Question # 347: I always had this thing in mind that from the start Islam has always given importance to the fact there should not be intermingling between mehrams and non mehrams then why is it that in Mecca at the time of Umrah and Hajj there is no partition for males & females & have noticed and personally experienced that men take advantage of the situation and try to push and touch and just blame that its crowded?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer:  Women crowding with men is one of the greatest causes of fitnah, hence Islam closes the door to that temptation and protects all acts of worship, including Hajj and ‘Umrah, from everything that could cancel them out and threaten women’s protection. Hence, it is mustahabb (recommended) for women to refrain from getting too close to the Ka’bah while performing tawaaf or choose times when the Haram is not crowded, lest they mix with men. `A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) used to perform Tawaf separately and never mixed with men and other wives of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to come out in night, in disguise and used to perform Tawaf with men. But whenever they intended to enter the Ka`bah, they would stay outside till the men had gone out.

Considering the ever increasing number of Hajj & Umrah pilgrims, it is practically almost impossible to segregate the two genders because to ensure that both males and females have enough yet distinct space in all areas and at all times during the pilgrimage in general and tawaf in particular would likely bring the entire pilgrimage to a standstill. Hence, what is actually important is to obviate the prohibited sinful intermixing. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not prohibit it because it did not involve any sins or fasad (evil) in those days. Even today, it is wrong to compare the mingling in the precincts of Makkah with a mingling outside this area because generally the people who travel to Makkah are expected to be engrossed in themselves or engage in performing the rituals. There might be very few unfortunate people who would pay attention to filthy matters. In fact, the presence in Arafat has been likened to the Day of Resurrection, when men and the women, barefooted and naked, will be gathered but the matter and atmosphere will be too serious for them to look at one another.

Long Answer:  The rulings of Islam recognizes the nature of women and how the Shaytaan exploits women’s charms, so the sahih texts of Islam enjoin women to stay in their houses and not to make a wanton display of themselves, and not to crowd with men. Indeed, the Islamic texts do not enjoin upon women what they enjoin upon men, such as attending Jumu’ah prayers and prayers in congregation.

Women crowding with men is one of the greatest causes of fitnah, hence Islam closes the door to that temptation and protects acts of worship from everything that could cancel them out. In the case of Eid prayer, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) commanded the women to go out to the prayer, but said that they should be in their own prayer place, far away from the men. With regard to Hajj and ‘Umrah, Islam also forbids mixing between men and women, so that women will be protected from crowding with men. This is clear from the following:

  • Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has not enjoined Hajj or ‘Umrah upon a woman unless she has a mahram with her.

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “No woman should travel except with a mahram, and no man should enter upon her unless she has a mahram with her.” A man said: “O Messenger of Allah, I want to go out with the army of such and such and my wife wants to go for Hajj.” He said: “Go for Hajj with her.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

  • Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has granted a concession to a man who has womenfolk with him, allowing him to leave Muzdalifah at night.

It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allah, the freed slave of Asma’, that she stopped at night in Muzdalifah and stood there and prayed for a while, then she said: “O my son, has the moon set?” I said: “No.” She prayed for a while, then she said: “O my son, has the moon set?” I said: “Yes.” She said: “Then move on.” We went on and she stoned the jamarah, then she came back and prayed Fajr in Muzdalifah in her tent. I said to her: “O you! I think we have come to Mina very early in the night.” She said: “O my son, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) gave permission to the women to do that.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari)

Imam al-Bukhari included this hadith in a chapter entitled “One who sends the weak members of his family ahead at night, so that they may stand in Muzdalifah and make du’aa’, and move on when the moon sets.”

  • It is mustahabb (recommended) for women to keep far away from the Ka’bah when doing tawaaf, lest they mix with men, even if that keeping away means that they cannot touch the Black Stone.

Ibn Juraij said, “`Ata informed us that when Ibn Hisham forbade women to perform Tawaf with men he said to him, ‘How do you forbid them while the wives of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to perform Tawaf with the men?’ I said, ‘Was this before decreeing of the use of the veil or after it? `Ata took an oath and said, ‘I saw it after the order of veil.’ I said, ‘How did they mix with the men?’ `Ata said, ‘The women never mixed with the men, and `A’ishah used to perform Tawaf separately and never mixed with men. Once it happened that `A’ishah was performing the Tawaf and woman said to her, ‘O Mother of believers! Let us touch the Black stone.’ `A’ishah said to her, ‘Go yourself,’ and she herself refused to do so. The wives of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to come out in night, in disguise and used to perform Tawaf with men. But whenever they intended to enter the Ka`bah, they would stay outside till the men had gone out… (Reported by al-Bukhari)

Next, if a woman wants to go for ‘Umrah, she has to travel with a mahram who can look after her and protect her. She should choose times when the Haram is not crowded. As for times when there is crowding, such as Ramadan, it is better for her to avoid doing ‘Umrah at such times, because of the crowding with men that takes place, when she will not be able to avoid them.

[In answering a question…,] Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him), said that it is better for a woman nowadays, in view of the intense crowding, not to do Hajj repeatedly [multiple times after completing their obligatory Hajj], because that is better for her religious commitment.

(The above reply is based on various answers by Islamqa.info)

From a practical point of view, to segregate the two genders is almost impossible because to ensure that both males and females have enough yet distinct space in all areas and at all times during the pilgrimage in general and tawaf in particular would likely bring the entire pilgrimage to a standstill. What is actually to be discussed here is sinful intermixing which is obviously prohibited.

Let’s not forget that mixing or intermingling of men and women in Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) and the surrounding areas has not been as heavy and dense as it is today. Naturally, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not prohibit it in those days because it did not involve any sins or fasad (evil). However, for the time being, if intermixing does involve any sins, the jurisprudents must decide to make amends to the current method of performing tawaf taking all aspects of their decision into consideration.

It should also be noted that it is wrong to compare the mingling in the precincts of Makkah with a mingling outside this area because generally the people who travel to Makkah are engrossed in themselves or engage in performing the Hajj rituals. There might be very few unfortunate people who would pay attention to sex related issues. That is why some of the Hajj rituals such as the pilgrims’ presence in Arafat has been likened to the scene of resurrection because on the Day of Judgment, people will be resurrected naked but no one would look at others on that day. ‘Aishah (رضي الله عنها) reported: I heard Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) saying, “The people will be assembled on the Day of Resurrection barefooted, naked and uncircumcised”. I said, “O Messenger of Allah! Will the men and the women be together on that Day; looking at one another?” Upon this Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “O Aishah, the matter will be too serious for them to look at one another”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

(The above is paraphrased from an online resource)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam