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Women over 45 years of age may go on Hajj without ‘Mahram’ from next year

Women over 45 years of age may go on Hajj without ‘Mahram’ from next year
Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), southeast of the Saudi holy city of Mecca, on Arafat Day which is the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage early on August 31, 2017. Arafat is the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon about 14 centuries ago after leading his followers on the pilgrimage. / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB

Mumbai: Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday announced that women aged over 45 could make the Hajj pilgrimage without their ‘mahram’ (male kin) if travelling in groups of four or more, from next year. The announcement came after a Hajj review committee handed him the new policy report listing several recommendations, including a few that might be implemented from next year. The review committee was headed by retired IAS officer Afzal Amanullah.

TOI has quoted Amanullah as saying, “Some sects among Muslims don’t allow the travel of women unaccompanied by mahram, while others do. It is up to the sects to use this option.” He added that the Saudi authorities had permitted the government to employ the norm.

Naqvi has termed the move as “progressive” and said that the Hajj Committee of India might consider implementing the recommendation from next year.

While the women’s rights activists welcomed the move as expected, clerics termed it “interference with Sharia”.

Commenting upon the announcement Mufti Mohammed Huzaifa Qasmi of Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind said, “A Muslim woman has to be accompanied by a mahram if they travel such a distance.”