Prohibitions of Ihram

There are particular actions that are forbidden as long as one is in the state of ihram. They are designated by Muslim scholars as “Prohibitions of Ihram.”

Prohibitions for both men and women

1.   Removing hair of the head by means of shaving or other deliberate means. Allah said, “And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter” [2:196]. The majority of scholars extended the prohibition to other body hair. As such, pilgrims are forbidden to intentionally remove any hair while in the state of ihram, and they are required to pay fidyah (ransom) should they do so.

If the hair fell by itself, the pilgrim is not accountable for that. It is permissible to remove the hair if the pilgrim is physically harmed by its presence, and in this case a fidyah is obligatory, as Allah says, “And whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head [making shaving necessary must offer] a ransom of fasting [three days] or charity or sacrifice” [2:196].

2.   Clipping nails is forbidden by analogy with the prohibition of hair removal. In this regard, Ibn Qudamah said, “There is consensus among scholars that pilgrims who are in the state of ihram are forbidden to clip their nails.” The prohibition is applicable to fingernails and toenails alike. However, if a nail broke and causes harm, the pilgrim is permitted to clip the annoying part and is not required to pay a fidyah for it.

3.   Applying perfume to the clothes or the body. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam  said about a pilgrim who is in the state of ihram, “He must not wear a garment to which either curcuma or saffron was applied.” Likewise, the Prophet said about a pilgrim who died due to a kick from his riding camel while he was in the state of ihram, “Do not apply perfume to him nor cover his head.” Reported by Al-Bukhari.

What is meant here is applying perfume after entering the state of ihram, but traces of perfume which a pilgrim has applied before he entered ihram and they remained on his body are not prohibited, for ‘A’ishah is reported to have said, “I would see the glistening of musk (in the parting of the head) of the Messenger of Allah while he was in the state of ihram.” Reported Al-Bukhari.

4.   Concluding marital contracts. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam  said, “A pilgrim in the state of ihram shall neither get married, nor marry off, nor get engaged.” Reported by Muslim.

This means that a pilgrim in the state of ihram is not permitted to marry, or to conclude a marital contract for someone else, or to make a marriage proposal until his ihram is over.

5.   Sexual intercourse and caressing, kissing, or touching that is motivated by lust. Allah said, “There is to be no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj” [2:197].

In this context, sexual relations include foreplay like hugging, kissing, touching, and the like. Consequently, a pilgrim who is in the state of ihram is not permitted to kiss his wife or touch her out of sexual desire. Sexual intercourse is the major prohibition and the one that affects ihram the most, for it is the only prohibition that invalidates the Hajj.

6.   Killing lawful-to-eat land game. Allah said, “But forbidden to you is game from the land as long as you are in the state of ihram” [5:96]. Pilgrims in the state of ihram are not permitted to either catch lawful-to-eat game animals such as gazelles, rabbits, and the like, or kill them, or help anyone to kill them by guiding them to that effect, or pointing to the animals, or handing them (a lethal weapon), or the like. Also, pilgrims in the state of ihram are not permitted to eat game that is caught especially for them by other people who are not in the state of ihram. If the animal was not caught especially for them, then they are permitted to consume it.


Prohibitions specific to men

1.   Wearing form-fitting clothes. The Prophet was asked about the clothes to be worn by people in the state of ihram, he said, “They shall not wear qamis (a loose shirt), turbans, hooded cloaks, trousers, leather socks, or clothes that were scented by curcuma or saffron.” Reported by Al-Bukhari.

Form-fitting clothes are tailored garments that cover roughly the entire body or any one limb such as the qamis, trousers, or socks. Pilgrims in the state of ihram may wear a rope or a belt or the like around their waists, and they may wear socks if footwear is lacking.

2.   Covering the head with a tailored object. The Prophet said about the man who was knocked down by his she-camel at Arafah, “Wash him with water and sidr, and shroud him in his two garments but do not cover his head.” Reported by Al-Bukhari.

Hence, men who are in the state of ihram are not permitted to cover their heads with a tailored object such as caps, scarves, turbans, and the like. However, if the cover is not in contact with the head, such as an umbrella or the shade of a tree, the roof of a tent or a car, then there is no harm, for Umm Al-Husayn said, “I performed Hajj with the Messenger of Allaah during the Farewell Pilgrimage and saw Usamah and Bilal, one of them had caught hold of the noseband of the she-camel of the Prophet while the other was raising his garment (over his head) protecting him from the heat until he hurled the pebbles of Jamratul-Aqabah.” Reported by Muslim.

Also, men in the state of ihram are not permitted to cover their faces because the Prophet said regarding the man who was fatally knocked by his she-camel (in a version of the hadith), “and do not cover his face.” Reported by Muslim.

On the other hand, women may cover their heads and put on any clothes for ihram without showing their adornment. However, they are not allowed to wear niqab (face cover) or gloves in the state of ihram.