KOCHI (TIP): Muslim women are not allowed to travel alone for the Haj pilgrimage to avoid risking their safety, the state government has informed the Kerala high court. The government clarified its stance on a petition filed by a Muslim woman questioning the Haj Committee of India’s denial of permission to her to travel with a female companion.
According to the committee’s rules, Muslim women have to be accompanied by a male family member to perform Haj. The petitioner, 64-year-old Aminakutty Mohammed of Kadalundi in Malappuram district, is demanding a court order permitting her to travel with a female companion. Opposing this, senior government counsel Sajid T P told the court of Justice Antony Dominic that it was in view of the safety and security risks involved in permitting Muslim women to travel alone that the Haj committee was insisting that they be accompanied by a male family member.
The counsel also opposed the plea on the ground that the decision of the Haj committee would fall under the realm of government policy. As per the rules framed by the Haj committee, women performing Haj should be accompanied by a male member of the family whom she cannot marry.
Such a male member is termed as ‘mehram’ in Sharia, the moral code and religious law of Islam. Questioning the Haj committee’s denial of permission for want of a ‘mehram’, the woman has alleged that it amounts to gender-based discrimination. The Haj committee’s decision is violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees right to equality before law and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth, her petition said.