Women Pilgrims Can Now Perform Hajj, Umrah, Without ‘Mahram’
The latest announcement made by the Saudi minister for pilgrimages has ended a perennial rule maintained in the Kingdom for decades.
Saudi Arabia has made the historic decision and allowed women to perform the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage without the company of a 'mahram' or male guardian.
The new rule applies to all female pilgrims around the world.
Previously, women could attend the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage only when accompanied by a male guardian.
There were some exemptions to the rule, for example, females were allowed to participate in the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage with large groups of other women.
The function of ‘mahram’ in the Islamic world
'Mahram,' meaning 'sacred' or 'prohibited' in Islamic law, relates to the person who a woman cannot marry because of blood ties or other categories of relationship.
There are three main categories of woman's mahrams:
- mahrams by ties of blood: father, grandfather, great-grandfather, son, grandson, great-grandson, etc.;
- mahrams by breastfeeding: e.g., the brother or husband of the woman who breastfed her;
- mahrams by marriage: all those whom a woman is forever forbidden to marry, e.g., mother’s husband, husband’s father, husband’s son, etc.
Hajj is a sacred pilgrimage constituting one of the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim is obliged to pilgrimage to the holy mosque of Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, at least once in their lifetime.
Undertaking Hajj in Islamic culture is a spiritual duty as long as the person has enough financial means and is emotionally and physically able to perform the pilgrimage.
Hajj takes place during the same period every year, i.e., during the month of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month according to the Islamic Calendar.
In 2023, Hajj will take place between the 26th of June and the 1st of July in the Gregorian Calendar.
Saudi Arabia e-Visa for performing Umrah
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia introduced the electronic visa system in 2019. Eligible applicants can obtain a visa for Saudi Arabia entirely online and use it for tourism purposes.
Saudi eVisa is issued as a multiple-entry visa for a stay of up to 90 days throughout its 1-year validity period.
The electronic visa serves all kinds of tourism-related activities, including a pilgrimage to Mecca, i.e., performing Umrah.
Now, not only can male Muslims use it to visit Mecca, but female travelers too.
It’s important to submit a Saudi eVisa application at least 3 business days in advance of the planned trip to the KSA to receive the visa approved on time!