Performing Umrah is neither imperative nor obligatory, but it is a privilege and performing it even once in a lifetime can bring a pilgrim great rewards.
Though a smaller scale pilgrimage than Hajj, Umrah is just as sacred and just as impressive. It is also a more flexible option for those struggling with certain commitments and time or financial constraints.
Unlike Hajj, you don't have a fixed time or date by which you have to perform Umrah. You can complete it at any time of year, either in conjunction with Hajj (Umrat al-tammatu) or independent of it (al-Umrat al mufradah).
However, if you want to complete Umrah in its own right, you will need to wait for Hajj is over.
There are certain rites to perform as part of Umrah, such as entering a state of Ihram, completing Tawaf of Ka'bah, and Sa'yee between the hills of Safa and Marwah. However, you don't have to visit Mina, Arafat or Muzdalifa as you do in Hajj, and you don't have to practice Qurbani.
So if you are planning to perform Umrah alongside or instead of Hajj this year, we wish you the best and encourage you to help others along the way, whether of your own accord or by helping Muslim Aid.
For more information on Umrah prices in 2016 look at trusted Umrah travel agents like Zam Zam Travels.
Safe journeys to you all!