Muslim women can now perform Hajj without ‘mehram’: PM

TNN Bureau. Updated: 1/1/2018 2:54:02 PM

New Delhi, Dec 1: Calling the policy allowing Muslim women to perform Hajj only in the company of a male guardian as “injustice”, Prime Minister NarendraModi said on Sunday that his government has removed the restriction following which hundreds of women have applied to travel alone for the holy pilgrimage.

According to the ministry of minority affairs, Muslim women aged above 45 will now be allowed to go for the pilgrimage without ‘mahram’ in a group of at least four.

In his monthly radio address ‘Mann kiBaat’, Modi said that removal of the restriction of having a male guardian or ‘mahram’ may appear as a “small thing, but such issues have a far reaching impact on our image as a society.”
He said that when he first heard of the restriction, he was surprised as to who would have drafted such a rule.
“Why this discrimination? And when I went into the depth of the matter I was surprised to find that even after 70 years of our independence, we were the ones who had imposed these restrictions. For decades, injustice was being rendered to Muslim women but there was no discussion on it,” he said.

He pointed out that such a restriction is not prevalent in many Islamic countries.
“I am happy to note that this time about 1,300 Muslim women have applied to perform Hajj without ‘mahram’ and women from different parts of the country from Kerala to north India, have expressed their wish to go for the Hajj pilgrimage,” he said.
He said that he has suggested to the ministry of minority affairs that they should ensure that all women who have applied to travel alone be allowed to perform Hajj.
“Usually there is a lottery system for selection of Hajj pilgrims but I would like that single-woman pilgrims should be excluded from this lottery system and they should be given a chance as a special category,” he said.
He said that it is his firm belief that the journey of India’s progress has been possible due to women-power and on the basis of their talent. “It should be our constant endeavour that our women also get equal rights and equal opportunities...,” he said.

Referring to Christmas, Modi said that Jesus Christ taught us about the spirit of service or 'sewabhaav'.
“Be it any religion, caste or creed, tradition or colour in this world; the spirit of service is an invaluable hallmark of the highest human values,” he said.
He also recalled the life of Guru Gobind Singh which was full of instances of courage and sacrifice.

On the 350th anniversary of the Sikh guru, he said that Guru Gobind Singh preached the virtues of sublime human values and at the same time, practiced them in his own life in letter and spirit.
Muslim women who have applied to go for Hajj without a ‘mehram’ (husband or a male first blood relation as guardian) this year have been exempted from the lucky draw system that the Hajj Committee operates, the government said on Sunday.

This means that all the 1,300-odd women who have applied for Hajj will be able to travel with no quota restrictions.

The announcement by the minority affairs ministry came Modi said that women should get equal opportunities as men.

“Thanks to Prime Minister NarendraModiji for mentioning in today's (Sunday) Mann Ki Baat the decision of minority affairs ministry to lift ban on women going for Hajj without mehram,” union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday.

“After the Prime Minister’s suggestion, I assure that those about 1,300 women who have applied to go for Hajj without mehram, will be exempted from the lottery system and allowed to proceed on Hajj,” Naqvi said.

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