Ihram is a significant aspect of performing the major pilgrimage (Hajj) or the minor pilgrimage (Umrah). The word Ihram is derived from the Arabic word harama, meaning forbidden. A person who wears the Ihram is known as a Muhrim, literally translating into a ‘person who has made things forbidden for himself.’
The word Ihram symbolizes two things: The scared and righteous state a person enters before performing the major pilgrimage (Hajj) or minor pilgrimage (Umrah). It defines the pieces of clothing one wears when performing both of these pilgrimages.
A person’s pilgrimage is not valid without being in the state of Ihram. This blog dives deeper into what is Ihram, what kind of cloth is used when wearing an Ihram, and what things break the state of the Ihram.
What Is Ihram – State of Ihram?
When thousands of people from around the world visit the house of Allah SWT in Makkah, they must be in a sacred state of righteousness and purity. One of the main purposes of Ihram is to make a person humble. When all people, regardless of class or culture, don a pure white and simple dress, it eradicates all differences in wealth and appearance. It removes all impurities from their mind, body, and soul and prepares them for a sacred spiritual experience.
Many things invalidate the state of Ihram, no matter how small they seem. Therefore, it is important to learn these things before entering the state of Ihram. Let’s take a look at some of these things.
- Shaving any part of the body or cutting any unwanted hair. [Sural Baqrah: 196]
- Cutting or trimming your nails. If you have to shorten your nails, you should cut them before entering the state of Ihram.
- Sexual intercourse with your spouse. [Surah Baqrah: 197]
- Touching your partner with desire as it may lead to copulation.
- Using perfume. However, if you want to apply perfume, men are permitted to do so. But that should be done before entering the state of Ihram. [Sunan an-Nasa’i: 1904] & [Sunan Ibn Majah: 3042]
- Hunting or killing any animal. Please remember that killing and sacrificing an animal in the way of Allah SWT are two very different things. [Surah Maida: 95]
- Using scented products also invalidates the Ihram because the scent does not fade away from the skin. If you have to shower, make sure to use unscented products.
Penalty, also known as a damm or fidyah (expiation). Whenever you are in the state of Ihram, i.e., wearing the Ihram or performing Hajj or Umrah, and you make a mistake, you must pay a penalty. A penalty is given for the following reasons.
- If you did anything that invalidated your state of Ihram, which in turn invalidates Hajj or Umrah.
- If you didn’t complete all the rituals of the Hajj and Umrah according to their guidelines.
But keep in mind that there are some cases in which, if you perform the act again, the damm can be waived.
One must follow certain clothing guidelines before entering the state of Ihram. Without the right clothes, one can’t enter the state of Ihram.
One of the main rules for Ihram clothing for men is to avoid wearing sewn clothes, which is why the Ihram for men includes two non-woven white sheets that cover their bodies.
The smaller sheet goes over one or both shoulders and covers the upper half of the body.
The larger sheet goes around the lower part of the body, covering the area between the navel and the feet.
If someone doesn’t want to wear two sheets of clothing, they can wear one sheet that is big enough to cover the body according to the guidelines. But keep in mind that nothing can be worn underneath the Ihram. They cannot have any undergarments since they come in sewn clothes.
Another thing to remember is that men can’t wear socks or shoes that cover their ankles, heels, and toes. A soft pair of slippers is recommended. They also can’t cover their heads while in the state of Ihram.
The rules for Ihram for women are much more relaxed than for men. They can wear any clothing underneath, whether a full dress, jeans or a shirt, as long as it covers their awrah.
On top of their clothes, they can wear an abaya or a chador. Many women use black or white abayas as they symbolize modesty and simplicity. Still, they can use any other color if someone doesn’t have that color. They can also wear socks and shoes that cover their feet.
One thing to remember when entering the state of Ihram is that women are prohibited from covering their hands and faces; apart from this, they can cover every part of their body. If she fears tempting men, she can cover it when men come around and let the cover fall away.
In a hadith, Ayesha RA narrated that when they were with the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, in the state of Ihram, riders would pass them by, and they would cover their faces with, and then after they had gone, they would uncover their faces.
Performing Hajj and Umrah is a beautiful thing since it is an invitation from God to worship him in all his glory. This is why everyone should observe strictness with all the rules of Ihram and strive to fulfill them as best as possible.