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Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

The word umra is derived from amara meaning he inhabited a place or paid a visit to it, and in the terminology of Islam, umra means a visit to the Kaba. The word umra occurs twice in one verse (2:196) in the Koran. It differs from hajj in two respects. In the first place, hajj cannot be performed except at the fixed time, while umra may be performed at any time; Shawal, Zilkada and ten days of Zilhijja are particularly spoken of as months of hajj (Koran, 2:197, Bukhari, 25:34), so that a man can enter into the state of ihram for hajj only in these months, while the actual devotions of hajj are limited from the 8th to the 13th Zilhijja. Secondly, the going to Arafat and the assembling there is dispensed with in the case of umra, while it is an essential part of hajj. Another difference is that the sacrifice of an animal as the concluding act is essential to hajj but not so in the case of umra. The umra may be performed separately, or along with hajj, when it is like a parallel devotion to the latter. Though hajj is spoken often in the Koran, yet there is an express injunction to accomplish both: "And accomplish the hajj and the umra for God" (2:196). The umra is not obligatory (Tirmizi, 7:38), but any one who performs hajj can easily perform the umra.

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