Everything you need to know about Ihram

By umrahme | Published on Jun 6, 2024

Millions of Muslims gather in Makkah for Umrah each year. It is a sight to behold when pilgrims stand shoulder to shoulder during prayers, and everybody bows and prostrates in unison in white garments called Ihram. 

Ihram is a religious attire worn by Muslims specifically for pilgrimages such as Umrah and Hajj. It signifies purity, equality, and submission to Allah. This sacred attire is more than just cotton and threads; it embodies a profound purpose. 

Let’s look into the virtues it represents, proper etiquette for wearing it, and the rulings surrounding it. Through this knowledge, we can ensure we wear Ihram the right way, fulfill its purpose, and maximize its spiritual rewards. 


What is Ihram? 

Ihram is more than mere clothing; it’s a sacred state pilgrims enter into, before going for Umrah or Hajj and involves physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects to it. You need to have the right intention (niyyah), proper garments which is different for men and women, and the right mindset to enter into Ihram. 

One should begin with the emotional aspect of entering into Ihram. You need to have the right intention in your heart understanding the clear purpose of the act and pilgrimage itself and should be in a state of purity or ghusl.  

Then comes the physical aspect of wearing Ihram. Men need to wear two simple, unstitched pieces of white cloth, while women need to wear loose-fitting clothing that covers their entire body, completed at the designated locations called Miqat. 

Finally, the spiritual aspect of Ihram is to avoid worldly distractions, maintain respectful conduct, and busy themselves in talbiyah, dhikr, dua, and other acts of worship. 

Step-by-step guide on Ihram for men 

Most of us do have an idea on how the Ihram for men looks like. An upper and lower garment draped around the body. But one must be wondering how does it stay in place? What should be worn inside? What is the correct way to wear it? What if it falls off?  

Here’s everything you should know about Ihram. 

Ihram consists of two unstitched long, white garments made up of breathable, cotton material. 

  • Rida (Upper garment): This is a larger piece of cloth that drapes over the upper body. It should be long enough to cover one shoulder and tucked under the opposite underarm. The remaining cloth can be draped over the other shoulder or left hanging freely.
  • Izar (Lower Garment): This is a rectangular piece of cloth worn around the waist, similar to a lungi. It should be long enough to reach the ankles and securely fastened at the waist. 


How to wear Ihram 

Things you need: 

  • Two unstitched white garments: You can buy them at any Islamic retail outlet or online store.
  • Ihram/money belt: Simple cloth belt would suffice. Avoid leather.
  • Sandals: Comfortable slippers that expose your ankles and toes.

A common concern is whether stitched items like belts and sandals are allowed during Ihram. According to scholars like Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin, stitched items are permissible as long as they don’t conform to the shape of limbs 

This means they shouldn’t resemble typical clothing like shirts or pants that are specifically designed to fit arms, legs, or the torso. 


Ihram guide

Step 1: Prepare with the right Niyyah

Stand comfortably with legs at a distance apart and recite the talbiyah, declaring your sincere intention to undertake Umrah. Ensure you’re also in a state of ritual purity (ghusl).

Step 2: Wrap the lower garment (Izar)

Take the larger cloth and wrap it securely around your waist, covering your lower body from waist to below knees (above the belly button). Secure it with a simple knot, tuck, or use the Ihram belt.

Step 3: Multiple folds around waist

Make several folds over the front of the lower garment to ensure modesty.

Step 4: Tighten the wrap

Hold the top of the wrapped fabric and begin rolling it downwards in tight folds, securing it around your body.

Step 5: Optional belt

For extra security, you can wear a simple belt halfway through step 4 and continue rolling the fabric over it. Avoid wearing leather belts.

Step 6: Drape the upper garment (Rida)

Take the second cloth and drape it over both shoulders, with the right side longer.

Step 7: Cover the torso

Bring the longer side around your front and throw it over your left shoulder to cover the torso. To prevent it from falling, you can take it around your back and place it over the right shoulder again.

Step 8: Right shoulder exposure (optional)

If performing Tawaf, leave the right shoulder exposed by placing the cloth over your left shoulder during step 6.

Once you enter into Ihram, the focus is on purifying oneself and becoming more devoted to our Creator. The attire is a symbol of this dedication, not the essence of the journey. Focus on proper coverage and a secure fit while maintaining a pure and dedicated state of mind and busying yourself in dhikr, dua, and talbiyah.


Ihram for women

Unlike men, women don’t have any set Ihram attire for their Umrah journey. However, they need to wear loose-fitting, light, and breathable clothing that offers complete coverage from head to toe. Additionally, avoid any scented toiletries, sanitizers, makeup, or perfumes.

On 12th Sept 2023, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah updated the women’s dress code for Umrah. They emphasized that women should be wearing wide, loose-fitting clothings with no decorative elements and offers full coverage from head to toe.


Ihram for children 

There is no specific Ihram for kids. However, they can imitate their parent’s clothing. The boys can wear the 2-piece white garments like their father and girls can dress like their moms in an abaya or jilbab, or any modest outfit of choice.  

By donning these garments, children can share in the essence of the pilgrimage, growing excited about their participation, and making them feel part of something big and beautiful.

It nurtures their appreciation for the rituals of Umrah, enhancing their understanding through direct involvement and turning it into a meaningful adventure. 

For a comprehensive guide on what to pack for Umrah, including essentials for both adults and children, be sure to check out our full Umrah packing checklist here. 


When to wear Ihram? 

When a Muslim intends to embark on the journey of Umrah or Hajj, they need to visit certain designated points called the Miqat to enter the state of Ihram.

There are five Miqat points where Muslims can declare their intention (niyyah) and enter into a state of Ihram before performing the Hajj or Umrah. They are:

  1. Dhul Hulayfah (Abyar Ali) – Located northwest of Makkah, this Miqat serves those coming from the direction of Madinah.
  2. Al-Juhfah (Rabigh) – For pilgrims coming from the direction of Syria.
  3. Qarn al-Manazil (Qarnul Manazil) – For those approaching from the east, particularly for pilgrims from Najd or countries such as UAE, Oman, and Qatar.
  4. Yalamlam (Al-Sadiah) – This point is for those coming from the direction of Yemen and pilgrims traveling by sea.
  5. Dhat Irq – This Miqat is for the people coming from the direction of Iraq.


Miqat can be reached in two ways:

1. Travelling via car/bus

These points are geographically set so that all Muslim pilgrims intending to perform Hajj or Umrah can make the niyyah at the nearest Miqat from their location and don the Ihram before crossing these boundaries en route to Makkah.

2. Travelling via plane 

When traveling to perform Umrah or Hajj by plane, it’s recommended to enter into the state of Ihram before aligning with the Miqat due to the speed of the aircraft. Pilots typically inform passengers prior to reaching the Miqat, allowing them about 30 minutes or so to prepare.  

During this time, pilgrims should don their Ihram clothing, set their intention for Umrah or Hajj, perform two Rakats (if possible), and start reciting the Talbiyah. If someone has already worn the Ihram garments, they need only to recite the Talbiyah upon being informed that the Miqat has been reached.  

The critical aspect is not to cross the Miqat without being in Ihram, provided there was no intentional delay in doing so. 

You can read more about it here. 


What to recite when entering into Ihram? 

As you prepare to enter the state of Ihram, it’s important to note that while there are no specific duas prescribed exclusively for this phase, the essence of the spiritual preparation is captured through the recitation of the talbiyah.  

Upon reaching the Miqat, where the intention for Umrah is set, it is Sunnah to engage in abundant Tasbih (glorifying Allah), Tahlil (declaring there is no deity except Allah), and Takbir (proclaiming Allah is the Greatest). Continuously reciting the Talbiyah, especially on the journey towards Makkah, is a profound Sunnah. 

To recite the talbiya below, one should pause at the places marked by hyphens (-) in the text below. 

❁ – لَبَّيْكَ اَللَّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ – لَبَّيْكَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ – إِنَّ الْحَمْدَ وَالنِّعْمَةَ لَكَ وَالْمُلْكَ – لَا شَرِيكَ لَكَ 

Transliteration: Labbayka Llāhumma labbayk, labbayka lā sharīka laka labbayk, inna l-ḥamda wa n-ni’mata, laka wa l-mulk, lā shareeka lak 

Translation: At Your service, Allah, at Your service. At Your service, You have no partner, at Your service. Truly all praise, favor and sovereignty are Yours. You have no partner. 

One should continue reciting till he reaches the masjid and begins Umrah.  


12 essential Ihram etiquettes for a fulfilling pilgrimage

1. Intention (niyyah): It’s important to set the right intention and be in the right state of mind when entering into Ihram. This involves two key moments:

  • Setting your intention before ghusl.
  • After you enter into Ihram and pray 2 rakats, declare your intention (niyyah) to embark on Umrah and recite the talbiyah.

2. Trimming/shaving: Before you go for ghusl, remove any unwanted hair on head and body and trim your nails. It’s prohibited to trim or shave after you enter into Ihram.

3. No perfumes: It is prohibited to use any scented toiletries or perfumes when doing ghusl or when entering into Ihram.

4. Ghusl: Take a full-body shower while following the sunnah, before donning the Ihram garments.

5. Two rakats: After you’ve taken ghusl and changed into your Ihram garments, it is sunnah to pray 2 rakats while you’re at Miqat. Avoid praying after you’ve set the intention or after leaving Miqat.

6. Miqat: One must visit one of the four designated locations or Miqats in order to enter the state of Ihram.

7. Reciting talbiya: After you’ve prayed 2 rakats, declared your intention, and left Miqat, it is incumbent for men to recite talbiya (Labbaik Allahuma Labbaik…) loudly, while women can recite softly.

8. Marital boundaries: Avoid marriage proposals and refrain from sexual intercourse during the state of ihram.

9. Hunting: Even though this doesn’t apply much, but one should not go hunting in the state of Ihram

10. Footwear: Select footwear that doesn’t cover the tops of the feet for men. You can wear flipflops.

11. Dignified behavior: Steer clear of obscene acts, don’t indulge in fights, and abstain from harsh language/gossiping/backbiting.

12. Minimize distractions: Limit the use of phones and other distractions to maintain focus.


Expiation for breaking Ihram rules

When a pilgrim makes mistakes while in the state of Ihram or during pilgrimage, they have to offer fidya. It is prescribed as an expiation to make amends for these errors or omissions and may involve:

  • Sacrificing an animal: This typically means slaughtering a sheep or a goat and distributing the meat to the needy; in some circumstances, a larger animal like a cow or a camel may be sacrificed, with its meat being shared among several beneficiaries.
  • Fasting: In lieu of an animal sacrifice, a pilgrim can fast a specific number of days as determined by the nature and severity of the transgression.
  • Feeding the poor: The pilgrim may be required to provide food to a certain number of needy individuals.

The kind and amount of Fidyah you’ll need to give depends on the type of mistake you’ve committed. For detailed information on Fidyah, including the kinds of mistakes that necessitate it and the appropriate forms of compensation, access further details here. 


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