Why do women not run between Safa and Marwa?

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Last Updated on 28th January 2022

Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa was asked as to why, during the sa‘ee [walk] between the hills of Safa and Marwa, men ran while women did not, even though Hazrat Hagaras ran in that place. The person asked what the wisdom behind this was. 

Huzooraa, in a letter dated 22 November 2020, gave the following reply to this question: 

“Where, on the one hand, sa‘ee is performed between Safa and Marwa on the occasion of Hajj and Umrah in remembrance of the sacrifice of Hazrat Hagaras and Hazrat Ishmaelas, we also learn from the books of hadith that on the occasion of Umratul Qadha, in order to show the strength of the Muslims to the disbelievers of Mecca, the Holy Prophetsa instructed His Companionsra to run and walk briskly with puffed out chests during the first three circumambulations of the tawaf of the Ka‘bah and the sa‘ee of Safa and Marwa. He also did the same because the disbelievers of Mecca believed that the Muslims who came from Medina were greatly weakened by the fever there. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Hajj) 

“Therefore, according to this instruction and the action of the Holy Prophetsa, running in the first three circumambulations of the tawaf of the Ka‘bah and during the sa‘ee between Safa and Marwa became the sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa for the men performing Hajj and Umrah (given that they have the strength to do so). 

“However, it is not necessary for those who do not have the strength to run, as [is evident from] the response of Hazrat Abdullah bin Umarra (who was walking instead of running during the sa‘ee because of his old age) to the objection of a person. He said, ‘If I used to perform sa‘ee by running, then it was because I saw the Messengersa of Allah performing sa‘ee by running, and if I am now performing the sa‘ee by walking due to my old age, then it is because I also saw the Messengersa of Allah performing the sa‘ee by walking.’” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-Hajj)

“According to Islamic jurists – the fuqaha – running during the tawaf of the House of Allah and during the sa‘ee is a sunnah for men, not for women, because the satar, i.e. purdah that is mandatory for women, cannot be maintained by their running.

“As far as Hazrat Hagar’sas running in search of water is concerned, it was an emergency situation in which Hazrat Ishmaelas had reached a state of dying due to intense thirst. Moreover, it is also mentioned in the narrations that in some places she would walk fast, and at times she would run, just like one sometimes takes quick few steps and also runs out of restlessness to reach a certain place. Nevertheless, there is no such emergency for women on the occasion of Hajj and Umrah. Moreover, there are also men along with women on the occasion of Hajj and Umrah. Therefore, it is considered sufficient for women to walk at a reasonable pace on this occasion so that they are able to follow the sunnah of Hazrat Hagaras while also upholding the commandment of purdah.”

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