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Ihram (إحرام iḥrām, from the triconsonantal root Ḥ-R-M) is, in Islam, a sacred state which a Muslim must enter in order to perform the major pilgrimage (Hajj) or the minor pilgrimage (Umrah). A pilgrim must enter into this state before crossing the pilgrimage boundary, known as Miqat, by performing the cleansing rituals and wearing the prescribed attire.
A person in the state of Ihram must not tie any knots or wear any stitched items. Sandals and flip flops must not be stitched either and should allow the ankle and back of foot to be exposed (some other schools of thought also agree that the front of the foot must be shown as well). Whilst in the state of Ihram, a Muslim must not use any scents on the body or on the robes. If the robe has been fouled by najas (dirty) material or has been wiped, rubbed or touched by scented liquids (intentionally), then a new ihram must be worn, or the Umrah or Hajj may be invalidated.
Behaviour and hygiene
Aside from being as clean (purified) as they are for prayer, male Muslims are expected to refrain from cutting their nails, and trimming their hair and beards. They must also not wear any scent, including deodorant. They have to wear Ihram clothing, which is a white, seamless garment. Many also shave their head as this is considered hygienic. Most will wait to shave their heads until after they have finished Umrah or Hajj, as this is a requirement to leave the state of Ihram. Female Muslims are also expected to be clean. During the pilgrimage, sexual activity, smoking, swearing, shaving and cutting one's nails are forbidden.
Other forbidden activities include killing animals, using profane language, quarrelling or fighting, and taking oaths, in addition to any other regularly prohibited acts. Males should also refrain from looking at women. Women must exercise strict modesty in their appearance and should not apply make-up, perfume or any other cosmetics.
Also, Muslims are not allowed to use scented soap. Unscented soap is available for pilgrims during hajj. All flirtatious, arrogant and rude thoughts are to be put aside, as well as day to day life. Muslims must forget about studies, business and relationships, and focus on God.
Malik :: Book 20 : Hadith 20.73.248 Yahya related to me from Malik that Ata ibn Abdullah al-Khurasani said that an old man from Suq al-Buram in Kufa had related to him that Kab ibn Ujra said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came to me while I was blowing under a cooking pot belonging to my companions and my head and beard were full of lice. He took my forehead and said, 'Shave your hair and fast three days or feed six poor people.' The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was aware that I did not have anything with me to sacrifice.'"
Malik said, concerning paying compensation (fidya) for the relief of physical discomfort, "The custom concerning it is that no one pays compensation until he has done something which makes it obligatory to pay compensation just as making amends (kaffara) is only done when it has become obligatory for the one who owes it. The person can pay the compensation wherever he wishes, regardless of whether he has to sacrifice an animal or fast or give sadaqa -- in Makka or in any other town."
Malik said, "It is not correct for a person in ihram to pluck out any of his hair or to shave it or cut it until he has left ihram, unless he is suffering from an ailment of the head, in which case he owes the compensation Allah the Exalted has ordered. It is not correct for a person in ihram to cut his nails, or to kill his lice, or to remove them from his head or from his skin or his garment to the ground. If a person in ihram removes lice from his skin or his garment, he must give away the quantity of food that he can scoop up with both hands. Malik said,"Anyone who, while in ihram, plucks out hairs from his nose or armpit or rubs his body with a depilatory agent or shaves the hair from around a head wound out of necessity or shaves his neck for the place of the cupping glasses, regardless of whether it is in forgetfulness or in ignorance, owes compensation in all these instances, and he must not shave the place of the cupping glasses. Someone, who, out of ignorance, shaves his head before he stones the jamra. must also pay compensation."
- Ihram Ihram and more on Hajj/ Umrah from Haq Islam
- Shariati, Ali (2005). HAJJ: Reflection on Its Rituals. Islamic Publications International. ISBN 1-889999-38-5. Available online at: www.al-islam.org
- www.ihram.com.au / www.hajj-umrah.com.au Ihram and Islamic prayer items online
-  Ihram @ DesertDress
- The Five Pillars of Islam, Hajj (Pilgrimage), The Fifth Pillar of Islam, Holy Sites/Mistakes of Pilgrims - An article on the many different beliefs surrounding the wearing of ihram by Sheikh Dr. Ghanim Saleh Al-Sadlan, professor of Higher Islamic Studies at the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University.
- Ihram Encyclopædia Britannica online
- Ihram @ Hajj Portal Ihram @ Hajj Portal
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