For a Muslim woman or man to successfully perform Umrah or Hajj, certain rituals must be followed. One of these rituals is to enter Ihram and without Ihram, you are not able to perform Umrah or Hajj. For some Muslims and many reverts, if they are not given guidance or support, they are often left to wonder what is Ihram?
Our guide is here to provide the answers to your questions regarding Ihram, including what Muslim pilgrims are expected to wear during Hajj and help you prepare for your Hajj (major pilgrimage) or Umrah (minor pilgrimage).
The Ihram meaning in Urdu is a sacred state that Muslims enter and remain in during the special rituals and events that are required to complete Hajj or Umrah. The state is entered by following certain cleansing rituals and wearing the correct dress. Ihram is also used to refer to the ceremonial clothing that has been chosen with the purpose of completing Hajj and must be worn by all men and women. Ihram and Hajj are times of total equality; Ihram clothing removes all societal representations of wealth or social differences and ensures that both men and women renounce the temptations of vanity and the world.
The Ihram clothing worn by men and women does have some distinct differences. While both outfits use two sheets of unstitched white cloth, part of the man’s body remains exposed whereas a woman’s Ihram clothing must conceal the whole body, leaving only her face and hands uncovered. During the pilgrimage, women are not permitted to cover their face, and wearing anything that does cover the face is prohibited including Burqas and Niqabs.
Men’s Ihram clothing is strict; however, a woman can wear regular clothing where Ihram is unavailable. It is important that any clothing worn is chosen with the intention of entering Ihram and ensures it protects the wearer’s modesty. Outside of the clothing worn, there are certain rules that must also be abided by during Hajj or Umrah, for example:
Before entering the state of Ihram, you should get yourself into a state of physical cleanliness including taking care of your personal hygiene tasks at home. Once you have entered Ihram, shaving, clipping, and trimming are prohibited so taking care of this prior to your intention to begin Hajj is recommended.
When you are ready to enter Ihram, you must first perform Ghusl before dressing in your ceremonial clothing. Ghusl is the ritual cleansing that involves bathing the whole body and if, for any reason, Ghusl cannot be carried out, Wudhu (ablution) must be performed in its place. The intention (Niyah) behind bathing for Hajj or Umrah must be clear.
Once you have entered a state of physical purity, it is time for both men and women to offer two Rakahs of Salah al-Ihram. Rakah must also be made for the Niyah of entering the state of Ihram and must be made before crossing the boundary of Miqat – the location from which Ihram starts.
If you are flying as part of your Hajj, it is recommended to prepare for Ihram before getting on your final flight. Some Islamic airlines and airports have facilities available to get ready and make prayer if you have a stopping point on your journey; however, the closer you get to Miqat, the busier these facilities can become so make sure to plan ahead.
Al-Bukhari states that Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said:
"One shouldn't pass the Miqat unless he/she is in the state of Ihram."
Knowledge and seeking information can ensure you carry out the best Ihram practices and our team has found some of the commonly asked questions regarding Ihram to keep you informed.
A guardian can choose to take their children to Umrah, and they must dress them in Ihram clothing. If they are under the age of discernment (seven years old) their guardian must make the intention for Umrah on their behalf. It is also obligatory for the child’s guardian to keep them away from everything forbidden once they have entered the state of Ihram.
Yes, it is considered a permissible action of Ihram to have a bath or shower; however, you should not use any scented products. You may also gently wash your head or body, even if you are losing your hair. You should refrain from rubbing the skin or body to remove marks or dirt, combing your hair, or causing trauma to the body (through scratching) that causes the hair to fall out.
Yes, it is permissible to change your Ihram clothing as many times as required; however, you should refrain from deliberately making your Ihram clothing dirty by wiping yourself or cleaning yourself.
What Actions are Considered Permissible During Ihram?
There are a number of actions that can be carried out where necessary during Ihram that do not carry a penalty, including:
If you are preparing for Umrah or Hajj, we wish you good travels and hope that the above guide has helped inform you on preparing for Ihram and the best Ihram practices to follow.
May Allah (SWT) give us the opportunity to go into Ihram during Umrah and Hajj dates and only come out of it after performing Umrah or Hajj (Amen).