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Saudi Arabia: Women no longer required to bring male guardian to Hajj and Umrah

Announcement by Saudi minister for pilgrimages ends a decades-long rule imposed by the kingdom
While Saudi clerics have generally ruled that women need a mahram to perform the Hajj and Umrah, other scholars in the Muslim world have taken a different view (AFP)

Saudi Arabia has made the historic decision to allow women to attend the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages without a "mahram" or male guardian. 

Riyadh announced the move on Monday and said it would apply to pilgrims worldwide. 

Speaking at the Saudi embassy in Cairo, Tawfiq Al Rabiah, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Hajj and Umrah, said: "A woman can come to the kingdom to perform Umrah without a mahram." 

The announcement ends a decades-long rule imposed by Saudi Arabia, although exemptions have been given to females attending the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage with large groups of other women. 

While Saudi clerics have generally ruled that women need a mahram to perform the Hajj and Umrah, other scholars in the Muslim world have taken a different view. 

The annual Hajj pilgrimage, which Muslims are required to do at least once in their lifetime, forms the fifth pillar of Islam.

In contrast, Umrah can be done any time of the year and is regarded as a lesser pilgrimage for Muslims than the Hajj.

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