From next year, women aged over 45 could make the Haj pilgrimage without their ‘mahram’ or close male relatives if travelling in groups of four or more, Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Saturday.
Predictably, women’s rights activists welcomed the move. “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, orthodox clerics termed it “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.