Q. Could you please explain whether the restriction on sex with one’s wife during the pilgrimage extends for any length of time after the completion of this duty. Some people suggest that this restriction continues for a week after the pilgrimage or the Umrah are over.
A. One of the restrictions that apply during the period when one is in a state of consecration or ihraam is that one must refrain from sex with one’s wife, or a woman with her husband. It is well known that when we travel to Makkah for pilgrimage or Umrah, we must enter into the state of consecration at a certain point on our way. We continue in this state until we have completed the Umrah, or the duties of pilgrimage that become due on the day of sacrifice. During this time, men may not wear ordinary or tailored clothes, and no pilgrim may wear perfume, or kill game animals, even for food. Similarly, sex with one’s wife is not allowed. But when one is released from the state of consecration, all these restrictions end. There is no extension of any restriction beyond the performance of the relevant duty.
I must add a word of caution, because the release from ihraam in pilgrimage is done in two stages. The first stage occurs on the completion of the two duties of stoning at the Jamrah and shaving one’s head or cutting one’s hair. Both duties are due on the day of sacrifice. When they have been done, a pilgrim may relax all the restrictions associated with the state of ihraam except those relating to sex. This remaining restriction is relaxed only after the performance of the tawaf of ifadah, which also becomes due on that day. Thus, if one completes these three duties, one is released from all restrictions. This means that he may have intercourse with his wife although the pilgrimage is not complete yet.
Debt and pilgrimage
Q.1. A person who has come here for work, having borrowed money for his travel and initial period, finds himself unable to settle all his debt before the pilgrimage is due. Yet he is eager to do the pilgrimage, because he feels the chance to do so may not be repeated. Can he delay the repayment in order to perform the pilgrimage?
Q.2. When we do the pilgrimage or the Umrah, we drink Zamzam water after we do the tawaf but before we do the sa’ie, while Hagar, Ishmael’s mother, was running between the two hills of Safa and Marwah before the water spring gushed forth in front of her child. Is there no discrepancy?
Q.3. Why do people cross in front of a person who is offering prayers when they must not do that?
M.S.A. Baig, Jeddah
A.1. The rule is that the repayment of one’s debts takes priority over funding any religious obligations, including the pilgrimage. If one does not have enough to repay his debts, he is not required to do the pilgrimage, because he does not meet the condition of financial ability. However, in the case you have mentioned, where the pilgrimage will not cost much, particularly for a person living in Jeddah, there is a case to be made for offering the pilgrimage, even though this will delay the completion of repayment.
The proper thing for this person to do is to write to his creditor informing him of his desire and telling him that he knows that he has a stronger claim. He should ask his permission to delay repayment for a while in order to offer the pilgrimage. Unless his creditor is in desperate need of the money, he will not stop him from doing the pilgrimage. The debtor should pray for his creditor when he is on pilgrimage. It should be said that if a debtor offers the pilgrimage without first securing the agreement of his creditor, he does wrong but his pilgrimage is valid.
A.2. When we do the pilgrimage and the Umrah, we follow the guidance provided by the Prophet, not by anyone else. He went to Zamzam to drink after his tawaf and before his sa’ie. He told us to learn our rituals from him. It is true that the sa’ie commemorates Hagar’s search for water in the barren place where she was to stay, but it does not follow any practice of hers. At the time, the Kaabah was not yet built, nor was pilgrimage decreed.
A.3. It is wrong for a person to cross in front of anyone who is engaged in prayer, but scholars make an exception in the Haram in Makkah where it is practically impossible to maintain this requirement. It is necessary for a person to place something just beyond the place where he puts his head in prostration, to serve as a barrier and to allow people to walk across beyond that cover. But this is again practically impossible in the Haram.
Arab News Islam 27 December 2002