The Difference Between Hajj and Umrah

04 Dec 2023 - Category: Blog /
whatis hajj

Although the Hajj and Umrah are two important Muslim religious pilgrimages that are frequently discussed together, their customs, and prerequisites differ on some levels.

Hajj is Fardh (obligatory) on every Muslim while Umrah is a Sunnah. To put it simply, Hajj - also known as the Fifth Pillar of Islam - is a longer, more ritualized journey that can only be done during a certain time of year. Umrah, on the other hand, is a shorter pilgrimage that may be done at any time of the year.

They are not the same, even though they are both significant spiritual journeys that draw you nearer to Allah (SWT).

What precisely separates the Hajj from Umrah then? Let’s read about it in detail till the end of this article.


What Is Umrah?

Umrah, commonly referred to as the minor pilgrimage or the lesser pilgrimage, is a more straightforward form of a trip to the Holy city of Makkah (also spelled as Mecca).

Umrah consists of a few hours of acts of worship that can be performed any time of the year without any restrictions except when it is Hajj season according to the Islamic Calendar.

What Is Hajj?

It is one of the five Pillars of Islam, and a mandatory pilgrimage to be performed once in a lifetime.

Millions of Muslims travel on this extremely sacred path every year in an effort to get closer to Allah (SWT) and fulfill the obligation.

How Does the Umrah Get Done?

Tawaf and Sa'i are the two most important rites to do during Umrah once you are dressed appropriately and have entered the holy condition of Ihram. There are several steps to perform Umrah, the most basic include:


Tawaf is held in the Great Mosque of Makkah, Masjid al-Haram, which houses the Ka'aba, the sacred house of Allah. Muslims circle around the Ka'aba seven times in an anti-clockwise direction to complete the Tawaf.


Sa'i, which entails ceremonial running and walking between the two hills of Safa and Marwa, is performed after Tawaf.

This is done in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim's wife Hajar (AS), who fervently searched for water for both herself and her little son Ismail (AS).

Muslims perform Sa’i to represent the struggles they face on a daily basis and the ways Allah, the Most Gracious, supports and leads them in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

In order to perform Sa'i, you must begin at the hill of Safa and move toward the hill of Marwa until you come across a green marker. Then, you must run to the next green marker. You then head over to the hill of Marwa to finish your first loop.

After finishing your initial loop towards Marwa, you repeat the process backwards. Sa'i needs a total of seven laps. Men then shave their heads - an act known as Halq - and women trim a small portion of their hair.

What Is The Difference Between Umrah from Hajj?

The fact that the Hajj is the fifth and last pillar of Islam — though by no means the least important — may be the most significant distinction between the two sacred pilgrimages, the Umrah and the Hajj.

While Umrah is optional, Hajj is mandatory to the point that if they are financially, intellectually and physically capable of doing so, all Muslims are obliged to make this required pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

  • While Umrah can be finished in a single day, Hajj requires five days, so it requires a significantly larger time commitment.
  • Umrah is conducted whenever one pleases during the year, but Hajj is performed exclusively on designated days during the 12th Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah.
  • The two pilgrimages carry similarities in rituals and have the potential to yield numerous benefits, spiritual merits, and blessings from Allah (SWT).

How the Hajj Is Done

Similar to doing Umrah, the Holy Hajj pilgrimage starts with a visit to the Ka'aba for Tawaf seven times and then a back-and-forth between Safa and Marwa for Sa'i. But following these are several significant variations and other rites.

The 8th day of Dhul Hijjah marks the beginning of a Muslim’s Hajj.

On the second day of the Hajj, the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, and the Day of Arafah, Muslims travel to Mina - a valley surrounded by mountains - to spend the night before proceeding to Mount Arafat.

The holiest day of the year is known as Day of Arafah. On this day, pilgrims travel to Jabal al-Rahmah, the alleged site of Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) last sermon, and Muslims conduct Wuquf, the act of standing in front of Allah till dusk.

On the 10th of Dhul, third day of the Rami al-Jamarat, pilgrims return to Mina after spending time at Mount Arafat, stopping at Muzdalifah for prayer and an overnight stay.

Here, Muslims hurl stones at the biggest of the three pillars, which stand in for the devil. This act is known as Rami.

The celebration of Eid al-Adha starts on 11th of Dhul Hijjah for Muslims. Animals are sacrificed during this period to honor Prophet Ibrahim's devotion to Allah. One of the most significant Hajj customs involves giving food from sacrificed animals—known as Qurbani or Udhiya—to the underprivileged.

It may be tough and physically taxing to conduct the Hajj and all of the required rituals during this pilgrimage. However, Muslims must follow Allah's instructions in order for Him to pardon pilgrims for their previous transgressions.

While both the Hajj and the Umrah are spiritual pilgrimages to Makkah with comparable ceremonies, there are some significant distinctions.

Umrah is a short, voluntary pilgrimage that can be done at any time of year to obtain blessings. While Hajj, a significant journey that entails additional ceremonies, must be performed at least once in every Muslim’s lifetime.

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