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The Meaning and Kinds of ‘Umrah

The Meaning of ‘Umrah
The word ‘umrah in common speech “visit”, but in the Shari’ah it means paying a visit to the Bayt Allah al‑Haram (the Sacred House of God, i.e. the Holy Ka’bah) in a specific form.
The Kinds of ‘Umrah
The ‘Umrah is of two kinds: the first which is performed independently of the Hajj (called al‑‘Umrat al‑mufradah al‑mustaqillah ‘an al‑Hajj), and the second kind which is performed in conjunction with the Hajj (al‑‘Umrat al‑mundammah ila al‑Hajj). The al‑‘Umrat al‑mufradah, the independent ‘Umrah, all the five legal schools agree, can be performed at all times of the year, though it is meritorious to perform it during the month of Rajab according to the Imamiyyah, and in Ramadan according to the four Sunni schools.
The time of the conjugate ‘Umrah, which is performed before the Hajj and in the course of the same journey by the Hujjaj coming to the Holy Makkah from distant countries, by consensus of all five schools, extends from Shawwal to Dhul Hijjah. However, there is disagreement among legists about the month of Dhul Hijjah, whether the entire month or only the first ten days belong to the Hajj season. Anyone who performs the conjugate ‘Umrah is considered relieved of the obligation to perform the al‑‘Umrat al‑mufradah by those who believe in its being obligatory.