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Rules of Ihram: Hajj and Umrah

Every religion has its own religious pilgrimage to be performed by believers. As Muslims, Hajj is mandatory, whereas Umrah is a voluntary duty. Hajj can be done only at a specific time of the year, whereas umrah can be performed at any time. The timing is what makes all the difference. But to perform both duties perfectly, you must follow the rules of Ihram Hajj and Umrah.

The implication of Hajj in Islam is undeniable. A Muslim who is financially independent and has the ability must perform Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime. The Hajj only takes place in the last month of a year according to the Islamic calendar. You can still perform this holy journey to Makka Sharif at any other time of the year, but it will be counted as ‘Umrah’, not Hajj.

What is Ihram?

Hajj and Umrah both are incomplete without proper Ihram. This is the state when you have to enter to confirm you are eligible as a pilgrim. This sacred state is considered to be one kind of cleansing ceremony to purify your inner soul. When in Ihram, you have to follow some specific sets of rules like proper attire, prayer, behavior, etc.  

You have to enter the Ihram state before crossing ‘Miqat’, the principal boundary surrounding the place where Hajj and Umrah are performed. Ihram is applicable to all pilgrims regardless of their gender or age. It is a sign to show the unity of Muslims, and thus all shall be treated equally in this holy pilgrimage no matter who they are.  

Breaking a rule of ihram will mean a kaffarah or penalty for the pilgrims. The penalties are already determined based on the degree of rule-breaking. It can be fasting, feeding people, giving sadaqah, etc. The purpose of such retribution is to make the pilgrims well aware of the spiritual meaning of Hajj and Umrah.

How to Enter Ihram

Before entering the Ihram state, you should know how to prepare yourself with proper measures. Ihram requires a specific style of clothing for both men and women. No scents should be applied as it will break your Ihram state. Even if such an event occurs,  you have to change the clothes to a new one. 

Steps of entering the Ihram states are to be followed when you decide to perform Hajj or Umrah.  During the Ihram, some rules are different for men and women. However, before entering the Ihram state, you must follow some basic steps.

For Women:

  • Cut off the nails and clean-up.
  • Taking a purifying bath.
  • Wearing Ihram clothes.
  • Performing the prayer.

 

For Man:

  • Cutting the nails and beard.
  • Shaping the mustache.
  • Taking a purifying bath.
  • Wearing Ihram clothes.
  • Performing the prayer.

Rules of Ihram

  • Men can not wear stitched clothes, they have to wear specific Ihram dress. However, women don't have to follow such restrictions regarding clothes. They can put on their regular clothes. 
  • Male pilgrims can not wear shoes or socks covering their feet. This rule doesn't apply to females.
  • Men can not cover their heads. A woman must not cover their face or wear niqab and gloves.
  • After entering the Ihram, you can not cut your hair or nails. Men can not shave their heads until the sacrificial animal reaches the place of sacrifice.
  • Male pilgrims should treat women in an appropriate way. Female pilgrims should follow a modest dressing style avoiding any make-up or perfumes.
  • All pilgrims have to refrain from all types of physical intimacy. 
  • Pilgrims should be careful with their behavior. They have to be humble and avoid using any profanity in ihram. 
  • You have to avoid all types of haram deeds. 
  • After you have entered the Ihram state, you can not wear any perfume.
  • You can not hunt animals.

Final Thoughts

The opportunity to perform Hajj in life is a blessing for a true Muslim. While Hajj is the major pilgrimage, Umrah is a lesser pilgrimage. But it doesn't mean Umrah has less importance. Hence, Ihram in both states is equally important as it is a part of your religious journey.

 

Without this soul-cleansing state, you can not perform either of them. So, if you are planning to perform Hajj or Umrah in the near future, make sure to follow all the steps and rules accordingly. 

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