Social Etiquette

Hajj and Umrah are transformative journeys that trace the path of the Prophet (PBUH). To ensure a positive experience, here are some tips on Ihram clothing and general rules.

Preparation and knowledge – both spiritual and practical – are keys to a successful and trouble-free pilgrimage. These tips, guidelines and recommendations will help Hajj and Umrah performers get the most out of their time in Makkah.

What to Wear in Makkah
As a conservative country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia frowns upon immodesty. Before entering into Ihram (a state of holiness during Hajj and Umrah), Muslim men typically wear Western clothing or traditional attire from their home countries. Women should dress conservatively in long, loose-fitting clothing, and cover their hair with a hijab rather than a loose scarf.

What to Wear for Hajj and Umrah
Once they enter Ihram, and before performing the sacred rites, men may no longer wear sewn clothing. After bathing (ghusl), they must put on a special white garment consisting of two seamless sheets or toweling fabric. The larger sheet goes around the waist and is cinched with a belt or a strip of fabric torn from Ihram material. The other sheet goes over one or both shoulders. Men should not wear underwear or socks, and their heads must remain uncovered. Sandals or slippers are the usual footwear. This uniformity signifies that all men – rich or poor – are equal before God.

Hajj clothing for women is not as prescriptive. They may wear any color as long as all parts of the body – except for the hands and face – are covered by cloth. However, many women in Ihram wear black or white abayas and hijabs.

Prohibitions During Ihram
When pilgrims are in this sacred state, they should not do the following:
• Cut, pluck or shave hair
• Clip nails
• Wear makeup or perfume
• Have sexual relations

Exiting Ihram
After performing all the rites of Hajj or Umrah, men should shave their head (taqseer). Women should cut off just a lock of hair, as shaving their head is haraam (forbidden) for them.

Makkah Rules for Women
Unrelated men and women are usually segregated in Saudi society. During Hajj and Umrah, however, the two genders freely mix as they enter the Grand Mosque together and perform Tawaf (walk around the Kaaba seven times) side by side in crowded conditions. As such, beware of men who may push and shove.

Women should be wary of offending local sensibilities. This means they should travel with a mahram or tour group (for those over age 45) and should not smoke in public. Women are forbidden to drive in the Kingdom. When saying the talbiyah chant to enter into Ihram, females should pray quietly so as to not attract attention. When praying in the mosque, women should stay with their mahram or tour group and not pray next to an unrelated male. There is also a separate area for women to pray.

Tips for Comfort and Safety
• Hajj and Umrah performers walk a lot, so wear comfortable shoes.
• Slip-on shoes are advised, as you’ll be taking them on and off inside the mosque.
• Beware of pickpockets and purse snatchers, especially in and around the Haram. Leave valuables in your hotel room safe and take only the money you need for the day.
• Because of the heat, crowds and risk of communicable diseases, Hajj officials recommend that pregnant women, the elderly and children under 12 not perform Hajj.
• Pilgrims should stay hydrated and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun

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