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Thursday, September 27, 2012

WOMEN CAN PERFORM HAJJ WITHOUT MAHRAM



Today’s piece is coming at a time when more than 1000 female pilgrims from Nigeria are detained in Saudi Arabia for lack of chaperones. As I write this, 171 of them have already arrived Kano on Max Air; deported. My purpose here is to show that the Nigerian Hajj authorities have been acting rightly on the issue of mahrams for female pilgrims on the strength of the understanding of scholars in this part of the world; the challenge is with the interpretation of the law guiding their counterparts in the holy land. I shall conclude with a prayer for the position of Nigeria on this issue, its peculiarities, and nature of Hajj operations to be respected by the Saudi authorities.


I will start by saying people, including the learned, are confusing Muharram with Mahram. The former refers to one of the Islamic months; it literary means the forbidden or sacred. Mahram is a man whom a woman is forever forbidden to marry because of blood ties, etc. like her father, brother or any unmarriageable kin. A husband could also serve as a mahram.


Let us understand the context in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned the oft-repeated hadeeths barring women from travelling alone. These hadeeths were reported in Al-Bukhari and other collections, to the effect that women are not to travel by themselves; that it is mandatory on them to be accompanied by their husbands or mahrams. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “A woman is not to travel except with a mahram, and a man is not to enter upon her except if she has a mahram.” Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, when he was delivering a sermon, “No woman should travel except with a mahram.” A man stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allah, my wife has set out for Hajj, and I have signed up for such-and-such a military campaign.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Go and do Hajj with your wife.” 


And also on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is quoted to have said: “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel a distance of one day and one night without a mahram with her.”


Based on the above authorities, some scholars in a number of Arab countries assumed, unreasonably, that there is an inherent evil associated with the woman and her dispositions; that, for example, whenever a woman is out, something immoral will occur. Thus, she has to be accompanied at all times, to grocery stores, markets and even to such women-only ceremonies like marriage banquet, etc. she has to be with a male relative. A woman in some of these countries is not trusted to cross from one side of the street to another unless her husband or any male relative guides her steps lest she falls or be snatched by an evildoer. This is engrained somewhat in the psyche of average Arabian to such an extent that you do not talk to your friend when you meet him outside his home with his wife. You pass each other like total strangers; when he is alone, you can be friends again. Of course, you have to avoid him as much as possible in situations like that, because speaking to him, it is believed, may produce a sinful act between you and his wife, even though she is covered in full niqaab, face-veil.


In his answer to the question of a woman performing Hajj without mahram, Sheikh Muhammad Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: This action – Hajj without a mahram – is haraam; that the ‘mahram’s presence’ is to protect the woman from ‘those who do not fear Allah’. The Sheikh went further to debunk the position of the scholars who averred that she could travel in a safe company, rifqah ma’munah, citing the above hadeeth of the man ordered to go and perform Hajj with his wife instead of taking part in jihad. Sheikh ‘Uthaimeen concluded by stating that under no condition can a woman travel by herself, on road or air, for Hajj or any type of trip without mahram. She could be exposed to sin either at the airport, during transit for connecting flights or ‘there may have been a man sitting next to her on the plane who would deceive her and may like her and she likes him.’ Full stop. What the Sheikh has not addressed in this context is whether the situation will remain unchanged if the woman is 50 years old. Well, some senior citizens are prone to flirting with contemporaries. Therefore, you can now see why authorities acting on the verdict of such scholars would debar more than 1000 female pilgrims from entering the holy land.
These scholars failed to view mahram as a means of care for the woman and a way of upholding her reputation and dignity. A mahram protects her from the desires of those in whose hearts is a disease, from the assault of a rapist or a thief. They have failed also to consider the nature of travel at the era in which the Prophet’s edict was pronounced; a period in which a traveller must traverse deadly deserts, in a time when there was no sense of security, and where the places were unpopulated.


Islam is a way of life based on mercy and compassion; it is a religion that aims at protecting the weak and the vulnerable. Therefore, it is with the specific intent of safeguarding a woman’s honour, dignity, and reputation that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade women from undertaking long journeys without a mahram. Since the true intent of the prohibition is safety and protection, women are allowed to travel in a safe company, rifqah ma’munah, accompanied by elders and reputable Muslim men and women, as our Hajj authorities have been doing with Nigerian female pilgrims for many decades. Majority of scholars are of this view. Ibn Umar used to travel for Hajj leading women from his neighbourhood. Imam Hassan Al Basri said: ‘A Muslim is in himself a mahram: meaning the righteous and God-fearing Muslim can serve as mahram to the woman; and in some cases, a non-mahram proves more trustworthy than actual mahram.’ (Sharhu Saheehil Bukhaari vol. 4 p. 532)


Sa’eed Ibn Jubair, Ibn Sireen, Al-Auzaa’ee, Imam Maalik and Ash-Shaafi’ee are of the opinion that women, in the company of trustworthy and faithful women, can travel without mahram (al i’laam biwaa’idi umdatil ahkaam vol. 6 p. 79). Yes, a woman can travel even with just one free trustworthy and faithful woman, provided the road is safe. Sheikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “Every woman can perform Hajj without a mahram as long as she will be safe.” And he said: “This is directed towards every travel in obedience... Al-Karaabisi transmitted this from Ash-Shafi`i pertaining to the supererogatory Hajj. And some of his companions also said this about supererogatory Hajj and about every travel that is not obligatory, like visiting and trading.” (Sharhu Sahihil Bukhaari vol. 4 p. 532)


Al-Artham transmitted from Imam Ahmad: “A mahram is not a condition in the obligatory Hajj.” His justification for this is his saying: “Because she goes out with women, and with all those whom she is safe with.” Ibn Sireen even said: “With a Muslim it is okay.” Al-Auzaa’ee said: “With a just people.” Malik said: “With a group of women.” Ash-Shafi`ee said: “With a trustworthy faithful Muslim woman.” And his companions said: “By herself if there is safety.” 


Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar said: “What is well-known with the Shafi`ees is that it is conditional that there be a husband, mahram, or trustworthy faithful women.” And in another saying: “It is enough for just one trustworthy faithful woman.” In a saying transmitted by Al-Karaabisi, authenticated in Al-Muhadh-dhab, is that she can travel by herself if the roads are safe. If this is what was said about traveling for Hajj and `Umrah, then this ruling should be uniform concerning all types of travel, as some scholars have agreed. 

The conditions pertain safeguarding the woman and protecting her by ensuring that the roadway is safe and that trustworthy faithful men and women are present on the journey. 

The proof of the permissibility of a woman traveling without a mahram is incumbent upon there being security and the presence of trustworthy faithful people. What was reported by Al-Bukhari is that during the final Hajj of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), he gave permission to the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to perform Hajj. So he sent with them `Uthman ibn `Affan and `Abdur-Rahman. This act is considered to be a consensus, for all of them, `Umar, `Uthman, `Abdur-Rahman Ibn `Awf and the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) agreed to it, without any objection (Fathul Baaree vol. 4 p. 91 and ‘Umdatul Qaari’ vol. 10 p. 219). 

Second is what was reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim from the hadith of `Ataa Ibn Haatim that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told him about the future of Islam and how its light will be spread throughout the earth. Among what he mentioned is: “The day is near when a young woman will travel from Al-Hiraa (a city in Iraq), going to the Sacred House with no husband accompanying her. She will fear none but Allah.” This information does not only prove that this will happen, but proves its permissibility, because it was mentioned in a phrase praising the spread of Islam along with its sense of security (Fathul Baaree vol. 4 p. 91). 

We have to concede that travelling today is not like travelling in the past. Except on Nigerian roads, travelling is now devoid of the dangers of thieves and highway robbers. Modern means of transportation actually make easy for large numbers of people to travel in peace and security - ships, airplanes, buses, or cars – myriad people travelling in groups. Undoubtedly, this kind of group travel instils confidence and reliability, as well as dispelling the feelings of fear for the woman, because she will not be by herself in any place. 

Therefore, nothing stops a woman from performing Hajj under the arrangement provided by Nigerian pilgrims’ welfare boards and agencies that has never been questioned by the Saudi Hajj authorities for decades.
There is difference of opinion among Muslim scholars, in Saudi Arabia and in Nigeria for example, on the issue of mahram for female pilgrims. Rifqah ma’munah, female pilgrims travelling in a safe company, a position upheld by majority of Muslim scholars, is what Nigerian Hajj authorities have been using for decades. They deserve some courtesy and respect from their counterparts in the holy land. The Prophet has warned the Muslims: ‘Don’t prevent women servants of Allah from the Houses of Allah.’ What house of Allah is greater that than the Ka’bah in Makkah or the Prophet’s mosque in Madeenah?


The worst part of the whole ordeal was what the poor hapless women bore. They were cordoned off in Jeddah like quarantined animals and they were starved and ill-treated. This is no way to behave to the guests of Allah from another country. The usual hospitality of the Saudis deserted them this time. Even if they feel the women were wrong; it is no justification for the wrong treatment. I also wonder why they issued the visas to these women in the first place when they know they would not be allowed into the kingdom. That smacks of double standard and hypocrisy. These people paid to get the visas; the visas were legally obtained and yet they were denied entry. I say do not start what you do not intend to finish.

16 comments :

  1. Salam.

    Dr., it is important you give a balanced account of what has happened. In any case, doing a wrong thing for decades does not make it correct. Isn't this hajj arrangement peculiar to Nigerians? How many countries in the world have similar arragement where women travel for hajj unaccompanied by their mahrams?

    We Nigerians are known for our notoriety. For instance, I am not aware of any country that makes nonsense of the idea of performing hajj at five (5) years interval like in Nigeria. As individuals, Nigerians are known for circumvention of rules and government agencies could be willing collaborators.

    I really feel for the stranded female pilgrims but I think their travails are not caused by the Saudi authorities alone. In fact, to my mind, their travails are more a result of our penchant are a people to willfully circumvent rules with impunity. Anyhow, as for the female pilgrims who are innocent victims, their intention to perform hajj is sufficient for them; they will be given full reward as though they have performed the hajj in line with the provisions of Islam.

    At end, the most important lesson we should learn from this saga is that we should begin to do things right. Simple!

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  2. Salam, pls what is the criteria the Saudi Authorities are using to Identify a Mahram of a woman? My sister travelled with her husband and yet she's being detained, because their not having thesame surname. They are both willing to swore by the Holy Qur'an to prove their marriage yet in vein, they have been there for 5 days now, until yesterday when my sister told her husband to move on to Madinah so that both of them will not miss the pilgrim, while she stays in detention until when Allah decide their faith to continue or get deported back to Nigeria. So my question here is how do they Identify a Mahram of a woman? Is it by name or by what? Because I believe to the best of my knowlegde a woman is allowed to use her husband name as her surname in Islam.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry for the typographical error in my last sentence, what I am trying to say is a woman is NOT allowed to use her husband's name as her Surname. Thank you. May Allah SWT forgive our mistakes.

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  3. You said:

    Based on the above authorities, some scholars in a number of Arab countries assumed, unreasonably, that there is an inherent evil associated with the woman and her dispositions; that, for example, whenever a woman is out, something immoral will occur. Thus, she has to be accompanied at all times, to grocery stores, markets and even to such women-only ceremonies like marriage banquet, etc. she has to be with a male relative. A woman in some of these countries is not trusted to cross from one side of the street to another unless her husband or any male relative guides her steps lest she falls or be snatched by an evildoer. This is engrained somewhat in the psyche of average Arabian to such an extent that you do not talk to your friend when you meet him outside his home with his wife. You pass each other like total strangers; when he is alone, you can be friends again. Of course, you have to avoid him as much as possible in situations like that, because speaking to him, it is believed, may produce a sinful act between you and his wife, even though she is covered in full niqaab, face-veil.

    NONSENSE!!!!!

    I live in Saudi with my family but what you said is TOTAL NONSENSE, FAR FROM THE TRUTH. FEAR ALLAH!!!

    What do you mean by "... some scholars in a number of Arab countries assumed, unreasonably,...." and you went further citing the statements of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (may Allah have mercy on him). Are you saying he assumed unreasonably by saying women must not travel without a mahram?

    FEAR ALLAH!!!

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  4. Br Aminu, Saudi females too do not change their names after marriage. So, husband and wife not having the same last names may not be the problem as it should not be strange to the Saudis. I believe they do not have a proof of marriage with them. Therefore, I will suggest you arrange to send a copy of their marriage certificate to them as a proof of marriage and the case should be resolved inshaAllaah.

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  5. Dr. I join Apalara in exhorting you to really fear Allah. Do not because of your hajj tour business, which may be threatened if the mahram's rule in strictly followed, distort facts and exaggerate on issues. Please fear Allah and assist the ummah to follow guidance.

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  6. Muhammad has addressed some of the lapses in Abubakr Siddeeq's post, the chief of which is unbalanced account of the fiasco. Abubakr appeared to be well-read and a student of Islamic knowledge, attributes that are easily discernible from his blogs and profile. Therefore, I will advise him to ensure he upholds justice as prescribed in Islam when dealing with issues like this and respect scholars opinions, even if he does not agree with them, as much as he want others to respect his/his scholars’ opinions.

    Having said this, the requirements for Hajj and ‘Umrah visas are well known to Nigerians to include mahram for females (issues of matchmaking for visa purposes are very common). If that is correct, then whoever violates this rule should gladly accept the consequence. Also note that it is a global policy that your being in possession of a country’s visa does NOT guarantee you entry into that country. You still have to pass the immigration checks. So, if you obtained visas through not satisfying the requirements – by cutting corners – you should be prepared for the consequence. The random check and scapegoats made out of it are all the immigration officers can do with the volume of work during Hajj. So, some female pilgrims in the same situation may escape this time, especially those that entered through Madeenah where there was apparently no incidence. The Saudis action, in my opinion, is to send a clear message to those who do not follow visa requirements. Until the rules are changed to open entries to females without mahram, if it ever happens, we have an obligation to obey Saudi immigration laws as much as we want visitors to obey ours.

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  7. Dear respected brothers, I beg to differ in your opinions. Talking about respect of scholar’s opinion, I think if it is not respected it will not be stated in the discussion. A statement like "... some scholars in a number of Arab countries assumed, unreasonably,...." does not refer to Uthaimeen my brother you need to also fear Allah and not to be emotional. If you are not careful you fall into shirkul mahabbah. Makkah and Madeenah are sacred but Allah has never promise to make all the leaders and Ulama'a sacred. Talking about respect for opinion; that does not mean you should agree with it. Some said they have been residing in Saudi but have never seen anything like that. Be careful the writer did not mention Saudi Arabia but Arab countries (correction). If truly we are working for Islam, how many times has Islam/Muslims been put under siege and the so-called Islamic country has not done anything, no fatwa was passed from the scholars. Let me even asked you about the behaviour of Aal-sa'ud? The very arrogant people who think the law is only for commons (i.e I and you). As far as I am concerned the writer presented his argument to the best of his knowledge. If you did not agree with any of his statements produce your counter evidence not beating around the bush. If you think he does not respect other peoples opinion, why trying to use words that are of low morale. As sheikh Ja'afar (MAHMOH) used to say "In ka ji ana uwaka ubanka to Hujja ta kare" . Meaning: if you hear insulting words coming in to play, no evidence to prove. As for that brother whom sister was detained inpite of being there with her mahram, please bear with the situation. This is Jewish ideology. Marriage certificate is not mandatory in Islam. If you are in doubt provide witness (i.e reason as to why he is not a mahram). For the person (Husband) that denies the witness should swear by Allah.
    Lastly my respected brothers, if you have no knowledge about anything do not obligate your self to talk about it as you may be embarrassed.
    W khairul hadyi Hadyu Muhammadin.

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    Replies
    1. Akhi Yusuf, whatever ideology it is, marriage certificate is the requirement for confirming a claim of marriage in the world we live in today. Sharing the same last name is NOT even accepted as a proof of marriage. If you want the Saudis to change the rule to accept your understanding of Islam, I will advise you organize a scholarly conference to convince them to do that. Before that happens, we are bound to obey the rules.

      The following article articulated my point of view:

      http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DiscourseWithDrTilde/~3/JpsNX4YVa_w/short-essay-40-deportation-of-nigerian.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. You said:

      Lastly my respected brothers, if you have no knowledge about anything do not obligate your self to talk about it as you may be embarrassed.

      Then I said:

      You need to have asked if you don't know anything about the Arabs. Can you please tell me ANY ARAB COUNTRY that takes the issue of Mahram so serious than/as Saudi? Egypt, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain,...?

      Who said the ulamaah are inviolable? I advice you to fear Allah and be extra careful in order not to fall into manifest errors.

      How can a Muslim leaves the statements of Prophet Muhammad (salaLLAAHU alayhi wa sallam) for that of ANY SCHOLAR especially when the statement of the scholar lacks evidence(s).

      No statement of any scholar should be taken while that of Prophet Muhammad (sallaLLAAHU alayhi wa sallam) be rejected. Do you forget what Imam Malik (RahimahuLLAAH) said while pointing to the grave of Prophet Muhammad (sallaLLAAHU alayhi wa sallam)?

      He said: "There is not any of us except that some of his words are taken and others are rejected except the one in that grave". In that case, be statement of those scholars should be rejected and never be followed.


      On Mahram for women going for Hajj, Ibn al-Mundhir said: Maalik, al-Shaafa’i did not follow the apparent meaning of the hadeeth, and each of them stipulated a condition allowing a woman to go for hajj but with no evidence.

      Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah li’l-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta’, 11/90, 91

      Don't you read the statement of the Prohet (salaLLAAHU alayhi wa sallam) narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas (rodiaLLAAHU anhu) that he heard the Prophet (salaLLAAHU alayhi wa sallam) say: “No man should be alone with a woman unless her mahram is present, and no woman should travel unless she has a mahram with her.” A man stood up and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, my wife has gone out for Hajj, and I have enlisted for such and such a campaign.” He said: “Go and do Hajj with your wife.” [Bukhari wa Muslim]

      Don't use read that Prophet Muhammad (salaLLAAHU alayhi wa sallam) said “A WOMAN SHOULD NOT PERFORM HAJJ EXCEPT ONE WHO IS HER MAHRAM IS WITH HER.” Collected by Ad-Daaruqutnee in his Sunan. This hadith is authenticated by Sheikh Nasirudeen Al-Abani, Imam Abu ‘Awaanah and Haafidh Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalaanee.

      See Fath al-Baaree (4/76), Nayl Al-Awtaar (5/15), Silsilat Al-Ahaadeeth As-Saheehah (3065) and others


      You said:

      If truly we are working for Islam, how many times has Islam/Muslims been put under siege and the so-called Islamic country has not done anything, no fatwa was passed from the scholars.

      ARE YOU SURE OF THIS?

      You also said:

      Let me even asked you about the behaviour of Aal-sa'ud? The very arrogant people who think the law is only for commons (i.e I and you).

      ANY EVIDENCE FOR THIS? AND HOW DO YOU KNOW THEIR THINKING?


      Lastly, don't accuse me of what you guilty of. Point to any of my statement where I said the statement of the brother "....some scholars in a number of Arab countries assumed, unreasonably,...." refers to Uthaymeen.

      May Allah forgive us all.

      Delete
    4. Qiraan Hajj
      If you wish to performs Hajj-e-Qiraan. The Qiraan is the performance of Hajj and Umrah. You enter the state with ihram that the intention of performing both Umrah and
      Hajj with only single ihram is adopted for both. Once you reached Makkah, first you must performs Umrah and thereafter perform Hajj in the same ihram; hence you need
      to remain in the same ihram till the end of Hajj.
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      Delete
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