I was asked to post this information to help people on this site apply for a visa to Saudi Arabia for the Umrah. Comments are appreciated. Especially since infidels like me are prohibited from entering Mecca.
The “Umrah” is an Islamic pilgrimage to Masjid-al-Haram (Grand Mosque), situated in the holy city of Mecca, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is also known as the lesser pilgrimage or the minor pilgrimage, with the Hajj being the major pilgrimage. The word “umrah” means “to visit an important place” in Arabic. The pilgrimage can be taken at any time of the year, in comparison to Hajj, which can be undertaken on specific dates, according to the Islamic lunar calendar. UK nationals require an Umrah visa for this pilgrimage.
On performing the Umrah, all wrongdoings are expiated, and the pilgrim becomes the guest of Allah. Imam Baqir RA said, “One prayer in the Masjid-al-Haram is 100,000 times more valuable than one prayer in any other mosque.”
According to Sharia, Umrah means to undertake Tawaf around the Ka’bah (sacred building situated in the Grand Mosque) and Sa’i between Safa and Marwah (two small hills located inside the Grand Mosque). Both these rituals can be performed only after assuming Ihram. Ihram is a state which a Muslim must enter before performing the Hajj or Umrah.
A pilgrim must enter the state of Ihram before crossing the Miqat (pilgrimage boundary) by undergoing cleansing rituals and wearing the prescribed clothes, as per the ritual. For Muslim women entering Ihram, the niqaab and gloves are prohibited.