Pilgrims enter into a state of spiritual purity known as “ihram” that is aimed at shedding symbols of materialism, giving up worldly pleasures and focusing on the inner self over outward appearance.
Women forgo makeup and perfume and wear loose-fitting clothing and a head covering, while men dress in seamless, white terrycloth garments. The white garments are forbidden to contain any stitching — a restriction meant to emphasize the equality of all Muslims and prevent wealthier pilgrims from differentiating themselves with more elaborate garments.
Muslims are forbidden from engaging in sexual intercourse, cutting their hair or trimming nails while in ihram. It is also forbidden for pilgrims to argue, fight or lose their tempers during the hajj. Inevitably, though, the massive crowds and physical exhaustion of the journey test pilgrims’ patience and tolerance.