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Saudi Cancels Mahram Condition for Female Pilgrims

For women facing trouble travelling to hajj and umrah without mahram or male guardian, there is now some sort of relief, with the restriction being removed and they can now travel without a mahram.

The announcement was made during a news conference at the Kingdom’s embassy in Cairo on Tuesday, October 11, Arab News reported.

Hajj and Umrah Services Adviser Ahmed Saleh Halabi said that it is now permissible for a woman to perform Hajj or Umrah without a mahram, accompanied by “trustworthy women or secure company to perform Hajj or Umrah. This is the view of the Maliki and Shafi’i scholars.”

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“The supervisor of fatwa at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in Egypt, Abbas Shoman, declared last March that a woman is allowed to perform Hajj and Umrah without an accompanying mahram,” Halabi continued.

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What Is Mahram

Mahram comes from the word “haram”, and it means something which is sacred or prohibited. In Islam, a mahram is one with whom marriage is haram or not permissible, in line with well-established principles governing marriage in Islam.

With him, the woman is not obliged to cover her head or body with hijab. Such a person can escort a woman or women of his family for umrah.

Mahram was made obligatory for women in Islam because travel usually involves exhaustion and hardship, and because women are normally in need of someone to look after them, providing them with necessary support and care. 

The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “No woman should travel except with a mahram and no man should enter upon her unless she has a mahram with her.” A man said: O Messenger of Allah, I want to go out with such-and-such an army, but my wife wants to go for Hajj. He said: “Go with her.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1862 

Muslim scholars have opined that a woman can travel without a mahram, as long as her life and safety can be secured or assured to her best ability. Al-Rafi’i from mazhab al-Shafie allows a woman to travel alone if the journey is guaranteed safe.

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Easier Pilgrimage

The decision is no doubt a good news to women who have some peculiar social conditions that are making it difficult for them to perform hajj or umrah for failing to find a male guardian.

“Allowing women to perform Umrah without the condition of a mahram makes life easier for them because many have difficult social conditions and may not find a mahram, or it may cost them a lot, while they are eager to perform Umrah,” Faten Ibrahim Hussein, former adviser to the Minister of Hajj, said.

“Fortunately, the fight against all forms of social and economic corruption played a positive role in this,” she added.

“There are many women who come to the Kingdom to work without a mahram, and there are no significant incidents, thanks to the security we live in…There is no fear for women to come without a mahram because the reason for that no longer exists.”