In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
3- Umrah involves only the rites of tawaf and sa`i with ihram; whereas Hajj involves staying in Mina, performing the rite of wuquf (standing) in the plains of Arafat, staying in Muzdalifah, and pelting the stone pillars, as well as sacrifice in some cases. Umrah, however, does not involve any of these.
In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Islam is built upon five pillars: testifying that there is no true god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing Prayer, paying the z akah, making the pilgrimage to the Sacred House (Hajj), and fasting the month of Ramadan.”(Al-Bukhari)
Hajj and Umrah are among the most important means for the expiation of sins. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, “Alternate between Hajj and Umrah because both rid one of poverty and sins just as the blacksmith’s bellows remove all impurities from metals like iron, gold and silver. The reward for Hajj m abrur is nothing short of Paradise” (At-Tirmidhi).
There are a number of differences between Hajj and Umrah; let me list the major differences:
1. Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, and it is mandatory for everyone who is physically and financially able to perform it once in a lifetime. Umrah is not a pillar of Islam and it is only recommended and not obligatory.
2. Hajj must be performed in the prescribed time period, namely the months of Hajj, and even more specifically, the major rites are done in the first two weeks of Dhul-Hijjah. Umrah, however, can be done any time of the year.
3. Umrah involves only the rites of Tawaf and Sa`i with ihram; whereas Hajj involves staying in Mina, performing the rite of wuquf (standing) in the plains of Arafat, staying in Muzdalifah, and pelting the stone pillars, as well as sacrifice in some cases. `Umrah, however, does not involve any of these.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.