Following are the essential rituals of the ‘Umrah:
These are explained below in their order of observance:
1. Ihrām: Two un-sown sheets of cloth are worn from the
Mīqāt (certain places that signify the beginning of the limits of the Ka‘bah).
This apparel signifies one’s detachment from this world as
they resemble the coffin cloth in which one will ultimately be buried.
2. Tawāf: A person then circumambulates the house of the
Almighty seven times. At the beginning of each round, one raises the hands
towards the Hijr Aswad. This is called Istilām.
In ancient Arabia, covenants and agreements were
strengthened by raising hands and by moving around in circles. The significance
of Tawāf and Istilām is that one actually revives the covenant of pleasing the
Almighty through them.
3. Sa‘ī: After completing the seven rounds of Tawāf, a
person is required to walk seven times between the two hillocks of Safā and
This ritual symbolizes one’s struggle and endeavour for
Islam which one should do in one’s normal life.
4. Tahlīq/Taqsīr. After that, one is required to either
have a complete hair shave (Tahlīq) or to have a hair cut (Taqsīr). Women are
required to remove a few strands of their hair only.
This symbolizes servitude to Allah. In ancient times, a
shaved head signified a slave person. Kings had the hairs of their slaves shaven
off to show that they were their slaves.
‘Umrah becomes very meaningful if this symbolism is known
to a person.