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The word ‘umra is derived from al-i’timar, which means “to visit.” In this context, it means visiting the Ka’ba, performing tawaf, walking between Safa and Marwa seven times, and then shaving one’s head or cutting one’s hair short. It is a sunna act of worship.

The Time. Most scholars have ruled that ‘Umra may be performed any time during the year. Abu Hanifa, however, opines that it is disliked to perform ‘Umra on five days: the Day of ‘Arafat (eve), the Day of Nahr (Dhu’l-Hijja 10, the first day of ‘Iyd al-Adha), and the 3 days of Tashriq (Dhu’l-Hijja 11, 12, and 13).

The Miqat. If people who are intending to perform ‘Umra are outside the miqat fixed for Hajj, they must not cross these miqats (places fixed for ihram) without declaring ihram. Those people who are already well within the miqat area, even within Makka’s Sacred Precincts, must go out to the miqat and de-clare ihram there.