Viewpoint: Umrah is the “lesser pilgrimage,” but it attracts more Muslim pilgrims to Mecca each year than the Hajj. While the Hajj is a religious requirement and must be taken on specific dates, the Umrah is a shorter, optional pilgrimage, which can be made any time of the year. Its rituals include circling the Kaaba, remembering Hagar’s search for water for Ishmael, and shaving the head/cutting hair.

Muslims perform Umrah to refocus their faith, seek forgiveness for sins, and try to earn spiritual credit toward salvation. Islam is a very works-based religion. Most Muslims believe that in order to go to heaven, they not only have to perform the “five pillars” of Islam correctly, but also must earn credit to offset the sins they’ve committed. Saudis and Muslims all over the world need to know that they can’t earn their salvation, that it is a free gift from God through Jesus Christ. 

Prayer points: As Saudis and other Muslims perform rituals and do works to try to earn their salvation pray that they will see the futility in it all. Ask that they will have an encounter with the true God through Jesus Christ, and that they will accept the free gift of eternal life that He offers.