Miqat, an Arabic word, refers to “a stated place” or “a boundary” where it becomes obligatory for the pilgrims to wear the Ihram garments; it’s also not permissible to pass these predetermined boundaries in “the state of Ihram”. Any individual who crosses these boundaries without having entered the aforementioned state must make an animal sacrifice (Daam) as an act of atonement.
There are five Miqats, four of which have been detailed in the Hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A) I: “Allah’s Messenger (S.A.W) had fixed Dhul Hulayfah as the Miqat for the people of Madinah; al-Juhfah for the people of Sham; and Qarn al-Manazil for the people of Najd; and Yalamlam for the people of Yemen. So, these (above mentioned) are the Mawaqit for all those living in those places, and beside them for those who come through those places with the intention of performing Hajj and Umrah and whoever lives within these places should assume Ihram from his dwelling place, and similarly the people of Makkah can assume Ihram from Makkah (Sahih al-Bukhari).”
After Basra and Kufa were conquered, during Umar Ibn al-Khattab (R.A) I’s rule, another Miqat was erected: “When these two towns (Basra and Kufa) were captured, the people went to Umar and said, ‘O Chief of the faithful believers! The Prophet (S.A.W) fixed Qarn as the Miqat for the people of Najd, it is beyond our way and it is difficult for us to pass through it.’ He said, ‘Take as your Miqat a place situated opposite to Qarn on your usual way.’ So, he fixed Dhat Irq (as their Miqat) (Sahih al-Bukhari).”
Following are the Miqat locations, which are linked to their direction with respect to Makkah, that are mentioned in the Islamic tradition:
Masjid Aisha (Masjid at-Tan’eem)
Masjid Aisha, also known as Masjid at-Tan’eem, is a mosque in Al-Hil that’s 7.5 kilometers from Kaaba. (It’s the place where the Prophet [S.A.W] instructed Aisha [R.A] to adorn the Ihram for the farewell Hajj.) It lies to the South of Makkah on the road to Madinah. This mosque’s a Miqat location for the people living in Makkah and is the closest “boundary” for wearing Ihram.
Jaabir (R.A) reports that Aisha (R.A) was menstruating when the Prophet (S.A.W) instructed her to complete all rites of Hajj save for tawaf. She performed the tawaf after the end of her menstruation. She stated: “O’ Rasulullah (S.A.W)! While you have performed Hajj and Umrah, I have performed only Hajj.”
Afterwards, the Prophet (S.A.W) asked her brother Abdur-Rahman (R.A) to take her to Tan’eem. It was this place from where she performed her Umrah after Hajj.
Dhul Hulayfah (Abyar Ali)
Located 18kilometerss northwest of Masjid al-Nabawi and 410 kilometres north of Makkah, this Miqat was erected for the people of Madinah and for those who intend to perform Hajj whilst coming from the North. (For the people who live in Madinah or those who approach Makkah from the same direction.)
It’s located 182 kilometres northwest of Makkah. This Miqat’s intended for the people who come from Europe, North America, and Africa (Turkey, surprisingly, is included in this list). Pilgrims can enter the state of Ihram at Rabigh, a small town north of Al-Juhfah. (For the people who come from the direction of Syria.)
Qarn al-Manazil (al-Sayl)
This Miqat’s for the people of Naj’d and those coming from U.A.E, Oman, Pakistan, Malaysia, Australia, etc. It’s located 80 kilometres to the east of Makkah, near Ta’if. (For the people of Naj’d and who come from the same direction.)
Intended for the people travelling from Iraq, Iran, China, etc. for Hajj, this Miqat’s located 90 kilometres to the northeast of Makkah. (For the people of Iran and Iraq and those who come to Makkah from the same direction.)
This Miqat’s located 100 kilometres south of Makkah. It exists for the people of Yemen and the pilgrims coming from countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Pakistan, Japan, etc., and those who come by ship. (For the people coming from the South.)
Adorning Ihram whilst travelling by air
The Prophet (S.A.W) defined the locations of the Miqats in a hadeeth narrated by Ibn’ Abbaas (R.A), who said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) defined the miqaat of the people of Madeenah as Dhu’l-Hulayfah; that of the people of Shaam (Syria) as al-Juhfah; that of the people of Najd as Qarn al-Manaazil; and that of the people of Yemen as Yalamlam. And he said: And these miqaats are for the people at those very places, and for others who come through those places with the intention of performing Hajj and ‘Umrah; and whoever is living within these boundaries can enter ihraam from the place from which he sets out, and the people of Makkah can start (and enter ihram) from Makkah (al-Bukhaari, no. 1254; Muslim, no. 1181).”
Whilst the scholars are in unanimous agreement on the locations of Miqats, different arguments and interpretations from various scholars are available on the issue of wearing the Ihram. The Prophet (S.A.W) said the following words on the issue of ijtihad (independent reasoning): “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.”
Some scholars, in the light of this Hadith, offer a simpler solution on the issue of adorning Ihram at the Miqats. The Prophet (S.A.W) specified some Miqats in his lifetime, but he didn’t specify them for the people where Islam hadn’t reached.
Scholars are divided on this issues: as there’s no textual evidence for the pilgrims travelling by air (as such a luxury wasn’t available to the people in the olden times), some scholars conclude that the land-Miqats should be considered separate from air-travel.
The Prophet (S.A.W) also didn’t give any information about the people coming from the west to perform Hajj (since no Muslims, at that time, crossed the waters from the direction of Africa for Hajj); hence, not to introduce needless hardship for the pilgrims, some scholars argue that the pilgrims who arrive by air don’t have to wear Ihram on the aeroplane (plane); they can do so when they disembark the plane to take the journey on land.
If the plane lands within the boundaries of Miqat, they can enter the state of Ihram upon landing. If they disembark a plane before the boundary of Miqat, they can wear the Ihram upon entering the designated boundary of the first Miqat on their way to Makkah or a place parallel to it if there’s no Miqat en route. If they reach a place that exists between the Miqat and Makkah, they can adorn the Ihram from the place of arrival.
The international airport of Jeddah is situated inside the boundaries of Miqat; hence, the pilgrims can wear the Ihram here, without any qualms; however, no textual evidence supports the claim that a pilgrim should enter the state of Ihram when the plane crosses over the boundaries of one of the Miqats or a place parallel to them.
Other scholars state that the pilgrims aren’t allowed to pass the Miqat regardless of their mode of travel. This is supported by the statement from Ibn Umar (R.A), who said: “When these two regions were conquered, they came to ‘Umar and said: O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) defined Qarn (as the miqaat) for the people of Najd, but it is out of our way and if we want to go to Qarn it is difficult for us. He said: Look and see where on their route is in line with it, and he identified Dhat ‘Irq for them (as their miqaat) (al-Bukhaari, 1531).”
Umar (R.A) erected a Miqat for the pilgrims who didn’t cross the original Miqat by land. According to this interpretation,the same reasoning applies to air travel; hence, whoever aligns with the Miqat must enter the state of Ihram. It’s preferable for the pilgrim to wear Ihram before he approaches Miqat due to the immense speed of the aeroplane.
Few scholars also suggest that the Ihram can be adorned before embarking the plane; however, as Islam doesn’t put burden on the pilgrims, it remains to be an issue of contention amongst the scholars; thus, it’s appropriate for the pilgrims to consult the scholars before they depart on their journeys and choose the methods that don’t cause them any inconvenience or discomfort.