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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.
Ihram clothing is simply an item of clothing to be worn during the pilgrimage, but 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 (Hajj) the individual is performing, such as performing Hajj, or a smaller version of Hajj, called Umrah. The simple, white Ihram clothing is intended to make everyone appear the same, as Muslims belive that in the eyes of Allah there is no difference between a prince and a pauper.
For women there is no clear prescription. Women's clothing, therefore, varies considerably and reflects regional as well as religious attitudes. In general female hajjis clothe themselves in long white robes, covering the body from head to foot.
A person in the state of Ihram must not tie any knots or wear any stitched items except for a money belt if it is needed. 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 also not use any scented things at all on himself or on the robes, if the robe has been fouled by najas (dirty) material, such as excrement, or has been wiped, rubbed or touched by scented liquids (intentionally) then a new ihram must be worn, otherwise there is a high possibility that the Umrah or Hajj will be invalidated.
Behavior and hygiene
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Aside from being as clean as they are for prayer, male Muslims are expected not to cut their nails, trim their hair and beards, and have to wear Ihram clothing, which is a white, seamless garment. Many also shave their head as this is considered hygienic. Females also dress in white and are expected be clean. During the pilgrimage, sexual activity, smoking, swearing, shaving and cutting one's nails are forbidden.
Other forbidden activities include killing animals or eating meat (unless it is part of Eid el-Adha), 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 and women should exercise strict modesty in their appearance and not apply make-up, perfume (males must not wear deodorant) or any other cosmetics.
Also, muslims are not allowed to use scented soap, unscented soap is on sale for pilgrims during hajj though. all flirtasious, arrogant and rude thoughts are put aside, as well as day to day life. muslims must forget about studies, business and relationships and just focus on God.
- Shariati, Ali (2005). HAJJ: Reflection on Its Rituals. Islamic Publications International. ISBN 1889999385. Available online at: www.al-islam.org
-  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 Encyclopaedia Britannica online
- Ihram @ Hajj Portal Ihram @ Hajj Portal