The literal meaning of Ihraam is to make haraam (forbidden). Once a pilgrim (Haaji) makes the intention (niyyah) of Hajj and ‘Umrah and says the Talbiyyah (labbaik), certain things which normally would be permissible to do, now become haraam for the person wearing the Ihraam. We will now refer to the pilgrim being in the “state of Ihraam”, rather than just wearing the Ihraam. A person in the state of Ihraam is called a Muhrim.
If someone wears the Ihraam and does not declare the intention and say the Talbiyyah, he does not become a Muhrim. So the Ihraam (for ‘Umrah Tamattu‘ or Hajj Tamattu‘ or ‘Umrah Mufrada) is not valid unless the talbiyyah is said together with the intention.
The obligatory part of Talbiyyah is to say “Lab-bay-ka Allahumma lab-bay-ka; lab-bay-ka la shareeka laka lab-bay-ka” once. Of course, it is recommended to say that many times.
The Ihraam garments for both male and female pilgrims should be simple and one that does not attract attention as the only purpose during Hajj is worshipping The Creator.
Ihraam Garb for Men
Two white unsewn sheets worn by the male pilgrim. The sheets are usually towelling material. The top (the riḍaa) is draped over the body and the bottom (the izaar) is secured by a belt as no undergarments can be worn underneath the Ihraam for men.
It is not necessary for the pilgrim to use the same Ihraam continuously (for all the days of Hajj) during the Hajj. It is permissible for him to take it off for a need or to replace it with another Ihraam. He is also allowed to add extra pieces over the two Ihraam pieces to protect himself against severe cold, etc.
A Muhrim (person in the state of Ihraam) should not cover his head, neither should shoes with laces and seams be worn. A sandal (usually plastic flip-flops) is worn the upper part of the feet are not covered.
The man should ensure that his ‘awrah (intimate parts of the body), i.e from the navel to the knee, is covered at all times and lower his gaze.
No scent or perfume should be worn either by both male and female Muhrims. After making the intention to enter Ihraam, clipping the nails and cutting the hair is not allowed, because the pilgrim in Ihraam is not allowed to cut his nails or remove any of his hair until he has finished his Tawaaf and Sa’ee for ‘Umrah, when he exits his Ihraam by shaving his head or cutting his hair, and likewise in Hajj when he has stoned Jamarat al-‘Aqabah (Big pillar in Mina).
Ihraam Garb for Women
There is no special requirement on the Ihraam for women. Women can use any simple dress for Ihraam, if it fits the Islamic dress code. As for the woman in particular, then she must cover herself completely in front of non-Mahram men and keep her gaze lowered. She may wear whatever she wishes of garments so long as she does not display herself or her beauty. She must stick to the conditions of the Hijaab. Any colour may be worn although black would be preferred as it attracts little attention and is not transparent as white material tends to be.
Ihraam for women must not be tight fitting or transparent nor semi-transparent. It should be a loose, simple garment of any colour, which should cover the entire body. The sleeves of such dress must cover the entire arm till the wrists. The garment must cover the ankles. The head should be completely covered with a simple and non-transparent scarf or burqaa, whatever she wishes. No face veil (niqaab) nor gloves should be worn. So only the hands and face should be exposed as the entire body of the women, except hands and face in salaah, is her ‘awrah.
There are several things that are impermissible for both men and women, when one is in the state of Ihraam.
1. Sexual intercourse.
2. Kissing the husband/wife.
3. Touching (in sexual manner) the husband/wife.
4. Looking (with desire) at the wife/husband and indulging in fore-play.
6. Using perfume.
7. Wearing the sewn clothes (For men only).
8. Applying kohl on the eyes.
9. Looking in a mirror.
10. Wearing shoes or socks (For men only).
11. Cursing other people.
12. Quarrelling with others.
13. Killing the insects on one’s body.
14. Using cosmetics or ornaments/jewellery, (even applying henna is not allowed).
15. Applying oil or lotions on the body.
16. Any form of removal of bodily hair.
17. Hunting animals or uprooting trees and vegetation.
18. Covering the face (For women only).
19. Covering the head even to protect from rain or sun (For men only). Men are not permitted to travel under any kind of shade or shadow, be it the hood of a car, an umbrella or walking in the shadow of a car, bus, caravan or aircraft.
20. Causing blood to come out of one’s body.
21. Clipping the nails.
22. Pulling out the teeth.
23. Carrying weapons or arms.
24. Submerging the head in water.