Saturday, December 03, 2005

Who pays for a woman's hajj?

The Pilgrimage — 3: Responsibility for Women’s Religious Duties
Adil Salahi, Arab News

In many Islamic communities where women are used to be looked after financially it is often assumed that a woman’s husband is responsible for her pilgrimage. This assumption is even extended to other Islamic duties such as zakah and the sacrifice at the time of Eid Al-Adha. On the other hand some people suggest that a woman cannot use her husband’s money to fulfill these duties. They claim that if she does, then the duties paid for by her husband are not valid. To such people, a woman must have her own resources or even use her dowry.

In looking at these questions we need to differentiate between responsibility and acceptability. Islam makes each individual, men or women, responsible for their own religious duties. How could men and women be truly equal unless they have equal responsibility? If some of us were responsible for the performance of the religious duties of others, we could not be accountable to God in the same way. It is part of the equal status that Islam has accorded to women that it has made them responsible for the fulfillment of their own religious duties.

A woman does not have to have her husband’s permission in order to perform her religious duties. He, on the other hand, cannot tell her not to perform any such duty, unless he has a very valid reason for that. Even then, such a request by him may be made only within the narrowest of limits and it applies only to few duties. No husband may tell his wife, for example, not to fast in Ramadan unless she is fasting against the express medical advice of her doctor. Similarly, he may not tell her not to go on pilgrimage for her obligatory duty, unless there is a very good reason for that, such as the route being unsafe.

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