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Ihram is the intention to perform Hajj or ‘Umra, either singly or together, and marks the beginning of either one, or both, if they are performed together. It also signifies making some things forbidden. Men wear a special attire of two white, unstitched, cloth sheets. One of these is wrapped around the body’s upper part (except the head), and the other (izar) is wrapped around the body’s lower part. There is no special Hajj attire for women.

Fixed Time. This refers to the specific time during which the rites have to be performed in order to be valid. The Qur’an states: They ask you, (O Messen-ger,) about the new moons. Answer them: “They are signs for the people to de-termine time and the period of the Pilgrimage” (2:189) and: The Pilgrimage is in the months well-known to people (2:197). Muslim scholars agree that the known months are Shawwal, Dhu’l-Qa’da and the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijja. Therefore, putting on the attire for Hajj is not valid outside these months, except for ‘Umra, which can be performed at any time of the year.

Fixed Places (Mawaqit) for Ihram and Donning the Special Hajj Attire. Mawaqit (plural of miqat) are the specific places where pilgrims or people intending to perform Hajj or ‘Umra must declare their intention to do so and enter the state of ihram. Men put on their special Hajj attires in these places. Anyone intending to perform Hajj or ‘Umra must not pass beyond these places without ihram.

God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, specified these places (Canan, ibid., 17:385):

For the people of Madina and those coming through Madina, the miqat is Dhu’l-Hulayfa, 450 kilometers north of Makka.

For those coming from Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon, the miqat is al-Juhfa, 187 kilometers northwest of Makka, and close to Rabigh, 204 kilometers from Makka. Rabigh became the miqat for people coming from Syria and Egypt after the settlement of al-Juhfa disappeared completely.

  • The miqat for the people of Najd is Qarn al Manazil, a mountain 94 kilo-meters east of Makka, overlooking ‘Arafat.
  • Yalamlam, a mountain 54 kilometers south of Makka, is the miqat for those coming from Yemen.
  • For the people of Iraq, the miqat is Dhat ‘Irq, 94 kilometers northeast of Makka.
  • For those living in Makka who intend to perform Hajj, the miqat is the place where they are staying in Makka. However, if they intend to perform ‘Umra, they should go to al-Khol or at-Tan’im, for that is the proper miqat for ‘Umra.
  • Those who live between a miqat and Makka can make their ihram from their house.
  • Those whose way does not pass through any of these places must enter the state of ihram in that place which shares the same line (latitude) as they do.

Etiquette of Ihram. This involves clipping the fingernails, trimming the moustache, shaving the hair under the armpits, shaving the pubic hair, making wudu’ or (preferably) performing ghusl, and combing their beard and hair (men only). Men can put perfume on their body and Hajj attire, even if it continues to smell afterwards. After cleansing oneself in accord with these rules, one should pray two rak’ats, intend to assume the state of ihram, and perform either Hajj or ‘Umra, or both, if one intends to perform them together.