The ‘umrah begins by donning of the ihram in the sense that it is obligatory on the pilgrim to put on the ihram for doing ‘umrah at-tamattu‘ at the miqat. However, if he had done the nadhr for donning on the ihram before reaching to the miqat, then that is what he should do.
Mawaqit (place of miqat) are the locations specified by the Islamic shari‘ah where the ihram is to be put on. So the miqat for the pilgrim traveling from Medina would be “Masjidu ’sh-Shajarah,” located in Dhi ’l-Hulayfah which is 10 k.m. from Medina and 427 k.m. from Mecca.
The closest miqat for those who arrive at Jeddah by air is “al-Juhfa” which is 204 k.m. from Mecca.
Nadhr for Putting on the Ihram: It is permissible for the pilgrim to do nadhr (vow) for putting on the ihram even at his city’s airport or seaport by saying: “I make a vow for the sake of Allah to put on the ihram for ‘umrah at-tamattu‘ from this location.” And then he can put on his ihram.
It is also permissible for the pilgrim to put on the ihram at Jeddah (72 k.m. from Mecca) by making a similar nadhr when he reaches Jeddah and then there is no need to put on the ihram again.
It is important to mention that most of those who do the nadhr to put on the ihram from their own city put themselves in a situation in which they violate a restriction put on them after donning the ihram traveling in a covered vehicle during the daytime; and thus they are required to pay the indemnity in form of sacrificing a sheep. The best thing for such a pilgrim is to travel at night time when it is not raining; and it is not that difficult to know the weather forecast.
Recommendations before putting on the Ihram
There are many recommendations before putting on the ihram. The most important ones are the following:
To clean one’s body, clip the nail, and get rid of the hair in the armpits and the pubic area.
To do the major ritual ablution (ghusl) for ihram with the sincere intention of pleasing the Almighty by saying the following: “I am doing the major ritual ablution for the ihram of ‘umrah at-tamattu‘ of hajj at-tamattu‘ in order to seek nearness to Almighty Allah.”
To put on the ihram after doing an obligatory prayer. If it is not yet the time for obligatory prayer, then he should pray six raka‘at or two rak‘at in which he recites in the first, after al-hamd, surah at-Tawhid and in the second, after al-hamd, surah al-Kafirun.
There are other recommendations which cannot be numerated here for sake of brevity.
Obligations of Ihram
Once a person has done the recommendations, then he should proceed to the obligatory stages of putting on the ihram which are three:
The intention: it is sufficient to have the sincere intention of seeking nearness of God in one’s mind without the need to say it verbally. However, if he wants to say, then he may say it in the following way: “I am putting on the ihram for ‘umrah at-tamattu‘ of hajj at-tamattu‘ for seeking nearness of Almighty Allah.”
For Men: To put on the two pieces of ihram garment which consists of an extra large size towel tied from the waist going downwards and another placed over the shoulders. It is obligatory precaution for men to put it on before the niyyat and the talbiyyah. As far as the women are concerned, they may put by the ihram by using on their own normal clothings.
Saying the talbiyyah at the time of niyyat. It will be sufficient to say: “Lab-bay-ka Allahumma lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka la sharika laka lab-bay-ka; innal hamda wan ni‘mata laka wal mulk; la sharika laka lab-bay-ka.” The pilgrim must say the talbiyya in the proper Arabic pronunciation even if he needs to learn or follow someone in repeating those words correctly.
It is recommended to add the following to the talbiyya: “Lab-bay-ka dha ’l-ma‘arij lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka da‘iyan ila dari ’s-salam lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka ghaffara ’dh-dhunubi lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka ahla ’t-talbiyya; lab-bay-ka tubdiyu wa ’l-ma‘ad ilayka lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka tastaghni wa yaftaqiru ilayka lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka marhuban wa marghuban ilayka lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka ilaha ’l-haqq lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka dha ’n-na‘ma’i wa ’l-fadli ’l-hasani ’l-jamil lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka kashshafa ’l-kurubi ’l-‘idham lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka ‘abduka wabnu ‘abdayka lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka ya karim.”
It is further recommended to add the following to the talbiyya: “lab-bay-ka ataqarrabu ilayka bi Muhammadin wa Al-I Muhammadin lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka bi hajjatin aw ‘umrah lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka wa hadhihi ‘umratu mut‘atu ila ’l-hajji lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka ahla ’t-talbiyya lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka talbiyya tamamuha wa balaghuha ‘alayka.”
Rules of Ihram
The ihram (for ‘umrah tamattu‘ or hajj tamattu‘ or ‘umrah mufrada) is not valid unless the talbiyya is said together with the niyyat.
The obligatory part of talbiyya is to say “lab-bay-ka Allahumma lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka la sharika laka lab-bay-ka” once. Of course, it is recommended to say that many times as mentioned above.
The validity of ihram does not depend on the ritual purity (taharat) of the individual from the major or minor impurities. So putting on the ihram and saying the talbiyya is valid even if it is done in the state of minor or major impurity like janabat or monthly cycle, etc.
The ghusl done for the ihram at daytime is sufficient till end of the following night; similarly, a ghusl done at nighttime is sufficient till end of the following day. The ghusl for ihram is valid even for a lady who is in her monthly cycle or going through post-natal bleeding, and it is among the major ablutions after which there is not requirement for wudhu for prayers until one does something that invalidates the wudhu.
Similarly, the ghusl for ihram will suffice if a person was required to do the ghusl for janabat or hayd. If something that invalidates the wudhu occurs between the ghusl for ihram and the actual putting on the ihram, then it is recommended to redo the ghusl. Similarly, it is recommended to repeat the ghusl if someone eats or wears something that is haram.
A person who puts on the ihram at Masjidu ’sh-Shajarah is allowed to return back to Medina to take a flight to Jeddah and then travel to Mecca. However, in this case, he should refrain from traveling under a cover which is haram – he can refrain from this prohibition by flying at night when it is not raining.
For a pilgrim who wants to do hajj from Medina’s route, it is necessary, based on obligatory precaution, to put on the ihram at its famous mosque known as Masjidu ’sh-Shajarah itself. It would not be sufficient to put on the ihram outside the mosque except for a lady who is in her monthly cycle or in her postnatal (nifas) days—she will put on the ihram outside the mosque. For those putting on the ihram inside the mosque, any part of the mosque, including the new extended areas, will be sufficient.
The person who has already done the obligatory pilgrimage once and now plans to do another pilgrimage, and wishes that his second pilgrimage be considered either as his obligatory pilgrimage (if the first was not done properly) or as his recommended pilgrimage (if the first was done properly) – what would be his niyyat, intention? His niyyat should be “to do the duty which is required of him/her now” even though he/she does not know whether it is obligatory (wajib) or recommended (mustahab).
All the conditions applicable for the dress for salat are also applicable for ihram such as purity, etc. However, if the ihram becomes impure by an impurity which is excused in salat, then it must be changed or purified. Of course, delay in changing or purifying such an ihram because of unavoidable circumstances is okay.
It is not necessary for the pilgrim to use the same ihram continuously during the pilgrimage. It is permissible for him to take it off for a need or to replace it with another ihram. He is also allowed to add extra pieces over the two ihram pieces to protect himself against cold, etc.
Things forbidden in Ihram
There are twenty-five things which are forbidden in the state of ihram. These are:
- Hunting the land animal.
- Sexual intercourse.
- Kissing the woman.
- Touching the woman.
- Looking at the woman and indulging in fore-play.
- Using perfume.
- For men only: wearing the sewn clothes.
- Applying kohl on the eyes.
- Looking in a mirror.
- For men only: wearing shoes or socks.
- Cursing other people.
- Quarreling with others.
- Killing the insects on one’s body.
- Using cosmetics.
- Applying oil on the body.
- Getting rid of the bodily hair.
- For men only: covering the head. (Even submerging the head in a body of water is not allowed, for both men as well as women.)
- For women: covering the face.
- For men: shading themselves from sun or rain.
- Causing blood to come out of one’s body.
- Clipping the nail.
- Pulling out the teeth.
- Carrying arms.
I shall discuss the details of those things which are common from the above list:
- Sexual Acts: It is not permissible for the pilgrim –male or female– to indulge in sexual intercourse, just as it is not permissible to indulge in foreplay, kissing, touching, hugging or looking at one another with lust. Anyone who indulges in these acts will have to pay a penalty which could be sacrificing a camel, a cow or a sheep depending on the kind of offence. In some cases, it might even be necessary to redo the pilgrimage.
- Perfume: It is not permissible to use the perfume in any shape or form: applying it on the body, wearing it, smelling it, eating (something that has good smell) or wearing a cloth which has scent of a perfume on it. “Perfume” means whatever is used to apply scent on the body, the clothes, or the food, etc., such as musk, saffron, and other perfumes of our time. The only exception is the “khulūqu ’l-Ka‘bah” (a perfume extracted from saffron, etc.) which is used on the Ka‘bah.
- Soaps & Shampoos: It is permissible for the pilgrim in ihram to use soaps and shampoos that are unscented. Based on obligatory precaution, one should refrain from smoking the scented cigars.
- Fruits & Vegetables: It is permissible for the pilgrim in ihram to eat fruits and vegetables that has good smell such as apples, coriander leaves, etc. However, based on obligatory precaution, one should refrain from smelling them while eating.
- Similarly, condiments and seasonings placed over the food are not permissible for one who is in ihram. However, eating the dish made with such a seasoning is permissible.
- If a pilgrim in ihram knowingly eats a scented item or dons on a cloth that has perfume on it, then, based on obligatory precaution, he has to pay a penalty in form of sacrificing a sheep. The penalty will be repeated as many times as the offence is repeated. However, if this was done unintentionally (e.g., out of ignorance or forgetfulness), then there is no penalty on him.
- Male Pilgrim’s Dress: It is forbidden for a male pilgrim in ihram to knowingly wear a dress which has a button or something similar to it. It also forbidden for him to wear trousers or something similar to it. Based on precaution, he must also refrain from wearing the normal clothes like a shirt, a pullover or the long Arabian robe no matter whether it has any buttons or not. And if he knowingly dons on something which is forbidden, then he has to pay the penalty in form of sacrificing a sheep. If the offence is repeated, the penalty has to be repeated also.
- Safety pins & Clips for Men: A male pilgrim in ihram may use a safety pin or a clip, etc., to tie the two sides of his upper part of the ihram so that it does not fall from the shoulders. Likewise, he may use a money belt or an ordinary belt, even the stitched one, on the waist.
- Covering the Body & the Feet: It is permissible for the pilgrim to cover his body, except the head, with the blanket or quilt even if it was sewn.
- The pilgrim is allowed to wear an ihram even if it is stitched at the borders.
- It is forbidden for a male pilgrim in the state of ihram to knowingly wear something (e.g., socks, etc.) that will fully cover the top of his feet except in case of emergency. However, wearing something that will only partially cover the feet is okay. Similarly, a male pilgrim in the state of ihram is allowed to cover the feet without wearing anything rather by covering it in other ways, for example, by placing the hemming line of the ihram on the feet while sitting or lying down. If a male pilgrim in the state of ihram knowingly wears socks or something similar, then he has to pay a penalty, based on obligatory precaution, by sacrificing a sheep.
- It is permissible for the pilgrim in ihram to put on the ring as long as it is not done for adornment.
- Lotions & Creams: It is permissible for the pilgrim in ihram to use unscented lotions for medical purpose. Similarly, he is allowed to use even the scented lotions out of necessity. However, in this latter case, he has to pay a penalty by sacrificing a sheep based on obligatory precaution.
- Hair & Head: The pilgrim in ihram is not allowed to get rid of his bodily hair or from the body of someone else. If he does so, then he has to pay the penalty as explained in the detailed manuals of hajj.
- A pilgrim in ihram is allowed to scratch his head as long as a hair is not pulled or broken. If he combs his head or beard with his fingers without any necessity and a hair breaks loose, then he has to feed a handful of grain for the poor. However, if this happens while doing the wudhu, then there is no penalty on him.
- One should refrain from using a comb unless he is sure that its use will not cause a hair to be pulled out. This is based on obligatory precaution.
- A male pilgrim in the state of ihram is not allowed to cover his head, not even a part of it, by a cloth or something similar like a kerchief or a napkin. If he covers his head, then, based on precaution, he has to pay a penalty in form of sacrificing a sheep. This penalty is once only even if he covers his head multiple times. He is, of course, allowed to cover it by his limbs, like his hand. And there will be no penalty if he covers his head out of necessity.
- Covering the Head for Male Pilgrim: Covering the head from the sun and, based on obligatory precaution, even from the rain. This covering can be of two types:
- The shade is from the moving entities like an umbrella while one is walking, or a moving vehicle or a flying airplane. A male pilgrim in ihram is not allowed to shade his head under these items while in motion. What if the shade is sideways? Based on precaution, it is necessary to refrain from that kind of shade also except when the sun rays still come over the head and the chest. The prohibition is applicable while traveling to Mecca as well as to the plains around Mecca or even when traveling within the city itself.
- The shade is from the stationary entities like a wall, a tunnel, and a tree. A pilgrim is allowed to sit or stay under the shade of such items. Based on what has been mentioned above, a male pilgrim in the ihram is allowed to travel in a covered vehicle from the miqat to Mecca, and from Mecca to ‘Arafat, etc, at nighttime when it is not raining. If it starts raining while he is traveling at night, then he should ask the driver to stop the vehicle until the rain stops. (He does not need to get out of the vehicle.) But if the driver of the rental car or bus does not accede to the pilgrim’s request, then there is no penalty on the pilgrim.
- A male pilgrim in the state of ihram is allowed to use the elevators in the buildings.
- Ladies and children are allowed to travel in covered vehicle and shade themselves from the sun and the rain. This also applies to the men out of necessity, e.g., medical reason; however, such men have to pay the penalty as mentioned below.
- If a male pilgrim in the state of ihram shades himself, by choice or force, from the sun or the rain, then he has to pay the penalty in form of sacrificing a sheep. However, if he does so out of ignorance of prohibition, then there is no penalty on him; similarly, if he was forced to shade himself.
- Looking in the Mirror: The pilgrim is not allowed to look in the mirror for adorning himself. However, if it is done for other reason (such as the driver who needs to look into the rearview or side mirrors), then that would be permissible.
- The pilgrim is allowed to use the cameras even if it involves looking into the lenses or the side screen, etc.
- Please make a note that the coloured contact-lenses are considered as cosmetic items and therefore a pilgrim in ihram should refrain from using them.
- Using prescribed glass is permissible.
- The male pilgrim in ihram is allowed to travel in a covered vehicle at nighttime as well as between dawn and sunrise. This is also permissible when there are heavy clouds on the sky in such a way that then prevent the sun rays provided there is no rain.
- The pilgrim is allowed to scratch his body or peel the dry skin from his lips provided it does not cause bleeding normally.
- There is no penalty on those who are in ihram if they see in the mirrors placed at the washing sink, bathroom or elevators as long as it is not done for cosmetic reason.
- Whenever the pilgrim is required to pay the penalty of sacrificing an animal for a violation done in the state of ihram for ‘umrah tamattu‘ or hajj tamattu‘, then the sacrifice should be done in Mina, based on obligatory precaution. However, if he could not do so in Mina, then he is permitted to do that in his hometown.
- The penalty of sacrifice done by the pilgrim must be distributed among the poor and the needy. If the pilgrim cannot find a poor or a needy person in Mina, then he can contact (e.g., by phone) a deserving person in another city to seek his permission to reasonably dispose the sacrifice on his behalf and then pay him its value later on. If that is not possible, then he is allowed to delay the sacrifice until he return back to his city.
Note that there are some rules pertaining to the female pilgrims which will come later on.
Common Mistakes in Ihram
- Sometimes a man in ihram accompanies the women to help them in doing the hajj rituals and sits with them in a covered vehicle during daytime while he is forbidden from shading his head from the sun or the rain. In this case, it is obligatory on him to pay the penalty in form of sacrificing the sheep.
- Some male pilgrims in the state of ihram think that they are allowed to shade themselves from the sun without any excuse as long as they pay the penalty. This is incorrect because paying the penalty does not make the shading of oneself from the sun permissible.
- Similarly, some male pilgrims think that once they have shaded themselves from the sun once and the penalty has become due on them, then they are allowed to repeatedly travel in covered vehicles without any excuse. This is incorrect since the prohibition of shading oneself from the sun applies on the person in ihram unless he is compelled by necessity – no matter whether or not a penalty is applicable on him.
- Lying, cursing and boasting about oneself (based on wealth, position or genealogy in such a way that a believer is insulted) is always forbidden. Its prohibition, however, is intensified in the state of ihram. And its penalty is seeking forgiveness from Allah; nonetheless, the penalty of sacrificing a cow is required based on precaution.
- Sometimes a pilgrim in ihram passes by a place with a foul smell and he instinctively closes his nose. This is forbidden for him; however, he is allowed to move away hastily from that place.
- A pilgrim sometimes swears in the name of Almighty Allah falsely to prove or disprove something. If he does that, then he has to pay a penalty by sacrificing a sheep. And if he swears truthfully three times, even then he has to pay a similar penalty.
- People regularly clip the nail of their hands and feet. This is a good thing but not for a pilgrim who is in the state of ihram.
- It is permissible to use the land and cell telephone in the state of ihram. However, some male pilgrims do not realize that by placing the phone on their ears, they are covering the ear and, based on precaution, that is not permissible in the state of the ihram. This problem can be avoided by keeping the phone little be away from the ear so as not to cover it.
- Some male pilgrims in the state of ihram wear sleepers that only expose their toes. However, based on precaution, this is not permissible; it is not sufficient that only the toes are exposed, besides the toes, a part of the upper feet must also be exposed.
- Some pilgrims kill the insects or the bedbugs or flies by using insecticides or other sprays. This is a mistake since he is not allowed to kill any insect except if they are harmful and there is no other way of getting rid of them.
It is recommended to repeat the talbiyya as much as possible, especially after every obligatory prayer, while getting on the vehicle or getting out of it, while ascending or descending (in the plane), and at time of dawn.
It is recommended for the men, and not the women, to say the talbiyya loud.
This recommendation continues until the pilgrims see the houses of the old Mecca at which time the tabliyya should be stopped as precaution.