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THE LESSER HAJJ ('UMRAH)

Among the virtuous acts recommended during Ramadan, is performance of 'Umrah, the lesser Hajj, for those Muslims who are capable physically and financially first to travel to the House of Allah (Ka'abah) in Makkah, and who can afford the expenses of air fare or bus fare and accommodations.

The case for this 'Umrah rests on the Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah (says) said: " Performing 'Umrah in the month of Ramadan equals performing Hajj'' (Agreed Upon)

This hadith indicates the merits of 'Umrah in Ramadan. It does not specify whether 'Umrah is performed in the beginning of the month or in the last ten days of Ramadan.

There is a popular belief that this 'Umrah should be on the 27th of Ramadan, the Night of Power. This results in a traffic jam on that date in the grand Masjid, with thousands of visitors around the world wanting to make `Umrah on that night. As I have explained in the section on the Night of Power, the recommended act on the Night of Power is not 'Umrah, it is Tahajjud (nightly prayer). After all, no one is certain that the 27th is the Night of Power.

Indeed, for those who can afford it and may have made Hajj, 'Umrah in Makkah during Ramadan is a lifetime experience that no one should miss. Words cannot describe the exhilarating feeling of Iftar (fast breaking, nightly prayer, and Taraweeh) in the Holy Land with other pilgrims.