Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam according to the Prophet’s hadith: “Islam is built upon five (pillars): testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger; performing prayer; giving the obligatory charity (i.e., zakah); fasting Ramadan; and going on pilgrimage (i.e., Hajj) to the Sacred House (as a duty upon) every one who can undertake the journey thereto” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Thus, all Muslims who intend to perform Hajj should know about the rulings pertaining to it prior to traveling. When it comes to ihram, which is one of the basic conditions for the validity of Hajj, the Muslim is to know the miqat (the place fixed by Islam for putting on ihram) from which to start the Hajj, as well as the other prerequisites pertaining to ihram.

The late prominent Muslim scholar Dr. Ahmad Ash-Sharbasi, Professor of Islamic creed atAl-Azhar University, states the following: Hajj is obligatory upon both man and woman, for Almighty Allah says: (Pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) every one who is able to undertake the journey to it) (Aal `Imran 3:97). According to this verse, “every one” refers to both man and woman. Ihram refers to one’s intention of undertaking the acts of Hajj, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “(The rewards of) deeds depend upon intentions” (Al-Bukhari).

Both the man and the woman pilgrim are to enter ihram (at a certain point in their journey to Hajj).

Upon entering ihram, the woman is recommended to perform the purificatory bath (ghusl) even if she is menstruating, intending the bathing for ihram. If there is not much water, she may merely perform ablution (wudu’). It was reported on the authority of `A’ishah, Mother of the Believers, that Asma’ bint `Umais gave birth to her son Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr under a tree at a place called Dhul-Hulaifah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would put on ihram at that tree. He (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered Abu Bakr to tell her to take a bath and then say the words of Talbiyah (“Here I am at Your service, O Allah! You have no partner. Here I am at Your service, O Allah. Verily, all the praise, grace, and dominion belong to You. You have no partner”). But it is to be kept in mind that it is recommended for men to raise their voices when saying Talbiyah, while women may voice it so that only they themselves can hear it.

Concerning the clothes of the pilgrim, men are to put on two sheets of cloth, one wrapped round the upper part of the body except the head, and the other (izar) is wrapped round the lower part of the body. As for women, they are to put on their ordinary clothes, which cover al
l their bodies except the face and hands.

It is also recommended for both man and woman to put on some perfume before ihram and there is nothing wrong if there remain some traces of it on their bodies. In this regard it was reported that `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “We used to go to Makkah with Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), and when we wore our Hajj attire we used to sprinkle musk on our foreheads. And if one of us was sweating or perspiring it would run down her face. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would notice this but did not prohibit its use.”

It is recommended also that both men and women offer two rak`ahs intending with it to assume the state of ihram. After the recitation of Surat Al-Fatihah, one should recite Surat Al-Kafirun in the first rak`ah and Surat Al-Ikhlas in the second.

It is to be taken into account that the ihram is to be at the miqat (the place wherefrom ihram starts), for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Do not pass the miqat unless you are in a state of ihram” (Al-Bukhari).

Mawaqit (plural of miqat) are places fixed by Islam for putting on ihram. These are five places:

The first is Dhul-Hulaifah, a place southwest of Madinah and 18 km from its mosque. It is the miqat for the people coming from Al-Madinah and beyond.

The second is Dhat-`Iraq, a place 94 km to the northeast of Makkah. It is the miqat for the people coming from Iraq and beyond.

The third is Al-Juhfah, a place 187 km to the northwest of Makkah. This was the miqat for the people coming from Syria, Egypt, and the pilgrims who pass through it. It was on the eastern coast of the Red Sea, but it has completely disappeared and Rabigh (a place to the north of Al-Juhfah) is used as this miqat now.

The fourth is Qarn Al-Manazil, a mountain 94 km to the east of Makkah. It is the miqat for the people of Najd and the pil
grims who pass by it.

The fifth is Yalamlam, a mountain 54 km to the south of Makkah. It is the miqat for those coming from Yemen and the pilgrims who pass by it.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) fixed these mawaqit for putting on ihram. Hence, people are to stick to them on entering ihram. However, pilgrims may put on ihram before reaching the miqat specified for them.