Some people may be heading out for the spiritual journey of a lifetime soon, so I just wanted to take a moment and give a few pieces of advice for those who will be traveling soon to perform the beautiful Umrah journey.  The following pieces of advice are amongst those that I received and some that I thought of while I was abroad in the sacred sites:

  1. Do your homework
    Learn about Mecca and Madinah.  Learn about Umrah.  When I was preparing for my journey, I came across many different books that discuss Hajj and the virtues of Hajj.  However, I found it difficult to find information on Umrah.  Sure, the books on Hajj made references to Umrah and had short chapters in it, but those snippets didn't satisfy my craving to learn more.  I did eventually come across a nice book on Umrah entitled, “The Ultimate Guide to Umrah.”  I am not endorsing one specific book over another, but I would urge you to learn about what you are about to experience before you go.  Also, make a copy of your passport and important documents and email them to yourself and your loved ones so you have a copy if something goes awry.
  2. Company makes a man
    If you are going with other people, then make sure they are good people.  A company makes a man, and it's true when you are in the sacred sites as well.  Having good company can make a lasting impact on your journey.  Are the people you are with going to encourage you to pray Tahajjud in the Haram and do extra tawaf or are they going to instead encourage you to eat the 4000 calorie meal from McDonalds at 2 am so you experience a food coma and have trouble waking up for fajr?
  3. Know the rules of Ihram
    There are simple rules that people can violate without thinking.  For example, know that you can't use scented soap when in ihram, so try to get some unscented soap before you leave.  Another rule is that you can't cover your head with your ihram (for men).  So even if it's really sunny, don't wrap that towel to protect yourself.  Another issue is it's important to cover your awrah while in the state of ihram.  Don't expose yourself while you are wearing it, just be careful insha'Allah.  If you get a chance, check out Shaykh Yasir Qadhi's transcribed lecture entitled, The Fiqh of Hajj and Practical Advice for Hajj, which has some good tips when it comes to ihram.
  4. Barber hygiene
    At the conclusion of Umrah, it is customary for men and women to cut their hair.  For men, don't just cut a snip of your hair.  Instead, cut your hair all around, even if you don't want to shave it.  If you do decide to shave it (recommended), then make sure the barber whom you visit uses a brand new disposable blade.  The Saudi government requires it and most barbers follow this rule, but just be extra careful and have your barber open up your blade in front of you.  You wouldn't want some blood-borne disease such as Hepatitis C to be transferred to you from the dried blood of the customer before you.  For women, don't expose yourself and cut your hair at the Kaaba.  Wait until you get back to the hotel so that you can take off your hijab and cut your hair.  Don't sacrifice your modesty because you're in a hurry to finish your Umrah.
  5. Take some Vaseline
    This advice is specific to men.  When you are in a state of ihram, you aren't wearing any boxers or underwear.  Your legs will chaff and Vaseline can make a world of a difference.
  6. Visiting the Rawdah
    The best time to visit the Rawdah in Madinah is at night time.  The Rawdah is a piece of paradise found in the Prophet's masjid in Madinah.  It is floored with green carpet and so it is easy to identify but difficult to take advantage of.  Many people have a goal of trying to pray in the Rawdah while in Madinah and so large fluxes of people are vying for a very small area.  After talking with people that lived in Madinah, the best time to try to visit the Rawdah (for men) is at night.  If you wait several hours after isha or a few hours before fajr, the rush at the Rawdah is less and it is much easier to pray and have some peaceful time for reflection in the Rawdah without the hustle and bustle that may be present at other times.
  7. Visit the sites in Madinah
    The best time to visit the sites in my opinion is in the morning time sometime between sunrise and Dhuhr prayer.  You can visit places like the site of the battle of Uhud as well as masjid Quba, which is the first masjid built by the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Don't forget to pray 2 rakats in masjid Quba and reap the reward of Umrah while you're there, insha'Allah!
  8. Contact back home
    If you have a smartphone, you can download apps like Viber or MagicJack that make it easier to call home for free on WiFi, which is available in some hotel lobbies.  Keep your phone on airplane mode and turn on the WiFi so that you don't get charged extraordinary roaming charges.  Also, if you have an iPhone, you can use iMessaging to text other iPhone users while the phone is still in airplane mode using WiFi for free as well!
  9. Talk with people
    Ask them where they are from.  I met people from countries I never expected to meet people from.  There are people from all over the world.  Mecca and Madinah are places of gathering for people from all over the world.  Have you ever met people from Azerbaijan or Mauritius?  Become enlightened on the beautiful brotherhood/sisterhood of our amazing faith.
  10. Make du'a
    Simple to say, but very important to do.  Make du'a for yourself, for others, for the entire Ummah.  You are blessed with being in such a spiritual place.  Take advantage of that beautiful spiritual high and make lots and lots of du'a, insha'Allah!

Have a beautiful journey.  May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept from you, ameen!

17 Responses

  1. Abu Asiyah

    assalaamu ‘alaykum,

    Masha’Allah, jazakumAllahu khayr! I’m hoping to be able to go on ‘umrah in the forseeable future, so this is important advice.

    One small comment: there’s a typo in #2: the title reads “Company marks a man” and it should me “makes a man”. Important to fix that since those who skim will generally focus on the boldface.

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    • Abu Ibrahim

      Walaikumasalam bro,
      JazakAllahkhair for the advice, I fixed the typo above!

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  2. Me too

    As-Salamu `alaikum,

    Regarding point number five, I found corn starch to work well for the same purpose, wouldn’t Vaseline just rub off quickly?

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    • Abu Ibrahim

      Walaikumasalam,

      You know I never thought about corn starch! That may be work even better, I’m not sure Vaseline did work rather well in my experience. As long as it gets the job done!

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  3. Razia

    Jazakallah for this post!We are leaving for Umrah in 2 weeks inshallah!The book you mentioned is very helpful alhamdulilah!I’ve been reading it for the past couple of weeks. Also make lists and plan beforehand especially if traveling with young children. We are traveling with our 4 and 2 year old. I’m from Mauritius by the way!

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    • Abu Ibrahim

      Very awesome, masha’Allah! Keep your fellow brothers and sisters in your duas. Have a beautiful journey, insha’Allah!

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  4. ZAI

    Question related to #3:

    Is it permissible to use sunscreen when in ihram?
    I did Umrah in 2009 and discovered I don’t tan well and go straight to burning.
    Was painful, but ultimately ihram doesn’t have to last long so was fine after the
    1st day. However, Hajj would do me in….so would sunscreen be fine if I could
    find one that’s unscented?

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    • Abu Ibrahim

      To be honest, I’m no shaykh or a scholar so I’m going to refrain from answering. However, I’m sure you could find the answer by asking a person of knowledge whom you trust, insha’Allah.

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  5. Umthalatha

    Assalamualaykum. Too bad this article came out just today. My family & I just came back from Umrah 3 days ago. I could have used some of your advices. Alhamdullilah it was (as usual) a great and uplifting experience! I was looking for a guide for Umrah in the internet and found a step by step guide, including the dua’s to be said. (Sorry I forgot the site’s name) I think this is the best time to go since the weather is good and it’s not too crowded. You can concentrate more with your ibadah. One advice I can give by the way is to book a hotel which is close or facing the 1st gate because this is the only way to get inside the masjid. We got one that is on the opposite side and we had to walk too far and it made us too tired coming & going to the masjid.

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  6. Shaiff Hira

    ASSALAAMUALAYKUM Reaspected Shaykh Abu Ibrahim,

    I am Shariff, Khaadimul- Ummah and i am from Mauritius. Actually I am Khateeb and Khaadim at The Imam Muhammad Adam Institute,boys Unit and leading Zuhr Swalaah.
    Also Khaadimul Masjid at Madani High School Leicester together with my beloved son Qaari Shabaan who is currently leading Fajr Swalaah at Madani Masjid in Leicester.
    Sayyidunaa Ibrahim and Ismail Alayhimussalaam, built the Hose Of Allah and you Shaykh Abu Ibrahim gave a wonderful and useful advice regarding the rules and etiquette to visit The Holy House of Allah.
    Insha Allah i am also willing to visit the Holy House with my family during next coming days by the Grace of Allah, and very much happy to get the very important advice which is very helpful for the entire Ummah.
    May Allah Reward you for your kind effort and concern.

    Khaadimul – Ummah.

    Abu Swabeeha

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  7. mumtaz

    Asalamvalikum rahmathulla hi va barkathu

    thanks, such good useful information – inshalla am planning for umra trip may be after two weeks earlier too i been to umrah several time but always in hurry this time it should be special as i decided to spend few days in both places –
    the informations should be more useful – i pray that all the muslims get connected all over the world so to ripe all this type of useful knowldge and information
    allahfiz – all brothers and sister of islam keep me in ur duas

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  8. Afzal

    Aslaam alaikum wa rahmatullah hay wa barakat-e-hu.

    Alhamdolillah! Beautiful advice brother! May Allah (swt) accept all your ibadah and reward you and your loved ones with the very best of His (swt) favours and blessings and grant you success in this life and in the hereafter in-sha’Allah, Aameen!

    In-sha’Allah, we (my father, brother and myself) will be going for umrah next month. May Allah(swt) accept our umrah and our humble prayers, in-sha’Allah. Please kindly remember me and all my loved ones in your duahs particularly my late mother.

    Wa’salaam.

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