Q: What is the ruling if someone passes the Miqat (site for entering the ritual state for Hajj and `Umrah) without assuming Ihram (ritual state for Hajj and `Umrah), whether their visit to Makkah is intended for Hajj or `Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) or for any other purpose?

A: Whoever passes the Miqat for Hajj or 'Umrah and does not assume the state of Ihram, will have to return to the Miqat where they can intend Ihram for Hajj or 'Umrah. This is based on the command of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to do that. He (peace be upon him) said: "The people of Madinah assume Ihram from Dhu Al-Hulayfah, the people of Al-Sham (the Levant) from Al-Juhfah, the people of Najd from Qarn, and the people of Yemen from Yalamlam." This is what has been narrated in the authentic Hadith. Ibn 'Abbas is reported to have said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) defined the Miqat of the people of Madinah as Dhul-Hulayfah; and that of the people Al-Sham (The Levant) as Al-Juhfah; and that of the people of Najd as Qarn Al-Manazil; and that of the people of Yemen as Yalamlam. Then he said: "And these Miqats are for the people at those very places, as well as for those who come through those places with the intention of performing Hajj and 'Umrah; and whoever is living within these boundaries can enter Ihram from the place where he starts off."

If a person's intention is to perform Hajj or 'Umrah, he has to enter Ihram from the Miqat that falls in their direction. If he comes from the direction of Madinah, he can assume Ihram from Dhu Al-Hulayfah. If he takes the route of Al-Sham (the Levant), or Egypt or Morocco, he can assume Ihram from Al-Juhfah (now known as Rabigh). If he takes the route of Yemen, they can assume Ihram from Yalamlam. If he takes the route of Najd or Al-Ta'if, he can assume Ihram from Qarn Valley which is also known by the name Qarn Al-Manazil or Al-Sayl. Some people call it Muhrim Valley. It is these particular points where a person can intend to perform Hajj or 'Umrah or both at one time. If a person still has plenty of time before performing Hajj, it will be preferable that he intends to perform 'Umrah by making Tawaf (circumambulation around the Ka'bah), Sa'y (going between Safa and Marwah), clip his hair and make Tahalul (removal of the ritual state for 'Umrah). He can enter the state of Ihram for Hajj at its appointed time. He is only recommended to enter the state of Ihram for 'Umrah, if he happens to pass the Miqat during the months in which Hajj is not prescribed like Ramadan or Sha'ban. If he visits Makkah for such purposes as conducting buying or selling transactions or visiting relatives and friends or for any other purpose, he will not be required to assume Ihram. This is according to the most correct view held by scholars. Therefore, he may enter Makkah without intending to enter the state of Ihram. This is the preponderant of the two opinions held by scholars. However, it is preferable for him to take the opportunity of visiting Makkah to perform 'Umrah.

[Fataawa Shaykh Ibn Baaz - Alifta.net]

See Also:

The ruling on someone who goes past the Miqat due to forgetfulness

The ruling on passing the Miqat more than once without assuming Ihram