What is the difference between Umrah and Hajj?

For all Muslims, making the pilgrimage to Mecca is the ultimate goal. In this context, it is useful to know exactly what characterises the Umrah and the Hajj. These two important forms of pilgrimage for the Muslim faithful do, however, have differences that should be highlighted.

Umrah and Hajj visas

As far as the Umrah and Hajj are concerned, the differences can already be seen in the visas available to travellers. They are both specific because they relate to the pilgrimage to Mecca. However, they also differ in a number of respects.

Firstly, the Hajj visa is issued exclusively during the Hajj period. The Saudi Arabian diplomatic authorities cannot issue a Hajj visa to any traveller. Consequently, the only way to obtain one is via the Nusuk Hajj website. Hajj visas are issued approximately two months before the pilgrimage. They are valid only for Medina and the areas dedicated to the sacred rites.

Secondly, the Umrah visa is not issued for a fixed period. It is available throughout the year (outside the Hajj period). As a result, the holder of this visa can perform Umrah whenever he or she wishes.

The difference between Umrah and Hajj

After the question of visas, the differences arise in the very characteristics of the Umrah and the Hajj. The Hajj is one of the pillars of the Islamic religion and is obligatory. The Umrah, on the other hand, is a recommended Sunna. The Hajj is an obligation incumbent on all Muslims who are physically and financially able to make it. The Umrah, on the other hand, is not a pillar of Islam. Rather, according to specialists, it is a kind of religious obligation, but to a lesser degree than the Hajj obligation.

It is therefore the degree of obligation that constitutes the main difference between Umrah and Hajj. Added to this difference is the timing of the practice. Only the Umrah can be performed with an electronic visa for tourism in the Saudi kingdom.