Can a woman go for Umrah or Hajj without being accompanied by a mahram?

In the Muslim religion, the faithful are subject to five major ritual obligations, which are called the five pillars of Islam.

Can a woman go for Umrah or Hajj without being accompanied by a mahram?

In the Muslim religion, the faithful are subject to five major ritual obligations, which are called the five pillars of Islam. There are the profession of faith, prayer, Ramadan, almsgiving and pilgrimage. As long as he can, materially and physically, every Muslim must make, at least once in his life, a pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. We distinguish the Hajj, or major pilgrimage, which takes place on the same dates (between the 8th and 13th of the lunar month of Dhu al-hijja) from the Umrah, or minor pilgrimage, which can be done all year round. Each year, Mecca receives between 4 and 5 million pilgrims, men and women. And in this regard, a question persists each year: can a woman go to Mecca alone  ? Indeed, many people wonder about the possibility of a Hajj for a single woman or an Umrah for a single woman . In this article, we will try to provide you with the answers to all these questions.

Can a woman go to Mecca alone?

On the one hand, from an administrative point of view…

To this day, to perform the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage, a woman must normally be accompanied by her husband. In the absence of a husband, a woman must be accompanied by a mahram, that is, a man she can never marry because of their family ties. A woman's mahram is then her husband or any man she can never marry, such as her father, grandfather, brother or son (at least 18 years old). He must of course be Muslim and of sound mind.

However, women over 45 years of age can undertake to go to Mecca as a single woman , therefore without being accompanied by a mahram, if and only if they travel in a group of reliable pilgrims including at least one woman and they have a letter of consent established by their husband before a notary. It is also not possible for a woman without a mahram, even if she is over 45 years of age, to leave and be accompanied only by a group of several women.

It should be noted that before 2013, the Saudi authorities remained quite "flexible" on the subject, and at the time we can more or less say that a woman could go to Mecca alone , without a mahram. But today, the authorities systematically check the presence of a mahram as long as the pilgrim is under 45 years old. Any application for a Hajj visa for a single woman or Umrah visa for a single woman is then refused without the existence of a mahram. For clarification, the 45 years concern the Gregorian birthday and not the Hegirian birthday and what is taken into account is the year of birth and not the month of birth.

However, recently around September 2019, the Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia approved some updates to the Umrah services following a meeting with the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah to discuss updates to the regulations and instructions for Umrah companies. Saudi Arabia may then allow women to perform their pilgrimage without a guardian in the future, the ministry is exploring the possibilities of Hajj visa for single women or Umrah for single women . But so far, no official decision has been announced yet. So to be continued…

On the other hand, from a legal point of view…

From a legal point of view, there are different opinions, and many legal schools authorize women to travel without a mahram under certain conditions. But the ulama are unanimous in their opinion that women cannot go to Mecca alone , and that they do not have the right to travel without a mahram if they fear temptation. They differed regarding the case where the chubha is far away. According to some, women do not have the right to go on pilgrimage alone, given the generality of the meaning of the hadiths on this subject. Thus, the Dhahirites, the Hanafites and the Hanbalites prohibit women from traveling without a mahram, whether their destination is near or far, whether the woman is young or old, and whether or not she is in the company of other women. On the other hand, the Malikis and Shafi'is allow a woman to travel alone, if she is safe because of the company of a group of women or others, and some of them restricted this permission to the case of the journey undertaken to perform the obligatory Hajj. Moreover, some of the scholars differentiated between young women and old women, so as to allow the latter to travel alone and forbid the former. Some others considered it essential that the company include women.

However, it is more prudent not to be permissive in this more than sensitive area, considering that it is currently impossible to obtain a Hajj visa for a single woman or Umrah visa for a single woman without a maharam, and because, despite having reliable company, the woman may be faced with situations that require the presence of a mahram with her and where he cannot be replaced by another.

To conclude, to the question can a woman go to Mecca alone  ? The answer is no to women under 45, while women 45 and over do not need a mahram to obtain a Hajj/Umrah visa. In any case, do not forget to prepare your pilgrimage to Mecca. If a good trip is prepared well in advance, this is even more true when it comes to a trip as important as the Hajj or Umrah. For a successful pilgrimage, rely on a leading Hajj and Umrah Packages, such as Hajjency Paris!

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