Many times in Saudi Arabia, I have bought and used a lot of ‘Ihram’ for Hajj and Umrah, but often when I am in the shop wanting to buy one, I am faced with an awkward decision about which I should get.
Do I splash out a bit and buy an expensive lush, high quality item or something cheap since I know am only going to wear it for a day or two?
So, how exactly do you decide which ‘Ihram’ is best for your Hajj and Umrah? The decision to buy an ‘Ihram’ should be based on the following factors.
- Usage-Hajj or Umrah
- Your Body Type
- The Weather
- The Materials
- The Quality
First, you‘ll need to decide if you are using your ‘Ihram’ for Hajj or Umrah. Then, you should also consider the time of year you are travelling to Mecca. After that what are the type of materials suited to your body type, your height, your weight together with the actual dimensions of the ‘Iharm’ you want to buy?
Finally also consider the material, the weight and the style or look you which you prefer.
I have seen many Muslims in shops buying ‘Ihram’. They choose one based simply on the feel, the price or perhaps what the salesmen usually pressures them into buy.
Price alone should not be the determining factor. In fact, price should not really matter at all. Even the most expensive ‘Ihram’ is quite affordable for anyone who has enough money to pay for a Hajj or an Umrah event.
The choice, I feel, is often not a rational one nor is it based upon a proper criteria. After all, for most Muslims, Hajj and Umrah will be a once in a lifetime experience.
However, a wrong purchase can really ruin your Hajj or Umrah experience. Choosing correctly from the start will make all the difference.
What Factors Should You Consider When Buying Your ‘Ihram’?
- Usage-Hajj or Umrah
- Your Body Type
- The Weather
- The Materials
- The Quality
1. Usage- Do you need ‘Ihram’ for Hajj or Umrah?
Is your ‘Ihram’ to perform Hajj or for Umrah? You will be wearing the your ‘Ihram’ for five or six days in Hajj and only one or two days for ‘Umrah’.
For Hajj, you will be staying in Mecca, walking around the Haram, ‘making ‘saai’, moving to Mina and then onto to Arafat. You’ll be sleeping in your ‘Ihram’, going to the toilet, bathing, eating, washing, shopping, moving about Mina and walking up and around Mount Arafat.
For this you’ll need something a bit stronger and more robust to withstand the wear and tear it will have to endure.
For Umrah, you’ll be in Mecca only, perhaps sitting in a comfortable hotel, walking a short distance to the ‘Haram’, circumambulating the ’Kaba’ a few times and then returning to the hotel to cut your hair, wash and change clothing.
For this, you’ll need something simple, easy and light. Wear and tear will really not be an issue.
2. Consider your Body Type before Buying ‘Ihram’
You’ll need to choose the correct size ‘Ihram’, the material and weight which suits your body type. If you are large and fat, then go for the largest dimensions possible and chose a lighter material.
This way, you’ll be carrying less weight and appear less bulky.
If you are short and thin, then you can buy a smaller dimension in the cloth, but one with a little more weight to give you a more bulky appearance.
If you sweat a lot, then a very light towel material is better than a cotton wrap since it will absorb your sweat and stop your skin rubbing and chafing during the hot weather.
3. Will the Weather be Hot or Cold when you make Hajj or Umrah?
Mecca is very hot for six months of the year (40-50 C during May- November) and warm for the remaining months (20-30 C during Dec- April).
It hardly ever gets cold, but during the winter Mecca does get hit by storms and windy, thundery, rainy weather.
Check the weather for the time of year you wish to travel and chose your ‘Ihram’ accordingly. In summer, a very light cotton cloth is appropriate and if you need a towel wrap for excessive sweating, then it should be very light and breathable.
Walking around in Hajj in summer is exhausting and you will sweat profusely for days under the direct sunlight.
For Umrah, you’ll be shaded by the many tall buildings and the Haram mosque is very well ventilated and AC cooled.
4. What Kind of Materials Should my ‘Ihram’ Be made from?
The answer depends on the make and price. A good ‘Ihram’ means that it not only feels soft and silky against your skin also that the materials do not cause skin rashes and allergies as you are sweating.
Importantly, it should absorb the moisture and be good at absorbing the large amount of sweat will you produce. Toweling is good for that. Plain cotton less so.
Some towels have a thick plush which feels softer and looks nice but at the same time, this increases its weight and causes you to sweat even more.
On the other hand, a thin plush wrap feels lighter, not as comfortable and you will sweat less, but less of it will be absorbed by the material leading to discomfort.
So, choosing a material is a trade off between the weight/feel of the toweling and its ability to reduce sweat and offer you comfort.
5. What size ‘Ihram” Would be Best for me?
It depends! You can buy ‘Ihram’ in various sizes. In the shop before you buy, open the ‘Ihram’ packet and try on a few different sizes. The rule is that the ‘Izhar’ lower piece should be wrapped around your waist beginning above the belly button and reaching down to below the knees.
This is called your ‘áwrah’ in Arabic and it is the part of the lower body that for men MUST be covered.
Remember, that under the lower garment you will be naked. This means that this piece should be securely folded and fastened to your waist and sufficiently long enough so it reaches below your knees and that it does not expose your private parts when squatting, climbing heights and stepping off and onto buses.
Many times during the Hajj, I have seen men accidentally expose themselves due to not wearing the correct ‘Iharm’ or wearing it incorrectly.
This can be be avoided by choosing the correct size in the first place.
6. Does Quality Matter When Choosing an ‘Ihram’?
Yes! Most shops in Saudi Arabia where I live, even where you live or online will offer you a range of ‘Ihram’ from thin, poor quality based cheap sheet/toweling choices to thick, high quality more resilient and long lasting ones.
Personally, I never buy a low quality ‘Ihram’. (MFS)
I want my choice to both feel good and look good. I first look at the choice of items and consider them based on the above criteria before choosing.
I also want it to last so that to can wear it again and again. Sometimes, I wish to let others use it or gift it to them. So, it should be one that I am very happy to give to brothers.
7. Is weight Important When Choosing an ‘Ihram’?
Definitely! A big, bulky and weighty ‘Ihram’ is difficult to pack to carry and wear in and around Mecca. The lighter is the better and of course you’ll sweat a lot less.
8. Does Appearance Matter to me When I am Wearing My ‘Ihram’?
Well, does it? The ‘Ihram’ should be a clean, plain white. Hand ripped cotton sheeting wraps look cool, but they seem a bit cheap and definitely give a low budget appearance. Most towel brands have a very similar, simple lined or ribbed appearance. They look good.
Some have a bulky towel appearance and will be very hot and uncomfortable. I like a clean, quality material and with a pleasing sharp lined effect not blurry or too zig zaggy, not to thick and not too thin.
However, ultimately the choice a brand will match your body type, size, skin coloring and accords with the usage, weather and importantly one that pleasing to your eye.
What is the ‘Ihram’ for Women? There isn’t a special type of clothing for women to wear during Hajj and Umrah. However, they should dress modestly, wear clothes that are loose fitting not revealing the body parts.
The ‘’awrah’ for women is her entire body, except the front part of the face and hands with no part of the arms being exposed.
Do children need to wear ‘Ihram’? Kids under the age of seven are not required to do Hajj or Umrah. However, an adult can make intention and perform these rituals on their behalf.
In this case, children can wear ‘Ihram’ and selection for them should be the same as for adults.
What accessories do I need with ‘Ihram’ for Hajj and Umrah? Whilst wearing ‘Ihram’, you will need a money/passport belt, something to keep your mobile in and a pouch for medicines and any essentials.
What is the best Footwear for Hajj and Umrah? For Hajj, men should choose light, strong robust sandals that fit firmly to your feet and are comfortable walking the long distances.
For Umrah, I use white light, plastic sandals with no stitching and ones that thieves may not want to steal.
Over the years, I lost two pairs of excellent quality sandals stolen by opportunist thieves operating in the Haram Mosque area.