The literal meaning of ‘Umrah’ is ‘to visit a populated place’. Although lesser in importance as compared to Hajj, Umrah is highly recommended in Islam and can be performed at any time during the year, except for the five days of Hajj. This pilgrimage is not compulsory for every Muslim as compared to Hajj, which is an obligation and one of the five pillars of Islam. However, one Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and the next one and has its own spiritual benefit for the pilgrim.
Today, Muslims residing in different corners of the world can make their journey to the holy city of Makkah and perform their ‘lesser pilgrimage’ with the help of umrah packages that include flights and hotel accommodations. They can also choose from a wide range of packages based on seasons and certain months of the year, which enables them to travel to the holy city and accomplish their pilgrimage according to their convenience. Here are some key considerations for choosing an ideal package:
Choose a suitable month: There are certain times of the year when schools in the United Kingdom (UK) are closed and the working class enjoy long weekends or holidays. One such month is December. The Christmas season brings plenty of opportunities for Muslims residing in the UK to visit Makkah to perform their Umrah. They can choose from the cost-effective December umrah packages that allow them to embark on a memorable journey to the holy city in Saudi Arabia to fulfil their lesser pilgrimage.
Book well in advance: There is a constant flow of pilgrims to Makkah. In the busier seasons, it becomes extremely difficult to get hotel accommodations and the prices of flight tickets go up significantly. It is, therefore, advisable for the Muslims living in the UK to plan their journey months in advance. If they are planning to go in the month of January, they can book their January umrah packages several months earlier. This would also help them secure some attractive discounts on such packages.
Stay close to Masjid Al-Haram: The pilgrims have the required convenience in reaching Masjid Al-Haram and performing the rituals of Umrah peacefully with an accommodation in any of the hotels close to the holy mosque. The heart-warming views of Kaabah and the feeling that one gets while being closer to the holy site is something beyond words. If one has to get the desired accommodation in such hotels, it is always advisable to check whether the package provides an accommodation in any of them and then book it in advance.
In recent times, one always comes across many travel portals and websites offering hajj and umrah packages while searching online. Some of them provide a limited number of packages, while others have a variety of them listed on their websites and classified according to the months and seasons, such as Ramadan.