Laws of Religion

Laws of Islam Concerning Women and Men


Equality and Inequality of Women and Men


Sexual Activity While in a State of Ihram for Pilgrimage


From Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh/sharia§):  The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer of Ibn Rushd, the Risala of al-Shafi‛i and Reliance of the Traveller



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Sexual activity while in a state of ihram for pilgrimage (jurisprudence/fiqh/sharia). The scholars* agree that sexual intercourse is forbidden when a person is in the sacred state of ihram for pilgrimage.[1] Reliance of the Traveller says that kissing, hugging or touching a person with sexual desire is also unlawful for a person in a state of ihram.[2] Reliance of the Traveller (Shafiʽi school) explains that sexual intercourse while in a state of ihram nullifies the hajj or ’umra and that pilgrimage must be repeated at a later time.[3] For al-Shafiʽi, sex without actually entering the vagina requires an offering. Similarly, Malik says that hajj is invalidated by any ejaculation or even just foreplay such as fondling or kissing, while only ejaculation inside the vagina invalidates the hajj according to Abu Hanifa.[4]


While al-Shafiʽi and Malik agree that only one offering is required for multiple sex acts when in a state of ihram, Abu Hanifa says that this is true if all the acts occur in one session, but multiple offerings are required for sex acts performed in multiple sessions.[5] Reliance of the Traveller explains that the offering required as expiation for sexual intercourse while in a state of ihram is one camel or, if this is not possible, a cow or seven sheep or goats. If none of these is possible, food worth as much as a camel is to be given to the poor. If this is not possible, expiation is achieved by fasting.[6]


Reliance of the Traveller (Shafiʽi school) says that performing certain unlawful acts while in a state of ihram requires expiation by slaughtering a goat or lamb and giving it to the poor, fasting for three days or giving a specified amount of grain to the poor; the person in violation chooses which of these three acts to perform. The unlawful acts that result in this type of expiation include a man wearing a sewn garment or covering his head; a woman veiling her face; engaging in sexual foreplay such as kissing, hugging or touching with sexual desire; and engaging in sexual intercourse a second time, after the first act of sexual intercourse has already nullified the hajj.[7]


Al-Shafiʽi and the Shafiʽi school say that there is no liability if the sexual act when in a state of ihram occurs due to forgetfulness rather than intentionally, but Malik says that the consequences are the same whether it was intentional or unintentional.[8] If the man persuaded the woman to have sex, he is still only liable for a single offering. If he forced her to have sex, he is then liable for two offerings according to Malik but not al-Shafiʽi.[9]



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*Islamic scholars disagree on certain points of law based on different methodologies used in deriving the law from the Qur’an and the traditions (sunna) concerning the life of Muhammad and his closest companions, particularly as expressed in the compiled hadiths. There are four major schools of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam: the Maliki, the Hanafi, the Shafi‛i and the Hanbali. These names are derived from the individual scholars considered to have been the founders of each school: Malik, Abu Hanifa, al-Shafi‛i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, respectively. The source texts we have used to prepare our summaries of Islamic jurisprudence contain the legal views of these different founders and schools, as described at Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.


§The specific derived laws of fiqh summarized here are often referred to by the more general term sharia law.



Laws of Religion is a project of the Religion Research Society.



Abbreviations used in footnotes:

DJP:  The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, by Ibn Rushd, translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, published by Garnet Publishing Ltd, Reading, UK. Volume 1, 1994. Volume 2, 1996. Full text online and download for Volume 1 are here and here and for Volume 2 are here and here.

RT:    Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, revised edition 1994, published by Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, USA.  Reliance of the Traveller can be found here and here.

SR:    al-Shafi‛i’s Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Majid Khadduri, Second Edition, published by The Islamic Texts Society.

●  The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.

[1] DJP 9.2.3 (Vol 1, pages 384-390, RT j3.13 (page 318)

[2] RT j3.13 (page 318)

[3] RT j3.14 (page 318)

[4] DJP 9.3.4 (Vol 1, pages 437-447)

[5] DJP 9.3.4 (Vol 1, pages 437-447)

[6] RT j3.15 (pages 318-319)

[7] RT j12.6 (II) pages 353-354)

[8] DJP 9.3.4 (Vol 1, pages 437-447), RT j3.19 (page 319)

[9] DJP 9.3.4 (Vol 1, pages 437-447)