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Ihram clothing (also spelt Ahram clothing) includes men's and women's garments worn by Muslim people during the Ihram pilgrimage (Hajj) and or (umrah). The main objective is to avoid attracting attention. Men's garments often consist of two white un-hemmed sheets (usually towelling material) and are universal in appearance. The top (the riḍā) is draped over the torso and the bottom (the izār) is secured by a belt; plus a pair of sandals. Women's clothing, however, varies considerably and reflects regional as well as religious influences, but they often don't wear special clothing or cover their faces.
White ihram clothing is intended to make everyone appear the same, by God there is no difference between a prince and a pauper when everyone is dressed equally. Ihram also contributes to a feeling of unity that pilgrims have when they are in the city of Mecca. They are all brothers and sisters joined to worship God. There are also certain behaviours that are expected and forbidden once ihram is donned. Ihram is typically worn during Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic calendar.
Although it is simply an item of clothing to be worn during the pilgrimage, there are many competing views on the proper wearing of ihram. For example, the exact number of days a pilgrim is required to wear ihram varies according to the type of pilgrimage the individual is performing.
Ihram is also a state a pilgrim is in during the Hajj pilgrimage. Before entering Ihram, they bathe, trim their nails and hair, make wudu (cleansing ritual), and pronounce a formal intention to perform Hajj. While they are in this state, pilgrims are not allowed to hunt or kill any living thing, participate in sexual intercourse, cut hair or nails, or wear make-up or perfume.
- Cornell, Vincent J. (2007). Voices of Islam: Voices of tradition. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-275-98733-6. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- Glassé, Cyril; Smith, Huston (1 February 2003). The New Encyclopedia of Islam. Rowman Altamira. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-7591-0190-6. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
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