The term ‘Umrah clothes’ is commonly understood as Ihram clothes. The sacred pilgrimage of Umrah involves entering the state of Ihram, which means ‘not to desecrate’ in Arabic. Wearing proper Ihram clothes is an essential part of performing Umrah as these clothes symbolize the unity of Muslims. The uniformity and the simplicity of Ihram clothes minimize the visible differences between all believers.
Intending to eliminate the economic and social divide between the pilgrims, Ihram clothes signify that all men, no matter their class or status, are equal before God. The right kind of Umrah clothes is determined based on spiritual as well as practical factors like the weather and cultural sensibilities. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind while choosing Umrah dress for gents and ladies that are:
- Ideal For Umrah
- Weather Friendly
- Culturally Accepted
- Comfortable For Feet
I. Umrah Clothes For Ihram Rituals
When it comes to performing Umrah or ‘minor pilgrimage,’ it is essential to enter Ihram, which is a sacred state of devotion and purity. To enter Ihram, it is obligatory to wear Ihram clothes. There are certain rules that must be followed while selecting Umrah dress for males as well as females.
a) Ihram Clothes For Men
Upon entering Ihram, before performing the sacred rites, men must not wear sewn clothes. Umrah clothes for men include a special white garment that consists of two seamless towelling fabrics or sheets.
- Rida: the smaller sheet goes over both or one shoulder. It should cover the left shoulder at all times. Make sure that the right shoulder is left exposed while performing Tawaf.
- Izar: the larger sheet goes around the waist and is cinched with a strip of fabric torn from Ihram material or a belt. It covers the area between the feet and the navel.
Men are not allowed to wear socks or underwear. Also, they must keep their heads uncovered. When it comes to selecting Umrah shoes for men, it is essential to make sure that the ankles, heels and toes are not covered. A flat, soft pair of slippers or sandals is considered the best choice.
b) Ihram Clothes For Women
Unlike men, the rules regarding Umrah clothing for ladies are not as rigid. Women may wear any type of clothes to enter the state of Ihram as long as they are neat and clean.
Women are free to wear any colour as long as their entire body is covered by cloth – except for their face and hands. The majority of the women in Ihram wear white or black Hijabs and Abayas. Women’s Umrah clothing can include shoes and other types of closed footwear. Women are also allowed to wear socks in the state of Ihram.
II. Ideal Umrah Clothes According To Makkah Weather
The weather of Saudi Arabia can prove to be very hot at times. So, try to pack clothes made from a mixed fabric to ensure breathability even in the scorching sunlight. Usually, going with plain cotton clothes is the best option.
- Avoid wearing black clothes. Although black colour is not forbidden, it absorbs heat quickly and can turn out to be uncomfortable.
- Umrah requires devotees to walk long distances, so it is advisable to pack light. Pack only necessary clothes to make the bag easy to carry.
- Choose clothes that can be easily washed, require little to no ironing and are appropriate for the journey.
- Those travelling in the winter months should remember to pack a light jacket and sweater if also visiting Madinah.
- Men should carry a pair of sunglasses along with a prayer hat/scarf to ensure protection against the sun. Men and women can also choose to carry an umbrella to shield themselves against the scorching sunlight.
Tips For Choosing Comfortable Umrah Clothing For Women
- The weather in Mecca is extremely hot in summers. Make sure that the fabric of the clothes is breathable.
- Pack at least three sets of Abayas since they will be worn multiple times and may get dirty or torn.
- White colour may become a little transparent in the sun, revealing the body. So, it is essential to make sure that the fabric of the clothes is thick enough to prevent any exposure.
- Women should wear white underclothes, white socks and a white Hijab if they choose to wear a white Abaya.
III. Culturally Accepted Dress Code For Umrah
For Men: Before entering into the state of Ihram, men typically wear either western clothes (full sleeves shirt and trousers) or traditional attire from their home countries. The Saudi Jubbah, Thobe and the Indo-Pak Shalwar Qameez serve as the most suitable everyday clothing choice for men.
For Women: Women should dress conservatively in long, loose-fitting clothes. They should cover their hair with a Hijab instead of a loose scarf. Although it is not mandatory, wearing an Abaya made from a soft, breathable fabric is an ideal choice for women since it is loose, non-transparent and doesn’t reveal the body’s figure as well as ensures comfort in the hot weather. Alternatively, women can also choose to wear Indo-Pak Shalwar Qameez or any other cultural attire.
IV. Comfortable Footwear For Umrah
Since Umrah requires a lot of walking, choosing the right footwear can go a long way in making it easy for your feet. Uncomfortable shoes can tire you and may result in swelling, blisters and unnecessary pain.
It is advisable to avoid buying new footwear for Umrah. New shoes can take a long while to loosen and soften enough to be comfortable. It is recommended to wear a pair of shoes that have already become comfortable enough. Those who don’t own any suitable footwear for the journey should purchase a pair weeks beforehand and break them in by wearing them regularly.
Men may choose to wear a flat, soft pair of sandals, as they are required to keep their ankles, heel and instep exposed while they are in the state of Ihram. When not in Ihram, wearing a pair of trainers/sneakers is the most favourable choice as they provide a good grip for walking long distances and are also quite comfortable.
Muslim women are advised to keep their feet covered. So, they can choose to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes or sneakers. They can also wear flip flops with socks. To ensure added comfort, women can choose to wear shoes with sticker or velcro closure, preventing the need for tying laces repeatedly. Also, try to avoid wearing shoes that look too flashy.
Note: Tips and suggestions shared above have been gathered from different online sources that intend to make Umrah a comfortable journey, so that one can stay focussed on the pilgrimage. It is not a complete, or binding list rather a guide that we will keep regularly updating.
Umrah or the minor pilgrimage in Islam carries immense significance among Muslims worldwide. Millions of Muslims from different countries travel to Makkah and revive their faith in Allah on this religious journey. Therefore, it becomes essential to follow Umrah clothing guidelines to avoid negative gaze and conduct proper Umrah. One must strictly adhere to maintaining proper clothing and good behaviour during the religious journey.
If you have been to Umrah, please share ideal clothing suggestions based on the month and duration of your travel.
Suggested Read: Ihram For Women During Umrah : Attire, Rituals And Restrictions
Umrah Clothes For Men And Women FAQs
How should I dress for Makkah?
Before entering the state of Ihram, men can wear anything they want. Women should dress conservatively in long, loose-fitting clothes and cover their hair with a Hijab.
What do men wear at Makkah?
Men usually wear either western clothes or traditional attire from their home countries before changing into Ihram clothes.
What should men pack for Umrah?
For Umrah, men should pack Ihram clothes that include Rida and Izar and a flat soft pair of sandals. They should also pack a couple of comfortable attires for wearing when they are not in the state of Ihram.
Do you have to wear a hijab in Makkah?
While performing Umrah, it is essential for women to cover their hair. Even though a hijab is the better option, women can also opt for a scarf.
Does Ihram have to be white?
Yes, Ihram garments for men have to be white. However, women can wear any colour they want.
What are the preferred footwear for men during Umrah?
Men can wear flat shoes and sandals during Umrah.
What are the preferred footwear for women during Umrah?
Women can wear walking shoes or flip flops with socks to keep their feets covered.