Hajj and `Umrah without a mahram

Question: Someone from Germany asks: In Germany, a number of Muslim sisters have recently embraced Islaam, Some of them are old and others are young and many do not have a mahram from their own family as no-one else from their family has accepted Islaam. Is it therefore permitted for them to make Hajj or ‘Umrah with a group led by both Muslim men and women?

Answer: It is not correct that we say that such women should make Hajj or ‘Umrah because if a woman does not have a mahram, Hajj and ‘Umrah are not obligatory for her. However, there is another issue here: Is it not obligatory for her to perform them or are they not even obligatory upon in the first place.

What is more common in the Hanbalee Madhhab is that Hajj is not obligatory upon her in the first place, even if she has enough money but has no mahram. Hajj is, therefore not obligatory upon her and if she dies she would not be punished for not performing it.

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says:

{And Hajj to the House is a duty to Allaah, for whoever has the ability to make the journey} [Soorah Aal-‘Imraan, Aayah 97].

Having the ability is a condition for it to be obligatory and ability is of two kinds: ability according to Islaamic law and material or physical ability. Health and sufficient money are part of material ability while having a mahram is a part of the ability required by Islaamic law. Whoever does not have a mahram is like the one who does not have sufficient money. Accordingly, we must assure those women that do not have a mahram that Hajj is not obligatory upon them.

Some scholars, however, are of the opinion that having a mahram is a condition for performing Hajj and if a woman does not have one then she should appoint someone to perform it instead of her if she has sufficient money. She is like those who cannot perform Hajj themselves because of old age and so someone else does it for them.

In any case, there is a solution, and all praise is for Allaah, for whichever opinion is followed. If we say that Hajj is not obligatory upon her in the first place, then there are no obligations upon her whatsoever, neither upon her wealth nor upon her body. If we say that it is not obligatory for her to perform it and she has sufficient money to do so, then she should pay someone to perform it for her and it serves instead of her performing it herself. There is, therefore no difficulty or problem in the issue.

And all praise is for Allaah.

[Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, al-Aqalliyaat al-Muslimah – Page 77, Fatwa No.18]

Published: 20 September 2000