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Shia women sans mehram may proceed for Haj, court told

Updated Feb 14, 2017 12:03pm

LAHORE: Shia women may proceed for Haj without “mehram” from this year as religious affairs ministry has assured the Lahore High Court of incorporating requirements of Fiqh-i-Jafria in the new Haj policy.

In a recent hearing of a petition questioning discriminatory treatment meted out to Shia pilgrims by the ministry in Haj process, Lahore Haj Director Saeed Ahmad Malik stated before the court, “New Haj policy will be issued shortly and the requirement under Fiqh-i-Jafria to allow Shia women to proceed for Haj without a mehram (a close male relative) will be incorporated in the policy and facilitated for the purposes of filing online applications.”

The director further told the court that Haj policy would clearly set out the Fiqh-i-Jafria requirements for the purpose of Haj so as to ensure that members of Shia community could perform Haj as per their faith.

Justice Ayesha A Malik has been hearing the petition filed by Syed Ali Hadi Kauser last year.

Representing the petitioner, Barrister Maqsooma Zahra Bokhari argued that Shia pilgrims had been facing discriminatory treatment at the hands of the ministry on account of Haj facilities. She said Shia women had been denied permission to perform Haj without a mehram as online Haj forms did not accept an application from any woman sans mehram.

The counsel sought a direction for the ministry to specify and provide facilities to Shia pilgrims as per their Fiqh.

She also asked the court to order the authorities concerned for specifying quota for Shia pilgrims to avoid non-transparent selection of Haj applicants.

The court would resume hearing on Feb 21.

Published in Dawn February 14th, 2017