The Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Meccaperformed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Hajj, which has specific dates in the Islamic lunar calendar; in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah. In Arabic, Umrah means "to visit a populated place" In the Sharia, Umrah means to perform Tawaf around the Ka'bah and Sa'i between Safa and Marwah. This both should only be done after assuming Ihram (a sacred state). Ihram must be observed once traveling by the land and passing through a Miqat like Zu 'l-Hulafa, Juhfa, Qarnu 'l-Manazil, Yalamlam, , Ibrahim Mursia, or a place in al-Hill. Different conditions exist for air travelers, who must observe Ihram once entering a specific hodood of the city of Mecca. It is sometimes called the 'minor pilgrimage' or 'lesser pilgrimage'. The Umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended.
The literal meaning of Ihram is to make haraam (forbidden). When a haji pronounces the Niyyah (intention) of Umrah and utters Talbiyah, certain halaal (permissible) things become haraam for him. This combined action (Niyyah and Talbiyah) is called Ihram. The two pieces of cloths that a haji wears are figuratively known as Ihram. But the real Ihram is Niyyah and Talbiyah. If a believer wears these two pieces of cloths and do not declare his intention and utter Talbiyah then he/she does not become a Muhrim.