The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked a woman, “What kept you from performing Hajj with us?” She replied, “We only have two camels and the father of her son and her son had gone for Hajj on one camel, and he left us the other camel so that we could carry water on it”. He asked, “When Ramadan comes, go for ‘Umrah, for ‘Umrah in (that month) is equivalent (in reward) to Hajj.” Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
The scholars differed concerning the one who attains the virtue mentioned in the hadith. There are three opinions:
1 – That this hadith applies only to the woman who was addressed by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
2 – That this virtue is attained by the one who intends to do Hajj but is unable to do it, then he makes up for it by doing ‘Umrah in Ramadan. For by combining the intention to do Hajj with performance of ‘Umrah in Ramadan, he attains the reward of doing a complete Hajj with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
3 – The view of the scholars of the four schools of thought and others, that the virtue mentioned in this hadith is general in meaning and applies to everyone who does ‘umrah in the month of Ramadan. ‘Umrah at that time is equivalent to Hajj for all people, not just for a few people or in certain circumstances.
The most correct of these opinions – and Allah knows best – is the last one, and the virtue is general in meaning and is attained by all those who do ‘umrah in Ramadan.