The establishment of the religion Islam is laid on five. Hajj is one of these five pillars. Holding great importance and significance, Hajj has to be performed as prescribed by Allah Almighty through His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). One of the pre requisites of Hajj is Ihram. Without Ihram, hajj or umra is invalid.
Ihram is also an indicator of how Muslims value their religion and follow it seriously.
The term Ihram can be understood in two senses of word. Being in the state of Ihram means to follow some instructions from the point of Miqat till the end of Hajj or Umra. Ihram in other sense means the white unstitched robe that the Hajj pilgrims wear during Hajj. We will discuss both aspects of Ihram here, one by one.
The state of Ihram has to be maintained from the point of Miqat and once a pilgrim is in the state of Ihram, he has to restrict himself from doing some actions. These include cutting or trimming of hair and nails, wearing any scents, deodorants, scented soaps, make up items, or any other cosmetics. It is also forbidden to indulge in killing of animals, fighting, using vulgar language, having dirty thoughts, looking at other Muslim women, swearing, smoking and having marital relations during the state of Ihram.
The purpose of following the rules and restricting oneself from certain acts has clear significance. It shows that Hajj is not an ordinary practice, rather a certain discipline and code of action has to be followed during Hajj. In order to protect the sanctity and holy spirit of Hajj and to let them concentrate fully on relation between man and his Creator, the Muslims are ordered to follow these rules.
Ihram as a robe means the seamless white robe wrapped during hajj by male pilgrims. Female pilgrims also have to wear a white stitched Ihram but it is forbidden to cover face for them. They perform the Hajj rituals along with their Mehrams thus exhibiting the equality of Islam for both men and women.
Ihram is also an indicator of how Muslims value their religion and follow it seriously. They leave behind their wealth, status, profession and pride to please Allah Almighty. Usually people show their pride and wealth by their dressing. When they get together for Hajj, and rich, poor, white, black, all of them forget their wealth, pride and submit to their Lord’s orders.
The pilgrims gather at one place in such huge number and wear a uniform simple dress and perform the same actions, it gives a strong message of unity, equality and discipline to the world. It is in fact, a great example of how millions of people from different cultures, families, financial background, professions, races and nations can stand as equal brothers and sisters in front of their Lord, dressed in simple white clothes. They forget their worries, thoughts, aspirations and get together to seek forgiveness for their sins. In this sense, Ihram is not merely a piece of cloth, it is a symbol of Muslims’ unity and their submission to Allah.