The spiritual journey of Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is an experience of profound importance in the life of a Muslim. It is a journey that requires physical, mental, and spiritual preparation. One vital aspect of this preparation is the wearing of the Ihram, a specific set of clothing worn by Muslims performing the Hajj or Umrah.
What is Ihram?
The Ihram is a symbol of equality and humility, which erases all social and economic differences. Everyone, irrespective of their worldly status, stands equal in front of the Almighty. The word “Ihram” derives from the Arabic word “haram,” which means ‘forbidden’. This connotes the prohibitions that come into effect once a pilgrim assumes the state of Ihram.
The Ihram for men consists of two white, unsown pieces of cloth. One piece, about 4.5 feet by 7 feet, is worn around the waist and draped over the lower half of the body, while the second piece is draped around the shoulders.
For women, the Ihram is less prescriptive. They can wear any modest, loose-fitting clothing that fulfills Islamic standards of modesty, but they must not cover their faces or hands. Also, they cannot wear stitched clothing in the manner of the men’s Ihram. Women can, however, wear stitched garments like a hijab to cover their heads.
How to Wear Ihram for Men
- Preparation: Before wearing the Ihram, it’s customary to perform ablution (Wudu), followed by a ritual bath (Ghusl). Men should also shave or trim their facial hair and underarms, and cut their nails.
- Donning the Lower Garment: The larger piece of cloth is used as a waist wrap. It is usually folded in half, and then wrapped around the lower body at the waistline. It’s fastened with a belt or Ihram clip to keep it secure.
- Wearing the Upper Garment: The smaller piece of cloth is draped over the shoulders. It covers the left shoulder and the body’s upper half, with one end brought over the right shoulder. The right shoulder is usually kept bare when the individual begins the Tawaf, a circumambulation ritual around the Kaaba, but can be covered at other times.
- Footwear: Pilgrims must wear flip-flops or sandals that do not cover the top portion of the foot.
Remember, it’s essential to practice wearing Ihram at home before your journey to ensure comfort and correct wearing.
How to Wear Ihram for Women
- Preparation: Similar to men, women should perform the ritual bath (Ghusl) before donning the Ihram. They should not use any perfumed products after entering the state of Ihram.
- Clothing: Women are allowed to continue wearing their regular, modest clothes as Ihram, provided they fulfill Islamic standards of modesty. They should not use any form of ornamental accessories or makeup.
- Head Covering: A headscarf or hijab is typically used to cover the hair, but it should not cover the face.
While wearing the Ihram, pilgrims must avoid certain actions, including hunting, engaging in sexual activity, cutting hair or nails, using perfumes, and getting into disputes or arguments. These restrictions emphasize the focus on spirituality and detachment from material desires during the pilgrimage.
The act of wearing the Ihram is not just about clothing but is a state of purity and sanctity. It is a reminder of the Day of Judgment when all individuals will stand equal before God.
More Articles from KSAexpats.com: