Umrah Travel Readiness
This article provides
information and resources that can help pilgrims obtain visas for
travel to Saudi-Arabia to perform Umrah / Hajj.
Umra - A brief
in Arabic) refers to a mini-pilgrimage
to the noble city of Makkah in
Saudi-Arabia. Muslims can perform almost anytime of the year. In the
Arabic language, the word "Umrah" is derived from the word "al-i'timar"
meaning "a visit".
The Rites of Umrah include
(1) entering in the state of Ihram, (2) Tawaf (going in circles that
is laos called circumambulation) of Ka'bah, (3) Sayee
(going between) the hills of Safa and Marwah (now part of the Masjid
Al-Ahram), and (4) shaving and clipping of the hair In Umrah. During
Umrah, pilgrims do not go to Mina, Arafat and / or Muzdalifa or
throw pebbles on Jamrat) or offer animal sacrifice.
Umra can be performed at
any time of the year except during the Hajj season, performing in
the month of Ramadan and together with the Hajj. According to some
Islamic schools of thought, although Umrah is not compulsory but is
highly recommended for Muslims to perform during their lifetimes, if
they can afford the trip.
Considerations for Umrah / Hajj Travel
Umrah can be performed
any time during the year. However, to accommodate pilgirms for
Hajj and other considerations, Saudi consulate issues Umrah
visas only certain times of the year. Historically, the visas
have been issued each year from the beginning of the Islamic
month of Safar until beginning of the month of Ramadan.
However, these rules do change and pilgrims should check with
local Saudi consulates.
Each applicant for an
Umrah visa must apply through a licensed US travel agency, which
must have signed a contract with a Saudi company or
establishment to provide Umrah visa services.
Although ladies are
discouraged to take the trip
by themselves, any lady over the age of forty-five year is
permitted to travel without a Mahram (legal guardian) with an
organized group, provided she submits a letter of no objection
from her husband, son and / or brother authorizing her to travel
for Umrah with the named group. Saudi embassy / consulates may
have different rules depending on the country of origin.
The usual validity of
an Umrah visa is one month.
Umrah visas do not give
the right to work or reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Umrah travel and
arrangements are very similar to Hajj travel and arrangements.
Although, the rituals
of Umrah can be completed in an hour during off-peak seasons,
during peak and Hajj seasons, it can take many hours. For
example, performing Umrah during the last ten days of Ramadan
can be a lengthy process.