Saudi Arabia detains 400 Nigerian female hajj pilgrims, ‘It’s an insult,’ says Sultan

Grand Kaaba, a building at the center of Islam's most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram. PICTURE CREDIT:

Four hundred female pilgrims from Nigeria, who arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia yesterday for this year’s hajj,  have been separated from their male counterparts and detained by Saudi authorities, the Daily Trust newspaper is reporting this morning.

According to the report, the Saudis requested each female pilgrim to provide her muharram, that is, the approved male companion accompanying her on her trip, usually a husband, father or brother.

Those who could not produce any, the report said, were detained, with the authorities threatening to deport them back to Nigeria.

Daily Trust reports that the pilgrims arrived Jeddah in two separate Max Air flights Sunday afternoon.

One of the planes, it said,  conveyed pilgrims from Jigawa State while the second had pilgrims from Sokoto State.

“The nearly 400 women were only allowed to be supplied with water and food by the Saudis after strenuous efforts by the Nigerian Consul in Jeddah and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Alhaji Nurudeen,” the paper said.

When Daily Trust contacted Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad, who is the Amirul Hajj , he condemned the action of the Saudi authorities, describing it as “an insult to Nigeria and to this country’s millions of Muslims.”

The Sultan reportedly said, “They never raised this issue and never demanded that the female pilgrims must have a muharram. They did not make this a requirement for issuing visas. They issued visas to all these pilgrims, only to embarrass, detain and threaten to deport them when they arrived in the holy land. How can they do this to us?

“The chairman of the National Hajj Commission assured me that the Saudis never asked for this during all the meetings they held. This is very unfortunate. We have done a lot over the years to improve on our hajj operation and we do not deserve this humiliation.”

The Sultan also told the paper that he had ordered the Nigerian pilgrims to resist any attempt to deport them.

“Let the Saudis physically carry them into the planes and deport them,” he said. “They issued them with valid visas, only to shift the goal posts at the very last minute, when they had already arrived in Jeddah.”



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  • kapkap

    It may sound very painful, but to be candid, I am very disappointed at the Nigerian authorities as well as the sultan. This is not an issue of politics but rather a religious affair.
    For me, the Saudi authorities are on track. This is what has been killing our country. We always refused to abide by the law and yet always want to have our way.
    If you allow Nigerians, they will protest their judgement on judgement day all in the pretext that they were never informed before hand and they are all lying.
    If we are true Muslims like we profess, do we need to be told before hand that every lady (female) should have a muharam where ever she is going regardless of Saudi or not? Even if she is going to her next door neighbor, she need a muharam. Na wah for Nija o, even religion affairs now, we wan twist the rule the way wey we want. How we dey expect say God go listen to us If not for His mercy when we cannot differentiate between religious and religious affairs? Don’t get me wrong, am a full blooded and believing Muslim to the core and will always stand for the truth whenever I see or hear it.

    • @Kapkap
      May Allah reward you for enlightening us further on this issue. But in Islam there are issues the Scholars differ on and this is one of them, a woman travelling for Hajj (or other journeys without a Mahram (very close relative)). Some have taken the position that based on the 3 ahadiths (sayings of the Prophet (SAW)) that she’s not permitted to travel for a specific time without a Mahram. But then other scholars discuss the issue of women’s Hajj, which is compulsory upon all the Muslims that have the means atleast once in their lifetime. A woman that has the means of performing this 5th pillar of Islam, Malik, Al-awza’y, Ash-Shafi’i, Ibn Taymiyya, and Qardawi (in the present era) all said it is permitted for her to travel once the road is safe even without a Mahram. They based their judgements based on 2 ahadiths, that Umar (RA), during his reign, permitted the Prophet (SAW) wives to perform Hajj and sent Othman Ibn-Affan and Abdul-Rahaman (both were not Mahrams to them) to accompany them (Bukhari); the Prophet (SAW) in the hadith of Adyy Ibn-Hatim talked about the future of Islam and how it will spread throughout the world. Among what he said was, ” … you will certainly see that a lady in a Howdah traveling from al-Hira, heading for Makkah, without her husband, fearing none but Allah…”. This hadith implies not only that what the Prophet (pbuh) said would happen, but also that is it permissible.

      So opinions on this issue differ, and considering the realities of our time, the one that says a woman can travel considering the safe means available today is preferable because it is also based on evidences and the need for them to perform this important pillar of Hajj. And Allah knows best.

    • Ishaq

      Musab Muhammad has said it all below. In addition, Islam DOES NOT require a woman to have a Mahram (Not Muharam) when going to her neighbour! My regards

  • Mohammed Muazu

    @Sultan, as par you are concern you shouldn’t have to wait for somebody to tell you on the right practice of Islam. Muharram to a woman is stated not by man but by God, why waiting for Saudi to remind you, after all you are SARKIN MUSULMAI

    • Ishaq

      Mal Muhammed, I suggest you read your takwara’s post below on the ‘Mahram’ (not Muharram) issue. Allah Ya kara ganar da mu.

  • Kamal

    I strongly disagree with Sultan position.Mahram is a condition precedent for female visa to Hajj visa.I attended last Umurrah five weeks ago and I remember an elderly woman of about 68yrs was not allowed to board Medview flight just because he could not produce me,her supposedly Mahram.It was then it realized that my name was printed on her visa as being her custodian for the period of the lesser hajj.The question now is,were the 400 female involved had no Marhram endorsed on their visas courtesy of Hajj officialls neglect?Why did Saudi Embbassy in Nigeria issued them visas without their?It was for Hajj officials,who have being conducting this exercise year round,to Salam

  • Geskya

    if women performing hajj are detained for not doing what saudi authorities require, how is it a a problem of Nigeria as a nation. Nigeria’s meddlesomeness in religious affairs of individuals is the bane of religious crisis in Nigeria, Government should hand off pligrimage matters completely, let individuals arrange their trip to mecca or Isreal, pure and simple.

    • @Geskya….. Countries should be worried about their citizens everywhere they are in the world. Haven’t you heard on several occasions the House of Assembly discussing about the plight of Nigerians on death row and prisons in several Asian countries. Or you mean the Government should not be concerned since they are Muslim women?

  • @ Musab: May Allah reward you abundantly for giving this insight. We need to be very cautious on issues such as this. I hope the Sultan was not quoted out context, as usual.

    • MashaAllah!if this hadiths r authenti.May Allah increase us ol in knowledge.