Today, Saudi Arabia allows Muslim women to do an Islamic pilgrimage (Hajj / Umrah) without a chaperone (Mahram). However, for centuries, it was not possible. A male relative had to accompany her.
I live in Saudi Arabia, and I would not dare go to Mecca alone for a pilgrimage without my husband beside me.
It would be too difficult. The streets are overcrowded, moving around the city is slow, and being alone, even in a large pilgrimage (Umrah) group, is very stressful. However, some women have no other choice.
I spoke with my family and other Muslim women to get their opinions.
They are happy to go alone or in a group, but all agree women should perform the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages with a chaperone (Mahram).
The following are five main reasons why.
So, What Are The 5 Reasons Women Should Take A Guardian (Mahram) To The Pilgrimages Hajj or Umrah?
Table of Contents
(Click on link to jump to section and arrow to get back)
- 1. A Guardian Makes Traveling Safe And Convenient and Safiya’s Story Hotel Room Encounter
- 2. Guardians (Mahram) Support And Offer Women Security and Hajr’s Story – Struggle To Do Hajj
- 3. Having A Guardian Pleases Allah (SWT) and Is More Rewarding
- 4. Traveling With A Guardian (Mahram) Increases Spiritual Bonds
- 5. Performing Hajj/Umrah With A Guardian Is An Islamic Tradition
- Related Questions
Some people believe that because of the new rules (March 2022), Saudi Arabia has finally permitted Muslim women to go on pilgrimage alone.
However, this is not the case.
Only women ages 45 and above can obtain a Hajj / Umrah visa on their own, and in the absence of a guardian (Mahram), they should come to Saudi Arabia with other trusted women or in a large group.
A male relative or guardian (Mahram) must always accompany women under 45.
In the following article, I will outline five practical and spiritual reasons why, in my opinion, women should have a male guardian (Mahram) when they perform Islamic pilgrimages.
1. A Guardian Makes Traveling Safe And Convenient
Practically, a male guardian (Mahram) accompanies a female pilgrim from home, on the plane, and in the bus or taxi to the hotel in Mecca.
He ensures she arrives safely with her luggage and protects her from potential losses or harm on the long journey.
Once in Mecca, a guardian (Mahram) will deal with the stresses of the hotel check-in, manage heavy luggage, and ensure the hotel reception provides suitable and comfortable accommodation.
At meal times, a guardian can bring her food to the restaurant table or the hotel room, eat with her, and enjoy the meals together.
Outside, he will negotiate with taxi drivers, buy snacks, medicines, and necessities, and assist a female pilgrim on the crowded streets leading to the Haram mosque.
In the mosque, a guardian (Mahram) can deliver and collect a woman from the female prayer areas that are often difficult to reach because of the heavy crowds.
Safiya’s Story – An Improper Encounter in A Hotel Room In Makkah
Safiya felt ecstatic. The Quran Academy in the USA had selected her to join an all-female group to travel to Saudi Arabia and perform the lesser pilgrimage (Umrah).
In Mecca, her pilgrimage went well. The group was supportive, and everyone felt happy.
However, one morning, Safiya fell sick. She was too ill to join the group at the Haram mosque. She stayed alone in her room at the hotel.
Hungry, she ordered room service. Soon, a male attendant brought her breakfast on a tray to her room. It was heavy. So he entered and placed it on her bedside table.
Then, Safiya noticed that the waiter had brought her the wrong order. She asked him to leave and to notify room service of the error.
However, the male attendant did not leave but sat instead on her bed. Seeing this, Safiya called room service.
Safiya felt shocked. When she commented, the waiter suggested that he only wished to help her and to wait as she made her phone call.
Then, he stood up and began to approach her. Immediately, Safiya told him to leave and if he did not she would call the front desk.
The man got scared, and straight away left the room
The close encounter made Safiya understand the importance of having a male guardian (Mahram) with her. The waiter would not have entered her room had he seen a male relative with her in the room.
In future, Saifiya vowed to have a chaperone when she travels or goes again for pilgrimage to Mecca.By Maryam Hussain
2. Guardians (Mahram) Support And Offer Women Security
A guardian (Mahram) provides women with physical and emotional support. He guides her to places in and around the Mecca Haram boundary.
Public areas around the Haram mosque are often very crowded with pilgrims from all over the world. A guardian can ensure she does not get crushed or suffocated as they make their way through the crowded places.
For example, my mother is physically small and cannot move in huge crowds. She needs my father to help her as she goes from place to place in the Haram mosque area. If not, she gets squashed, panics, and has terrible problems breathing.
In addition, a guardian can carry bags and children, assist elderly pilgrims in wheelchairs, bring ZamZam water, and physically support a female pilgrim during the walking of the long distances between the Safa and Marwa mountains (Sai’ee).
He can also cut her hair when the pilgrimage ends.
A male relative who is a guardian (Mahram) is of great help and invaluable support to women in and around the Haram mosque.
Hajar’s Story – A Woman Struggles To Do Pilgrimage
On the Hajj pilgrimage, I got to know Hajar, a middle-aged woman. She came alone with our travel group without a male guardian (Mahram).
Hajar suffered from diabetes. In her condition, doing Hajj proved very difficult for her, and she fell ill.
The female members of our Hajj group cared for her the best they could. However, Hajar struggled to perform the Hajj rites.
Hajar needed a wheelchair and others to push her. She was unable to do anything for herself.
Before coming to Saudi Arabia, Hajar believed she would be strong and healthy but began to feel unhappy that she needed so much help during the pilgrimage.
She regretted being in Mecca alone and wished her husband or son had come with her.
Her family could not afford to send more than one person to Hajj. Hajar was the lucky one, but being alone was very difficult indeed.By Maryam Hussain
3. Having A Guardian Pleases Allah (SWT) & Is More Rewarding
Taking a guardian (Mahram) for Hajj or Umrah shows obedience to Allah (SWT) and is a sign a Muslim woman wishes to please her creator.
Islam requires women to have a male guardian (Mahram) on long journeys. All scholars agree on that ruling.
Evidence for it is in the following Hadith:
Prophet Mohammed (SAW) said,
‘No woman should travel except with a Mahram, and no man should enter upon her unless she has a mahram accompanying her.’Bukhari 1862
Also, Abu Hurairah quotes the blessed Prophet Mohammed (SAW) as saying,
‘It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel the distance of one day, except with a guardian (Mahram).‘Muslim 1339
Many other Hadith exist that indicate women should always travel long distances with a male relative or guardian (Mahram), especially for Hajj and Umrah, except in rare circumstances.
- Revert Muslim women living in non-Muslim countries (Dar Al Harb)
- Escaped or released female prisoners
- Lost women
- Women delivered to and met at airport terminals
Allah (SWT) commands women to travel with a guardian (Mahram) over long distances for more than a day to complete.
For Hajj and Umrah Muslim women has to travel hundreds, even thousands of kilometers, and take days to complete.
Having a guardian with her shows commitment, obedience, and love and is pleasing to Allah (SWT) and highly rewarding.
4. Traveling With A Guardian (Mahram) Increases Spiritual Bonds
Being with a guardian (Mahram) on the Hajj / Umrah pilgrimage strengthens the relationship between a husband and wife, a father and daughter, brother and sister, etc.
They spend precious time together for the sake of Allah (SWT), praying, praising, and visiting God’s house, the Haram mosque.
A guardian helps a woman to focus on spiritual matters and avoid dangers, distractions, and worldly temptations.
In addition, he can show her how to perform the pilgrimage rituals correctly and be responsible for her well-being and safety.
In this way, a woman can focus entirely on worship (Ibadah) and gain more spiritual rewards.
Under his protection, a female pilgrim feels very safe and can grow closer to Allah (SWT), allowing her to ponder and reflect deeply on her relationship with Him.
Doing the pilgrimage brings the couple closer, strengthens family ties, and creates enjoyable, lasting memories both will NEVER forget.
5. Performing Hajj/Umrah With A Guardian Is An Islamic Tradition
Doing Hajj or Umrah with a guardian (Mahram) is the best way to follow the example of our beloved Prophet Mohammed (SAW).
Our prophet once performed the Hajj with Khadiyah (RA), and, by example, encouraged Muslims over the centuries to do the same.
Since Prophet Mohammed’s (SAW) time, male relatives have always accompanied females for the Hajj and Umrah.
They cared for, protected, and supported women as they performed important Islamic rites, helping create an atmosphere of safety, spiritual devotion, and bonding.
This tradition has remained unchanged until today.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Making a pilgrimage (Hajj / Umrah) to the house of Allah is one of the most important religious events any Muslim can perform.
Being with a guardian (Mahram) greatly ensures a woman’s safety when traveling to Mecca, protecting her from potential harm and distractions.
Pilgrimage in Mecca and visiting the Haram mosque is a period of intense spiritual focus and devotion.
A guardian helps strengthen family bonds, shows a woman’s obedience to Allah (SWT), provides opportunities for women to ask questions and learn Islamic rites, and is the means for greater rewards in this world and the hereafter.
Does Islam Permit Women To Fly Long Distances Without A Guardian (Mahram)? No! A woman must travel with a guardian (Mahram). However, before passing away in 2014, Saudi Sheikh Abdullah Al Jibreen conceded that a woman could take long flights provided a legal guardian (Mahram) first delivers her to the airport for departure and another collects her at the destination airport on arrival.
Can A Woman Or Anyone Else Other Than A Close Male Relative Be A Guardian (Mahram)? No, women cannot be guardians of other women! A travel guardian (Mahram) MUST BE a blood male relative or husband, adult, sane, and have common sense.
What Is The Minimum Age For A Guardian (Mahram) To Accompany A Woman On A Pilgrimage? It is 15. However, Saudi Airlines does not permit under 18-year- old travelers to come to Saudi Arabia without a guardian. Also, young men under 18 are usually not mature enough to be a guardian (Mahram) for Hajj or Umrah. A 20-year-old male relative or older may be more suitable. However, we cannot determine maturity in terms of age.