Many love to go for Umrah during Ramadhan. Our beloved Prophet s.a.w said “Umrah in Ramadan is like accompanying me on Hajj.”
[Sahih al-Bukhari (1764)]
Because of this, the crowds during Ramadhan can be quite a shock to the newcomer. And the price tag attached to the Umrah package seems to add on to the shock factor as well. Many will question the starking difference in price between the Awal and Akhir Ramadhan packages.
While both packages are offered during Ramadhan, Awal Ramadhan package starts during the early days of Ramadhan. The crowds are less scary, hotel prices have not hit the ceiling, there is still plenty of room in the masjid for latecomers for jemaah prayers.
Things change a little as the Nuzul Quran day (17 Ramadhan) approaches. The tawaf circle gets extended all the way, and it gets harder to find a space to pray in the mosque when you arrive an hour before the azan. Yes, an hour before the azan goes is not considered early. Some doors close way before the azan is heard, because of the spilling crowds inside.
The rhythm intensifies on 21st Ramadhan. This night is when the Imam will start the tahajjud prayers which start at 1 am. The roads are not empty, the environment around the Masjid is throbbing with energy, and what goes on inside the Masjid is to be experienced, not described. These last 10 days are what most people have been waiting for, in their search for Lailatul Qadar. That small spot in the Masjid for one to pray will be what people will jostle and push for.
The Doa Qunut is long, and is longer on special nights like 27th Ramadhan and 29th Ramadhan (Khatamul Quran). On Eid, the Masjid gets filled up as early as 3am, by those who would like to perform the Eid prayer at 7am. Yes, a good bladder control will greatly help one in such situations.
There are many differences between Awal and Akhir Ramadhan Umrah. Good to read about, but best to experience by oneself. May Allah grant us the opportunity to be His guest during this month of mercy, be it in the first or last 10 days of Ramadhan.