Hyderabad/ Delhi: “Travelling for the obligatory Hajj and Umrah without a Mahram is not permissible in Islam,” declared the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India (IFA) at its 29th Islamic Jurisprudential Seminar held on October2-4 2021 on the campus of the Islamic research institution ‘Al-Mahadul Aali Al-Islami, Hyderabad. This pronouncement on women’s travel has far-reaching ramifications in the face of the Hajj Committee of India’s decision to allow women to go on Hajj without Mahram. Since the Mahram restriction was lifted in 2018, around 3,500 Indian Muslim women, mostly from Kerala, have performed Hajj without “Mahram.”
Fiqhi seminars are one of the most important annual activities of the Delhi-based Fiqh academy, which attracts top Islamic jurists from India and abroad. The academy held 29th and 30th seminars jointly because of the Covid situation in the country. Four and two issues, such as Covid-related problems, use of social media, sighting of the crescent, women traveling without Mahram, etc., were deliberated upon by about 100 distinguished religious scholars, ulema, and jurists and approved dozens of proposals unanimously.
Traveling without Mahram was one of the critical topics of the 29th Seminar. In the light of papers received on the subject and questions raised by the scholars, the academy said traveling sans Mahram by women is a ‘fitnah.’ The Seminar has approved 5-point proposals on this matter.
The Decision on Umrah and Hajj reads:
- A woman going out for a journey must accompany a Mahram due to the risk involved or preventing fitnah (evil). And it makes no difference whether it is a long journey or a short one. Therefore, it will be impermissible for her to travel without a Mahram even if it is to a distance shorter than what makes it a Shar’i journey when it is risky. However, the ruling about concession in the Salah will rely on a distance recognized by the Shari’ah for the same.
- Under normal circumstances, a woman should not travel the permissible (Shari’ah) distance alone, even if a safe travel system is available. However, traveling without the companionship of the husband or Mahram in case of necessity can be allowed with a safe travel environment.
- Since the journey of Umrah and Hajj is long and lasts for several days; a woman needs the help of a man during this whole period, which cannot be completed without a husband or a Mahram. Therefore, it would not be permissible for women to go on Umrah and Hajj with a group of trustworthy women without a husband or a Maharam. The same applies to the case of older women as they need the help of a man even more.
- It is not permissible for a woman to travel because the Mahram is incapable of bearing the cost of accompanying her to travel with the group organized by a Hajj committee or a Hajj tour agency.
- Concerning clauses 3 and 4, it should be borne in mind that this Prohibition is based on the principles of Hanafi Fiqh. The followers of other schools that allow women to go for Hajj in the company of a women-only group may act accordingly.
The bottom line of these proposals is that it is not permissible for a woman to travel without a Mahram, whether the trip is for an act of worship such as Hajj or to visit her parents or a permissible kind of journey for other purposes.
This may trigger a new debate in the country on women’s Hajj journey without Mahram (permissible male companion).
Scholars came out with dozens of proposals on other issues discussed during both seminars.
On the Moon-Sighting Issue:
The Seminar adopted 18 proposals, and some of them are interesting:
- Consult astronomy and meteorology experts to know if observation of the crescent by sight is possible or whether the sky will be clear or not.
- The moon-sighting is determined by observation by sight only and not by astronomical calculations.
- The Hillal committee must have representatives from all the Islamic schools of thought to save people from the confusion they face. It strongly recommends that astronomy should be included in the madrasa syllabus as a compulsory subject again.
On Corona Issue
Corona has impacted all walks of life, including performing certain forms of worship for the believers.
- Given the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, it is allowed to organize multiple congregations for the five daily prayers, Jum’ah and the two Eid prayers.
- People willing to offer Zohr at home can pray in the congregation and individually due to the pandemic.
- If bathing or performing tayammum is unfeasible for a dead body due to the Corona restrictions, then the obligation is dropped, and it will be valid to perform Janazah without it.
- If it is unfeasible to shroud a person who died due to Coronavirus according to the Prophetic tradition, then his cover should be wrapped according to the tradition if possible. However, if that is also not feasible, then the cover will be considered as his Kafan.
- If a person who died due to Coronavirus was buried without performing Janazah, later the prayer can be performed at his grave as long as his dead body is intact.
On“Shari’ah rules and regulations for using Social Media,” the Seminar approved 14 proposals.
Some of the important are:
- Online games are considered harmful for several reasons, and therefore it is not valid to play them or make them a means of income. However, they may play and win prizes if they are free from gambling, wasting time and money, and immoral content.
- it’s not proper to add someone’s name to any social media group without their prior permission.
- It is also not proper to make PDFs of books whose rights are reserved for their authors or publishers or make digital copies of them by converting them to any other format for sharing on social media without permission.
- Several sites created by the deviant sects can be detected on social media. This Seminar advises the youth to stay away from such sites and consult reliable scholars if there is any doubt.
On Buying and Selling of Fruits in Orchards
- Selling fruits of an orchard for two or more years in advance is called Bay’ al-Mu’awamah and Bay’ al-Sinin. The Messenger of Allah (S) has reportedly prohibited it.
- If fruits have not yet appeared on the trees, it is invalid to sell them.
- If fruits have appeared on the trees, then it is valid to sell them.
- If trees have blossomed, then it is also valid to sell them.
- If fruits have appeared on most trees, it is valid to sell all the fruits.
- In clauses 3, 4, and 5, if both parties agree to leave the fruits till they ripen, they will be halal for the buyer.
- Ijarah of trees without the field is invalid.
- It is valid if one takes the field along with its trees on lease.
- Concerning the sale of orchards, one should wait for the fruits to ripen.
Another important topic was the principle called sadd-i zari’ah literally blocking the means.
- Prohibition of things permissible in themselves due to leading to something impermissible is called sadd-i zari’ah
- Sadd-i zari’ah is recognized in the Shari’ah, and several rulings are based on it.
- Adopting the means that definitely or most probably lead to something prohibited is unanimously impermissible.
- Means that rarely lead to sin are deemed permissible in the Shari’ah.
- This principle plays a key role in a number of contemporary issues, and the Ulama may employ it to understand such problems, for example:
- Prohibition of organized Tawarruq
- Prohibition of using android mobile, DVT and VCR etc. for watching pornography.
In the inauguration session, Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadwi, president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, spoke through video conferencing from Lucknow. He exhorted that it is the duty of Ulema and Islamic jurists to solve the new problems arising out of fast-changing developments.
Academy president Maulana Nematullah Azmi, who teaches Hadith and Tafsir in Darul Uloom Deoband, touched upon the ongoing malicious campaign to defame Islam and Muslims in the country. In his presidential address, Nematullah Azmi said we should not dishearten due to the onslaught of the Hindutva forces, and we should keep faith in the Almighty Allah as things will be better soon. It is mere propaganda against Islam and Muslims, and it will evaporate like a water bubble, but we need to spread the true message of Islam by words and dee ds, he added.
Delivering a keynote address, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, IFA’s general secretary, expressed regret over the postponement of the Seminarto be held at Darul Uloom Waqf Deoband due to pandemic induced lockdown. He also spoke about the construction of a 2-story building Darul-e-Tarbeeton the campus of Al-Mahadul Aali Al-Islami, Hyderabad. Maulana Rahmani is also the general secretary of this institution.