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The literal meaning of Ihram is to make haraam (forbidden). When a haji pronounces the Niyyah (intention) of Hajj and Umrah and utters Talbiyah, certain halaal (permissible) things become haraam for him. This combined action (Niyyah and Talbiyah) is called Ihram. The two sheets that a haji wears are figuratively known as Ihram but the real Ihram is Niyyah & Talbiyah. If someone wears these two sheets and does not declare his intention and utter Talbiyah, he does not become a Muhrim. That is why, before Niyyah and Talbiyah, he can cover his head during two rakahs of Nafl, an act which is not allowed in the real state of Ihram.
Preparations for Ihram
Comb your hair, shape the beard, trim your mustache, cut your nails, and remove unwanted body hair.
Men should wear a sheet of white cloth around the waist and cover the upper body with the other sheet. Women's ordinary clothes are their Ihram. Both should wear the flip-flops (hawai chappal) so that the middle bones of the upper part of the feet are not covered.
If it is not makruh (undesirable) time, offer two rakahs of nafl for Ihram by covering your heads.
If going to Jeddah by an airplane, it is convenient to get into the status of Ihram inside the plane. Here is what you do. Do everything at home or at the airport except Niyyah (intention) and Talbiyah. Have your shower, pray two rakahs of nafl but you are still not in the status of ihram because you haven't done the main thing yet, i.e., intention and Talbiyah which is done at or before the boundary line called Miqat.
Go to the airplane and sit down with the white sheets on. In a Hajj flight when you are close to Miqat, the pilot will announce that this is the border line to make your intention and to say Talbiyah. Those who did not change their clothes before should do so now although it is not convenient inside the plane. Please note that:
Intention and Talbiyah
Now uncover your head and declare your intention. It is assumed that you are performing Hajj al-Tammat'u in which Umrah is performed first as described later in the "Kinds of Hajj".
"O Allah! I intend to perform Umrah. Please make it easy for me and accept it from me. Amen."
Immediately after that utter the words of Talbiyah three times and as often afterwards as possible. If you don't remember it, you can say its translation in English or in any other language but Talbiah or its translation is pronounced in a loud voice by men and in a subdued voice by women.
After this recite Darud Sharif and supplicate to Allah Almighty any du'a in Arabic or in your own language.
Prohibitions of Ihram
After intention and Talbiyah, you are in the status of Ihram and from this time on you should not do acts that are forbidden in Ihram , for example, here are some of the things a muhrim must not do:
Journey towards Makkah
When this sacred journey towards Makkah al-Mukarrama starts, recite Talbiyah frequently on the way. Then enter the city very humbly and with great fondness still reciting Talbiyah.
After arranging for your residence, proceed to the Haram Sharif to perform Umrah.
The only rites of Umrah are:
You should be already in Ihram for Umrah before entering Mecca as mentioned above.Entering Masjid al-Haram:
While reciting Talbiyah, enter Masjid al-Haram preferably through Bab-as-Salam with right foot first. Supplicate to Allah and proceed towards Kabah. You may recite the following supplication which is usually used before entering a mosque: "Allah huma aftah li abwabe rahmate ka"
At the first sight of Kabah, keep your eyes fixed at Baitullah and standing at one side, it is suggested that you do the following:
The idea is to praise and glorify your Creator before proclaiming Darud and supplications. Therefore, in lieu of Allahu Akbar and La Ilaha Illallah, you may recite some other similar holy verses if you so desire. After this, while uttering Talbiyah, move forward to perform Tawaf of Kabah.
Tawaf means circling around something . Here it means moving around Kabah seven times with extreme love and devotion.
Pass the upper sheet of Ihram from underneath the right arm and put it on the left shoulder. This act bares the right shoulder and is known as Iztaba. Ablutions (vudu) is essential for tawaf. Reciting of Talbiyah is stopped when you reach Hajar-e- Aswad, the starting point of tawaf.
Stand in front of Kabah facing Hajar-e-Aswad (the Black Stone) in such a way that the whole Hajre-e-Aswad is on your right side. To achieve this end, you may get help from the black stripe on the floor. This stripe should be on your right side. Then without raising your hands make Niyyah (intention) for Umrah: " O Allah, I perform Tawaf of Umrah to please You. Make it easy for me and accept it from me."
Now moving towards right, come in front of Hajar-e-Aswad and kiss it if possible, or touch it with a stick and kiss the stick; if that also is not possible, raise your hands to your ears keeping your open
Hajre Aswad (The Black Stone) palms towards Hajre-e-Aswad and say:
" Bismillahi Allahu Akbar Wa Lilla Hil Hamd"
and drop your hands down. Now point the palms of your hands again towards Hajar-e- Aswad and kiss them. This act of kissing Hajar-e-Aswad or pointing towards it is called Istilam.
After Istilam, turn right and start tawaf counter clockwise.
For the first three circuits of Tawaf of Umrah and Tawaf of Arrival, men are required to move their shoulders and walk with quick short steps. This act is called Ramal and is Sunnah. They walk normally during the remaining four circuits.
Supplications of Tawaf:
There are no fixed supplications for tawaf but there are several recommended supplications listed in the books of Hajj and Umrah out of which the following supplication is easy to memorize:"Subhan-Allah wal-hamdu-lillahi wa la ilaha ill-Allah wa-Allahu Akbar wa la haula wa la quwwata illa-billah."
If you dont remember these words, you may glorify Allah by repeatedly uttering:
The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) has said that there are two kalimahs that are light on tongue and (on the day of judgment) they weigh heavy on the scale (Mizan) and are liked by Allah. These kalimahs are:Subhan Allah Wabe Hamde hi Subhan Allah Hil Azeem (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizi)
You may also use supplications used in the daily Salah or you may seek forgiveness of Allah and ask Him whatever you wish in your own language.
Hatim is a semi-circular half-built portion which was originally a part of the Kabah but which could not be included in the main structure when the Kabah was rebuilt. It is obligatory to go around Hatim also while performing tawaf.
Rukn Yamani and its Supplications:
After passing the three corners of the Kabah you reach the fourth corner known as Rukn Yamani. Touch it with both hands or with right hand. There is a beautiful supplication to be used while walking between Rukn Yamani and Hajar-e-Aswad:"Rabbana atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fil-akhirati hasanatan wa qina azabin-nar."
Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) has repeatedly recited this supplication. The first circuit is complete when you reach Hajar-e-Aswad.
At Hajar-e-Aswad, start the second circuit by kissing it or pointing towards it as you started the first circuit, i.e., come in front of Hajar-e-Aswad, raise both hands to your ears with open palms towards it and say:" Bismillahi Allahu Akbar Wa Lillah Hil Hamd
Now kiss both palms and drop your hands. After this go around Kabah as you did before and similarly complete the seven circuits.
The End of Tawaf:
At the end of seven circuits, do Istilam of Hajar-e- Aswad or point towards it eighth time which is Sunnat Muakidah. Also say:"Bismillahi Allahu Akbar Wa Lillah Hill Hamd"
Now Iztaba is finished, therefore, you cover your both shoulders with upper portion of the Ihram sheet. This does not apply to women.
Now, come to Multazam which is a place five or six feet in length between Hajar-e-Aswad and the door of Kabah. This is a highly sacred place where prayers are accepted. Among a large crowd of people, if it is possible to reach Multazam, cling to it pressing your chest and cheeks, and while trembling and crying with devotion and with all humility seek Allah,s mercy, His blessings and ask Him whatever you wish. If you are unable to come close to Multazam, just face towards it and supplicate from a distance.
Next offer two rakahs of nafls behind and close to Maqam Ibrahim without covering
Muqam Ibrahim (Station of Abraham) your head. If it is zawal time when sajdah is not allowed, you have to wait till this undesirable time is passed and then offer prayers.
In the niyyah (intention), say that you are offering 2 rakahs of nafls wajib al- tawaf. Recite Qul ya ayya hal kafroon in the first rakah and Qulhu wallah in the second rakah. After this, supplicate to Allah in Arabic or in your own language. Ask Him whatever you wish and invoke His blessings.
If it is not possible to offer this obligatory prayer near Maqam Ibrahim, it can be offered anywhere in Mataf, or in Hatim or anywhere in Masjid al-Haram or even at any place in Haram of Makkah.
Now go to Zamzam well situated in the basement of the Haram about 200 feet from the Kabahs door. There are separate portions for men and women. Zamzam is the best available water in the world. Drink this water to fill while in standing position saying Bismillah. Then supplicate to Allah:"Allahummah inni as aluka ilm-an naafian wa rizqan waasian wa shifaam min kulli daa in."
(O Allah! I implore Thee for beneficial knowledge, for vast provisions, and for cure from every disease.)