Women across the world need not be accompanied by a mahram (blood relative) to perform Hajj or Umrah.
This was announced by Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, bringing an end a lingering controversy over whether a mahram is required to accompany a woman pilgrim or not, during a press conference at the Saudi Embassy in Cairo, the Saudi Gazette 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,” Arab News reported.
He continued: “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.
Writer Faten Ibrahim Hussein, former adviser to the Minister of Hajj, said 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.
The annual Hajj pilgrimage, which Muslims are required to do at least once in their lifetime, forms the fifth pillar of Islam.
In contrast, Umrah can be done any time of the year and is regarded as a smaller pilgrimage.