How to Perform Umrah: Fundamentals of ISLAM!

Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims in abundance every year. Hajj is being performed by Muslims in order to seek blessings of Almighty Allah. In Arabic Umrah means to visit a populated place. This is one of the fundamental Islamic principles. In simple terms Umrah means perform Tawaf round the Kabah . Short form of hajj is called as Umrah in Islamic terms. Both the pilgrimages are Islamic and mandatory constraints but the main difference is their level of importance and most importantly the method of observance. Hajj is performed over specific days where as umrah can be performed any month. Although, both umrah and Hajj have common rites. Umrah can be performed in less than few months while Hajj is more time consuming and requires alot of patience. It is filled with a lot of rituals. Both Umrah and Hajj is facilitated by several travelling agencies under Hajj and Umrah packages.

There are several steps involve in Umrah. First is performing ghusl or process of complete body wash. This includes trimming nails and remove pubic hair if its necessary. Offering, salah or prayers of all 5 time. This also includes offering 2 rakat of travelling Salah prayers before setting off. Before, leaving for obligatory steps some verses are being recited which English translation says that “In the name of Allah, I place my trust in Allah, and there is no might nor power except with Allah and there is no might nor power except with Allah” During journey each Muslim try to keep themselves busy with Allah’s remembrance. Zikar is being made by reciting Quran Pak, Islamic books, importance and verses of Hajj to praise His Glory. Once you left for travelling the next prayer is due. It can be combine and shorten them as this is concession from Allah Almighty. Dhur and Asar has 4 rakats together similarly Magrib has 3 Rakaats and similarly Isha has 2 Rakaats together. There is not restriction in performing sunnah  and nawafil.

Umrah

The second step is Meeqat. Meeqat is basically a place from where actually Umrah starts and the pilgrims enter the state of Ihram.Ihram is 2 pieces of white cloth that is preferably wear after one of the 5 daily prayers.It is being wore after the neyah of Umrah.Here a quranic verse is being recited that says “Here I am O Allah making ‘Umraah. If there is someone who has fear of more likely to be subjected to illness or anything else that might create hurdle in their Umrah,one may add another verse that says in its translation that is “I come out of the state of Ihraam from place You prevent me from continuing”.This means that if anyone couldn’t complete Umrah because of any reason then they simply cut their hair and do not have to pay the ransom.

The main verse that actually is included while performing Umran or haj during Tawaf( moving in circular motion around kaba).The translation of verse says that “Here I am, O Allah here I am.Here I am.You have no partner . Here I am.Surely all praise, grace and dominion is Yours, and you have no partner.The 3rd step includes is Entering Masjib Al Haram  which is located in Makkah, Saudia Arabia.One must enter with right foot in Masjid Al Haram while making dua. Next step of Umrah comes with Tawf or seven rounds around kaba that must be done with Wudu or ablution.For men it is restricted to keep one shoulder bare during Tawaf which is called as Idtiba’a.After this Tawaf men need to cover both shoulders.

Start of Hajar e – Aswad, either kiss if one can easily do that.The other way is to touch stone with right hand.Even, if its not possible, one can face the Black Stone and point at it with right hand.While pointing kissing, or touching Hajre aswad one must recite Bismillah, Allah hu akbar just before touching or kissing stone.For men, to Raml( hasten/briskly walk) during the first 3 rounds of Tawaf and walk normally during the other 4 rounds.One the destination at Yamani arrived one has to touch it with right hand and kissing it is not allowed .Similarly, one has to say Bismillah Allahu Akbar or if it is not possible then one must continue it with gesturing or saying anything. While, passing through yamani corner to the Black stone one has to recite ayat that has translation which says: “Our Lord grant us good in this life and good in the hereafter and save us from the punishment of Hellfire”. Once one return back from black stone one has to complete 1 round and need to repeat it in similar fashion 6 more times.There is no specific dua that must be recited during tawaf.Mostly many other verses are being recited at this point.

The other step is to proceeding towards Maqaam e ibraheem and quranic verse is being recited whose translation says that “ And take you(People) the Maqaam(place) of ibraheem as a place of Prayer.One can pray in mosque too if possible.It is mostly preferred here to recite during the first Rak’ah( after Surah Al fatiha), Sureh Al Kafiroon and Surah Al Ikhlaas.

The next step is drinking zam zam water.One has to make dua before drinking the Zam Zam water and also has to pour water over head.After this one has to return to Black Stone touch it with your right hand(as before) if its not convenient do nothing and one has to proceed to do Sai.

Sai is the 7 circuits having wudu is highly recommended but not compulsory.During this one has to leave the boundary of the Masjid, one must say verse that says: “ In the name of Allah and prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah. O Allah, I ask you from Your Favour.O Allah, guard from the accursed devil”.After approaching Mount Safaa, the following ayaat or verse is recited that says:Verily, As-Safaa and Al- Marwah are from the symbols of Allah.So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or Umrah of the house( ka ‘bah) to perform the going( tawaaf ) between them. And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah is the All-Recognizer, All Knower”. And the other verse which says “Indeed Safa and Marwah are from the places of worship of Allah.. I begin with what Allah began with”. And the last verse

How I Managed TO Escape a Catastrophe During My Journey To Azad Kashmir?

Azad Kashmir is among the world’s most mesmerizing and pleasurable places I’ve been to. Being a passionate traveler, I’ve visited thousands of places in Pakistan. I’ve even travelled abroad to taste the relish of the beautiful meadows, and that cozy sound of the Niagara Falls, but I would say that Azad Kashmir is one of the best places. Although the entire Pakistan is full of heavenly places, but one must visit Azad Kashmir.

My Journey

I still remember the most exciting Sunday of my life, because the next day it wasn’t a day to attend my boring University Classes, rather I had to depart from Lahore sharply at 9:00 AM. I packed my clothes, and all such things that were a necessary part of this journey. Because my dream is to become a tourist and explore the world, I prefer to live in Tent instead of Hotels. Of course, I didn’t left my Laptop and Internet Device behind to update my fans about my journey to Azad Kashmir.

As I love travelling alone, and because it was one of the prolonged journeys of my life, I had some pocketful of cash, 5 Mobile batteries, a Solar Battery Chargers, 2 Sunscreens and 15 different cloths. The bus reached Islamabad in 5 hours. We had a stay of about 30 minutes and then set off, and the next stop was Azad Kashmir without any further delays.

Finally Reached

At last after a long and tiring journey the bus arrived, and we all boarded off from the bus. Most of the passengers had reservations for hotels, and I was the only person who headed towards a safe place to dig up his tent and build a shelter to live.

The worse thing happened was we reached Azad Kashmir, and I was hardly left with 1:30 hours because it was evening time and the sun was about to set. I had to do things in a hurry, and was tired as well. Somehow, I managed to setup all things in time. I lit up the LED light, had a small Skype Call with my family members and told them that I reached safely. Don’t be astonished, you can easily catch Internet Signals in nearly all places of Pakistan except a few.

The Bad Incident

My bad luck that while I was hiking on the 18th day of my journey I was robbed away a big sum of money. I nearly lost 80% of my money and was worried. There was no chance that my family members could send me money. I tried to contact my friends but all in vain.

The last option left was my brother who was living in Australia. I saw some Money Exchange services, and thought they could help. Luckily I had a successful Skype session with my brother and he said that the only option available was to send me Money through PayPal.

Unfortunately, PayPal doesn’t support its services in Pakistan, and to receive money we must have a verified PayPal account. I got depressed. However, this post helped me to get a verified PayPal account. Double the luck was that I already had a Payoneer Master Card and it played a vital role in verifying my PayPal.

Anyhow, my brother sent me money and I withdrew it from my PayPal to my Payoneer card and swiped it at the nearest ATM to get the Cash. The rest of the journey was successful, but I came back early as I feared that the thieves may rob me again.

Alternate To Northern Areas Tourist Spots in Pakistan

Pakistan is a diverse country and is blessed with mountains, beaches, sea views, natural places, hill stations and various cultural sites. Despite unfavorable law & order conditions, Pakistani Tourism Sector attracted 1 million people in 2012. Tourism in Pakistan was on Peak during 1970s as foreign tourists feel save, moving between northern areas, Middle Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan was safe enough without security measurements. During the same era of 1970s, Hollywood producers also Picturized a movie named Bhowani Junction.

Attraction for Tourist in Northern Areas:

Pakistan is home to various mountains above 7000 meters and hence attract adventurers, mountaineers, sky-divers and relevant sports lovers. Apart from high altitude mountains, Pakistan is also homes to various fortresses, ancient architectures build by various Kings and warriors during their peak time. The Guardian published an article with title “Top 5 Tourist Sites in Pakistan” after 2005 Kashmir earthquake including Taxila, Karakoram Highway, Karimabad, Lahore and Lake Saiful Muluk.

In 2007, Pakistani Prime Minister launched Visit Pakistan campaign to promote Tourism in Pakistan. The campaign includes fairs, regional sports, religious festivals, handicrafts exhibitions, historical museums and others. Pakistan is also home to the Highest Polo Ground in World in Shandur.

The recent operation by Pakistan Army will help to improve and secure the areas by cleaning up the terrorists from northern areas, so we can hope that Tourism in Northern Areas will get attention of local and international tourists.

Alternates for Northern Areas:

Pakistani people rush northern areas during their vacations and holidays. The accommodation rates boom during summer season. The sign is good for the growth of area, however the heavy rush is disturbing the natural ambience of these areas. As every year, people rush these beautiful natural spots, the needs of accommodations, recreational facilities, amusements, leisure activities, monuments arises by day by day to overcome the demand. Though Pakistan has infrastructure of all sort of transportation including Roads, Rail Network and proper Air travelling facilities, but Pakistani Tourism authorities must develop the sites with proper recreational facilities and start awareness campaigns to market the Tourism Sector of Pakistan and shift the burden equally to other Tourism sites.

The recent agreement between Pakistan and China to develop the Silk Road that will connect China with Pakistani Sea Ports will also help to improve the Tourism and Travelling Industry. The heavy investment by China in infrastructure will accelerate not only construction industry, but will also add fuel to Tourism, Travelling and Hospitality industry of Pakistan. We should avail the opportunity by investing in Tourism and Hospitality to attract people by facilitating them with state of art Tourism services.

Here are some alternatives to northern areas that can provide leisure, recreational and fun activities to visitors.

Gorakh Hill Station:

The lovers of Hill Stations can visit Gorakh Hill Station located in the Kirthar Mountains at the elevation of 5688 feet or 1734 meters of height. Gorakh hill station is about 94 kilometer northwest of Dadu City and spans over 2500 acers of area. Its elevation is a reason that the site’s temperature remain below 20 degree during summer and -5 degree in winter. The area also receives Snow Fall occasionally.

Government of Sindh is working on a project for the construction of road from Dadu to Gorakh Hill Station. A Rest House is serving the visitors, however lack of proper facilities is a way that the picturesque site is unknown for most of Pakistani People. Sindh’s coldest Tourism and Picnic site require attention of authorities to make the site more attractable. If you want to visit the site, you must plan properly and don’t forget to get a jeep and a local driver as well for safe journey.

Ranikot Fort:

Ranikot Fort is dated back to 836 when Imran Bin Musa Barmaki started the construction of fort. Ranikot is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is located near Sann Jamshoro District in Sindh Province. Ranikot Fort is also known as Deware Sindh or Sindh Wall. The Fort is known as the world’s largest Fort with 26 kilometer of perimeter. Visitors to Ranikot can approach the site via Kirthar Range about 30 KM southwest of Sann. The site is located about 90 KM from Hyderabad. Ranikot fort is visible from a distance of 5 KM, while the zigzag and rolling walls presents the twist and dip over the hill. Ranikot Fort has 4 entrance gate including Sann gate for main entrance, Mohan fate towards west, Amri gate on north, while Shah Pir gate is located towards south.

The local myth about fort suggests the arrivals of fairies for bathing on full moon from an underground water source near the Mohan gate. Other main attractions include harem, guest rooms, quarters of soldiers and court. Ranikot has two further forts inside including Shergarh Fort which offers an entire view of Ranikot and Meeri Fort. You will enjoy hills, ditches, streams, ponds, watchtowers, bastions and valleys during your trip to Ranikot Fort.

Cholistan Desert:

Cholistan Desert is located 30 KM from Bahawalpur and spans over an area of about 26300 square kilometers. The desert further joins the Thar Desert that further moves into Indian side. A Visit to Bahawalpur is not a complete visit without visiting the Cholistan Desert. The famous tourist spot if famous for an annual Jeep Really, while the tropical rain forest in Cholistan named as Dodhla Forest also serves tourists. Cholistan is also home to several Forts including Derawar Fort, Phoolra Fort and Marot Fort. Derawar Fort is famous as a historical sightseeing spot among tourists. Its walls have a circumference of about 1500 meters with 30 meters of height. The fort is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Pakistan. Cholistan Jeep Rally is main attraction for visitors to Cholistan and Bahawalpur, Tourism Development Corporation along with Punjab government arranges the Cholistan Jeep Rally that attracts about 100,000 visitors.

Other attractions during Bahawalpur visits may include Bahawalpur Wildlife Zoo (hyenas, leopards, Asiatic lions, Bengal tigers and other regional wild life animals), Lal Suhanara National Park (Wildlife Park). Paying a visit to Noor Mahal could add sweet memories to your trip.

Beaches in Pakistan:

Pakistan has a coastline of about 1046 KM. Pakistan owns several beaches including the most famous one Clifton Beach. Following beaches in Pakistan are serving tourists and travelers searching sites for leisure and recreational activities.

Clifton Beach:

Clifton beach also known as Sea View located on Arabian Sea. Clifton beach was once popular for its silver sand and best health resort during 20th century, however an oil spill in 2003 destroyed the beauty of most accessible beach totally. Clifton Beach is still a popular spot for public of Karachi for enjoying the cool water of beach. Restaurants and food chains are providing the food items on waterfront of Clifton Beach.

SandsPit Beach:

SandsPit beach is located southwest of Karachi is a famous and lucrative spot for tourists. SandsPit Beach is famous for Yachting from October to March as the sea is clam and cool during that period, however it is advised that not to visit the site during monsoon. You will enjoy the marine life of SandsPit Beach. Visitors can enjoy swimming and sunbathing, horse and camel riding at SandsPit Beach.

Paradise Beach Point:

Attraction for Paradise Beach is a sandstone horn promontory rock that attracts families and tourists from Karachi and across Pakistan. Paradise Beach Point is accessible from Mauripur Road. The visitors to Paradise Beach can also visit Nathia Gali Beach where you can enjoy the marine life including reptile species.

Conclusion:

These are the some of the Tourist spots which can reduce the pressure on Northern Tourism Sites. Further Pakistani authorities must pay attention to restore the natural beauty of sites in order to promote the sustainable tourism and to maintain the charm and attraction of any site.