performed over several days. According to Islamic beliefs, performing these rites with faith in Allah represents submission to god and earns merit.

What differentiates Hajj from Umrah?

Hajj and Umrah are both sacred pilgrimages to Mecca undertaken by millions of Muslims every year but they are very different from one another. Umrah is a quick and non-compulsory sacred journey that people undertake to cleanse themselves while Hajj is a compulsory pilgrimage and the last pillar of Islam that must be undertaken by every Muslim if their finances and health allow them. There are core differences between Hajj and Umrah based on grounds like significance, the time required and so on. The top 5 differences between the two are discussed below.

Significance 

The core differentiator between Hajj and Umrah is the significance of the two in Islam. According to the religion, although both Hajj and Umrah are sacred journeys that have immense spiritual benefits for Muslims, Hajj is compulsory and the complete pilgrimage while Umrah is not compulsory and the smaller pilgrimage. 
Umrah is highly recommended but not mandatory, unlike the major pilgrimage of Hajj. This makes Umrah and Hajj different from each other.

Location 

An important differentiating factor between Hajj and Umrah is the location of the pilgrimage. Umrah can easily be performed within the holy Kabah and the pilgrims do not have to go to any other place. But that is not the case for Hajj as the pilgrims have to visit different venues such as Arafat and Muzdalifah

Timing 

The most common differentiator between Hajj and Umrah is the timing. Umrah can and is performed throughout the year, whereas Hajj is performed only once a year during the month of Dhu al-Hijja, the last month of the lunar calendar. More specifically, Hajj is performed between the 8th and 12th day of this month.

Duration 

The duration of performing obligatory acts during Hajj and Umrah also differentiates one from the other. A pilgrim can easily perform Umrah in a few hours but that is not the case for performing Hajj. A few days, mainly 5-6 days are needed to perform Hajj successfully. Umrah is simpler with fewer steps included while Hajj is a more complex journey with several additional rituals that require more time and physical effort.

Obligatory Acts 

Another important factor that differentiates Hajj and Umrah is the difference in obligatory acts or rituals that need to be performed by the pilgrim to successfully complete their pilgrimage. 

For Umrah, there are four obligatory rituals – assuming the state of Ihram, performing Tawaf, carrying out Sa’ee between Safa and Marwah and finally Taqsir or Halq, the act of completely shaving the head or clipping a portion of hair.
Hajj includes more rituals that last longer, including – assuming the state of Ihram from Meeqat, Tawaf Al Ifadah, undertaking Sa’ee between the hills of Safa and Marwa, Wuquf or standing on Arafah until sunset, stoning the Jamarat, Udhiyah commonly known as the sacrifice of any livestock animal, shaving the hair, and lastly, perform farewell circumambulation.

Types of Hajj and Umrah

There are three different types of Hajj – Hajj ul Qiran, Hajj ul Ifrad, and Hajj ul Tamattu and two types of Umrah named Umrah ul Mufradah and Umrah ul Tamattu.

Although both Hajj and Umrah are pilgrimages that purify your soul and bring you closer to Allah, Hajj is significantly more important than Umrah as it is a pillar of Islam which makes it an obligation for all Muslims. Whereas Umrah is a choice and a sunnah but it is not a mandatory requirement of Islam.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Should you do Hajj or Umrah first?

Many pilgrims have this common confusion regarding which pilgrimage to undertake first. Since in Islam, Hajj is an obligatory pilgrimage, many people choose to go on the major pilgrimage once they are presented with an opportunity.

Can Umrah be performed during the Hajj season?

Yes, Umrah can be performed during the Hajj season but not during the specific days of Hajj rituals.

How long does it take to complete each pilgrimage?

The duration of each pilgrimage varies. On average, it takes about 5-6 hours to complete Umrah while it takes 5 days to complete Hajj. Pilgrims undertaking Umrah usually stay back for days performing Umrah multiple times at their convenience.

What is the difference between Hajj and Umrah?

Hajj is a compulsory pilgrimage that should be performed by every Muslim if they have the financial means and physical & mental health. Umrah is not mandatory but recommended. The difference between Hajj and Umrah can also be on different grounds such as timing, duration of the pilgrimage, rituals and so on.

What is the difference between the timings of Hajj and Umrah?

Muslims perform Hajj during the lunar calendar’s last month, Dhu al Hijjah. The Hajj rituals are done between the 8th and 12th of this month. Umrah on the other hand can be performed at any time of year.

What is the significance of performing Hajj and Umrah?

Performing the Hajj and Umrah are regarded to be very significant activities in Islam since they indicate one’s obedience to Allah (SWT) and strengthen their faith. It is thought that conducting these pilgrimages purifies one’s soul of sins and brings them closer to Allah (SWT)



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