The ihram is often just seen as clothing that Muslims wear during their religious pilgrimages, but in reality it is more of a state of being. However, the clothing and physical aspect of the ihram are a specific way to enter into this state.
The ihram requires very specific cleaning rituals and attire in order for it to be viable. Once a Muslim enters the state of bring in ihram, they are also expected to refrain from a number of different things. These things include everything from lying, cheating and abusing to bleeding, cutting one’s hair or nails. You can read more about these below.
There is a very simple meaning and significance of the ihram. Apart from helping muslims enter a state where their main focus is on God and the rituals of pilgrimage, it is also a unifier amongst them. The ihram eliminates the worldly differences, specifically wealth, cast, race or status, because everyone is wearing the same thing, made from the same type of cloth, and performing the same rituals; this instills the feeling of equality in the eyes of Allah for His followers.
The intentions of the ihram and the spiritual act are the same for men and women, however the attire is completely different. Below you will find how to wear the ihram and what it consists of for either sex.
The ihram for men consists of two white cloths that have no stitching, seams or hems of any kind. The first white cloth is wrapped around the waist and is meant to cover the body from the navel down to above the feet. The second cloth is wrapped around the body so the left shoulder is covered at all times, while the right shoulder is completely exposed.
Men cannot wear any stitched clothing of any kind including socks and undergarments. The shoes men wear have to reveal their ankles and toes, so sandals are ideal. Men are also allowed to wear a regular belt in order to secure pockets for money and valuables. They are also allowed safety pins to secure the cloth around the shoulder so it does not fall.
For women, there are a lot fewer restrictions when it comes to the ihram attire. Women are meant to wear loose fitting clothing that covers the entire body as well as a head covering that covers the hair entirely known as a Hijab. This loose fitting clothing is permitted to have seams and buttons unlike that of men’s ihram clothing.
Women cannot cover their face or hands in any way and are permitted to wear shoes that don’t cover the entire foot.
Since the ihram is a state that is meant to help Muslims rid themselves of worldly desires and focus their energy on devotion to God, there are some things that, even though permissible in everyday life, become prohibited. Below is a list of things pilgrims cannot do once they are in ihram: