Sports News of Friday, 1 January 2016
Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari performed the sacred Islamic rite of Umrah over the weekend.
The rites which is popularly known as the ‘minor pilgrimage’ is a non-compulsory ritual undertaken by Muslims at any time of the year in Mecca.
Muntari who plays for Saudi Arabian club Ittihad FC took time off to make the short trip to the holy city to perform the Islamic rite.
The former AC Milan star decided against being with his family for the Christmas festivities to perform the sacred rite.
Literally meaning ‘to visit a populated place’, the performance of Umrah includes Tawaf which is circling the Kaaba seven times in anticlockwise direction.
Men are encouraged to do this three times at a hurried pace, followed by four times, more closely, at a leisurely pace.
There is also the performance of a sa’i which means rapidly walking seven times back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah.
This is a re-enactment of Hajar’s frantic search for water while baby Ishmael cried and hit the ground with his foot (some versions of the story say that an angel scraped his foot or the tip of his wing along the ground), and water miraculously sprang forth.
This source of water is today called the Well of Zamzam.
Then there is the performance of a halq or taqsir, meaning a cutting of the hair.
A taqsir is a partial shortening of the hair, whereas a halq is a complete shave of the head, except for women, as they cut a little amount of hair instead.
These rituals complete the Umrah, and the pilgrim can choose to go out of ihram.
Although not a part of the ritual, most pilgrims drink water from the Well of Zamzam. Various sects of Islam perform these rituals with slightly different methods.
The peak times of pilgrimage are the days before, during and after the Hajj and during the last ten days of Ramadan.