Question # 40: Can you please explain all the details about Ihram and why particularly unstitched cloth only?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

The Ihram is the intention of the type of Hajj, and it is the contract of the heart to enter into the sacred rite of Hajj or ‘Umrah. This means that when the person enters into it, he abstains from the following nine prohibited things that are forbidden for the Muhrim: avoiding cutting the hair, avoiding cutting the nails, avoiding perfume, avoiding wearing a garment with a seam in it (i.e., sewn to fit the members of the body), avoiding covering the head, avoiding killing game animals, avoiding sexual intercourse, avoiding marriage, and avoiding touching women with lust. The Muhrim has been prohibited from all of these things until he removes his Ihram. (Ash-Shaykh Bin Baaz)

As for the word “makheet = sewn” that is used by jurists was not mentioned by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) but was deduced from the prohibited clothing as reported in the following hadith when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was asked what one could wear in the state of Ihram, “Al-Muhrim (one in a state of Ihram) should not wear a long shirt (qamees), a turban, a hooded robe (burnous), trousers, a garment scented by Turmeric (Curcuma longa) or saffron (Crocus sativus) or leather socks (khuff) except for one who does not find sandals; he may wear leather socks and cut them, so they are below his ankles” (Reported by both al-Bukhari and Muslim).

In a different report, he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said that one who does not find an izaar (lower garment), may wear trousers. Based on these prohibitions, the scholars deduced that the Muhrim may not wear fitted sewn clothes (makheet). This does not mean clothes that have stitches, for it is permissible to wear a redaa’ (mantle or upper garment) with stitching, but it is not permissible to wear a shirt that is woven without stitches. (‘Commentary on ‘Umdat al-Fiqh (The Reliable Source of Fiqh)’ By Muwaffaq-ud-Deen, Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi)

It seems clear from the [above]… that the meaning of the seamed garment is whatever is stitched or sewn according to the shape of the entire body like the shirt or its upper part like the undershirt, or its lower part, like the underpants. Included in this is whatever is stitched or sewn according to the shape of the hand, like gloves, or the foot, like leather socks… In reference to the woman who is in Ihram for Hajj or ‘Umrah, it is absolutely permissible for her to wear underpants and leather socks. She is prohibited from wearing the Niqab (face veil) and gloves, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) prohibited her from that in the Hadith of Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه). However, she covers her face and her hands with something other than the Niqab and gloves when she is around (Al-Ajanib) men who are not related to her. She does this with something like the headscarf and anything similar to it. (Fatawa Islamiyah, Ash-Shaykh Ibn Baaz)

[As for reason for donning unstiched garments, as Muslims, we should know that there are] Islamic rulings, whose causes are incomprehensible to the human intellect. These rulings still have causes; however our minds cannot fathom them. Scholars refer to such rulings as “rulings of pure devotion”. These include such rulings as the number of units of prayer that we pray in each of our five daily prayers, our kissing the black stone during pilgrimage, and our wiping upon the tops of our socks instead of the bottoms. Since we cannot fathom the causes for such rulings, it is impossible for us to ascertain the wisdom behind them. We are still required to believe in these rulings and accept on faith that they were prescribed for us for some wisdom that is unknown to us. (Sheikh Ahmad al-Rashid)

In part of his explanation of a poem of Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di, Sheikh Saalih ibn al-‘Uthaymeen wrote: “The wisdom in Allah making some of the reasons for legislative rulings known and others of them unknown is that this is a trial and a test as to whether people are slaves to Allah or slaves to their own desires. For if one is a slave to his own desires and he does not know the reason for a legislative ruling, then he will not submit to it. But if one is a slave to Allah, then he will submit to the legislative rulings of Allah whether he knows the reason for the rulings or not. For the legislative rulings of Allah all have reasons behind them.” (Sharh Manthumah al-Qawaa’id al-Fiqhiyyah – line 32)

An interesting virtue as highlighted by one scholar is that “one of the most important objectives of Hajj is to take us out of our comforts to condition ourselves to simplify our life, and to remind us of our ultimate journey to Allah. We are taught to internalize this most vividly by the order to wear un-sewn clothes and forsaking all the familiar comforts and luxuries we are so much used to. Our ihram attire symbolizes our shroud” (Mufti Ahmad Kutty). Nevertheless, there is no hadith to back this argument.

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.