Iḥrām (Arabic: إحرام) is the first action of the rites of hajj of 'umra. Ihram starts from miqat. The ihram outfit for men is two plain pieces of cloth: one is worn around the waist (izar) and the other over the shoulders (rida'). Ihram is one of the elemental parts (rukns) of hajj and after entering the state of ihram some acts that are permissible in normal conditions become temporarily prohibited for the one who has become muhrim and there are specific atonement (kaffara) for committing some of them.
Ihram is derived from "ḥ-r-m" which means: to prevent, to prohibit, to enter a place or a time - such as haram or a haram month - that no one is allowed to desecrate it, or a special covenant and treaty.
There are various definitions of ihram in jurisprudential sources. In some sources, it is regarded as an external act, which is entering the rituals of hajj by wearing a special outfit and reciting talbiya; others have regarded it as an internal act, which is the intention of entering the rituals of hajj or 'umra and commitment to abandon certain acts that are prohibited during ihram.
Ihram is one of the most important obligations of hajj and 'umra. According to Shi'a and Sunni faqihs it is one of the elemental parts (rukns) of them, i.e. leaving it deliberately voids hajj or 'umra. Therefore, a significant part of the chapter of hajj in jurisprudential sources is dedicated to ihram.
According to some hadiths, the history of ihram goes back to building the Ka'ba and the first hajj. It is said in a hadith that God does not send any angel to the earth, unless He orders him to visit the Ka'ba; so the angel wears ihram next to the Divine Throne and descend toward the Ka'ba while reciting talbiya. It is narrated form Imam al-Sadiq (a) that after the repentance of Adam (a), Jabra'il (a) taught him how to wear ihram and say talbiya and ordered him to perform ghusl and wear ihram to perform hajj. According to another hadith, Jabra'il (a) taught Ibrahim (a) and Isma'il (a) how to wear ihram and perform the rituals of hajj. In another hadith, Moses (a) wore ihram to perform hajj from Ramla, Egypt, and by two pieces of cotton cloth headed toward the Ka'ba while saying talbiya. In another hadith, he was accompanied by 70 prophets while wearing Ihram.
Wearing ihram was also conventional during the Age of Ignorance before the emergence of Islam, and it was sometimes accompanied by superstitions. It is reported that during ihram they would not enter their house through the door; rather they would dig a tunnel at the back of the house and use it; arguing that during ihram the way of wearing clothes is changed so must the way of entering our houses. The 189th verse of Sura al-Baqara forbade them from doing so. They believed that they must not become muhrim or perform tawaf in clothes in which they have committed sins. They also believed that the first tawaf must be performed in clothes of the tribes of al-Homs (Quraysh) and other tribes residing in Mecca) and if they could not find these kind of clothes, they performed tawaf while naked. Furthermore, they threw away their clothes after tawaf and never wore them again. Islam forbade them from these acts, which the Qur'an in the 28th verse of Sura al-A'raf regarded as an indecency which God has not enjoined humankind to.
Like other divine religions, ihram is a part of the rituals of hajj and 'umra in Islam. To perform the rituals of hajj, Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Companions wore ihram at first. It is reported that six years after Hijra, Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Companions wore ihram in Hudaybiyya to perform 'umra; but when the Polytheists of Mecca did not let them to perform 'umra, they came out of ihram by sacrificing the camels they intended to sacrifice during hajj rituals. In the next year, they became muhrim in Juhfa to perform 'Umrat al-Qada'. In 10/832, prophet Muhammad (s), his wives, and many Muslims became muhrim in Dhu l-Hulayfa.
- Main article: Miqat
Prophet Muhammad (s) introduced five places as miqat; in which one becomes muhrim and starts the hajj or 'umra. Perfection and completion of hajj or 'umra is in wearing ihram in one of these miqats, and one must not pass a miqat without wearing Ihram. According to Shi'a, wearing ihram before miqat is inappropriate.
Many secrets and philosophies have been mentioned in the Qur'an, hadiths and works of Islamic scholars for ihram. In the 197th verse of Sura al-Baqara piety is introduced as the philosophy of ihram and refrainment from prohibited acts during hajj. In a hadith, entering the haram of Mecca is presented as the cause of the legislation of ihram. According to another hadith, creating the state of humility and reverence, refraining from worldly joys and acts and forbearance in hardships are regarded as the philosophy of obligation of wearing ihram before entering haram.
In addition, each of prerequisites of ihram has a special secret and philosophy. For instance, the recommendation of not cutting hair before ihram is that the performer of hajj or 'umra forgets himself and only thinks of God; the philosophy of ghusl before ihram is that in addition to purifying the apparent and external dirt form the body, the spiritual and inner dirt would be purified and the muhrim enters Haram with a pure and clean appearance and spirit. 
Removing sewed clothes and wearing ihram clothes is a symbol of removing the clothes of sins, and wearing the clothes of obedience and servitude of God. The philosophy of wearing two plain pieces of cloth is said to be getting even in outward appearance, disappearance of class differences, remembering death and the Day of Resurrection, when all humans are resurrected by a plain cloth, in which they were buried.
Talbiya is a sincere response to God's call, an expression of the right and obedience, an abstinence from wrong speech and sins, and also the doubt of muhrim whether God will accept his labbayk or not. It is reported that while reciting talbiya, Imam al-Sajjad's (a) face looked pale and his body began to tremble; explaining the cause of his reaction, he said that he feared that God may reject his talbiya.
In addition, each of prohibited acts during ihram has its own philosophy. For instance, hunting is prohibited so that the pilgrims are tested and the obedient are distinguished from the disobedient; walking in the shade is prohibited for men so that by bearing the sunlight their sins are disappeared; looking into the mirror and applying kohl are prohibited so that no one pays attention to oneself or the worldly adornments and beauties; carrying weapons is prohibited so that the safety of all pilgrims and the atmosphere of peace, tranquility and respecting each other are provided.
Based on the Qur'an and hadith, Shi'a and Sunni faqihs said that ihram is wajib (obligatory) in some cases:
- Performing hajj or 'umra: Shi'a and Sunni faqihs unanimously believe that ihram is the first act in hajj and 'umra and is an elemental and obligatory part of them. According to some Shi'a faqihs passing a Miqat consciously without ihram makes hajj or 'umra void; in such a case many Shi'a faqihs says that the pilgrim is obliged to return to miqat and become muhrim there. Likewise, many Sunni faqihs says that the pilgrim, who did not become muhrim in miqat, must return to miqat anyway, and if it is not possible, the muhrim must offer a sacrifice.
- Entering haram: According to some Shi'a and Sunni faqihs entering the area of haram of Mecca without ihram is not permissible. This ruling is derived from hadiths that regards the sacredness of haram as the philosophy of ihram and also hadiths that do not allow entering haram without ihram.
- Entering Mecca: Shi'a and many Sunni faqihs believe that whoever wants to enter Mecca, must enter it with ihram, even if one enters it twice or three times a year. However, some Sunni faqihs say that wearing ihram to enter Mecca is mustahab.
In some cases, wearing ihram to enter Mecca is not wajib (obligatory):
- Those who enter Mecca frequently, such as traders, those who provide food and fuel for the residents of Mecca.
- The sick. There are certain hadiths that excluded them.
- One who enters Mecca for a legitimate battle.
- If a month has not passed from one's last ihram; whether the last ihram was for al-'Umra al-Mufrada or 'Umra al-Tamattu' or Hajj al-Tamattu'.
- One who wants to take refuge in Mecca from an oppressor or war.
Time for Hajj
The time for wearing ihram for hajj is Shawwal, Dhu l-Qa'da, and the first nine days of Dhu l-Hijja. The 197th verse of Sura al-Baqara indicates that ihram for hajj out of the specified time limit is not valid. However, ihram for 'umra is possible and permissible throughout the year, except for days of performing the rituals of hajj.
|This section is a general introduction to the rulings of a fiqhi topic.|
Intention, talbiya. and wearing ihram outfit –the three acts that must be done almost simultaneously- are obligatory acts of Ihram.
- Intention must contain the intention of proximity to God, the type of hajj (al-tamattu', al-qiran, al-ifrad) or 'umra (al-mufrada or al-tamattu'), whether the hajj or 'umra is wajib or mustahab and whether the hajj is hajjat al-islam -the first hajj after istita'a- or a vowed hajj or a hajj on behalf of someone. By violating intention, intentionally or unintentionally, the ihram is void.
- Intention must be accompanied by the four phrases of talbiya. Ihram for hajj al-tamatu' and hajj al-ifrad does not take place without talbiya. In hajj al-qiran the pilgrim can choose talbiya or taqlid or ish'ar. Talbiya (or taqlid or ish'ar) is like takbirat al-ihram for prayer. Talbiya must be said at the time of wearing ihram outfit.
- Saying talbiya loudly is mustahab for men; but women must say it quietly, unless no non-mahram hears them.
- It is mustahab to repeat talbiya when mounting or unmounting animals, going uphill or downhill, meeting someone, waking up, at dawn (sahar) and after each prayer. However, the pilgrim must stop saying talbiya by seeing the houses of Mecca. It is also mustahab to say the mustahab phrases of talbiya, which are found in books explaining the rituals of hajj.
It is Mustahab for one who wants to become muhrim to do these things beforehand:
- Cleaning the body
- Clipping nails
- Trimming mustache
- Removing underarm and pubic hairs
- It is recommended for the one who wants to perform hajj, not to cut his hair and beard from the beginning of Dhu l-Qa'da and for the one who wants to perform 'umra, one month before the time of 'umra.
- It is mustahab to perform ghusl before ihram and become muhrim after performing a wajib prayer, especially zuhr prayer, or a mustahab prayer. However, some faqihs said that ghusl before ihram is wajib.
An outfit that a muhrim wears must be tahir and must not be made of leather, wool, hair, or fluff of an animal whose meat is haram or an animal of halal meat that was not slaughtered according to Islamic rulings.
If a woman wears clothes that meet the aforementioned requirements, she can become muhrim in them. However, a man cannot become muhrim in his clothes, i.e. men must not wear any sewed clothes for ihram or a cloth made of silk. However, women can wear silk and sewed pieces as their ihram outfit.
The ihram outfit for men is a piece of plain cloth wrapped around their waste covering at least the navel to the knees, that is called "izar", and another piece that covers their shoulders, that is called "rida'". There are disagreements about the validity of tawashshuh (putting out one shoulder).
The ihram outfit for women and izar of men must not be transparent. About rida', some said that it is better not to be transparent as well, some others said that according to precaution (ihtiyat) it must not be transparent and thin.
After ihram some acts -most of which are halal or permissible before ihram- become haram (forbidden) for muhrim. These acts, which are called turuk or muharramt al-ihram are as follows:
- Hunting wild animals: Even if the muhrim slaughter the hunted animal, it is considered as mita (carcass) and eating it is haram for muhrim and non-muhrim. The Qur'an explicitly denotes that hunting in haram is forbidden for muhrim and muhill (who is not muhrim) and there is a specific kaffara (atonement) for committing it.
- Sexual activities: Any kind of sexual activities, including, intercourse, stroking, and touching, kissing, and even looking at any women (including his/her own spouse) with lust is forbidden. Likewise, getting married, marrying someone to a third person and even being a witness in a marriage is forbidden; and if an 'aqd (contraction of marriage) takes place, it will be void.
- Using and smelling pleasant smells: Even if it is in the food, except for the perfume used for perfuming the Ka'ba.
- Wearing sewed clothes for men
- Applying kohl for men and women: Kohl is considered as an adornment (make-up) so applying it is haram, especially if it is black and fragrant.
- Looking in a mirror
- Wearing something that covers the feet, such as boots or socks: It is only forbidden for men.
- Fusuq: Attributing false statements to God or prophet Muhammad (s) or any of the infallible Imams (a)
- Dispute and quarrel that contains swearing in Allah's name.
- Killing insects that inhabit human body, such as louse.
- Wearing ring for beauty: However, wearing a ring that does not have ornamental aspect for other reason such as its reward or as a hirz (amulet) is permissible.
- Applying oil: In addition, applying a fragrant oil whose scent remains until ihram is forbidden before ihram.
- Removing body hair
- Covering the head for men: That also includes immersing the head in water.
- Moving in shade for men: However, moving under immovable shades (like the shade of clouds or trees) or standing in a shade is permissible.
- Covering the face or using niqab for women
- Causing the body to bleed
- Clipping nails
- Cutting trees or plants of haram
- Carrying weapons
- Using camphor in ghusl al-mayyit of a muhrim died in ihram
In jurisprudential sources, the following acts are regarded as disliked (makruh) in ihram:
- Wearing colored clothes as ihram outfit, especially black
- Sleeping on a colored bed
- Wearing dirty or patterned clothes as ihram outfit
- Applying henna for beauty
- Washing the body with coarse washing mitts
- Using the word "labbayk" in response to people.
- Khaṭīb al-Shirbīnī, Mughnī l-muḥtāj, vol. 2, p. 230; Narāqī, Mustanad al-Shīʿa, vol. 11, p. 256.
- Shahīd al-Thānī, Masālik al-afhām, vol. 2, p. 224; Ḥakīm, Mustamsak al-ʿUrwa, vol. 11, p. 358.
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- ... It is not piety that you come into houses from their rear; rather piety is [personified by] one who is Godwary, and come into houses from their doors, and be wary of Allah, so that you may be felicitous. (Qur'an 2:189)
- Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 2, p. 57; Mughnīya, al-Tafsīr al-Kāshif, vol. 1, p. 295.
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- When they commit an indecency, they say, ‘We found our fathers practising it, and Allah has enjoined it upon us.’ Say, ‘Indeed Allah does not enjoin indecencies. Do you attribute to Allah what you do not know?’ (Qur'an 7:28)
- Qurṭubī, Tafsīr al-Qurṭubī, vol. 6, p. 36; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 27.
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- Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 54; Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 5, p. 137.
- See: Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 4, p. 318.
- The ḥajj [season] is in months well-known; so whoever decides on ḥajj [pilgrimage] therein, [should know that] there is to be no sexual contact, vicious talk, or disputing during the ḥajj. And whatever good you do, Allah knows it. And take provision, for indeed the best provision is Godwariness. So be wary of Me, O you who possess intellects! (Qur'an 2:197)
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