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Female servants performing Hajj with campaigns without a Mahram

Fatwa no. 17280 All praise be to Allah Alone, and peace and blessings be upon the Last of the Prophets:The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’ has examined the request submitted to His Eminence Chief Mufty by His Excellency the Minister of Hajj that was referred to the Committee by the Secretariat General of the Council of Senior Scholars, no. 2313, (Part No. 17; Page No. 332) dated 9/6/1415 A.H. in which His Excellency asked the following question:I would like to inform Your Eminence that I received a letter from His Excellency the President of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, no. (6531/9), dated 26/11/1414 A.H. a copy of which is attached. The letter indicates that local Hajj institutions dispatch campaigns including female servants and suchlike without Mahrams (spouse or unmarriageable relatives). This is not permissible according to Shari‘ah (Islamic law), which forbids that a woman travels without a Mahram. His Excellency demanded that such campaigns be banned from taking women without a Mahram.We replied to His Excellency through our letter no. (6313/414/B/H), dated 4/12/1414 A.H. indicating that the relevant authority that authorizes local Hajj institution was instructed to take into consideration the facts referred to by His Excellency. On 13/4/1415 A.H., His Excellency Deputy Minister submitted a letter no. (2505 / 1 / 17) indicating that some local Hajj institutions specify tents for women who come in groups from within the Kingdom without Mahram. He is of the opinion that putting such a Fatwa (legal opinion issued by a qualified Muslim scholar) into force means depriving all women coming to the Kingdom for work without a Mahram from performing Hajj, when most of them have lived and worked in the Kingdom for many years and wait for such an opportunity to perform Hajj. (Part No. 17; Page No. 333) In fact, some of them go to perform Hajj with their sponsors, and some perform Hajj with local Hajj institutions. He also referred to the Fatwa of some scholars who were of the opinion that it is permissible for women to travel without a Mahram as long as they are in the company of people and can travel safely and be secure in their accommodation.Wishing to avoid arousing astonishment and questions about such a ban on the part of some Muslim countries, we deemed it necessary to inform Your Eminence so that you may express your opinion on this. I hope that you will examine the issue and tell me your opinion, may Allah guide you to truth.

After considering the Fatwa request, the Committee gave the following answer: It is an established Shar‘y (Islamic legal) rule that it is not permissible for a woman to travel without a Mahram, based on the evidence that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is authentically reported to have forbidden it. This includes all kinds of traveling, regardless of whether it is for a Mubah (permissible), Wajib (obligatory) or recommendable purpose. We have issued Fatwa no. 16042 to the same effect, stating: It is not permissible for a woman to travel without a Mahram, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas: A woman should not travel except with a Mahram (her husband or unmarriageable male relative). (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, and Muslim) Moreover, Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) said that he heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say while delivering a sermon: ‘No man should be alone with a woman unless she has a Mahram present with her, and no woman should travel except with a Mahram.’ A man got up and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, my wife has set out for Hajj and I have enlisted in such-and-such an expedition.’ (Part No. 17; Page No. 334) He (peace be upon him) said, ‘Go and perform Hajj with your wife.’ (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, and Muslim) Thus, it is not permissible for a woman to travel, for any purpose, unless there is a Mahram with her who may protect her, look after her, and carry out any needs she may have. A Mahram may be a husband or a male who is permanently forbidden for her to marry, such as a relative by ties of blood or breastfeeding, or an in-law of a certain kind, such as a father, son, brother, brother’s son (nephew), paternal or maternal uncle, father-in-law, husband’s son, son or brother by ties of breastfeeding and the like. This is to be observed regardless of whether the woman is young or old, alone or in the company of women. In fact, a company of women is not a sufficient substitute for a Mahram, based on the general purport of the Hadiths on this issue, and the fact that the reason for forbidding (i.e. Non-presence of a Mahram) still exists. Accordingly, it is obligatory for women and their guardians to fear Allah, abide by the Commandments of Allah and His Messenger, and avoid that which Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, especially as far as modesty, chastity, and averting evil and corruption are concerned. Hankering after worldly pursuits must not cause them to be negligent in this regard. Consequently, it is not permissible for a woman to travel to perform the obligatory Hajj without a Mahram. Hajj organizers have to be inhibited from allowing this, so as not to commit that which the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited and block the means leading to evil and corruption. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says: And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allâh, for those who are able to undertake the journey. (Part No. 17; Page No. 335) Actually, one of the conditions of women’s ability to perform Hajj is the presence of a Mahram who is willing to accompany them. Indeed, Allah does not burden any soul beyond its capacity. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions.