Khalid Zaheer
“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” — Imam Shafa’i
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The necessity for mahrem male relatives for women going for Hajj

Question:
Please explain this issue of mahrem that is so stringently followed in Saudi Arabia. If women are traveling in a group, they are mature and fully able to take care of themselves, should they not be allowed to perform Hajj by themselves?

Response:
The prophet alaihissalaam asked ladies to be accompanied by male mahrem relatives in journeys. This was an important advice. Journeys from one town to another in those days were not like they are today. They would involve traveling for several days and spending several nights with a caravan of men and women in wilderness under the sky. If women were to be alone in such journeys, it used to cause concerns for their honour and security. The advice was meant for all journeys of those times, not just the ones undertaken for Hajj or Umrah.

The Saudi government has applied this rule to Hajj and Umrah only even though the circumstances in the modern times have changed considerably. The long-distance journeys are mostly undertaken by air involving not days but hours. Women travel alone without any fear to their security. All that needs to be ensured is that women traveling for Hajj and Umrah should have a safe environment in their journey and stay. If the Saudi government is confident that such an environment could be provided, there is no religious reason to block ladies from doing Hajj and Umrah without mahrem male relatives.

Indeed traveling and staying alone is not recommended for them even today, at least in many of the Muslim and third world countries. If women are to go for Hajj and Umrah without mahrem men, they should not be alone but in a group of other ladies so that the problems associated with their traveling alone in such places could be countered.

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