ABUJA - Nigeria has resumed flights to Saudi Arabia for the spiritual journey of hajj after a dispute with Riyadh over the expulsion of female pilgrims for arriving unaccompanied by male guardians (mahram).
"Since the resumption of flights ... on Sunday a total of 8 flights have been operated conveying 3,786 pilgrims to the holy land," the Hajj Commission of Nigeria said in a statement cited by Reuters on Wednesday, October 3.
"This success was recorded largely as a result of the directive given to state pilgrims' welfare boards, agencies, to ensure that only female pilgrims that have the appropriate Mahram (male companion) are boarded."
A diplomatic row erupted between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia after Riyadh expelled more than 1,000 female pilgrims for not being accompanied by male companions.
The female pilgrims were stranded in Saudi Arabia for days before being sent back to their homeland.
In response, Nigeria suspended hajj flights to the Saudi lands.
Saudi authorities argued that Nigerian pilgrims failed to abide by rules, which require female pilgrims under 45 to have a male sponsor during hajj.
Some Muslim scholars, however, say that a woman is allowed to travel for hajj without a mahram if she travels in the company of trustworthy women and men with whom she will be secure regarding her life, honor, faith and property.
The fatwa cites a change in travelling these days from what it was in the past, particularly group trips like that of Hajj and `Umrah.
In most cases it is safe and a person can be assured regarding his life, family, property, etc.
Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.