When the noble Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) and His son Hazrat Ismaeel (AS) had completed the construction of the Holy Kaaba, ALLAH Almighty commanded Hazrat Ibraheem (AS) to make the call for pilgrimage (Hajj and Umrah):
Verse 27 of surah Al-Hajj
And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj).
Hazrat Ibraheem (AS) obeyed and the extraordinary result of his call can be seen nowadays when millions of Muslims from many different corner of the world make sacred journeys to the Holy sanctuary of Holy Kaaba to perform Umrah and Hajj. All seeking pleasure of ALLAH Almighty and strongly believe in His promise to pardon them and purify them of their sins.
The Muslims throng the Holy Kaaba for any of the 2 pilgrimages: Umrah or Hajj.
Hajj is the superior pilgrimage:
Hajj means to be take oneself to the holy masjid in the very last month of the Islamic year in order to perform the prescribed obligatory Hajj rituals. It is the 5th pillar of Islam and is obligatory for all Muslims to perform once during their lifetime if they can physically and financially afford to do so.
Umrah is the minor or lesser pilgrimage:
Umrah means paying a visit to the Holy Kaaba, Tawaaf or circumambulation around it, running between the hills of Safa and Marwah seven times, and then shaving (Halq) one’s head (for men) or clipping one’s hair short (for women). There is a agreement among scholars that Umrah is a prescribed ibadah (worship).
Difference between Umrah and Hajj:
Although both hajj and Umrah are pilgrimages, there are particular differences between the 2. Umrah is a prescribed but performing Umrah is non-obligatory pilgrimage, whereas Hajj is an obligatory one. Muslims can perform Umrah any time throughout the year, but a person can only make the pilgrimage Hajj in the specified month of the Zil-Hajj. Another difference is that the Hajj involves more rites and rituals than an Umrah, and thus holds superior reward and significance.
Purpose of performing Umrah and Hajj:
Umrah and Hajj are pilgrimages that hold great merits and have an enormous impact on one’s spiritual condition. It is a call of ALLAH Almighty which a believer should respond with extreme submission and devotion. It is a remembrance of the acts of deep love, extreme sacrifice and unflinching belief in ALLAH Almighty that were displayed by Hazrat Ibraheem (AS), His wife Bibi Hajra, and son Hazrat Ismaeel (AS). It teaches a Muslim to be obedient to ALLAH Almighty. A Muslim should perform Umrah and Hajj with the purpose of seeking nearness of ALLAH Almighty and experiencing His closeness. Furthermore, Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages teach us the conception of brotherhood and unity in Islam.
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