The meaning of Ihram is to declare a lawful thing as Haram (unlawful) on oneself. After pronouncing niyyah and talbiyah by a pilgrim, certain permissible things becomes prohibited such as like wearing stitched garments, use of perfume, and hair cut are some of the things which are not allowed in Ihraam. The combined state of niyyah and talbiyah is called Ihram.
Usually two white sheets of clothes are worn when a pilgrim enters the state of Ihram but the real Ihram is the intention and talbiyah. Women can enter ihram in their ordinary clothes. Women are required to perform all the rituals of Hajj like men. Similarly, there is not much difference in ihram for men and women except the different Ihram clothing for male and female. People are usually confused about when to assume Ihram. It is obligatory to assume ihram from the prescribed Meeqat which is Rabegh for pilgrims travelling from UK.
It is also a wrongful thinking that once you put on the ihram sheets, you cannot take them off. By taking them off or by changing them, a person does not relinquish Ihram. The pilgrim comes out of the state of Ihram in which he had entered with the intention of performing Hajj, only when he completes all the essential rites of Hajj and has his head shaved or hair cut short.
Preparation: Comb your hair, shape the beard, cut your hair and remove unwanted body hair
Purification: Do ghusl with the intention of Ihram or do wudu. There are two kinds of purification, the purification of the body and the purification of the soul i.e. the sincere repentance of your sins.
Ihram sheets: Men should wear a sheet of white cloth around the waist called ‘Izar’ and cover the upper body with the other white sheet called ‘Rida’. Clothing of Women during Ihram includes their ordinary clothes which can be worn as Ihram garments. Both should wear the flip-flops so that the middle bones of the upper part of the feet are not covered. However, women are allowed to wear shoes. Rules of Ihram for lady pilgrims also require them to not wear face veil and gloves. They may cover their face in other ways in the presence of non-mahram.
Nafl Salah:If not undesirable time, offer two raka’t of nafl salah with head covered before making intention for Hajj and talbiyah.
Intention & Talbiyah: After offering the Nafl Salah, uncover your head and while still sitting, make Niyyah for Hajj and Umrah if you are performing Hajj-ul-Tamattu.
"O Allah! I intend to perform Hajj and Umrah. Please make it easy for me and accept it from me. Aameen."
Note: It is forbidden to perform Salah with covered head, after entering the state of Ihram. Therefore, after assuming Ihram, men should perform Salah with uncovered head.
After declaring intention, recite talbiyah three times loudly and as often as possible later. Women should recite it in a subdued voice.
After talbiyah, recite Darud and supplicate to Allah (SWT).
When a person enters Ihram certain permissible things become Haram and pilgrims must follow these prohibitions in the state of ihram. Here is a list of things forbidden in Ihram:
The restrictions on ihram are lifted after completing all the rites and rituals of Hajj. Only after performing Qasr i.e. the shaving of head or clipping of hair in Haram does a pilgrim come out of the state of ihram. After Qasr, all the restrictions regarding ihram are lifted except physical relations with the spouse, which is permissible only after performing tawafuz ziyarah. Therefore, pilgrims are allowed to wear stitched garments, use fragrance, cover head etc after the ritual of Qasr but they sexual intercourse with wife becomes permissible only after tawafuz ziyarah
Note: It is recommended to consult and seek an opinion from scholars on doubtful Islamic matters.