Islamic Studies

Miqat for Pilgrims Traveling by Air: Dr. Atiyyah al-Saqr al-Azhari [may Allah have mercy upon him]

Another fatwa illustrating the methodology of the majority of fuqaha alive today.

1. Teaching with dalil [evidences] and t’alil [causes]
2. Not regulated to one school
3. Respect for the aims and goals of the Law [maqasid and the qawa’id]
4. Respect for the views of others

Dr. ‘Atiyyah [may Allah have mercy upon him] died in Cairo a little over a year ago. He was considered one of the greatest living legal giants of this age. He served, for many years, as the head of the Azhar fatwa department. May Allah have mercy upon him, illuminate his grave and bless us to benefit from his life and legacy.

The Question:

Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. Can I enter ihram (state of consecration) at Jeddah airport or do I have to enter ihram at my home in Karachi? The total journey time is about 9 to 10 hours, including 2 hours to the airport, 4 hours from Karachi to Jeddah, 2 hours at Jeddah airport, plus 2 hours to Makkah. Frankly speaking, I am concerned about the cleanliness of the ihram attire after a 10-hour journey. I think I should put on the ihram at Jeddah airport to ensure it is clean on arrival at Al-Masjid Al-Haram.

The Answer:

” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Truly, Allah has decreed some obligatory acts, so do not abandon them; He has put limitations, do not exceed them; and He has) left some things open in mercy for you, so do not ask about them.” This means do not ask about them unless they take place. Here the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) declared that there are things left open for personal reasoning (ijtihad) of learned scholars.

In light of this Hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explicitly specified some miqats (places at which pilgrims enter ihram) for pilgrims in the Islamic states in his lifetime, and did not specify them for other people (in places where Islam had not reached at that time); he left it up to scholars’ personal reasoning.

Hence, recent cases (utmost of which is the question, where should a pilgrim traveling by plane enter ihram?) require jurists to be open-minded.

There is no textual evidence that indicates the ruling of those going for Hajj by air. Therefore, (after detailed study of that issue) I have concluded that those who go by air to perform Hajj have nothing to do with the land miqats specified by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), so long as they are on board. This case falls among the category of things that are left open, as traveling by plane was not even imagined in the Prophet’s lifetime. Likewise, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned nothing concerning pilgrims coming from the west towards the Arab peninsula to perform Hajj, as there were no Muslims who crossed the sea from Africa and Egypt for Hajj.

Since traveling by air is not included in texts that specify the miqats for Hajj, then it is subject to personal reasoning to estimate it according to recent methodology, exactly like all contemporary issues that are not included in any textual evidence. Such should be governed in the light of the principles and objectives of Shari`ah, at the top of which comes lifting suffering and hardship.

Hence I see that the suitable solution that does not entail any hardship or violation of Shari`ah is that pilgrims who go for Hajj [or `Umrah] by plane do not have to enter ihram except when they get off the plane to continue the journey on land. If they get off the plane in a miqat, they are to enter ihram there, exactly like the inhabitants of that place. If they get off in a place before a miqat, then they should enter ihram on passing by the first miqat on their way to Makkah, or a place parallel to it if there is no miqat on the way. If otherwise they get off the plane in a place between the miqat and Makkah, then they enter ihram from that place of arrival as if they are the inhabitants of that place; thus, they should not leave it except in a state of ihram.

However, the international airport where pilgrims get off the plane in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is found in the city of Jeddah, which is located within the limits of the miqat; then the pilgrims must enter ihram there, exactly like the people of Jeddah.

This means that if the international airport should one day be transferred to Makkah, the pilgrims who reach there by plane would be in the same stance as the people of Makkah, and would, thus, enter ihram from the same place that the people of Makkah enter ihram from. Hence, pilgrims who travel by plane, no matter where from, take the same ruling as the people of the place of arrival.

Moreover, there is no evidence for those who claim that a pilgrim should enter ihram on board once the plane passes over one of the miqats or a place parallel to one of them.

Some people also claim that to lift hardship, a pilgrim may enter the state of ihram on board the plane without putting on the ihram attire, then he should take off his regular clothes and change to ihram attire on arrival and offer an immolation. Nevertheless, the Islamic Shari`ah is so tolerant that it does not intend to overload people with what they cannot bear; Islam is totally against this.

Other people strangely claim that the resolution in such a case is to enter ihram from home before getting on board. But this is not convenient, as Muslims from Moscow and other places where the temperature reaches -50 degrees centigrade would never be able to do this, especially in winter.

Hence, the resolution I mentioned above seems to be suitable for the case of pilgrims who travel by air, in the light of Shari`ah. I have reached that resolution after thorough study of all details of the issue and its evidence for many years.”

Taken from:

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • I couldn’t understand some parts of this article Miqat for Pilgrims Traveling by Air: Dr. Atiyyah al-Saqr al-Azhari [may Allah have mercy upon him], but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  • Baraka Allaho fikoum wa jazakoum khair al jazae 3ala hada attawdih, Allahoma arzokna hajjan mabrora, wa sa3yan mashkoura wa dahamban maghfoura, Ameeeeeeeen

  • Very interesting indeed,but there are several such issues such as travelling to hajj sites by cars and buses bcos the prohet did hajj on foot or camel.Same problem when at Arafat we coud not perform Zuhr and Asar prayers joined and combined bcos we didnt pray in the Arafat mosque

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