My question is: is it acceptable for me to go now to my family, who are in the south, to visit them and from there I will go to Hajj and enter ihram from the miqaat designated for that area? When do I have to form the intention for Hajj? Do I have to have the intention before the months of Hajj begin, namely Shawaal and Dhu’l-Qa‘dah and Dhu’l-Hijjah?.
It is permissible for one who is in Riyadh and has decided to go for Hajj, to visit his family in the south, then when he wants to go for Hajj he may enter ihram from their miqaat, because of the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (1524) and Muslim (1181) from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) defined the miqaat of the people of Madeenah as Dhu’l-Hulayfah; that of the people of Shaam (Syria) as al-Juhfah; that of the people of Najd as Qarn al-Manaazil; and that of the people of Yemen as Yalamlam. And he said: “And these miqaats are for the people at those very places, and besides them for those who come through those places with the intention of performing Hajj and 'Umrah.
The words “And these miqaats are for the people at those very places, and besides them for those who come through those places with the intention of performing Hajj and 'Umrah” include the scenario asked about here.
With regard to the intention for Hajj, it may refer to two things:
The decision to perform Hajj; there is no specific time for this. A Muslim may decide to do Hajj from the beginning of the year, or he may decide to do it a few days before Hajj begins.
Many Muslims intend to do Hajj in the following year, i.e., one year before Hajj, and there is nothing wrong with this. Rather it is something that is approved of because it is resolving to do something good.
What may be meant by intention is starting to do the rituals. This is only prescribed in the months of Hajj and not before. It comes after passing the miqaat and wanting to embark upon the rituals of Hajj by entering ihram and reciting the Talbiyah.
The month of Hajj are Shawwaal, Dhu’l-Qa‘dah and the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah.
Entering ihram for Hajj before these months is makrooh and there is a difference of scholarly opinion as to whether it is valid.
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: If a person wants to do Hajj and the months of Hajj have begun, when he reaches the miqaat the best thing for him to do is to do ghusl. The words “and the months of Hajj have begun” indicate that it is not appropriate to enter ihram for Hajj before the months of Hajj have begun. This is what is preferable, because entering ihram for Hajj before the months of Hajj have begun is makrooh, because it is entering ihram for it before its time has come. It is akin to entering ihram for it before reaching the miqaat; moreover there is a difference of scholarly opinion concerning its validity. If a person enters ihram for it before its months have begun it is valid, and if he remains in his ihram until the time for Hajj begins, it is permissible. This was stated by Ahmad; it is also the view of al-Nakha‘i, Maalik, al-Thawri, Abu Haneefah and Ishaaq.
‘Ata’, Tawoos, Mujaahid and al-Shaafa‘i said: He should make it ‘Umrah, because Allah, may He be exalted, says: “The Hajj (pilgrimage) is (in) the well-known (lunar year) months” [al-Baqarah 2:197], i.e., the time for Hajj is limited to these months, or the months of Hajj are known months. As it is proven that this is the time for it, it is not permissible to enter ihram for it too soon, as is also the case with the times of prayer.
End quote from al-Mughni, 3/119.
And Allah knows best.