Every devoted Muslim knows that Hajj is obligatory for every capable Muslim once in his lifetime. Hajj is performed every year in the month of Dhul Hajj. The bookings of Hajj are made well in advance because of the very large number of people going to Hajj every year and each year the number of pilgrims increases. Umrah on the other hand is different because it can be performed at anytime of the year. The peak Umrah season is during the months of Rabi-ul-Awal and Sha’aban. In the months of Ramadhan, every Muslim wants to do Umrah because as narrated by this Hadith:
Narrated by Ibn Abbas, The Prophet of Allah (SAWS) said, “Perform Umrah in the month of Ramadhan, as its (reward) is equivalent to having performed Hajj with me.” Sahih Albukhari.
According to the recent Saudi Government rules, anyone who wishes to perform Umrah must book their Umrah with authorized and licensed Umrah agents in their local countries. This gives the pilgrim an opportunity to book their complete package including flight bookings, accommodation and transportation etc. The new rules forbid any pilgrim from going to Umrah without booking with an Umrah agent. There are several Hajj and Umrah packages offered by a number of agents around the world. These packages range from budget friendly packages to five star luxury packages. During the Umrah season the agents usually get over booked especially for the month of Ramadhan. These bookings are made well in advance to avoid congestion of flights, hotel and accommodation bookings in Makkah. Some hotels which are near the Holy Mosque in Makkah are booked months in advance.
The best time to book your Umrah package is after the Hajj season ends. In the months of Moharram and Saffar, most of the Pilgrims who want to go for Umrah in coming Ramadhan or any time of the coming year book their packages with their agents. This gives them a very good opportunity to book hotels, flights and transport in Makkah and Madinah. A reputable agent can book your complete package for individuals or groups. It is always preferable to book your package with a reputable and registered Umrah agent to avoid certain hassles of high prices of accommodation and flights. The Saudi Government has imposed new rules for Umrah and Hajj service providers to meet the standards set by the Government.
Umrah and Hajj should always be performed with complete concentration and devotion to Allah (SWT) and booking well in advance will give you the chance to have a hassle free sacred journey to Makkah and Madinah, and you can concentrate more on your prayers rather than worrying about the hotel or return flights. Responsible booking agents always advise their clients to book their Umrah packages during the months of Moharram and Saffar, but they can get last minute bookings as well which may cost a bit more in flights and accommodation, but you will be able to perform your obligation with full devotion to Allah (SWT).