This is the spot on the Medina road .now called the Omra, from a ceremonial connected with it which will be mentioned below.
This ceremony, which, as we shall presently see, is part of the omra, is generally said to be performed in memory of Hagar, who ran to and fro between the two eminences vainly seeking water for her son.
The pilgrimage was so intimately connected with the wellbeing of Mecca, and had already such a hold on the Arabs round about, that Mahomet could not afford to sacrifice it to an abstract purity of religion, and thus the old usages were transplanted into Islam in the double form of the omra or vow of pilgrimage to Mecca, which can be discharged at any time, and the hajj or pilgrimage at the great annual feast.
The omra begins at some point outside the Haram (or holy territory), generally at Tanim, both for convenience sake and because Ayesha began the omra there in the year 10 of the Hegira.
But it is also proper during one's residence in the holy city to perform at least one omra from Tanim in connexion with a visit to the mosque of Ayesha there.
To the ordinary pilgrim the omra has become so much an episode of the hajj that it is described by some European pilgrims as a mere visit to the mosque of Ayesha; a better conception of its original significance is got from the Meccan feast of the seventh month (Rajab), graphically described by Ibn Jubair from his observations in A.D.
The omra was performed by crowds from day to day, especially at new and full moon.
The central and essential ceremonies of the hajj or greater pilgrimage are those of the day of Arafa, the 9th of the "pilgrimage month" (Dhu'l Hijja), the last of the Arab year; and every Moslem who is his own master, and can command the necessary means, is bound to join in these once in his life, or to have them fulfilled by a substitute 1 The latter perhaps was no part of the ancient omra; see SnouckHurgronje, Het Mekkaansche Feest (1880) p. 115 sqq.
The quarantine office keeps a record of arrivals by sea at Jidda (66,000 for 1904); but to these must be added those travelling by land from Cairo, Damascus The sacrifice is not indispensable except for those who can afford it and are combining the hajj with the omra.
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