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How to Wear the Ihram for the Hajj and Umrah: A Guide

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Millions of Muslims journey annually to Makkah, the home of Allah (swt), from all four corners of the globe. Pilgrims can do ‘Umrah all year round, even though Hajj is only possible during the holy month of Dhul Hijjah. Benefits of the “lesser pilgrimage” include the winter months, which make the rituals more tolerable in the colder months, and the holy month of Ramadan, which offers enormous rewards.

What is Ihram?

The Ihram is much more than just the two white garments pilgrims wear, despite the fact that this is how we typically think of it. Before doing the Hajj or Umrah, a Muslim must enter the Ihram, a sacred state of mind and body.

Before passing one of the Miqat (border marker) locations, one must declare their intention to enter the Ihram and put on the Ihram garments. You must also decide what kind of worship you want to undertake, such as the Umrah or the Hajj Tamattu.

Like when you start fasting or praying, the Ihram is a state of mind that makes some items that you would normally consider permissible for you to be now haram. It is crucial to keep this mindset as you move through the various phases of the Hajj and ‘Umrah.

What is Ihram for men?

It can be very intimidating for many of us in the West to figure out how to wear the Ihram clothing. Many inquiries will surface, such as “How do I put it on?” Will it come off? It won’t be as big of a culture shock if you’re used to dressing in a lungi, izar, or sarong. For the remainder of us, though, this comprehensive guide should help you make sense of everything.

How to put on the Ihram for men?

It is extremely suggested that you do ghusl, trim your nails, and cut any facial or body hair that has to be trimmed before putting on Ihram clothing. After that, you can start putting on Ihram’s clothing.

What you will need:

  • Two white cloths – you can buy these online, at any Islamic store or even in Madinah, Saudi Arabia before you set off for Makkah
  • An Ihram/money belt (optional)
  • A pair of sandals that don’t cover the toes or the top of your feet

Your upper body will be covered by one of the white cloths, and your lower body by the other. The term “Izar” refers to the lower garment and “Rida” to the upper one. We advise using a thick, towel-like cloth for both the upper and lower body since it will be more concealing and won’t become translucent when you perspire. It is forbidden to wear any undergarments when wearing an ihram. Aim for a long genug ihram cloth so that you may properly wrap it.

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, ‘Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said, “Glory is His lower garment and Majesty is His upper garment and (Allah says) He who contends with Me regarding them I shall torment him.”’ [Muslim]

There are several methods for donning the Ihram, the one described below being only one of them. This is a simple and easy approach, especially for someone who is just starting.

Step 1: Stand with your legs wide apart. This will make moving them to walk much easier when the Ihram has been wrapped fully.

Step 2: Place one of the white cloths (preferably a thick one) to one side of your body, with half in front of you and the other half behind you. Wrap it around your lower body, whilst suppressing your stomach, so that the two sides of the cloth meet on the opposite side. It will be as though you have folded the cloth in half, with your body sandwiched between the two halves.

Step 3: Pinch the two sides of the cloth together firmly at the point they meet so it is secure around your body. The top of the cloth should be well above your navel, and the bottom of the cloth should be lower than your knees.

Step 4: Holding the pinched part firmly in place by your side, bring the ends of the two halves forward and fold them together over the front of your body.

Step 5: Depending on how long the cloth is, you may need to fold it back and forth multiple times. This will create a thick layer over the front of your lower body ensuring modesty.

Step 6: Now that you’ve wrapped the Ihram around your lower body, it is time to ensure that it holds securely and doesn’t fall off. Holding your stomach in, take hold of the top of the wrapping (i.e. the part that is highest up on your body) and begin rolling and tucking it in a downwards direction. Once, you’ve made a few tight folds, you can release your stomach and continue rolling. Ensure that you keep your navel (including your belly button) covered. The Ihram should now be firmly wrapped around your lower body – even if you tug at it, it should hold.

Step 7: For extra security, it is permissible to wear an Ihram belt or a money belt around your waist. You can do this by putting on the belt about halfway through step 6, and then completing the step by rolling the remainder of the cloth over the belt.

Step 8: By now, your lower body should be covered. Now it is time to cover the upper half. Take the second cloth and hold it behind your back.

Step 9: Bring the two sides of the cloth over each shoulder so that the entire cloth can rest on your body without you holding it. Ensure that the right side is longer and is hanging in front of you lower than the left. This is because we will need one side longer to wrap the cloth over the body.

Step 10: Bring the longer side of the cloth around the front of your body and throw it over your left shoulder so that the cloth covers your torso. To prevent it from falling, you can take it around your back and bring it over your right shoulder again.

Step 11: During Tawaf in Hajj or ’Umrah, you will need to expose your right shoulder, which is known as Idtiba’a. To do this, instead of placing both sides of the cloth over your shoulders in step 9, only place the left side over your left shoulder, and bring the right side in front of you, under your right arm and then throw it over your left shoulder.

Go ahead and offer two nafl rak’ahs now. Surah al-Kafirun [109] should be recited in the first rak’ah, and Surah al-Ikhlas [112] in the second (after Surah al-Fatihah) rak’ah.

You can now make your intention to perform Hajj Tamattu‘ or ’Umrah by saying:

You are now in Ihram!

The Prophet (saw) uncovered his right shoulder (Idtiba’a) and walked briskly (Ramal) in the first three circuits of the Tawaf originally to show his strength to the polytheists of Makkah. This is because they claimed that the Muslims that migrated from Makkah to Madinah had become sick and weak. This then became the Sunnah as is seen from the following Hadith:

On the authority of Ibn Abbas (ra) who said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (saw) only performed the Sa‘ee [between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah] and walked quickly (Ramal) round the House to show the polytheists his strength.’ [Muslim]

What is Ihram for ladies?

Women’s ihrams are less restrictive than men’s. You start by doing ghusl, cutting off any extra hair, and cutting your nails.

There are no color constraints; you can cover your complete body with your hijab and abaya/jilbab as usual. Still, it’s preferable to wear something uncomplicated and unadorned. Clothes in white or black might be ideal. Regular socks and foot-covering shoes are also appropriate for women to wear.

There are certain limitations if you typically conceal your face during Ihram. No piece of clothing that comes into close contact with your face may be used to cover it. On the other hand, specific caps with dangling cloth are available to wear.

When do you put Ihram on?

When you get to the Miqat sites (shown on the map below), which mark the beginning and end of the Ihram, you must put on the Ihram.

Wearing your Ihram before you arrive at Jeddah airport is mandatory if you’re flying into Jeddah and going straight to Makkah for the Hajj or ‘Umrah since it is considered part of the Miqat. About an hour prior to landing, there will be a statement made on the aircraft. Wearing the Ihram before a flight or during a layover is a typical practice.

To make things easier, it could be worthwhile to go to Madinah before proceeding to Makkah for the rites. In this manner, as you go from Madinah and arrive at the Dhul-Hulaifah Miqat point, you can wear your Ihram.

Prohibited things during Ihram

To perform the Hajj and Umrah, we must enter the Ihram, a sacred state of mind and body. When you are in Ihram, you are not allowed to do the following:

  • Fighting or quarrelling with others.
  • Cursing, talking sinfully or using any bad language.
  • Using perfume. This includes scented soaps, shampoos, wipes, lotions etc.
  • Cutting, plucking or removing any hair or nails. (Broken nails can be removed).
  • Engaging in any sexual activity.
  • Killing, hunting or helping others hunt any animals.
  • Getting married, proposing or helping others to marry.
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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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