Generally pilgrims either follow or precede the hajj, “the greater pilgrimage,” with the umrah, “the minor or the lesser pilgrimage,” which is certified by the Holy Quran and was also performed by the Prophet (PBUH). The Umrah, unlike the hajj, takes place just in Makkah itself and umrah can be performed at any time throughout the year. The ihram, talbiyah and the limitations or restrictions required by the state of sanctification are equally necessary in the umrah, which also shares three other main rituals with the hajj: the tawaaf (circumambulation), saaee and shaving or clipping the head hair. The performance of the umrah by pilgrims and visitors symbolizes ibadah (worship) for the unique sacredness of Makkah.
Before or after going to Holy Makkah, pilgrims avail the opportunity provided by the umrah or the hajj to visit the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid-e-Nabwi) in Madina, the second holiest city in the history of Islam. Here. The visit to city Madina is not mandatory or obligatory, as it is not part of the umrah or hajj, but it is the city, which welcomed Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when He migrated there from city Makkah, is rich in visiting memories and historical sites.
In this city, loved by Muslims for many centuries, people yet feel the effect of the Prophet (PBUH) life. While making their tawaaf or circumambulation pilgrims may touch or kiss the Hajr-e-Aswad (Black Stone). This stone, first mounted in a silver frame back in the seventh century, has an extraordinary place in the hearts of all Muslims as, but perhaps the single most significant reason for kissing the hajr-e-Aswad is that the it is a Sunnah.
As pilgrims of diverse tongues and races return back to their homes, they carry with them cherished and exquisite memories of Hazrat Ibraheem (AS),Hazrat Ismaeel (AS), Bibi Hajra, and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They return with a sense of serenity and awe: awe or fear for their experience at Arafaat, when they felt closest to ALLAH Almighty as they stood on the place where the Prophet (PBUH) delivered his last sermon during his first and final pilgrimage; serenity for having drop their sins on that plain, and being therefore relieved of a heavy burden.
They also return back with a better understanding of the situation of their brothers in the religion of peace, Islam. Therefore is born a spirit of caring and kindness for others and an understanding of their own rich inheritance that will last all through their lives.
The pilgrims go back happy with joy and hope, for they have fulfilled ALLAH’S earliest injunction to all humanity to undertake the pilgrimage Hajj or umrah. Above all, they return back to their homes with a prayer on their lips and in hearts.
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