In the same way that there are obligatory (fardh) salaats, which must be, said at specific times and some voluntary (nafl) salaats for the devoted to present himself in Allah’s presence when he so desires. There is a specific time when it is compulsory to present himself at the Home of Allah for Haj and also a time when in a voluntary manner he may perform some of the acts which are also performed in Haj by performing umrah. Apart form five days (when it is makrooh from the 9th to 13th Zil Haj) umrah may be performed at any time during the year.
It is a special favor from Allah that whenever a person may long to be present at the House of Allah he can do so. Umrah, according to Hazrat Imaam Abu Hanifa R.A. and Hazrat Imaam Maalik R.A. and Hazrat Imaam Ahmad R.A. hence it is advised that a person should perform at least one umrah. There are even some of the Hanafi Imaams who have stated that it is waajib. Some even speaks about it being fardh-e-kifaayah (i.e. that it is a duty upon all, which becomes lifted from them when some of them perform it.)
The Holy Qur’aan also says: “And complete the Haj and umrah for Allah’s sake.”
In discussing this completion of the Haj and umrah, one Hadith explains that it means that a person should proceed from his home with ihraam and the firm intention of performing Haj or umrah. (Durre Mansoor)
Many Hadiths expound the virtues of putting on the ihraam from ones home. This is highly recommended. However, the ulama have felt that it would be quite difficult to remain in ihraam for such a long time during which, while in ihraam the Haji may become involved in sinful activities, therefore they have advised that it should rather be done from the Meeqaat (i.e those special places beyond which one should not proceed without ihraam). The reason for this is that it is more important to avoid sin than to be greedy for reward. Much are the virtues of umrah as is known from the Hadith. In the first chapter of this book some of these ahaadith have already passed. (Hadith numbers 11, 14 and 15)
Our Rasulullah Sal’am performed only one Haj after the hifrat but performed umrah four times. One of these umrahs could not be completed because the Meccans prohibited them from entering the city. Three umrahs were completed.