Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan performed Umrah at Mecca. He visited the holy city after wrapping up the Saudi Arabia shooting schedule of his upcoming movie, Dunki. Image courtesy: @teamsrkfc/Twitter
It’s impossible to miss Shah Rukh Khan, even if his face is covered with a mask and he has wrapped himself up in simple white clothing. The Bollywood superstar was spotted in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He was performing Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca.
In pictures, which have now gone viral, the actor can be seen surrounded by people. The official Twitter account of Khan’s fan club was the first to share the photographs.
[Pics]: King #ShahRukhKhan performing Umrah at Makka Sharif ❤️@iamsrk#Pathaan #KingKhan
— Team Shah Rukh Khan Fan Club (@teamsrkfc) December 1, 2022

SRK, a devout Muslim, visited Mecca after he announced the Saudi Arabia wrap of his upcoming film Dunki.
What is Umrah?
Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca, is the shorter version of the annual Hajj, which is obligatory in Islam. Umrah is an Arabic word; it means “visiting a populated place”.
While Umrah is recommended, it is not a compulsory pilgrimage or one of the five pillars of Islam. It can be performed at any time of the year and takes a few hours to complete.
What is the significance of Umrah?
Though a lesser-known pilgrimage, Umrah is a sacred journey, offering Muslims a chance to refresh their faith, pray, and seek forgiveness. The person who performs it is said to be cleansed of their sins, according to a report in Middle East Eye.
The Umrah is a short pilgrimage which can be undertaken around the year in Mecca. AFP
What do pilgrims wear during Umrah?
Before beginning the pilgrimage, the faithful must perform cleansing rituals. No make-up, perfume or any beauty products should be used.
Men are expected to don a white seamless two-piece garment – one covering the lower half of the body and the other draped around the upper half covering the body and shoulders. No undergarments are worn. Men must wear sandals and their heads should be uncovered.
Women can wear any simple, loose-fitting garment. Many women wear the black abaya, the long-sleeved dress that covers the body and a hijab. The face must not be covered, according to Middle East Eye.
How is the Umrah performed?
A Muslim must enter Ihram, a sacred state, to perform Hajj or Umrah. This means no quarrelling or using abusive language; no animals, not even an insect, should be harmed as this will break the Ihram.
Pilgrims have to recite their intention to perform the Umrah aloud, which is done upon reaching Meeqat, the entry points to Mecca.
While walking towards Kaaba, the cube-shaped shrine considered the holiest in Islam, pilgrims recite the Talbiya, announcing their arrival and letting Allah know they are at his service. Kaaba is located in the large mosque complex in Mecca known as Masjid al-Haraam.
Umrah allows Muslims to refresh their faith and seek forgiveness. AFP
Pilgrims enter Masjid al-Haraam with their right foot and ask Allah for forgiveness and mercy. Then they undertake Tawaaf, circling the Kaaba seven times in an anti-clockwise direction. After this ritual is performed, pilgrims recite verses from the Quran at the Maqam Ibrahim, the Place of Abraham, near the Kaaba. Then they head to a water point to drink zamzam, holy water.
After this comes Sa’ii, where pilgrims walk between the two hills, Mount Safa and Mount Marwa seven times reciting prayers. This ritual is to honour Hajjar, the wife of Prophet Ibrahim, who desperately wandered between the hills seeking water for her infant son Ismail in a barren desert. As Hajjar, ran from one hilltop to another Angel Gabriel appeared, striking the ground from where holy water appeared and thus the child’s life was saved, believe Muslims.
Even today, pilgrims drink from this water well.
After completing Sa’ii, the faithful offer a final prayer. This is Taqsir, which involves the shortening of hair. Shaving the head is regarded as symbolising rebirth and the completion of the pilgrimage. Women pilgrims cut a small amount of their hair, according to the Middle East Eye.
After Taqsir, pilgrims do not have to follow the rules of Ihram.
While Hajj is compulsory for those who are physically fit and can afford the expenses, Umrah is voluntary. AFP
How is Umrah different from Hajj?
While Umrah is voluntary, Hajj is mandatory for Muslims who are physically able and can afford it. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and Muslims are expected to undertake the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
Unlike Hajj, Umrah can be performed throughout the year. Muslims go for the Hajj between the eighth and the 13th of Dhul Hijah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar.
Performing the Umrah pilgrimage is quicker and less expensive. By October, Saudi Arabia has issued more than two million visas to pilgrims from across 176 countries for it.
Nearly a million Muslims completed the Hajj this year. This year, the pilgrimage was open to those who were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and were between the ages of 18 and 65. According to authorities, 85 per of the pilgrims were from abroad.
The Hajj is a duty for all Muslims who can make the journey. It takes the faithful along a path traversed by the Prophet Muhammad some 1,400 years ago. Pilgrims spend five days carrying out a set of rituals intended to bring them closer to God.
This includes praying around Kaaba. It is in the direction of the Kaaba that Muslims face when offering their five daily prayers, wherever they are in the world.

With inputs from agencies

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