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Meaning of Ihram
The literal meaning of Ihram is to declare a thing haram because even some Halal (lawful) acts become haram (unlawful) for the person who is in the state of Ihram. The Islamic brother who is in the state of Ihram is called Muhrim whereas the Islamic sister is called Muhrimah.
Haram Acts in Ihram
The following acts are Haram in the state of Ihram.
1. For men to wear sewn clothes.
2. To wear a cap or to tie a turban or handkerchief on the head.
3. For men to place a bundle of clothes onto the head (Islamic sisters should keep their heads covered with shawls; they are not prohibited to place bundle of clothes onto the head).
4. For men to wear gloves (no prohibition for women).
5. For men to wear such socks or shoes that hide the instep (i.e. the raised middle part of the foot).
6. To apply perfume to the body, clothes or hair
7. To eat pure aroma, e.g. cardamom, clove, cinnamon, saffron etc. or tie these into clothes. However, if these items are cooked with other food, there is no harm in eating them even if they are giving fragrance.
8. To have intercourse, kiss or touch the wife with lust.
9. To be involved in indecent talking and activities. Every sin which is haram, e.g. lying, backbiting, misusing eyes, worldly conflicts and quarrels is more strictly haram in the state of Ihram.
10. Hunting in the forest or even assisting in hunting in any way. Eating, buying and selling meat, egg etc. of the hunted animal is also haram.
11. Trimming one’s nails or getting the nails trimmed by somebody else or trimming the nails of someone else.
12. Cutting the hair of the head or beard, removing armpits hair or under navel hair; removing even a single hair from any part of the body from head to foot.
13. Dyeing (hair) with henna (Mehendy).
14. To apply olive or sesame oil to hair or the body even if the oil has no fragrance.
15. Shaving someone’s head whether he is in Ihram or not.
16. Killing or throwing away a louse or signalling someone to kill it. Washing clothes or placing them in sunlight with the intention of killing the louse. Applying anti-lice medicine etc. to hair. In other words, causing the louse to be killed in any way. (All of these acts are haram in the state of Ihram).
Makruh Acts in Ihram
1. To remove dirt from the body.
2. To wash hair or body with soap etc.
3. To comb hair of head or beard.
4. To scratch (the body) in such a manner that hair may fall out or louse may fall from the head.
5. To place a shirt or a coat etc. on the shoulder like wearing it.
6. To smell a perfume deliberately.
7. To smell fragrant fruits or leaves like lemon, orange, mint etc. (There is no harm in eating such things).
8. To sit in a perfume shop with the intention of smelling fragrance.
9. To touch the emanating fragrance by the hand such that it does not come into contact with the hand; otherwise it would be haram.
10. To eat or drink such a thing in which uncooked fragrance has been added. However, if the fragrance has neutralized, there is no harm in eating/drinking it.
11. To get underneath the cover of the Holy Ka’bah such that it touches the head or the face.
12. To cover the nose or any part of the face by a piece of cloth (hence refrain from wiping the nose with a handkerchief in case of getting flu).
13. To wear such unsewn cloth which is darned or patched.
14. To lie on the stomach with face on the pillow (therefore, while travelling by bus, plane etc., refrain from sleeping by resting your face on the backrest of the seat in front of you).
( To sleep whilst lying on the stomach is forbidden at all times as it is a posture of the hell-dwellers as mentioned in a Hadis.)
15. It is Makruh to tie a Ta’wiz even if wrapped in unsewn cloth. However, if a Ta’wiz wrapped in unsewn cloth is worn around the neck instead of being tied on the arm etc. there is no harm in it.
16. To wrap a bandage around any part of the body without a valid reason.
17. To wear make-up (cosmetics).
18. To tie a knot at both the ends of a shawl or Tahband (i.e. sarong).
19. It is permissible to tie a pocket-belt with the intention of keeping money etc. into it. However, it is Makruh to wear such a belt or string with the intention of tightening the Tahband.
Permissible Acts in Ihram
1. Using Miswak
2. Wearing a ring (For Men, wear Silver ring, its weight must be less than 4.5 Mashah / 4.374 gram & There must be only one stone in the ring. Islamic sisters may wear rings and chains made of gold and silver. There is no limitation of weight or gem for them.
However, Islamic sisters are not allowed by Shari’ah to wear rings/ chains/ ornaments made of metals other than gold and silver)
3. To apply kohl into eyes. However, it is Makruh Tanzihi for the Muhrim to use kohl unnecessarily.
4. To bathe without removing dirt from the body.
5. Washing clothes (but it is Haram to do so with the intention of killing lice).
6. Scratching at the body or the head such that hair does not fall out.
7. To use an umbrella or to sit under shade.
8. To insert the ends of shawl into Tahband.
9. To extract teeth.
10. To detach a broken nail.
11. To rupture a pimple.
12. To remove hair from the eye.
13. To perform circumcision.
14. To kill pest and harmful creatures such as rat, lizard, snake, scorpion, mosquito, fly etc.
15. To wrap a bandage around any part of the body except for the head and the face. [Although a Muhrim can wrap a bandage around the head or the face in case of compulsion he will have to pay expiation for it].
16. To place a pillow under one’s head or cheek.
17. To cover ears with a cloth.
18. To place one’s own hand or someone else’s hand onto the nose or the head. (Cloth or handkerchief cannot be placed).
19. To cover the chin below the beard with a cloth.
20. For a Muhrim to place a sack of cereals on the head is permissible but it is Haram for him to place a bundle of clothes onto his head. However, a Muhrimah is allowed to place both the things onto her head.
21. To eat the food in which clove, cinnamon etc. have been cooked; it does not matter even if fragrance is still emanating from it. Similarly, it is permissible to eat the food or drink the beverage in which uncooked fragrance has been added and the fragrance does not emanate from it.
22. To apply almond or coconut oil to the body or hair provided it has no fragrance.
23. It is permissible to wear such shoes that do not hide the instep (i.e. the raised middle part of the foot). [Hence the Muhrim is advised to wear flip-flops, i.e. an open sandal with a thong between the big and the second toe].
24. To slaughter domesticated animals such as camel, goat, hen, cow etc. It is also allowed to sell, purchase, cut and eat their meat.
Difference in Ihram of Man and Woman
The abovementioned rulings of Ihram apply equally to men and women both. However, there are some other permissible acts for women.
1. To conceal the head. It is Fard (for a woman) to conceal the head during Salah as well as in the presence of non-Mahram males (including her maternal and paternal cousins, especially her sister’s husband).
It is Haram for a woman to appear before non-Mahram males whilst her head is not concealed or whilst wearing such a thin shawl that the blackness of her hair is visible.
For a woman to come before non-Mahram males with her head uncovered is Haram and it is more strictly haram in the state of Ihram.
2. Since Muhrimah is allowed to conceal her head, she may also carry bundle of clothes onto her head.
3. To tie a sewn Ta’wiz on the arm or the neck.
4. To get underneath the cover of the Holy Ka’bah such that it remains on her head. However, she should take care that the cover does not touch her face as covering the face with cloth is haram even for a woman.
5. To wear gloves, socks and sewn clothes.
6. Since it is Haram for the Muhrimah to cover her face with a veil in the state of Ihram such that it touches her face, she should keep some cardboard or handheld fan near her face (without it touching the face) for veiling from non-Mahram males.
Useful Cautions in Ihram
1. While putting on his upper shawl the Muhrim should take care that the shawl neither touches his own head or face nor that of any other Muhrim.
2. Most of the Muhrims tie Tahband (i.e. sarong) of Ihram from beneath their navel. Sometimes the upper shawl falls from their shoulders due to carelessness, exposing some part of the body beneath the navel. Such Muhrims do not usually care about it at all. Similarly sometimes thighs etc. become exposed to others when some Muhrims walk or sit carelessly.
Remember this important ruling that the body of man from below the navel up to and including the knees is his ‘Sitr’ (i.e. the body-parts which must be kept covered), and exposing even a small portion of it to others is Haram and it is also Haram to look at such part of others.
Note: These rulings regarding veiling of man’s ‘Sitr’ are not confined to Ihram. Even when not in Ihram, it is Haram to expose one’s Sitr to others or to look at the Sitr of others.
An Important Caution
If the acts impermissible in the state of Ihram occur due to some compulsion or by mistake, though there will be no sin, the penalty imposed by Shari’ah in this regard must be paid even if these acts take place during sleep or under coercion.
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