India Abroad

Good News! Soon, Women Over 45 Years May Go To Haj Without Male Kin

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| October 8 , 2017 , 10:22 IST

In another victory for women's rights in Saudi Arabia, after allowing women to drive, the authorities have permitted that from next year, to allow women aged 45 years and above can make the Haj pilgrimage without their 'Mahram' or close male relatives if they are travelling in groups of four or more.

Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi confirmed the news on Saturday during a Haj review committee headed by retired IAS officer Afzal Amanullah. During the review committee meeting,  several other recommendations were also made and some may be implemented from as early as next year.

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"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," said Amanulla, adding that the Saudi authorities have permitted the government to exercise this option.

Naqvi, terming the rule as "progressive" said the Haj Committee of India might consider the implementation of the rule from next year.

Activists welcomed the move, which marks a great step forward for Muslim women's rights.

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"This is a huge leap, which will help remove the perception that Islam considers women inferior to men," said Islamic scholar Zeenat Shaukat Ali.

However, some orthodox clerics have alleged that the move is an "interference with Sharia".

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