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Hajj and Umrah is an obligation to all the Muslims around the world, men or women to perform once in a lifetime if they are capable of. People save penny by penny to visit the holy places in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, rules are a little tough for female Muslims to visit these places as a pilgrim.
But under the Saudi Vision 2030, the ministries are lightening their rules and allowing women to perform hajj and Umrah with much ease. What is the new rule? What are they deciding? Let us read below about what Saudi authorities are planning for women.
What is Saudi Government Planning?
According to Arab News and as reported in Makkah daily on Monday the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is planning to cancel the pre-requisite of a Muslim Mahram or a male guardian for the woman of all age groups to be granted the Umrah or Hajj visa.
Why are they Planning on Cancellation?
As a part of Saudi Vision 2030, the Government has been discussing the various visa opportunities for people all around the world. As a part of visit visas for tourism and Umrah, they have thought of canceling the condition of the Mahram to allow all the women around the globe to visit the kingdom with ease. Read more: Umrah, Hajj, Transit, and Saudi Visit visa Cost Fixed as SR.300 with 1 Year Validity
What was the Condition of Mehram?
Previously, the women were allowed to perform pilgrimage only if they are assisted with a Mahram or Male guardian or if he receives her as soon as she lands in the kingdom. However, there was no obligation of Mahram for the women having age above 45-years, if they are coming along with a tourist group.
In this case, they had to submit a Notarized letter of No Objection from someone who could be considered their Mahram and authorizing them to travel for Hajj or Umrah along with that group. Read more: Procedure for Applying and Issuance of New E-Umrah Visa
What does Islam speak about the Obligation of Mahram?
The different scholars from different schools of thoughts have different opinions. They have interpreted the Hadith and the saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in different aspects. Some say there’s no obligation for women to travel alone while others believe a woman can’t travel without a mahram. Read more: List of Violations by Hajj & Umrah Pilgrims for 2019
In the support of Obligation for Mahram
“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.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
“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.” (Abu Hurairah)
“A woman is not to travel a distance of two days without her husband or Mahram with her.”(Abu Sa’id)
“She is not to travel for three nights, except if she has a Mahram.” (Ibn’e Umar)
Against the obligation of Mahram
“Every woman can perform Hajj without a Mahram as long as she will be safe. This is directed towards every travel in obedience.” (Ibn Muflih in Al Faru`)
“A mahram is not a condition in the obligatory Hajj. Because she goes out with women, and with all those with whom she is safe.” (Imam Ahmad)
Ibn Sirin even said: “With a Muslim it is okay.”
Al-Awzai said: “With a just people.”
Malik said: “With a group of women.”
Ash-Shafi`i said: “With a trustworthy faithful Muslim woman.”
Shafi`i companions said: “By herself, if there is safety.”
Who attended the Meeting for this Cancellation?
The decision was made by the chairman of the Hajj and Umrah Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) during a meeting held with Minister of Hajj and Umrah. Deputy Minister Abdul Fattah Mashshat, investors in the Hajj and Umrah sectors, hoteliers and many other concerned officials attended the meeting to discuss the possible outcomes, difficulties, and issues faced by the Umrah business.
What were the concerns of Umrah Businessmen?
The Umrah firms showed their concerns on the new regulations saying that they are losing out and if it continued they warned that 200 companies will leave the market if the Government officials do not intervene in the issue. Keeping in mind, the Umrah sector is more profitable and a major part of the kingdom’s economy due to the holy places than the industrial sector.
What did the Head of the Committee say on the arising concerns?
The Head of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah told Arab News that,
Each Umrah company was obliged to have two branches, employ 20 staff and spend at least SR1 million ($266,666) annually even if it did not receive a single pilgrim. The majorities of companies operating in this sector were small and could not bear such costs, there were about 750 Umrah and Hajj companies with licenses, but only about 500 of these were in the market and they were only running at 1 percent of their capacity.
He further added that,
We always seek officials to interact with us and we call on higher authorities to consider our demands.
What did the Deputy Minister Comment on the updates?
Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdulfattah Mashat said regarding the updates after the meeting that, it included allowing all IATA membership categories, including travel agencies, WTO certificates, or a certificate of membership of the World Travel and Tourism Council as a requirement for the eligibility of an external agent.
He further told that the updates also include the flexibility in transport options for pilgrims and accessible portal for Muslims around the globe to apply for Umrah.
Which is the Digital Portal for Applying?
A Maqam portal is designed by the authorities to apply for Umrah and Hajj. As a part of their trial, almost 1.1 million people used the portal, allowing them to choose between over 30 companies providing travel, accommodation and other necessities for trips to Makkah and Madinah.
Source: Arab News