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10 Pieces of Advice Before You Leave for Umrah

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 Makkah 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.  Makkah 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 dua
    Simple to say, but very important to do.  Make dua 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 dua, insha’Allah!

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

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  1. Avatar

    Abu Asiyah

    March 19, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    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.

    • Abu Ibrahim

      Abu Ibrahim

      March 24, 2014 at 12:47 AM

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

      • Avatar


        March 15, 2015 at 4:02 PM

        Salaam,very happy that you mention mauritius. I am from mauritius and was searching the net for info and came across your site. Very informative!

  2. Avatar

    Me too

    March 19, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    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?

    • Abu Ibrahim

      Abu Ibrahim

      March 24, 2014 at 12:48 AM


      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!

      • Avatar


        July 2, 2016 at 9:15 PM

        Assalam aleykum. What is wrong with underwear? Can tell me the reason.

    • Avatar


      July 17, 2016 at 3:01 AM

      I’m first perform to umra it’s ok to my hear are not cutting?? Can you give me answer??

  3. Avatar


    March 19, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    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!

    • Abu Ibrahim

      Abu Ibrahim

      March 24, 2014 at 12:49 AM

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

  4. Avatar


    March 19, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    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?

    • Avatar


      March 21, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      @ Zai, in shaa Allah sunscreen is fine IF its UNSCENTED.

    • Abu Ibrahim

      Abu Ibrahim

      March 24, 2014 at 12:50 AM

      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.

  5. Avatar

    A. Debaji

    March 25, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    There is a great app for that for iPhone called UmrahSalam. It actually addresses every step of Umrah giving you the correct du‘ā’ at the correct time, has a place to put your personal du‘ā’ and has a great map integrated into the app.

  6. Avatar


    April 9, 2014 at 3:07 AM

    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.

    • Avatar


      April 16, 2016 at 1:12 AM

      Salam May. Know which is the nearest hotel to stay at if I’m gg for umrah.

    • Avatar

      Syed Hussain

      October 28, 2016 at 8:49 PM


      I am planning to take my wife and daughter for Umrah, question to you can I book hotel myself and is there a problem…?

  7. Avatar

    Shaiff Hira

    April 9, 2014 at 6:57 AM

    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

  8. Avatar


    April 14, 2014 at 3:58 AM

    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

  9. Avatar


    July 8, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    Enumerating the steps perhaps takes the soul out of the trip.

  10. Avatar

    Muslimah Delights

    September 13, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    JazakAllah, useful tips.

  11. Avatar


    November 11, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    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.


  12. Pingback: What You Should Expect From Your Hajj Or Umrah Package Tour Agents | Hirharang

  13. Avatar


    April 14, 2015 at 12:47 PM

    Alhamdullilah, It is very beautiful and helpful for the brother who are going for Umrrah. Can I publish this article on our website. It is a masjid site.

  14. Avatar

    Syed Imtiaz Ali

    April 25, 2015 at 5:22 AM

    Thank you very much to share it. Very informative and beautiful stuff in short wordings.

    I am going too to perform Umrah in next week. Ps. remember in your prayers.


  15. Avatar

    Kabir S. Ahmed

    June 8, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    Alhamdulilahi! This piece is precious. May Allah reward you.

  16. Avatar


    September 21, 2015 at 5:42 PM

    Salaam to all, i would like to know if it is suitable to use the simple product range while in state of Ihram while preforimg umrah.

    JazakAllah in advance.

  17. Pingback: Comment on 10 Pieces of Advice Before You Leave for Umrah by Zayeneesha | Souqhub | Blog

  18. Avatar


    October 16, 2015 at 4:18 AM

    Slmz to all would love to learn more about Umrah. Inshallah..want to go soon

  19. Avatar

    Nadia Nell

    October 26, 2015 at 9:03 PM

    Another item that could prove to be very useful for UMRAH & HAJJ is women’s prayer abaya…all white… go into this link…

  20. Avatar

    Layaq Ali Khan

    November 13, 2015 at 1:38 AM

    Thanks, for the useful advice. Jazakallah khair. I am going for the first time for Umrah next month with my wife inshaallh. If some information regarding other holly places to be visited in Mecca muazzama & Madina munawwara could be given. Will be very helpful. VVassalam.

  21. Avatar


    December 29, 2015 at 1:48 AM

    Just want to ask about vaseline. Isnt it scented? can we use it then?

    • Avatar

      Imran Ghani

      February 28, 2016 at 10:51 PM

      If Vaseline to be used, use unsented, jelly type.

      Someone told me that pure coconut oil work wonders, always apply before u leave your hotel for prayers/tawaf or Umrah.

  22. Avatar

    Danish Akhtar

    January 25, 2016 at 6:11 AM

    Alhamdullilah, It is very beautiful and helpful. Thanks for sharing. VVassalam

  23. Avatar


    January 25, 2016 at 11:28 PM

    Assalaam Aleykum WarahmatuLLAHI wa Barakaatu. MāshāALLAH wa JazaakaALLĀH my brother, my ALLĀH reward you for your effort. I have an advice for those who need tips on Hajj &Umrah. Look up “Hajj step by step” by Sheikh Muhammad Salah of Huda Tv on youtube. He explains all the steps in detail. I found it quite helpful for me and i thought i should share.

  24. Avatar

    Neelufar Shaik

    February 19, 2016 at 5:51 AM

    Jazakallah for the tips. It will be really useful when we have a plan for Omrah. Hoping for a chance to perform Umrah.. Insha Allah..!!!

  25. Avatar

    Masood UK

    April 6, 2016 at 1:53 PM

    Just returned from umrah in Saudi. Cheapest travel option to and from Al-Masjid an-Nabawi and Medina Airport (MED) is by using the red public transport bus – SAPTCO, route no.400. Charges only 10 Saudi ryal (around £1.75) each way per person. No stops in between, and takes around 25mins to get there. Bus stops in front of airport where the taxis are normally waiting. By Masjid, the stop is very close to Medina Hilton hotel front entrance.
    Also, regarding Jeddah terminal, if you need to travel between terminals (as one terminal is solely for Saudi airline & the other is for all others), then do so using the shuttle service outside the terminals. It’s a 25-seater mini van that comes every 30 mins or so and parks up with the waiting taxis. Charge is 20ryal per person. Only use taxis if its an emergency as they charge too too much, min’m 100ryal and over!
    Do go on ziarats in and around medina. Very good operator is South African Mufti Abdullah Jinnah, mble no. 0507038182. Provides two and a half hour coach tour every day @ 7:15 & 10:15am. English language running commentary throughout showing around 45 different places with stops at Msjd Quba, Msjd Qiblatain & Mount Uhud. Costs 55ryal per person – very beneficial.

  26. Avatar

    Abdul Kalam

    April 13, 2016 at 12:19 PM

    Asalamu alikkum masha allah jazakkumulla hair my brother …..this is the very help full artikel . i am going for ummra next month insha allah…..

  27. Avatar

    ukkir Ras

    April 24, 2016 at 9:10 PM

    Assalamu’alaikum Wr. Wb.

    good article, please send me email or paket umroh ramadhan if you have new article like this.


    • Avatar

      Biaya umroh plus turki murah

      August 11, 2016 at 8:12 AM

      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.

  28. Avatar


    April 30, 2016 at 9:14 AM

    hiii can you please say what is the dua is recited while giving thasbh(salam) to the people going/returning after performing hajj/umrah…detailing about it we hold the people hands and hug for three times

  29. Avatar


    May 18, 2016 at 1:57 PM

    I loved the site content. :) :)

  30. Avatar

    Naa Wisata

    May 18, 2016 at 8:48 PM

    Jazakumullah khair. I like the content..


  31. Avatar


    May 18, 2016 at 8:53 PM

    Good content. I just visit this site. If anyone would like to know about umra ramadhan in Indonesia, pls visit this site

    thank you.

  32. Avatar

    ramadan umrah packages

    May 23, 2016 at 9:27 AM

    Make your reservation confirm for the ramadan Umrah packages ticket from the UK, and get an easy and direct approach to the dream destination at Makkah.
    Looking for the direct flights from the UK to Makkah then choose the Ramadan umrah packages Umrah tickets from the UK and your flight to the sacred land is not too far from you.

  33. Avatar

    Umroh Ramadhan

    May 26, 2016 at 6:48 AM

    It’s the so useful advice, The people who will be traveling for umrah or pilgrimage must read these advice.

    Thank you very much for your sharing..

  34. Avatar

    Paket Umroh Desember

    June 11, 2016 at 12:40 PM

    It’s the useful sharing..

    Thanks for your informations..

  35. Avatar

    Paket Haji Plus

    June 13, 2016 at 1:56 PM

    really great post very interesting

  36. Avatar

    paket umroh desember

    June 17, 2016 at 10:25 AM

    Assalaamu’alaikumwarohmatullahi wa barakaatuh,

    thank you articles with tips that really helped us in performing ‘ Umrah with safe and comfortable

  37. Avatar

    Rida Anwar

    July 13, 2016 at 4:27 AM

    Very nice article me also planning for Umrah in this december hoping everything will be perfect in this journey may Allah bless us all

  38. Avatar

    Adriano Jonas

    July 23, 2016 at 9:34 PM

    Thanks, for the useful advice. Jazakallah khair. I am going for the first time for Umrah next month with my wife inshaallh.

  39. Avatar

    Umroh Desember

    August 6, 2016 at 12:23 AM

    Good advices, I Liek it..One think I can not do that is Talk to people, because I’m very diffcult to talk with the other people with different Language..Thanks for your advice may you visit us also in Umroh Desember 2016

  40. Avatar


    August 7, 2016 at 6:14 AM

    Oh and if you are going with kids, found THIS article as the most comprehensive guide!

  41. Avatar

    Biaya Umroh

    August 10, 2016 at 7:11 PM

    Thanks For your Advice, it’s very useful for All the Muslim who wants Go umrah….Syukron

  42. Avatar

    Biaya umroh plus turki murah

    August 11, 2016 at 8:07 AM

    I loved the site content. :) :)

  43. Avatar

    Layla Sheikh

    August 11, 2016 at 11:32 AM

    Alhumdulillah…………If someone going to perform Umrah it is really important to learn something about how to perform Umrah

    Because you are going for a precious journey of your life.

  44. Avatar


    August 13, 2016 at 2:45 AM

    Alhamdulillah ….

  45. Avatar

    Sarah Rosner

    August 16, 2016 at 2:49 PM

    Great article, before reading it i was not aware of many of these things, thanks for making it easy for us. It is obviously very necessary to fulfill these duties the way Allah has order us to. So it is very helpful indeed. May Allah Bless you.

  46. Avatar

    alice ben

    August 17, 2016 at 11:43 AM

    I have offered Umrah few months before, preparation of Umrah is very important. Buy a book regarding performing Umrah. Visit doctor and ask him to write prescription for you containing general diseases and their medicine and bring these medicines with you. On reaching hotel, just grab the hotel’s visiting card and keep it in your pocket or ballet because its happens that people forget their hotel location, even name of hotel too.

  47. Avatar

    Maheen Raza

    August 18, 2016 at 4:50 AM

    very nice article and very useful also

  48. Avatar


    September 17, 2016 at 5:41 AM

    keep writing such useful Articles

  49. Avatar

    saliha Khan

    September 23, 2016 at 4:25 AM

    very nice article and very informative for those who are going to perform Umrah for the first time

  50. Avatar

    rudy hananto

    September 28, 2016 at 1:11 PM

    Alhamdulillah, jazakumullah khairan katsiira

  51. Avatar

    Noor Khan

    October 5, 2016 at 5:27 AM

    Very nice post I will follow it JazakAllah

  52. Avatar

    Sarah Javed

    October 15, 2016 at 5:39 AM

    very well written . thanks for sharing

  53. Avatar

    Neelum Munir

    October 18, 2016 at 4:08 AM

    very nice article JAZAKALLAH

  54. Avatar

    Abdul Qadir Jilani

    November 3, 2016 at 5:42 AM

    Jazak, Allah Khair brother. Found it useful.

  55. Avatar

    Marcia Badeni

    November 8, 2016 at 1:07 PM

    Obrigado por compartilhar, gostei muito

  56. Avatar

    Maria Bras

    November 15, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    Eu quero irrrrrrrrrrrrrrr……………..

  57. Avatar

    islamic names

    November 19, 2016 at 7:26 AM

    Always Follow it Insha Allah!

  58. Avatar

    islamic names

    November 19, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    Allahu Akbar! Islamic Names A to Z Please Come in>>

  59. Avatar

    Fatma yah

    December 27, 2016 at 12:05 AM

    Beautiful, Jazak Allah.

    Also, don’t forget to give zakat in the holy cities. There are many who need it.

  60. Avatar

    Marketplace Umroh

    January 22, 2017 at 10:58 PM

    This is very useful, can I rewrite this article into my language and post it in my website? I have a website with umrah/hajj topic. Thank you for your answer.

  61. Avatar


    February 10, 2017 at 7:25 AM

    This was useful site! thanks for sharing this useful tips.

  62. Avatar


    October 15, 2017 at 11:14 AM

    Salam.. A must to have note when preparing for umrah. I think they are same as hajj preparation, but need more amount of them, aren’t they?

  63. Avatar


    November 12, 2017 at 11:00 AM

    so concise and informative.

  64. Avatar

    Cheap Hajj Packages

    June 2, 2018 at 4:41 AM

    Every Muslim who is leaving for Umrah must read these advises as these advises completely guide the pilgrims while leaving for Umrah.

  65. Avatar


    July 20, 2018 at 7:10 AM

    Useful tips, especially the tip # 05 for the men.
    Recommended for the people who’ve got plans to leave for Hajj & Umrah this year.
    Keep up the good work.

  66. Avatar

    Umar Raheed

    June 11, 2019 at 8:10 AM

    Aslam O Alaikum
    I’m happy to see this article. it’s so informative about Umrah you discuss all the necessary things umrah related. Thanks for sharing. To avoid problem during Umrah, you must select they provide all facilities that are needed.

  67. Avatar

    Madiha Khalil

    September 20, 2019 at 12:50 PM

    Assalaam u Alaykum

    Brother, it would be very nice if you provide us the link for the book you mentioned, “The Ultimate Guide to Umrah.”


  68. Avatar


    September 23, 2019 at 5:27 PM

    Great Advice, JazakAllah for all the Precious Advises:)

  69. Avatar

    Zubeda Noorien

    November 4, 2019 at 3:39 AM

    JazakAllah for the excellent advice for umrah. Indeed it is very helpful for the first-timers to go on Umrah and I happened to travel to Makkah by the help of Sara International Travel a leading travel agency of the United States and their Scholars also gave the advice before our departure and it was also helpful.

  70. Avatar

    wazeer shaik

    February 13, 2020 at 6:03 AM

    This types of article help us to know step by step process of umrah correctly, I have the intention to perform umrah in future, just came across one the scholar of’s Ahmed Saad Al-Azhari British Islamic scholar, and founder of the Ihsan Institute, you can watch him in the seminar of hajj 2020. It will benefit the people who are going for umrah.

  71. Avatar

    Haramain Tours

    February 13, 2020 at 6:08 AM

    Insah allah nice tips. These can make pilgrimage journey very easy.

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Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1

Alhamdulillah, it’s a great blessing of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that He has given us both the opportunity and ability to come here tonight to study and explore the meanings of His words in Surah Maryam. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept this effort from all of us and place it on our scale of good deeds.

Alhamdulillah, in our last series we were able to complete the tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf. InshAllah, in this next series, we’ll be exploring the meanings, lessons, and reminders of Surah Maryam. Tafsīr is an extremely noble and virtuous discipline. The reason why it’s so noble and virtuous is that it’s the study of the divine speech of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). As mentioned in a hadith the superiority of the speech of Allah over all other speech is like the superiority of Allah over all of His creation. There’s nothing more beneficial and virtuous than studying the Quran. And by doing so we’ll be counted amongst the best of people. As the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “the best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”

All of us need to build a stronger relationship with the Quran. The Quran is full of wisdom and guidance in every single verse and word. It’s our responsibility to seek that guidance, understand it, contextualize it and more importantly act upon it. Tafsīr is such a unique science that it brings together all of the other Islamic sciences. While exploring a Surah a person comes across discussions regarding Arabic grammar and morphology, rhetoric, Ahādīth, fiqh, sīrah and all those studies that are known as the Islamic Sciences. One scholar described the Quran as an ocean that has no shore, بحر لا ساحل له. The more we study the Qur’ān the stronger our relationship with it will become. We’ll become more and more attached to it and will be drawn into its beauty and wonder. The deeper a person gets into tafsir and studying the more engaged and interested they become. They also recognize how little they truly know. It develops humility. That’s the nature of true knowledge. The more we learn the more we recognize we don’t know. May Allah ﷻ allow us all to be sincere and committed students of the Qur’ān.

Surah Maryam

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Surah Maryam is the 19th surah in the Quran. It is a relatively long Makki surah made up of 98 verses. Some commentators mention that it’s the 44th Surah to be revealed, after Surah Al-Fatir and before Surah Taha. It has been given the name Maryam because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the story of Maryam (as) and her family and how she gave birth to Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) miraculously at the beginning of the Surah. Just like other Makkan surahs, it deals with the most fundamental aspects of our faith. It talks about the existence and oneness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), prophethood, and resurrection and recompense.

The Surah is made up of a series of unique stories filled with guidance and lessons that are meant as reminders. One of the main themes of this Surah is mercy… It has been mentioned over 16 times in this Surah. We’ll find the words of grace, compassion and their synonyms frequently mentioned throughout the sūrah, together with Allah’s attributes of beneficence and mercy. We can say that one of the objectives of the Surah is to establish and affirm the attribute of mercy for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why all of the stories mentioned also have to do with Allah’s mercy.

Another objective of the Surah is to remind us of our relationship with Allah ﷻ; the concept of Al-‘Ubūdiyyah. These are the two major themes or ideas of this Surah; the concept of Rahmah and the concept of ‘Ubūdiyyah (Mercy and Servitude).

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The Surah can be divided into 8 sections:

1) Verses 1-15: The surah starts with the story of Zakariyya (as) and how he was given the gift of a child at a very old age, which was something strange and out of the ordinary.

2) Verses 16-40: mention the story of Maryam and the miraculous birth of Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) without a father and how her community responded to her.

3) Verses 41-50: The surah then briefly mentions one part of the story of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), specifically the conversation he had with his father regarding the worship of idols. The surah then briefly mentions a series of other Prophets.

4) Verses 51-58: Mention Musa and Haroon 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Idrees 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to show that the essence of the message of all Prophets was the same

5) Verses 59-65: compare and contrast the previous generations with the current ones in terms of belief and actions.

6) Verses 66-72: Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) addresses the Mushrikoon rejecting their false claims regarding life after death and judgment.

7) Verses 73-87: continue to address the Mushrikoon and warn them regarding their attitude towards belief in Allah and His messengers. They also mention the great difference between the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of the non-believer.

8) Verses 88-98: contain a severe warning to those who claim that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has taken a child. They also express that Allah is pleased with the believers and mentions that one of the objectives of the Quran is to give glad tidings to the believers and to warn the non-believers.


From various narrations, we learn that this surah was revealed near the end of the fourth year of Prophethood. This was an extremely difficult time for Muslims. The Quraysh were frustrated with their inability to stop the message of Islam from spreading so they became ruthless. They resorted to any method of torture that they could think of; beating, starving and harassing. When the persecution became so severe that it was difficult for the Muslims to bear it, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave permission to migrate to Abyssinia. “For in it dwells a king in whose presence no one is harmed.” 10 men and 4 women migrated in the 5th year of Prophethood secretly. After a few months, a larger group of 83 men and 18 women migrated as well. This migration added more fuel to the fire. It enraged the people of Quraysh.

Umm Salamah [rahna]narrated, “When we stopped to reside in the land of Abyssinia we lived alongside the best of neighbors An-Najashi. We practiced our religion safely, worshipped Allah without harm and didn’t hear anything we disliked. When news of our situation reached the Quraysh they started to plot against us…” They decided to send two delegates to persuade An-Najashi to send the Companions back by offering him and his ministers’ gifts. The plan was to go to each minister with gifts and turn them against the Muslims. So they went to each minister with gifts and said, “Verily, foolish youth from amongst us have come to the country of your king; they have abandoned the religion of their people and have not embraced your religion. Rather they have come with a new religion that neither of us knows. The noblemen of their people, from their fathers and uncles, have sent us to the king asking that he send them back. So when we speak to the king regarding their situation advise him to surrender them to us and to not speak to them…” The minister agreed.

Then they went to the king, offered him gifts and said the same thing… The ministers tried to convince him as well. An-Najashi became angry with them and said, “No, by Allah, I will not surrender them to these two and I don’t fear the plotting of a people who have become my neighbors, have settled down in my country, and have chosen me (to grant them refuge) over every other person. I will not do so until I summon them and speak to them. If they are as these two say I will give them up, but if they aren’t then I will protect them from these two and continue to be a good neighbor to them as long as they are good neighbors to me.”

al-Najāshī then summoned the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions. When his messenger informed the Prophet’s Companions that they were to appear before the king, they gathered together to discuss what they should do. One of them asked, “What will you say to the name (al-Najāshī) when you go to him?” They all agreed on what they would say to him, “By Allah, we will say what our Prophet ﷺ taught us and commanded us with, regardless of the consequences.” Meanwhile, al-Najāshī called for his priests, who gathered around him with their scrolls spread out before them. When the Muslims arrived al-Najāshī began by asking them, “What is this religion for which you have parted from your people? You have not entered into the fold of my religion, nor the religion of any person from these nations.”

Umm Salamah [rahna] narrated, “The Person among us who would speak to him was Jaʿfar ibn abī Ṭālib [rahnu] who then said, “O king, we were an ignorant people: we worshipped idols, we would eat from the flesh of dead animals, we would perform lewd acts, we would cut off family ties, and we would be bad neighbors; the strong among us would eat from the weak. We remained upon that state until Allah sent us a Messenger, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and chastity we already knew. He invited us to Allah – to believe in His oneness and to worship Him; to abandon all that we and our fathers worshipped besides Allah, in terms of stones and idols. He ﷺ commanded us to speak truthfully, to fulfill the trust, to join ties of family relations, to be good to our neighbors, and to refrain from forbidden deeds and from shedding blood. And he ﷺ forbade us from lewd acts, from uttering falsehood, from wrongfully eating the wealth of an orphan, from falsely accusing chaste women of wrongdoing. And he ﷺ ordered us to worship Allah alone and to not associate any partners with him in worship; and he ﷺ commanded us to pray, to give zakāh, and to fast.” He enumerated for al-Najāshī the teachings of Islam. He said, “And we believe him and have faith in him. We follow him in what he came with. And so we worship Allah alone, without associating any partners with Him in worship. We deem forbidden that which he has made forbidden for us, and we deem lawful that which he made permissible for us. Our people then transgressed against us and tortured us. The tried to force us to abandon our religion and to return from the worship of Allah to the worship of idols; they tried to make us deem lawful those abominable acts that we used to deem lawful. Then, when they subjugated us, wronged us, and treated us in an oppressive manner, standing between us and our religion, we came to your country, and we chose you over all other people. We desired to live alongside you, and we hoped that, with you, we would not be wronged, O king.” al-Najāshī said to Jaʿfar [rahnu], “Do you have any of that which he came with from Allah?” Jaʿfar [rahnu] said, “Yes”. “Then recite to me,” said al-Najāshī. Jaʿfar [rahnu] recited for him the beginning of Surah Maryam. By Allah, al-Najāshī began to cry, until his beard became wet with tears. And when his priests heard what Jaʿfar [rahnu] was reciting to them, they cried until their scrolls became wet. al-Najāshī then said, “By Allah, this and what Mūsa (as) came with come out of the same lantern. Then by Allah, I will never surrender them to you, and henceforward they will not be plotted against and tortured.”

Describing what happened after the aforementioned discussion between al-Najāshī and Jaʿfar [rahnu], Umm Salamah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “When both ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ and ʿAbdullah ibn abī Rabīʿah left the presence of al-Najāshī, ʿAmr [rahnu] said, “By Allah tomorrow I will present to him information about them with which I will pull up by the roots their very lives.” Abdullah ibn Rabīʿah who was more sympathetic of the two towards us said, “Don’t do so, for they have certain rights of family relations, even if they have opposed us.” ʿAmr said, “By Allah, I will inform him that they claim that ʿĪsā ibn Maryam is a slave.”

He went to the king on the following day and said, “O king, verily, they have strong words to say about ʿĪsa (as). Call them here and ask them what they say about him.” al-Najāshī sent for them in order to ask them about ʿĪsa. Nothing similar to this befell us before. The group of Muslims gathered together and said to one another, “What will you say about ʿĪsa when he asks you about him?” They said, “By Allah, we will say about him that which Allah says and that which our Prophet ﷺ came with, regardless of the outcome.” When they entered into his presence, he said to them, “What do you say about ʿĪsa ibn Maryam?” Jaʿfar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “We say about him that which our Prophet ﷺ came with – that he is the slave of Allah, His messenger, a spirit created by Him, and His word, which he bestowed on Maryam, the virgin, the baṭūl.”

al-Najāshī struck his hand on the ground and took from it a stick. He then said, “ʿĪsa ibn Maryam did not go beyond what you said even the distance of the stick.” When he said this, his ministers spoke out in anger, to which he responded, “What I said is true even if you speak out in anger, by Allah. (Turning to the Muslims, he said) Go, for you are safe in my land. Whoever curses you will be held responsible. And I would not love to have a reward of gold in return for me hurting a single man among you. (Speaking to his ministers he said) Return to these two (men) their gifts, since we have no need for them. For by Allah, Allah did not take from me bribe money when He returned to me my kingdom, so why should I take bribe money. The two left, defeated and humiliated; and returned to them were the things they came with. We then resided alongside al-Najāshī in a very good abode, with a very good neighbor.”

The response was simply amazing in its eloquence. A believer puts the needs of his soul before the needs of his body. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts the Surah by saying,

Verse 1: Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts Surah Maryam with a series of five letters. There are many different saying or explanations regarding these five letters. The most correct opinion is that these are from the broken letters. There are 29 different Surahs in the Quran that start with the broken letters. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone knows the meanings of these letters. They are a secret from amongst the secrets of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), meaning that no one knows what they truly mean. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows their meanings so they are from amongst the Mutashaabihat, those verses whose meanings are hidden.

However, we do find that some great Companions, as well as their students, sometimes gave meanings to these words. For example, it’s said that it is in acronym and each letter represents one of the names of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Kaf is for Al-Kafi or Al-Kareem, “haa” is for Al-Hadi, “yaa” is from Hakeem or Raheem, “’ayn” is from Al-‘Aleem or Al-‘Adheem, and “saad” is from Al-Saadiq. Others said that it is one of the names of Allah and it’s actually Al-Ism Al-‘Atham or that it’s a name of the Quran. However, these narrations can’t be used as proof or to assign definitive meanings. They offer possibilities, but no one truly knows what they mean.

Now the question should come to our mind that why would Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) start of a Surah with words that no one understands?

1) To grab the attention of the listeners.

2) To remind us that no matter how much we know there’s always something that we don’t know.

3) These letters are the letters of the Arabic language and the Quran was revealed at a time that was the peak of eloquence of the language and it was their identity. The Quran was revealed challenging them spiritually and intellectually. The Arabs never heard these letters being used in such a majestic way.

4) To prove the inimitable nature of the Quran.

Allah then starts the story of Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was one of the Prophets sent to Bani Israel. He was the husband of Maryam’s paternal aunt. He was also one of the caretakers or custodians of Baitul Maqdis.

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