COVID-19: Any Expiation for Wearing Masks in Hajj?

22 July, 2020
Q In the coming Hajj, it is expected that all pilgrims will wear masks as a precaution against COVID-19. We know that covering the face is one of things to avoid in a state of ihram, and that doing a mahzhur for necessity requires kaffarh (expiation). Are all pilgrims this year required to offer a kaffarah? Does it make any difference if the cover/mask/niqab covers the whole face or part of i?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, pilgrims will have to wear face masks that cover their mouth and their nose.

2- Therefore, it will not be sinful at all for them to wear it. However, they will still need to offer an expiation despite having a legitimate excuse. 

3- The kaffarah (expiation) is to fast three days, feed six poor people, or sacrifice a sheep. 


Answering your question, Sheikh Mustafa Umar, President of California Islamic University, states:

Things to Avoid during Ihram

During the state of ihram, it is not permissible for a pilgrim to do certain things. This includes shaving the hair of the head,  using perfume, sexual intercourse, and killing a game.

We read in the Quran:

{Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. Whatever good you do – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah . And fear Me, O you of understanding.} (Al-Baqarah 2:197)

{O you who have believed, do not kill game while you are in the state of ihram. And whoever of you kills it intentionally – the penalty is an equivalent from sacrificial animals to what he killed, as judged by two just men among you as an offering [to Allah ] delivered to the Ka’bah, or an expiation: the feeding of needy people or the equivalent of that in fasting, that he may taste the consequence of his deed. Allah has pardoned what is past; but whoever returns [to violation], then Allah will take retribution from him. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Owner of Retribution.} (Al-Ma’idah 5:95)

It is not permissible to male pilgrims are not allowed to wear shirts, hooded robes, trousers, turbans and leather slippers. A man asked the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) about what the muhrim should wear. He answered, “He should not wear a shirt, hooded robe (burnoose), trousers, a turban or leather slippers.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is not allowable for female pilgrims to wear niqab or burqa.

Exceptional Cases

When there is a genuine need to violate a principle of ihram, such as covering your head due to extreme cold or covering your hands due to some illness, it is not sinful anymore, but a compensation still must be performed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, pilgrims will be expected to wear face masks that cover their mouth and their nose, which is a significant part of their face. Therefore, it will not be sinful at all for them to wear it, but they will still need to compensate with a penalty, despite having a legitimate excuse. 

What is the kaffarah (expiation) for wearing masks in ihram?

The compensation is to fast three days, feed six poor people, or sacrifice a sheep.

📚 Read Also: Where Are Pilgrims Supposed to Enter Ihram?

We read in the Quran:

{And complete the Hajj and umrah for Allah . But if you are prevented, then [offer] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter. And whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head [making shaving necessary must offer] a ransom of fasting [three days] or charity or sacrifice. And when you are secure, then whoever performs ‘umrah [during the Hajj months] followed by Hajj [offers] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And whoever cannot find [or afford such an animal] – then a fast of three days during Hajj and of seven when you have returned [home]. Those are ten complete [days]. This is for those whose family is not in the area of al-Masjid al-Haram. And fear Allah and know that Allah is severe in penalty.} (Al-Baqarah 2:196)

The pilgrim may choose any one of these three options.  The expiation must be offered whether the mask covers the whole face or part of it.

Almighty Allah knows best.