LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has directed the religious affairs ministry to permit Shia women to perform Haj without ‘mehram’ [a close male family member] this year.
According to Dawn, Justice Ayesha A. Malik granted the interim relief to Shia women after the ministry’s counsel sought more time to reveal the name of the official who had decided to follow a 2013 recommendation of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) to allow women pilgrims to perform Haj only with mehram.
The judge put off the matter till Oct 14. She was hearing a petition questioning the ‘discriminatory treatment’ meted out to Shia pilgrims, particularly women, during the process to go to Saudi Arabia for Haj.
In the earlier hearing, the ministry told the court that it never sought advice from the CII on the issue, but a parliamentary committee decided to follow the council’s recommendation to allow women to perform Haj only with mehram.
At this, Justice Malik asked the ministry to reveal the name of the official who had enforced the CII recommendation.
The counsel for the petitioner, barrister Maqsooma Zahra Bokhari, argued that the role of the CII was advisory in nature and its recommendations could not be implemented unless they became law.
She asked why the recommendation of the council was not followed before 2016 and she also pointed out that the CII members belonging to the Shia community had dissented from the recommendation.
She further requested the court to direct the ministry to provide facilities to Shia pilgrims as per their Fiqh as the ministry had already committed before the court.