SRINAGAR: After the Saudi government announced that a mahram is no longer needed to accompany a woman pilgrim, a first-of-its kind decision, more than 4300 women have applied for Hajj without mahram this year.
According to Ministry of Minority Affairs as quoted by ANI, applications from approximately 4314 women have been received. The Ministry also stated that this is the highest number of applications received till date from women aged 45 and above.
For Jammu and Kashmir, the officials earlier stated that around 132 women from Kashmir will be participating in Hajj without a Mahram this year.
Earlier the Ministry of Minority Affairs stated that both single women and women in groups would be able to apply for Hajj. They also stated that the Indian consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will oversee and ensure the housing and lodging arrangements for women who are going alone.
In October last year, the Saudi Arabian government announced that women could perform Hajj without a Mahram, ending the decades long ruling. Earlier women were required to be accompanied by a Mahram for Hajj.
The move is a part of the ‘social change’ implemented by the current Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to change the country’s closed-off image.
Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the prince has made several ‘social reforms’ like the lifting of the ban on cinemas and allowing women to drive. Saudi women can now also live on their own without seeking any permissions from any male guardian, after an amendment was made in the previous ruling by the Saudi kingdom.
Labelled as “The Reformist” by some people and reports, Mohammad Bin Salman was crowned as Saudi’s new Prince in the year 2017 after the then Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Nayef was dismissed and has been since making several changes in the country.
For the unversed, Mahram is an Arabic word used for an official or legal guardian of a woman, who is related by blood who she cannot get married to, after marriage even the husband of a woman becomes a Mahram for her. Islamic scholars in past had collectively made it imperative for a Muslim woman to perform Hajj accompanied by a Mahram, the reason being safety and security.
The application process for the Hajj pilgrimage for this year began in February and ended on March 10. According to media reports, around 175,025 pilgrims from India will be travelling to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage this year
Hajj is the holy pilgrimage and is one of the five fundamental principles of Islam. It has been deemed mandatory for every physically, mentally and financially sound adult muslim, and has to be performed once in a lifetime.