Are you embarking on the blessed journey of Hajj and want to know all about the rules of Ihram? If so, then we’ve got your back!
A Muslim in the state of Ihram is known as a Muhrim. A person may only become a Muhrim after cleansing their body, wearing the Ihram, and making the intention (Niyyah) before the Miqat. It is crucial for a Muhrim to know all about the restrictions and prohibited actions they must follow before performing Hajj or Umrah.
This blog covers everything that pilgrims must avoid while in the state of Ihram. Let’s read on:
What is Ihram?
Ihram (Arabic: إِحْرَام) is a special garment that every Muslim must wear to perform Umrah or Hajj. Ihram aims to eliminate inequality related to societal status or wealth and establishes a sense of uniformity and equality.
Ihram, in regard to clothing, is different for men and women. For men, Ihram includes two pieces of cloth, Izar and Rida, that are unsewn and do not have any seams, buttons, or hems. The bottom half of the cloth, known as Izar, is wrapped around the waist to cover the lower portion of one’s body.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
‘’The Izar should come to the middle of the shins and the calf. If you insist, then a little lower, and if you insist, then a little further down, but the Izar has no right to (come to) the ankle.” – Sunan an-Nasai.
Rida, the other piece of Ihram, is draped over the left shoulder and covers the upper portion of the body. Ridamust cover the upper portion of the body at all times except when performing Tawaf-ul-Umrah and Tawaf-ul-Qudum, where the right shoulder has to be uncovered.
Ihram for women is simpler; they can wear any modest dress they prefer, given that it is loose-fitting and covers their bodies. It is forbidden for women not to cover their heads during Hajj. Therefore, a hijab (a garment used by Muslim women to cover their hair) is mandatory.
Women must keep their faces open, i.e., they must not cover their faces with a niqab in the state of Ihram.
What is the purpose of Ihram?
The Ihram highlights the significance ofthe concept of equality in Islam. Every year, millions of Muslims from all over the world head to Saudi Arabia to perform the sacred duty of Hajj and Umrah. Wearing identical clothes signifies how the sole purpose of these worshippers is to engage in the worship of Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى), and how no one is superior to the other irrespective of their wealth, societal status, race, or caste.
The Quran says:
“Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of iúram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. And whatever good you do – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah. And fear Me, O you of understanding.” – Surah-Al-Baqrah
Lastly, the Ihram serves as a reminder for Muslims of their assigned duties and virtues and helps them improve their faith to become better Muslims.
How to Put-on Ihram?
Here’s your thorough step-by-step guide on how to put on the Ihram for men:
- Make sure to cleanse your body with an unscented soap
- Remove any hair you deem appropriate, clip your nails, and trim your mustache
- Repent of any sins
- Make the intention for Umrah or Hajj
- Hold one of the clothes (izar) horizontally
- Wrap the cloth around your waist above your navel
- Fasten the clips or belts (whichever of the two you have) on the top of the izar
- Then hold the rida horizontally behind your back with one of the corners in each hand
- Then stretch the left corner of the rida and bring it towards your right armpit
- Wrap the other corner around your left shoulder
- You may clip the cloth if necessary
- Lastly, put on your sandals. You must make sure they are comfortable, and the top of your feet stand exposed.
Since women are required to wear their usual, everyday loose clothing (such as abayas), a step-by-step guide is not required. However, some Ihram tips for women are as follows:
- The Ihram can be white or black
- Hands and face should not be covered
- Wear shoes that cover your feet entirely
When Should Pilgrims Enter the State of Ihram?
Pilgrims must enter the state of Ihram before they cross the Miqat boundary. In case the boundary of Miqat is crossed without entering into the state of Ihram, a sacrificial slaughter must be made as atonement, although the Umrah and Hajj will still be valid.
However, according to the Hanafi school of thought, it is recommended to enter into the state of Ihram while commencing the blessed journey of Hajj or Umrah from one’s hometown or country. At the same time, other schools of thought, such as Maliki and Hanbali, deem it appropriate to enter the state of Ihram before crossing the Miqat boundary.
The Jaffari school of thought does not deem it permissible to wear the Ihram before reaching Miqat, except for certain exceptions.
Rules of Ihram
Once in the state of Ihram, Muslims must follow certain rules and restrictions. These are as follows:
1. Stitched Clothing and Covering of Head for Men
Men are forbidden from wearing stitched clothing and covering their heads. Ibn Umar narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
‘O Messenger of Allah! What garments do you command us to wear in Ihran?’ The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Do not wear shirts or pants, or ‘Imamahs, or burnouses, or Khuffs except if someone does not have sandals, in which case let him wear Khuffs that come below the ankles. And do not wear any garment that has been touched by (dyed with) saffron or Wars. And women should not cover their faces when in Ihram, or wear gloves.”– Sahih al-Bukhari.
2. Covering of Face for Women
Women are forbidden from covering their faces in the state of Ihram, as mentioned in the above-mentioned Hadith.
3. Cutting, Shaving, and Trimming Hair and Nails
Cutting or shaving the hair, along with clipping nails, is also forbidden in the state of Ihram. However, if someone has a condition (illness) that affects the scalp or hair, he/she can compensate for this by fasting, offering charity, or offering a sacrifice.
The Quran says:
“Complete the pilgrimage and minor pilgrimage for Allah. But if prevented ˹from proceeding˺, then ˹offer˺ whatever sacrificial animals you can afford. And do not shave your head until the sacrificial animal reaches its destination. But if any of you is ill or has a scalp ailment ˹requiring shaving˺, then compensate either by fasting, charity, or a sacrificial offering. In times of peace, you may combine the pilgrimage and minor pilgrimage, then make the sacrificial offering you can afford. Whoever cannot afford that ˹offering˺, let them fast for three days during the pilgrimage and seven after returning ˹home˺—completing ten. These offerings are for those who do not live near the Sacred House. And be mindful of Allah, and know that Allah is severe in punishment.” – Surah-Al-Baqrah 2:196
4. Hunting Animals
Hunting animals has been strictly forbidden for a Muhrim. The Quran says:
“O believers! Do not kill the game while on pilgrimage. Whoever kills game intentionally must compensate by offering its equivalence—as judged by two just men among you—to be offered at the Sacred House, or by feeding the needy, or by fasting so that they may taste the consequences of their violations. Allah has forgiven what has been done. But those who persist will be punished by Allah. And Allah is Almighty, capable of punishment.”Surah al-Maidah 5:95
5. Sexual Activity
Sexual activity, along with any actions or activities leading to sexual activity,is prohibited in the state of Ihram. The Quran says:
“Ḥajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made ḥajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of iḥrām], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during ḥajj. And whatever good you do – Allāh knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allāh. And fear Me, O you of understanding.’ – Surah-al-Baqrah 2:1974
6. Using Foul Language or Arguing
Whoever has formed the intention to perform the pilgrimage must abstain from arguing, using inappropriate language, or fighting.
Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)says in the Quran:
“Whoever commits to ˹performing˺ pilgrimage, let them stay away from intimate relations, foul language, and arguments during the pilgrimage. Whatever good you do, Allah ˹fully˺ knows of it. Take ˹necessary˺ provisions ˹for the journey˺—surely the best provision is righteousness. And be mindful of Me, O people of reason!” – Surah al-Baqrah 197
7. Marriage In Ihram
Getting married or contracting a marriage in the state of Ihram is prohibited for a Muhrim. The Prophet (ﷺ) is narrated by Uthman bin Affan to have said:
“The Muhrim should not get married, or propose marriage, or arrange a marriage for some else.’’ – Sunan an-Nasa’I
While many schools of thought unanimously agree upon this, the Hanafi school of thought believes a Muhrim is allowed to contract a marriage. However, he must not consummate the marriage during the state of Ihram.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
It’s common for people embarking on the blessed journey of pilgrimage for the first time to have all kinds of questions in their minds. After all, you want to make the most out of this sacred journey and leave no room for error.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions people embarking on Umrah or Hajj find themselves asking around:
1. When should I wear Ihram?
If you’re flying with an airline such as Saudi Airlines, there is a prayer room/area available during the flight. And around 30 minutes before approaching the Miqat, you will be informed by the captain, or a message will appear on the screen in front of you notifying you about the Miqat approaching.
This is when you can change into your Ihram. Then, you can recite the dua for Niyyah (intention of Hajj or Umrah) and recite Talbiyah when you reach Miqat.However, if you want to avoid the crowd or people flocking into the area to change into their Ihram, you can also choose to do it in advance.
If you’re traveling with a non-Islamic airline such as American Airlines or British Airlines, you will have no area to change or a prayer area to perform your prayer. In this case, you should put on your Ihram at the airport before your flight takes off. You can form your intention and recite the Talbiyah on the plane before Miqat approaches.
2. What to do before wearing Ihram?
There are rules every pilgrim must follow before entering the state of Ihram. These include:
- Clip your finger or toenails
- Shave the armpit or any other hair on the body you deem appropriate
- Comb the hair or beard
- Trim your mustache
- Put on itar/perfume
- Perform ghusl (major ablution) that requires cleansing of one’s entire body.
3. Can we take a bath after wearing Ihram?
It is permissible for a person in the state of Ihram to bathe in order to cleanse himself. It was narrated by Abdullah Ibn Abbas and Al-Miswar Ibn Makhramah:
Ibn ‘Abbas said: “The Muhrim (Pilgrim in Ihram) may wash his head.” Al-Miswar said: “He should not wash his head.”Ibn ‘Abbas sent me (the narrator) to Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari to ask him about that. I found him performing Ghusl in front of the well, screened with a cloth. I greeted him with Salam andsaid: “Abdullah bin ‘Abbas had sent me to you to ask you how the Messenger of Allah used to wash his head when he was in Ihram.” Abu put his hand on the cloth and lowered it until his head appeared, then he told someone to pour water on his head. Then he rubbed his head with his hands, back and forth, and said: “This is what I saw the Messenger of Allah do.” – Sunan a Nasa’i.
However, one must be mindful regarding the use of perfumed soaps or shampoos as it is forbidden to use perfume once in the state of Ihram.
4. Can you sleep in Ihram?
Yes, it is permissible for a Muhrim to sleep in their Ihram. You can also cover your body and feet using a blanket if you wish, but your face and head must remain uncovered.
5. Is Ihram necessary for Umrah?
Yes, Ihram is necessary and compulsory to wear for anyone that wishes to perform Umrah.
6. Does Ihram have to be white?
For men, it is forbidden to wear stitched clothes. Men must wear unsewn clothes, and it is recommended that such clothes be white. Although the most common color worn by men in the state of Ihram, whether Hajj or Umrah, is white, if a man wears any other color, there is no prohibition on it, and his Hajj or Umrah will still be valid.
There is no restriction on women when it comes to the color of their Ihram. Women can wear their ordinary, loose-fitted clothing in whichever color they prefer. Most women prefer to wear an abaya, a loose-fitting robe that covers the body as it iseasy to wear and ensures modesty.
7. When can I take off Ihram?
For those performing Umrah, it is permissible for them to take off their Ihram once their Umrah has come to an end. In the case of pilgrims of Hajj, they’re only allowed to take off their Ihram once the sacrifice has been performed on the day of Eid-ul-Adha.
Aisha (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهَا) narrated:
“We left Madinah with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to perform the Farewell Hajj. Some of us declared Ihram to perform ‘Umrah, while others declared their intentions to perform both Hajj and ‘Umrah. Yet others declared their lhram to perform Hajj only. The Prophet (ﷺ) declared Ihram for Hajj only. Those who intended ‘Umrah terminated their Ihram as soon as they finished the rituals of ‘Umrah. Those who intended to perform Hajj only or to combine Hajj with ‘Umrah did not terminate their Ihram until the Day of Slaughtering (i.e., the day of sacrifice or’ Idul Ad-ha).” Bulugh al-Maraam
8. Can I wear Ihram at the Jeddah airport?
You can wear your Ihram anywhere with the Niyyah or intention of wearing the Ihram. This can be before departing from your home country or upon reaching the Jeddah airport.
9. Can I wear an ihram at Madinah Hotel?
One can wear Ihram in their hotel room in Madinah if they are planning to travel back to Mecca for Umrah or Hajj. However, note that it is not permissible for one to pass the Miqat except in the state of Ihram.
10. Can i wear ihram in masjid Ayesha?
Yes, if you are planning to re-enter Ihram for Umrah, you may do so in Masjid Ayesha, which is the nearest and most convenient location from Masjid al-Haram.
Conclusion for Rules of Ihram: Must Know Restrictions & Prohibited Actions
Going to Umrah or Hajj is a blessing for any Muslim. It offers a Muslim a glorious opportunity to get closer to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) , repent for their sins, cleanse their body and soul, and receive tremendous rewards. While you embark on this blessed journey, do not forget to ask Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)to shower His countless blessing upon the Muslim Ummah and give us prosperity.