Assalamualaikum w.b.t. I want to ask, is a person considered to be in ihram if he set his intention at home although he wouldn’t be performing umrah or hajj in the near future and have to be mindful of all the prohibitions of ihram? Hope for an explanation.
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.
We begin with the statement of Allah SWT:
وَأَتِمُّوا الْحَجَّ وَالْعُمْرَةَ لِلَّـهِ
“And complete the Hajj and ‘umrah for Allah.” 
The above verse is interpreted as anyone who sets his intention for ihram with one of these worships (hajj or umrah), then it is obligated on him to complete the worship. However, there is another opinion that states that it means to complete the worship of hajj and umrah separately – which means one by one – not through tamattu’ and qiran. 
Definition of intention
Intention lexically means directing oneself towards an action.  Whilst according to Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka, the intention is the meaning or purpose of an action. 
Whereas, as for the terminology, there are several definitions given. Among them are:
- Al-Nawawi stated that intention is a determination (resolution) in one’s heart on every obligation or others. 
- While Ibn ‘Abidin said an intention is the purpose of obedience and getting closer to Allah SWT with one’s deeds. 
According to the above definition, we conclude that an intention is a thought that crosses one’s heart when there is determination and resolution to do something.
The meaning of ihram
Ihram is one of the main requisites of hajj and umrah. Ibn Ruslan stated in matan al-Zubad:
أركانه الإحرام بالنية قف # بعد زوال التسع إذ تعرف
“The requisite is ihram and intention. As well as wukuf after the sun passes its zenith on the ninth day of the month if it is known.”
Habib Hasan al-Kaff stated that ihram means the intention of entering (beginning) the worship of hajj or umrah following their methodologies. If a person intended to perform hajj or umrah, then he should set the intention in his heart and utter it with his mouth in a low voice. Then, he can say several examples of the intention phrases for umrah and hajj.  Some examples of intention phrases for umrah are:
نَوَيتُ العُمْرَةَ وَأَحرَمْتُ بِهَا لِلّهِ تَعَالَى ، لَبَّيْكَ اللّهُمَّ بِعُمْرَةِ
“I’m performing umrah and ihram for Allah ta’ala, I’m answering Your call O Allah for umrah.”
While the example of intention for hajj is:
نَوَيتُ الحَجَّ وَأَحرَمْتُ بِهِ لِلّهِ تَعَالَى ، لَبَّيْكَ اللّهُمَّ بِحَجَّةِ
“I’m performing hajj and ihram for Allah ta’ala, I’m answering Your call O Allah for hajj.”
Intention for Ihram at the Miqat
First, in answering the question presented, we should know the intention of ihram should be made at the miqat or before crossing it. This is based on a hadith from Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, he said:
إِنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَقَّتَ لِأَهْلِ المَدِينَةِ ذَا الحُلَيْفَةِ، وَلِأَهْلِ الشَّأْمِ الجُحْفَةَ، وَلِأَهْلِ نَجْدٍ قَرْنَ المَنَازِلِ، وَلِأَهْلِ اليَمَنِ يَلَمْلَمَ، هُنَّ لَهُنَّ، وَلِمَنْ أَتَى عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ غَيْرِهِنَّ مِمَّنْ أَرَادَ الحَجَّ وَالعُمْرَةَ، وَمَنْ كَانَ دُونَ ذَلِكَ، فَمِنْ حَيْثُ أَنْشَأَ حَتَّى أَهْلُ مَكَّةَ مِنْ مَكَّةَ
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) specified for the people of Madinah, DhulHulaifah (a place 540 km to the north of Makkah) as miqat. For those coming from ash-Sham (including Syria, Jordan and Palestine), he specified al-Juhfah (a place 187 km to the north-west of Makkah and close to Rabigh, where they now perform their Ihram). For those coming from Najd, he specified Qran al-Manazil, (a mountain, 94 km to the east of Makkah, overlooking ‘Arafah. For those coming from Yemen, he specified Yalamlam (a mountain 54 km to the south of Makkah. These places are for the people (coming from the above-specified countries) as well as for others, who pass by them on their way to perform Hajj or ’Umrah. Those living within those boundaries can assume Ihram from where they set out (for the journey), and even the residents of Makkah, their Miqat would be the place where they are staying in Makkah.” 
All of these miqats are for those who intend to perform hajj and umrah who come from outside of Mecca. While those who want to perform umrah when they are in Mecca, or they are Meccans or foreigners, then it is obligated for them to exit the Holy land to set the intention for ihram outside the Holy land even if it is just a step outside. 
Likewise, if a person is travelling through a route where he can’t stop at the set miqat whether it is on land, sea or air, then the miqat is the place nearest to the set miqat whether it is to the right or left. This is based on a hadith from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma, he said:
لَمَّا فُتِحَ هَذَانِ المِصْرَانِ أَتَوْا عُمَرَ، فَقَالُوا: يَا أَمِيرَ المــُـؤْمِنِينَ، إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حَدَّ لِأَهْلِ نَجْدٍ قَرْنًا، وَهُوَ جَوْرٌ عَنْ طَرِيقِنَا، وَإِنَّا إِنْ أَرَدْنَا قَرْنًا شَقَّ عَلَيْنَا، قَالَ: فَانْظُرُوا حَذْوَهَا مِنْ طَرِيقِكُمْ، فَحَدَّ لَهـُمْ ذَاتَ عِرْقٍ
“When these two towns (Basra and Kufa) were captured, the people went to `Umar and said, “O the Chief of the faithful believers! The Prophet (ﷺ) 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 Dhatu-Irq (as their Miqat).” 
Setting the intention for ihram at one’s home
Next, if a person set his intention at his house or his country, is it considered and is he immediately bound with the prohibitions of ihram?
Regarding this issue, there are two specific opinions in madhhab al-Syafi’I which are:
According to the opinion of al-Nawawi, it is better to set the intention for ihram at the set miqat. This is also the opinion of other great Shafiite scholars such as al-Buwaiti, al-Muzani and al-Ghazali.
This matter is stated in a narration of Salim bin Abdullah, he heard his father said:
مَا أَهَلَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِلَّا مِنْ عِنْدِ المَسْجِدِ يَعْنِي مَسْجِدَ ذِي الحُلَيْفَةِ
“The Messenger of Allah never began the Talbiyah except from the Masjid at Dhul-Hulaifah.” 
It is cited in the book al- I‘tisam, Malik bin Anas was asked by a man regarding where he should set his intention for ihram. Imam Malik then answered: “From Zulhulaifah which is also the place where Rasullullah sets his intention for ihram.” The man further said: “Indeed, I want to perform ihram from the mosque near the grave (the Nabawi mosque).” Imam Malik answered: “Sont do that, I’m afraid you’ll get stricken with fitnah.” The man then asked: “What fitnah? I’m just adding the distance.” Imam Malik answered: “A greater fitnah when you precede in attaining goodness and advantages of which Rasullullah PBUH himself held himself over from attaining it? Indeed, Allah SWT states:
فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَن تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
“So let those beware who dissent from the Prophet’s order, lest fitnah strikes them or a painful punishment.” 
Whereas the second opinion stated that it is permissible to set one’s intention in his state. This is the opinion presented by al-Rafi‘i, al-Qadi Abu al-Tayyib and some scholars. This follows the hadith from Ummul Mukminin Ummu Salamah where Rasullullah PBUH said:
مَنْ أَهَلَّ بِحَجَّةٍ أَوْ عُمْرَةٍ مِنْ الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ أَوْ وَجَبَتْ لَهُ الْجَنَّةُ
“If anyone puts on the ihram for a hajja or an ‘umra from the Aqsa mosque to the sacred mosque, his former and latter sins will be forgiven him,” or, “he will be guaranteed paradise.” 
Moreover, former Saudi Arabia Grand Mufti, Syeikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz was once asked regarding this matter. He answered the sunnah is to set the intention for ihram from the set miqats and not at his house. When he is in a location parallel with the miqat when he is on the aeroplane or car, or he is in a location a little before the miqat, then set the ihram intention here, for setting the intention at the miqat is prioritized (afdhal). However, if he sets his intention for ihram at his house or at the beginning (of his journey), then this is fine. Although this contradicts the sunnah because the sunnah is to set the intention at the miqat and it is makruh to set the intention before that (before reaching the miqat). However, if he still sets his intention for ihram before the miqat, his ihram is valid and he is bound to the prohibitions of ihram.
As an addition, the worship of hajj is only performed in certain months. It is impermissible to be performed in other months, and the intention for hajj is invalid except in certain months which are Syawal, Zulkaedah and the first ten days of Zulhijjah. Whereas, the worship of umrah, it can be performed at any time throughout the year, other than the time for hajj for those who intend to perform it. 
According to the above arguments and discussion, we conclude the following matters:
- We are inclined towards the opinion that states that it is prioritized (afdhal) to set the intention for ihram at the miqat. However, the act of a person setting his intention at his own house or state is still considered valid, although it contradicts the sunnah of the Prophet PBUH and he is still bound to the prohibitions of ihram.
- Likewise, if a person thought in his heart that he wanted to be in ihram while in reality, he didn’t have any real determination to do so, then the intention isn’t considered. However, if he sets the intention just for fun, then we advise him to avoid this for there is concern that it is included as making fun of the religion.
May Allah SWT grants us all a clear understanding in religion. Amin.