How to Wear an Ihram for Hajj / Umrah Pilgrimage?
The Ihram, a simple garment that has deep religious and spiritual significance, is worn by millions of Muslims each year as they embark on their pilgrimage to Mecca, known as Hajj or Umrah. This essential piece of attire not only symbolises the pilgrim’s devotion to Allah but also serves as a great equaliser, removing all distinctions of class, nationality, and status. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of the Ihram and provide a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to wear it properly.
1 What is an Ihram?
The Ihram is an unsewn, plain white garment that is worn by male pilgrims during their pilgrimage to Mecca. It consists of two pieces of cloth: the Izar, which covers the lower body from the waist to the knees, and the Rida, which covers the upper body from the shoulders to the waist. The Ihram is not an ordinary piece of clothing but a symbol of purity and humility that helps pilgrims focus on their spiritual journey.
Female pilgrims also wear an Ihram, although it is less prescriptive in terms of style and colour. Women typically wear loose, modest clothing that covers their entire body, including a headscarf. However, they should not wear a niqab (face veil) or gloves during the pilgrimage.
2 The Importance of Ihram
The Ihram is an integral part of the Hajj and Umrah rituals. It serves as a reminder of human equality, as all pilgrims wear the same simple, unadorned garment. This helps to create a sense of unity and fosters a spirit of humility among the pilgrims as they shed their everyday clothes and worldly concerns.
Additionally, wearing the Ihram marks the beginning of the state of consecration, known as Ihram, during which certain actions and behaviours are prohibited. These include cutting hair or nails, applying perfume, hunting, engaging in sexual activity, and quarrelling or fighting. By following these restrictions, pilgrims demonstrate their dedication to Allah and their willingness to sacrifice personal comfort for the sake of their spiritual journey.
3 How to Wear an Ihram: A Step-by-Step Guide
Now that we understand the importance and significance of the Ihram let’s discuss how to wear it correctly. The following steps will guide you through the process of putting on an Ihram for both men and women:
Before putting on the Ihram, it is essential to perform Ghusl, an Islamic ritual of full-body washing, to cleanse oneself physically and spiritually. This act of purification symbolises the pilgrim’s intention to enter a sacred state of devotion. Ensure that you remove any unwanted hair, trim your nails, and brush your teeth beforehand.
Choosing the Ihram Garments
For men, select two white, unsewn pieces of cloth made from a comfortable, breathable fabric, such as cotton or linen. The Izar should be long enough to cover the body from the waist to the knees, while the Rida should be large enough to cover the upper body from the shoulders to the waist.
Women should choose loose, modest clothing that covers their entire body, including a headscarf. While there is no specific requirement for colour or style, it is recommended that women avoid flashy or attention-seeking attire.
Wearing the Ihram (for Men)
- Start by wrapping the Izar around your waist. Hold one end of the cloth in your right hand and the other end in your left hand.
- Position the cloth so that it covers your body from the waist to the knees.
- While holding the cloth firmly against your body, use your right hand to pull the right end of the cloth over your left hip. Then, use your left hand to pull the left end of the cloth over your right hip.
- Tuck the overlapping ends of the cloth into the waistband or use a belt to secure the Izar in place. Ensure that the garment is secure but comfortable, allowing for ease of movement.
- To wear the Rida, drape it over both of your shoulders, ensuring that it covers the upper body from the shoulders to the waist.
- The Rida should hang evenly on both sides of the body, with equal lengths of cloth in the front and back.
- It is customary to leave the right shoulder exposed by pulling the Rida up and over the right shoulder, allowing the cloth to hang down the back. However, this is not mandatory and can be adjusted based on personal preference and comfort.
Wearing the Ihram (for Women)
- Women should don modest, loose-fitting clothing that covers the entire body, including a headscarf.
- Ensure that the chosen attire does not draw attention or reveal the shape of the body.
- While there is no specific requirement for colour, white is often preferred due to its symbolism of purity.
- Women should not wear a niqab (face veil) or gloves during their pilgrimage.
- Instead, they can use the headscarf to cover their face if necessary, as long as the eyes remain uncovered.
4 Making the Intention (Niyyah) and Talbiyah
Once you have put on the Ihram garments, it is time to make the intention (Niyyah) for Hajj or Umrah. This should be done before crossing the Miqat, a designated boundary around Mecca. Stand facing the Qibla (the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca), raise your hands to your ears in a gesture of prayer, and state your intention to perform Hajj or Umrah for the sake of Allah.
After making the Niyyah, recite the Talbiyah, a prayer that signifies the pilgrim’s readiness to perform the Hajj or Umrah. The Talbiyah is recited as follows:
“Labbayk Allahumma labbayk. Labbayk la sharika laka labbayk. Innal-hamda wan-ni’mata laka wal-mulk. La sharika lak.”
(Translation: “Here I am at Your service, O Allah, here I am. Here I am; you have no partner; here I am. Verily all praise, grace, and sovereignty belong to You. You have no partner.”)
Recite the Talbiyah frequently throughout your journey, especially when changing locations or during times of difficulty.
5 Wrapping Up
Wearing the Ihram is a crucial part of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage, symbolising the pilgrim’s commitment to Allah and their willingness to let go of worldly concerns. By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can ensure that you wear the Ihram correctly and maintain the appropriate state of consecration throughout your spiritual journey. May your pilgrimage be blessed, and may you draw closer to Allah through this sacred act of devotion.
Also, check out our blog on how to perform the Fajr prayer as per Islamic rituals.
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