In a significant development, Pakistan has recently granted permission for women to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage without a mehram, subject to certain conditions. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has officially allowed this practice, as reported by The News.
As per the response of the Council of Islamic Ideology to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, women are allowed to undertake pilgrimage even without a male guardian in the light of Maliki, Shafii and Jafri schools of thoughts of Islam.
These schools state that Sharia law permits women to participate in Hajj without a male guardian if their parents or husband grant them permission and if they do not foresee any potential danger or misconduct during the journey.
It is worth noting that the Hanafi and Hanbali fiqh hold a different perspective, stating that women are not obligated to undertake Hajj if they do not have a mehram accompanying them.
Read more: Uzma Jalaluddin’s set to release a new book
To ensure the safety and well-being of women traveling without a mehram, the Ministry of Religious Affairs emphasizes the need for thorough scrutiny of the travel group they plan to join. The Ministry suggests that women should only be allowed to proceed if the group members are verified as trustworthy and reliable. The Council of Islamic Ideology was consulted by the Ministry to seek its opinion on this matter.
Pakistan allows women to perform pilgrimage without a male guardian after Saudi Arabia lifted the restriction last year. Saudi Arabia permits women to not only perform Hajj without a male guardian but has also allowed women to perform Umrah as well with a male. Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umran Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah announced the groundbreaking decision paving the way for other Muslim countries to follow the suit.
Hajj and Umrah Services Adviser Ahmed Saleh Halabi says women are allowed to perform Umrah or Hajj without a mahram but with trusted female companions or with a reliable group. Maliki and Shafi’I school of thought also support this concept.
The supervisor of fatwa at Al-Azhar Sharif in Egypt, Abbas Shoman also approved of allowing women to perform Hajj and Umrah without a male guardian in 2021.
The decision has been welcomed by several advocated including former adviser to the Minister of Hajj Faten Ibrahim who says the latest provision will alleviate challenges for women who wish to perform Hajj and Umran but don’t have a male guardian. Many women may struggle to find a mehram or bear the associated costs, despite their strong desire to undertake the spiritual journey.
Pakistan’s decision to grant women the opportunity to perform Hajj without a mehram under specific circumstances marks a significant step towards promoting gender inclusivity and facilitating the pilgrimage experience for women in the country.