Officials in Saudi Arabia have just announced that female pilgrims will no longer need a mahram (male guardian) to perform their compulsory religious duties in the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. In Layman terms, a mahram refers to a male member of the family with whom marriage would theologically be considered a haram. Up until this year, women under the age of 45 had to be accompanied by a guardian to perform Hajj or Umrah, however, from today onwards, a mahram will no longer be necessary. Putting an end to an age-old debate and a decades-long policy, this new measure was positively received by Muslim women and men across the globe.
Women can now register for the annual Haj pilgrimage without a male guardian (mahram), Al Arabiya News reported.
A very positive change and hopefully guideline won’t change next year when huz will be allowed to everyone, not only locals.
— Amina Begam Ansari (@Amana_Ansari) June 15, 2021
Speaking from the Saudi embassy in Cairo, the Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah also announced the lifting all health-related restrictions, especially those pertaining to COVID, for Egyptian pilgrims, while also stressing on the recent facilities added to better and improve religious expeditions taking place in the country.
In line with the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, security has been one of the Gulf State’s main points of focus, making it not only permissible for a woman to travel on her own from a theological and legal perspective, but also from a practical one too.
“Allowing women to perform Umrah without the condition of a mahram makes life easier for them because many have difficult social conditions and may not find a mahram, or it may cost them a lot, while they are eager to perform Umrah,” commented former adviser to the Minister of Hajj, Faten Ibrahim Hussein, before adding that: “Security has extended throughout the Kingdom and in all means of transportation and at ports, giving women full-protection.”
Moving away from what was widely considered as a restrictive decree, this move comes during a time where Saudi Arabia has been making major and important women’s rights reforms in recent years.