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As-salamu `alaykum. What is the concept of `Umrah? How did it start, and what is its purpose?

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks to Allah, peace and blessings to His Messenger. We thank you for your trust. We call on Allah Almighty to light our hearts for truth and to give us blessings in this world and on the Day of Judgment. Amen.

Every Muslim should be keen to visit the Sacred House of Allah in Makkah, and the Prophet's mosque. This visit revives one's faith, enhances his iman, and brings him closer to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). According to some scholars, `Umrah is obligatory on those who can offer it.

In his response to the question, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, states the following:

The word `Umrah means visiting or attending. `Umrah is an act of worship. Allah Almighty says:

"Perform the Hajj and `Umrah for Allah…" (Al-Baqarah 2:196)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have performed the `Umrah after the treaty of Hudaybiyah and he explained to people how to do it.

The way one performs `Umrah is to enter the city of Makkah with ihram with the intention of `Umrah and then to perform circumambulation around the Ka`bah or tawaf, and running or sa`i between the mountains of Safa and Marwa.

This was the ancient practice from the time of Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him). Its purpose is to allow Muslims to visit the city of Makkah during the year whenever possible. It is to keep the Ka`bah visited not only during the Hajj but to keep it visited throughout the year by Muslims.

According to [some] Muslim jurists, those who can afford, it is obligatory upon them to make at least one `Umrah in their life, either with or before Hajj or at any other time during the year.