FAQs & Fatwas Women

Is it Okay for A Woman To Travel On Her Own?

Question: Is it haraam (prohibited) for a woman to travel on her own, or live one her own in a separate city from her family, or is it makrooh (disliked)? Is it something that the shuyukh have consensus on or dispute? I’m currently attending Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

Answer: I have researched this subject before and from the many opinions and the principles concerning this matter going back to the Salaf, I have understood the following.

1. Originally, there is a prohibition for a woman to travel alone without a mahram to somewhere which takes over one day and one night to get there. The Hadith is in Bukhari #1088

2. When examining this Hukm (ruling) with regards to its wisdoms (‘ilal) and validity in today’s much different world than the world in which this Hukm was revealed. One point is that back then they would travel much slower by camels and walking. Secondly, the Prophet was speaking about the desert where there were no police and no security in most cases. You see ukhti (sister) I have found in my experience as someone trying to follow in the path of the Salaf and the people of ‘ilm from the Khalaf, it isn’t just clean cut and black and white; Allah says… or the Prophet said… There are many other factors to be considered and many people don’t grasp this most crucial point in Fiqh. The Prophet (saws) was not making rulings which were expected to remain exactly as they are until the Day of Judgment. In truth, he (saws) was laying the foundation and establishing principles for the guidance that we may be able to apply them in any given circumstances whether they are old or new.

3. That being said and Allah knows best- I would say with almost certainty that the purpose of traveling with a male escort is for protection from possible harm. If it could be said that there is just as much chance for harm to come your way going to the local store as it would going to Stillwater then if that chance was scarce then it would only be recommended to have a male escort in going to Stillwater, but not necessarily Makarooh to go without one since you have a noble purpose and aren’t going to “hang out” or do something impermissible. Indeed, it could even be considered recommended or even obligatory to go according to individual circumstances. The precedence and obligation of seeking knowledge is not just about Deen. It is anything which is beneficial to mankind as well. If the chance of harm was more -and I’m pretty sure it isn’t -then it would become obligatory whether traveling or not to have an escort.

And of course, as mentioned the original ruling is in the case that in the inner rural and suburbian area is mostly secure and that traveling is dangerous.

As far as an unmarried Muslim woman going to live away from her family for college, I would have to say that the rule mainly goes to the parents if they are practicing Muslims (‘udool) since they know the personal tendencies of their daughter better than anyone. As far as Shari’ah is concerned, I would say that it would be obligatory that if her parents saw her as capable of undergoing this big change then she must live with a practicing Muslim girl as her roommate and that she try to be part of the local MSA making good ties with them. Other than that I am pretty sure that living with a non-Muslim or a “Muslim by name” will open the door to Shaytan therefore we must shut it.

If in the probable case she could only find a roommate who wasn’t necessarily a practicing Muslim, but is for sure not into sex, drugs, alcohol, or other major sins then it might be permissible as long as she was strong in her Deen and knows that she wouldn’t be affected by her roommate.

And Allah knows best.

About the author

John (Yahya) Ederer

John (Yahya) Ederer

Imam John Yahya Ederer left a life of spiritual decadence and embraced Islam in 1998. In 2002, he accepted a scholarship offer from the Islamic American University in Michigan and spent 6 years travelling the Muslim world studying with prominent scholars. He attained an associates with IAU, a certification of mastery of the Arabic sciences from the ministry of education in Egypt, a diploma in Islamic Studies from the Cordoba Institute in Kuwait and a license with one of the highest chains of transmission in Qur’an memorization and recitation. He served as the Religious Director of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida for two years and now lives with his wife and two children in Charlotte, North Carolina where he serves as Imam of the Muslim American Society. He currently sits on the clergy board of one of the largest interfaith coalitions in Mecklenburg Ministries and is a board member of the Shamrock Drive Development Association.


  • “As far as Shari’ah is concerned, I would say that it would be obligatory that if her parents saw her as capable of undergoing this big change then she must live with a practicing Muslim girl as her roommate…[ ]…then it might be permissible as long as she was strong in her Deen and knows that she wouldn’t be affected by her roommate”

    EXCELLENT! As a med school student, I can assure you this is so relevant, beneficial, and pertinent. Sisters please be careful; it definitely makes a difference. And as sad as it may seem (in terms of one’s persistence and strength in staying on the right path, or the lack thereof), it is a lot easier to falter when you aren’t with the company that constantly keeps you in contact with your deen and the remembrance of Allah (swt).

  • Asalamu alaycom

    About time someone explained this. . . ! well balanced explanations, inshallah it will eradicate confusion amongst muslimahs, especially with regards to seeking knowledge, lets rebuild our ummah with female scholars 😀


  • Asalamu alaykum,

    I would like to commend Ustadhi Aba Majid for this timely and well thought out piece. While some will certainly not agree with him, I found the same argument given by a large number of scholars and that is that safety and security is the cause for this prohibition and not the actual act of travel. For that reason one could understand while some schools of law allowed a woman to travel with a large group of people even if her mahram was not present. This was illustrated by Imam al-Baji [may Allah have mercy upon him] the great Maliki scholar of usol and hadith who noted about a woman who went to hajj in a large group, “When a woman travels in such a group it is to me as though she is in the market place or in a populated road in her own city.” Although the malikis do not allow a woman to travel alone, except in certain situations, I think there is breath in the law, as articulated by Dr. al-Qaradawi and others, to allow this very healthy discussion to take place.

    Another area of research would be the reasons for travel [why a woman travels]l: For that reason the scholars of law allowed a woman to travel alone if she is obligated to return to her homeland [for example her husband divorced her and her ‘ida was complete], if she had converted to Islam and needed to migrate to a Muslim community [this was applied historically to a woman who accepted Islam in hostile territory], if she is had a good reason to believe that she, or her children, could be harmed [by her husband for example] if she stayed with him. So we must ask what are the reasons that many sisters are traveling [for study/work/ family]? Such questions, in today’s times, must be addressed and the scholars of the faith are more than equipped to address them. I know of more than a few cases where a sister moved far away from home with her husband and, may Allah guide us, he began to abuse her or threaten her. In such cases she is allowed to travel without a guardian.

    Finally, I asked Dr. Ahmed Taha Rayan [head of the comparative fiqh department al-Azhar and member of the Egyptian Research and Fatwa Council] about this and he stated that if her family, as noted by Sh. Abu Majeed, could insure her safety while traveling and secure her a safe place regarding her studies, then there was no problem to allow her to study.

    Allah knows best

  • As salaamu alykum,
    great post shiekh!!! I just think we should be careful about letting out fatawa like this. As we know many incidents of western muslimahs overseas facing harrasment etc. For an example. I study overseas and I live next to some sisters. I here there front door banging 3 in the morning. Now this makes me worry. I really dont know howa father or a brother would let their daughter do such a thing.

  • As-salamu alaikum Akhi Baladi,
    This is not a fatwa as I am not qualified to give one, but it is personal advice based upon many opinions found in the madhahib (especially when looking at the opinions concerning going to Hajj) and based upon sound principles known in shari’ah as well as the application in the fiqh of minorities by someone who has a decent, yet not comprehensive understanding of these feilds of knowledge. It’s a take it or leave it issue that is not crystal clear in the texts or based on consesus. That is why there is much disagreement on the issue. That being said the sister is talking about traveling an hour and half which by camel may take a day, but I would have to re-research the issue based upon individual circumstances when talking about going over seas.

  • baladi: then, go after those people who are banging at the door of the muslimahs! Call the police. The criminals must be captured, not women being locked up in the house with a prison guard with a whip over her head, deprived of opportunities for good education and a good life. Ever heard of a civilized society where there’s law and order and security and people are safe to live normal good lives? From what I understand, I thought the goal of the islamic society was to create a safe society where women and children and everyone is safe to live normal good lives and are able to have basic freedom of movement such as if they have to or want to go meet a friend or relative or go out to nearby library to spend some quiet time reading, they can. i.e the streets should be safe such that women can live a normal life (of course with hijab).

    I am really really really sick of double standards. It’s as if men have no danger at all when they go outside but they still go everywhere. There are bars outside for men’s attraction at nearly every corner, pornographic material and alcohol at 7-11 and everywhere, but no one is sending out a fatwa to the men that they should not go out. There are also gangs out there which want to recruit men and there’s drug addiction luring the men, there are a lot of dangers for men. The prophet (saw) said something like the men should not travel alone either. He told them to travel in group of at least three. But guess what: no one cares. No one cares what the prophet (saw) said when it comes to men. They are free to do whatever they want or so they think. What about living alone: doesn’t the religion even prefer the men not to live/be alone but be in a jamaat? Again, no one cares what islam says when it comes to men.

    The prophet (saw) even said something like after the fard salat and after their jobs outside are over, men should stay at home. He told men not to loaf around on the streets. But guess what: no one cares what the prophet (saw) said when it comes to men. You’ll never even hear it repeated much.

    There are men who believe in complete seclusion of women in their houses but these same men would bring male guests in the house and the women have to go hiding in some corner of the house starving until the male guests are gone. I thought the prophet (saw) said that the woman is queen of her house. But again, no one cares what the prophet (saw) when it comes to inconveniencing the men a bit. They want their friends to come over and they want to have a nice social gathering and chit chat with the food all cooked for by the women. I thought in the religion it is preferable not to bring male guests in the house so that women don’t have to be inconvienienced having to wear hijab and all in the house, but guess what, no one cares.

    When it comes to ease in the religion, they just want to apply this concept for men. It’s like there’s no ease in the religion for women: that’s what they want and love because a lot of these men are real tyrants. They love the control of another human being. They’re complete losers outside the home, so they want to be the “Big Boss” at home. The main thing about the “qawwamma” verse is to gurantee woman financial security: if she doesn’t have a father, she has a brother i.e there’s always someone to help her out if she’s falling short of money. But guess what, when it comes to financially supporting, these men start panicking: they dont’ want to financially support, they just want to boss around. From where I come from, a female is a burden. No one wants her. People cry when she is born. She is dealth with harshly whereas her brother is spoken to in the plural by his own mother. Her brother and family forces her to quickly get married off to whoever comes along with a bit of money whether she likes
    him or not, because the brother doesn’t want to financially support her after the father died. These men don’t want to financially support. They just want to boss around. Why don’t you then allow women to go get a decent education and get good jobs and become financially independent because the brothers and family DO NOT WANT TO FINANCIALLY SUPPORT HER. Otherwise, she’s just forced into marriages she doesn’t want to get into and the “burden” she is is passed on to her husband and since she’s such a burden she has to slave around her husband’s house from morning to night taking care of her mother-in-law and all the in-laws as gesture (only a gesture) of gratitude to them for “accepting” this burden. If she is divorced, she isn’t even wanted back. The exact opposite of the purpose of the “qawamma” verse.

    There are men who are very strict about women not entering the mosques, saying that it is better for women to pray at home. You will often find these same men praying at home instead of the mosques. I thought it was better for men to pray in the mosque than in their houses? So, it is okay for you not to pray at your preferred place of prayer, but for me it’s strictly forbidden.

    I am sure most women would welcome protection IF THERE IS CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. If there is a rapist out there, obviously I would want to take a body guard along. duh! But most of the time it’s safe (and it should be safe most of the time in a civilized society) and the male relatives just want someone to boss around and keep under their feet and for their own personal lives have full freedom to do whatever they want.

    The religion doesn’t have anything against a woman travelling, provided it’s safe and she’s dressed properly and all. The religion doesn’t have anything against a woman doing anything, provided it is good and it doesn’t involve any of the major sins, and provided she’s dressed properly. As long as women are not doing the catwalk on the streets and they are not behaving like Britney Spears and others and aren’t transgressing the major limits of the religion, there’s hardly any restriction on woman. But by the way some people talk, it’s like we can’t even move a muscle.

    • VERY VERY WELL SAID, SISTER!!! You put it the way it is. Exactly!!!!!!
      Fully agree with all your points. One additional thing maybe: Some men don’t care about their hijab either: They don’t even think about trimming their mustaches and growing their beards – out of PRIDE, but talk badly about women who don’t wear proper hijab. Some men don’t care about their awra in the summer. You can’t even distinguish them from the non-muslims. But they’ll point at muslim women, who dare to walk in the public. So sad people are leaving the sunnah and neglecting their duties but are eager to remind women of their responsibilities, restrictions and duties.

      May Allah (swt) bless you and forgive all of us. Ameen.

      Jazakallah Khayran sister.

  • Asalamu Alaikum,

    I have a question. Where do we draw the line for interpreting a ruling within a certain context. For example the ruling above of women traveling alone makes sense, but taking part in usury b/c it is everywhere in the U.S. economy probably isnt something that would be accepted. So how do we know which laws always apply and which laws are only for a certain society or situation?

  • Re: Sister Muslimah’s post

    I think one of the very regrettable facts of out time is a lack of female independent scholars. I mean even though there are a few, they are little heard of in comparison to the male scholars and thus many a times, the male scholars issue verdicts based upon statistics and assumptions.

    The point you make “the criminals must be captured, not women being locked up in the house with…” is a very good one, and makes us think about how the principle of “Sadd Ath Thaari” meaning “Cutting the pretext to an evil” is used and abused. I mean, for example in Saudi, women are prohibited from driving based upon this principle which does not make sense whatsoever and all the scholars I sat with simply laugh at this very weak loose application of this principle.
    Sheikh Sâmî al-Mâjid on Shaykh Salman Auda’s website mentions the fact that at least 50% of the time something must lead to a harm in order for that to be prohibited and even then, other scholars say it must be more than 50%. Ibn Taymiyah says in Majmû` al-Fatâwâ (23/186)
    “That which is prohibited on account of it being a means to wrongdoing is allowed in consideration of an overriding benefit, like the permissibility of taking a look at a woman before considering marrying her. Looking at a woman (with desire) is only prohibited because it can lead to sin. Therefore, when looking at a woman results in an overriding benefit, it is no longer regarded as a means to sin.”
    I think this definitely needs to looked in the issue of travelling for education etc…

    We also need to think about who should have their freedom restricted, the criminals/offenders or the victims, although it does make sense to have some precautions taken by possible victims, which you mention such as the hijab and so on. It also seems that the idea of “Freedom” in relation to women is kind of marginalized when discussing issues such as these.

    Sister Muslimah says “no one cares what the prophet (saw) said when it comes to men” I am sure you did not mean this, and are saying this out of emotion. Yet, I still advise you to avoid generalising.

    Regarding the male guests and women being shoved in the corner, again, what seems most correct is what Shaykh Qaradawi (h) has mentioned that far from just eating with the male guests but a woman may serve her husband’s guests as long as she adheres to the Islamic standards in her dress, movements, and speech. This is also what Ibn Hajar states after the authentic Hadith regarding Abu Usayd al-Sa’adi inviting the Prophet, which is narrated by both Bukhari and Muslim and others.
    We need to differentiate what Islam requires and what Men want from their women as a result of their excessive protection and Jealousy (Ghayrah) towards them and as a result of culture. It is unfortunate that many scholars have judged based on the latter more than the former. However, we should still not generalise. One of my teachers, a mufti, once in a gathering in his house, demanded that the women eat first and the men wait, contrary to the norm as the men usually eat first. Also, much of the problems can be avoided through mushawarah – Consultation with the wife.

    It is also true that men are greedy for power, and hence a lot of the stuff we hear is actually men trying to keep power. Hence, if we had more reputable female scholars, then I think it would be a more balanced discourse.

    The issue of maintenance – Its sad that there are Muslims that still view a female as a burden. One of the objectives of the Prophet’s mission was to change this evil perception.

    The issue of the mosque, I have found, and Allah knows best, that the men from the sub-continent and even the Ulama there have a very negative view towards women attending the mosque. Thus, we rarely find mosques run by brothers from the sub-continent in the UK that have facilities for sisters. The Arabs in general, do provide space for women and do not have a problem with this. Thus this is again a problem of culture taking precedence over Nass (explicit text) since the Prophet (S) specifically said not to prohibit women from the Mosques.

    I understand the emotions of the sister and it is a good thing that you have posted your comments, however, I would suggest that you avoid generalising. Also, read more on these topics (by good balanced scholars like Bin Bayyah) and you’ll see that Islam is more than just “do’s and don’ts” but a living system that responds to peoples needs.


  • http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=10&ID=1993&CATE=143

    Can Women Travel Without A Mahram?


    In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

    Generally, it is impermissible for a woman to travel the distance of three days (equivalent to 48 miles) without her husband or a Mahram (unmarriageable kin) accompanying her.

    There are many clear narrations of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in this regard.

    1) Sayyiduna Abu Sa�id al-Khudri (mayAllah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him & give him peace) said: �Let no woman travel for more than three days unless her husband or a Mahram is with her�. (Sahih Muslim).

    2) Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: �A woman must not travel for three days except with a Mahram�. (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1036 & Sahih Muslim).

    3) Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: �It is unlawful for a woman who believes in Allah and the last day that she travels the distance of one day and one night without a Mahram accompanying her�. (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1038).

    4) Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: �’A woman must not travel except with a Mahram and a man must not enter upon her except if she has a Mahram�. (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1763).

    Imam Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) states in his monumental commentary of Sahih Muslim:

    �There are many such narrations that assert the impermissibility of a woman travelling without a Mahram. These narrations vary in their wordings. The narration of Ibn Abbas in Sahih al-Bukhari says that a woman must not travel without a Mahram, but it adds nothing else. However, the other narrations, in Sahih al-Bukhari and elsewhere, mention lengths of journeys for which a Mahram is required – some of the narrations specify three days, some two, some one, and some even less�.

    Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) mentions that the difference found in these narrations is due to the different questioners and the places wherein the answers were given to them. al-Bayhaqi said: �It is as though the messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) was asked regarding travelling for three days without a Mahram, and he refused. He was then asked about her travelling for two days, and regarding one day, etc and each narrator related from him what he heard�. (See: Commentary of Sahih Muslim by Imam Nawawi, 1015).

    According to the Hanafi Ijtihad, the distance that is considered here is three days and three nights, for the narrations mentioning three days & three nights have reached the level of certainty. All the Companions who narrated other than three days also narrate the distance of three days and three nights. The narrations that mention two or one day will be restricted to specific circumstances, such as the fear of more fitna. Hence, they (Hanafi School) consider the narrations that mention three days & three nights as the basis of prohibition. (Zafar Ahmad al-Tahanawi, I�la al-Sunan, V. 10, P. 11).

    It must be remarked here that this refers to the distance usually covered by walking or on a animal in three days & three nights (with the usual breaks for resting and eating). Therefore, the restriction of travelling with a Mahram applies if the distance of the journey exceeds this, even if the journey itself is accomplished in a shorter time.

    The scholars have differed on the length of this distance. Many scholars are of the opinion that it is 16 Farsakh, and each Farsakh equals three miles, thus totalling to 48 miles. (See: Faydh al-Bari ala Sahih al-Bukhari, 2/397).

    Thus, the Hanafi Fuqaha are very clear in that a woman must not travel to the distance of three days without her husband or Mahram accompanying her.

    The great Hanafi Jurist, Imam al-Kasani (Allah have mercy on him) states:

    �One of the conditions for the permissibility of a woman travelling for Hajj is that she is accompanied by her husband or a Mahram. If neither of them is accompanying her, then Hajj will not be obligatory.

    Our (Hanafi school) proof is what Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) narrated from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) that he said: �Verily, a woman must no travel for Hajj except that her Mahram is accompanying her�. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) also said: �A woman must not travel except that her Mahram or Husband is with her�. Also, a woman is unsafe if her husband or Mahram is not accompanying her, and this is the reason why it is even impermissible for her to travel on her own (meaning, not in the company of a stranger, m), and this fear (of their safety, m) is increased when they are in a group. This is the reason why it is impermissible for a man to be in seclusion (khalwa) with a non-Mahram woman even if she has another woman accompanying her�. (Bada�i al-Sana�i, 2/1230).

    It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:

    �One of the conditions for a woman, whether young or old, to a able to travel for Hajj is that she is accompanied by her Mahram if the distance between her and Makkah is of three days. If the travelling distance is less than that, then she will perform Hajj without her Mahram�. (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 219).

    Imam al-Haskafi (may Allah have mercy on him) also states the same ruling in his renowned Durr al-Mukhtar, on which Allama Ibn Abidin (may Allah have mercy on him) commentates with the following:

    �It is impermissible for a woman to travel the distance of three days and three nights. However, it will be permissible for her to travel the distance which is less than that without a Mahram because of need. It is reported from Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf (Allah have mercy on them both) that they disliked the travelling of a woman on herself even to the travel distance of one day and one night, and the Fatwa should be on this opinion due to the widespread immorality. This is also affirmed by the Hadith recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim: �It is Impermissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the last day that she travels the distance of one day and one night except with a Mahram accompanying her�. However, it is stated in al-Fath (fath al-Qadir of Ibn al-Humam, m): �When the relied upon opinion is the first (i.e., distance of three days and three nights, m), the husband does not have a right to prevent her from performing Hajj if the distance between her and Makkah is less than three days�. (Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 2/465).

    The above excerpts from the major reference books in the Hanafi School clearly indicate the impermissibility of a woman travelling without her Mahram or Husband. So much so, that we see Ibn Abidin (A major authority) stating that due to widespread immorality and corruption in his time, a woman should not be even allowed to travel the distance of one day (even though, the fatwa is on three days and three nights/48 miles). If that was the case in his time, then what would the ruling be in our age?

    It should be remembered here, that the basis for this ruling is not an evil assumption about the woman and her manners, as some people unreasonably think, but it is to take care of her reputation, dignity and safety. It is to protect her from the desires of those who have diseased hearts, from the assault of an immoral person or a thief.

    Some contemporary people argue that travelling in modern times have changed from how it was in the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). It is incumbent upon us to look at travelling in our time. It is not like how travelling was in the past. It is not filled with the dangers of the waterless deserts, encounters with thieves, highway robbers, etc. Now travelling is by various modes of transportation that usually gather large amounts of people at a time, such as planes, cars, buses, ships, etc�Thus, this provides plenty of confidence and reliability, removing feelings of fear for the woman, because she will not be by herself in any place, and the principle of Islamic Jurisprudence states: �Rulings change due to the changing of times�. Also, some classical scholars have made exceptions with regards to the impermissibility of women travelling in that they may travel in a group, or if there is no fear or risk of Fitna, it would be permissible.

    The above understanding is incorrect due to many reasons, and the permissibility of women travelling without a Mahram can not be justified on its basis.

    Firstly, the principle of Islamic jurisprudence quoted above is surely an accepted theory among the classical Fuqaha, but one needs to understand the concept behind this principle. The meaning of �laws changing� is not that the laws of Shariah will change in accordance with the time and era, rather, laws that are based on custom and habit (urf ) or the rules of Fiqh which are based on juristic opinion (ra�i) or Ijtihad have often been formulated in the light of prevailing custom. It is therefore permissible to depart from them if the custom on which they were founded changes in the course of time. Rulings that are based upon clear texts of the Qur�an and Sunnah can never change. The scholars of Usul al-Fiqh stipulate that a custom or a practice which is contrary to the text of the Qur�an and Sunnah is an unacceptable custom (urf al-Fasid). (See: Ibn Abidin, Nashr al-Urf fi bina ba�d al-ahkam ala al-urf, P. 115).

    Secondly, there is a Difference between legal Wisdoms and legal Reasons. The rulings of Shariah are always based on the reason (illa) and not the wisdom (hikma) behind it.

    An example for this is that the wisdom behind the prohibition of wine and alcohol is that it creates enmity and hatred between people and it hinders one from the remembrance of Allah. The reason, however, is that it is an intoxicating substance. Now, if one was to say that wine will be Halal for me, as I will lock myself up after drinking wine, thus no destruction will be caused. Any sane person will conclude that he is wrong, as wine is Haram whether you cause any destruction and damage to others or not. The reason being, that the cause for the prohibition of wine is that it intoxicates you, regardless of whether the wisdom is present or not. (See: Usul al-Iftaa & other usul books).

    This can be understood more clearly with an example from our day to day life. The law states that the driver must stop his car when the lights are red. The wisdom behind this ruling is that it stops and prevents accidents. However, the reason (illa) for this ruling is the lights being red. Now, a driver who is driving in the middle of the night sees that the light is red, but does not see any sign of a car. If the law was based on the wisdom (which is to prevent accidents), then it would be permissible for his to drive through the red light. However, as it is common knowledge, that despite there being no possibility of an accident, he must stop his car otherwise he will be arrested if caught, for the law is based upon the reason and not the wisdom.

    The same is with women travelling without a Mahram. The wisdom behind this ruling is surely to save her from the dangers that can be encountered in the journey. However, this is not the legal reason. The reason (illa) is her travelling the distance of three days and three nights, thus whether the journey is safe, in a plane or on foot, it will remain impermissible.

    This is very similar to the ruling of shortening the prayers whilst on journey a (qasr). The wisdom behind the ruling is undue hardship (mashaqqa); however, this is not the reason. The reason is the travelling distance of three days and three nights. Therefore, all the Hanafi scholars (classic and contemporary) have declared that it is incumbent upon a traveller to shorten the fardh prayers, even if one was in a perfectly comfortable journey. We don�t see people suggesting that the prayers must not be shortened due to the modern day means of transport!

    Thirdly, if one was to look at the exceptions made by some of the classical scholars of the other schools of thought, it would be evident that these exceptions and dispensations are only in relation to the journey of Hajj. The reason for this is that there has been a lot of emphasis in the Qur�an and Sunnah regarding the obligation of Hajj, thus we have two types of texts that apparently contradict one another. However, this can never be generalized to all types of journeys.

    For example, Imam Nawawi, the great Shafi�i jurist (may Allah have mercy on him) states in his monumental commentary of Sahih Muslim:

    �There is a consensus (ijma�) of the Ummah that it is obligatory upon a woman to perform Hajj if she is able to do so, due to the general nature of the verse: �Pilgrimage to the house of Allah is a duty men owe to Allah for those who can afford the journey� (Ali Imran, 97), and because of the Hadith �Islam is based on five things�. However, scholars differ as to whether a Mahram is a pre-requisite for a woman to perform the Hajj. Abu Hanifa (Allah have mercy on him) considers it a condition for the Hajj to be obligatory unless the distance between her and Makkah is less than three Marahil. His opinion is also endorsed by a group of Hadith scholars, people of ra�i, Hasan al-Basri and Nakha�i (Allah have mercy on them all). However, Ata, Sa�id ibn Jubayr, Ibn Sirin, Malik, al-Awzai�i, Shafi�i (Allah have mercy on them all) say that a Mahram is not a pre-requisite in order for her travelling to Hajj; rather the condition is safety in the journey. Some of our (Shafi�i) scholars have said: �Safety will be acquired with the husband, Mahram or a group of trustworthy women, and Hajj is not obligatory if one of these three is not found. Therefore, if there was only one trustworthy woman, Hajj would not be obligatory, but to perform Hajj will be permissible. This is the correct opinion��

    Our (Shafi�i) scholars differed as to the ruling of her travelling for optional Hajj, visiting family and friends, for business or other such journeys that are not obligatory. Some said: �It will be permissible for her travel for these causes with a group of trustworthy women just as this is permissible for the obligatory Hajj. However, the majority of the scholars (jumhur) state that it is impermissible for her to travel unless accompanied by her husband or Mahram, and this is the correct opinion due to the authentic and established narrations. Qadhi Iyad (a major Maliki scholar, m) said: �All the scholars have agreed on the fact that a woman can not travel besides Hajj and Umrah except in the company of her Mahram,with the exception of migrating from Dar al-Harb, for the reason that it is unlawful (haram) for her to remain in the lands of the Kuffar�. (Nawawi, al-Minhaj sharh Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, P. 1015, Dar ibn Hazm, Beirut).

    The above excerpt of Imam Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) indicates that the dispensation given for a woman to travel in a group of upright and trustworthy women or with one upright woman is only in the journey of Hajj. The great Maliki scholar, Qadhi Iyad (from whom Imam Nawawi quoted) relates the consensus of all the scholars.

    Imam Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) confirms this in his al-Majmu� where he states:

    �The second opinion (in the Shafi�i school) is that a woman must not travel for other than Hajj without a Mahram, and this is the correct opinion and clearly related from Imam Shafi�i himself in his al-Umm. The reason is that to travel for other than Hajj is not obligatory�. Thereafter he quotes all the narrations that have been narrated from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in this regard. (See: Kitab al-Majmu� Sharh al-Muhazzab, 7/460).

    The Maliki Madhab is also quite clear on this. We have already cited the opinion of Qadhi Iyad in Imam Nawawi�s commentary. Also, one of the major authorities in the Maliki school, Imam Dasouqi (may Allah have mercy on him) sates:

    �If the journey is obligatory (like Hajj, m), it will be permissible for her to travel in the company of a Mahram, husband or a group of trustworthy and upright people. If the journey is recommended (mandub, and not obligatory), then it will be permitted for her to travel with only her husband or a Mahram and not in a group�. (Hashiya al-Dasouqi ala Sharh al-Kabir, 2/14).

    The Hanbali school is similar to the Hanafi school in that a woman must not travel without her Mahram accompanying her even for the auspicious journey of Hajj. Imam al-Bahuti (may Allah have mercy on him) states:

    �If a woman performed Hajj without a Mahram, this will be unlawful (haram) for her, although the obligation of Hajj will be lifted�. (Kashaf al-Qina ala matn al-Iqna, 2/213. Also see: Ibn Qudama, al-Mugni, 3/236-237).

    The foregoing is clear in determining that none of the four major Fiqh schools of thought permit a woman to travel without her husband or a Mahram in a journey besides Hajj. The Shafi�i and Maliki schools give an dispensation in that she may travel onlyfor Hajj in a group of trustworthy and upright women (or one woman, according to some) given the importance and significance of the ritual of Hajj.

    Therefore, it will not be permissible for a woman to travel over 48 miles in order to visit her family and friends, acquire knowledge or any other social reason. It is also strictly impermissible in the Hanafi and Hanbali schools for her to travel for Hajj, and permissible with a group of upright women, however, in the Shafi�i and Maliki schools.

    Some try to justify women�s travelling with the Hadith where the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) mentioned that a woman will travel and perform Tawaf of the Ka�ba without a husband with her (Sahih al-Bukhari). This Hadith seems to suggest the permissibility of women travelling alone, but it needs further, more precise analysis. The Shafi�i school, for example, considered this Hadith as evidence that a woman may travel for Hajj without a Mahram if the journey is safe. The Hanafi jurists, however, pointed out that this Hadith is an account of something which is going to happen, and as such is not a sign of its approval or permissibility. In any case, it seems very shaky to deduce a general permissibility of a woman travelling alone in safety just from this hadith, especially in view of all the other evidences. (See: Fath al-Bari, Umdat al-Qari & I�la al-Sunan).

    It must be remarked here that the Shariah principle is that unlawful things become permissible in case of necessity, such as consuming pork becomes permissible when one fears death out of hunger. Contemporary scholars have given a dispensation in that if a woman does not have a Mahram (for one reason or another) and she is in a dire situation, then it will be permissible for her to travel. One of the great contemporary scholars, Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Taqi al-Usmani (may Allah preserve him) states:

    �However, in the case of a woman who has neither a husband nor a father, nor does she have some other relative who could support her financially, nor does she have enough funds to take care of her needs, it would, under this situation, become permissible for her to go out of the house under legal hijab and earn her living to the limit of her need. Now, when this purpose can be easily achieved while living in one’s own country or city, then there is no need to travel to a foreign land. If there is no other way for her, but to travel to another city, and she does not have any Mahrams, then only in this situation it will be permissible for her to take the opinion of Imam Shafi�i and Imam Malik, for they have given permission for her to travel with a group of trustworthy women [in such situations]�. (Buhuth fi qadhaya fiqhiyya al-mu�asira, P. 338).

    I would like to add here that, as we have seen, the Shafi�i and Maliki schools have only given a dispensation in travelling for Hajj, thus this dispensation would be based on the concept of necessity.

    Finally before parting, it would be wise to mention, that a woman’s Mahram is a permanently non-marriageable male relative of hers. According to the majority of scholars, his being a Muslim is not a condition.

    It is stated al-Fatwa al-Hindiyya:

    �A Mahram is the husband and those for whom it is permanently unlawful to marry the woman, whether this is due to blood relationship, fosterage, or marriage (such as the father in-law, m). It is a condition that he is trusted, sane, and has reached puberty (baligh), whether he is free or a slave and regardless of whether he is a Muslim or a unbeliever. However, if he is a fire worshiper who considers marriage with relations and family members lawful, then she should avoid travelling with him. A boy who is close to puberty will be considered to be mature�. (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/219).

    This is what I have, and Allah knows best.

    Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari,
    Darul Iftaa, Leicester, Uk

  • I highly respect the great scholarship of the final opinion as it is comprehensive. I admittantly did not do such thorough research on the subject before advising the sister, but I got the same picture of the majority opinion from the little research I did. The one which I liked since it isn’t an ancient application of a very much alive and modernity capable Shari’ah was in al-fatawa al-mu’aasirah vol. 1 pg. 249 or 1st fatwa under hajj/umra. Here Sh. Alqaradawi cites that according to ibn Muflih in al-furoo’ that it is the opinion of ibn taymeyyah and al-karabeese as-shafi’ii that they hold that it is permissible with security of the road for her to travel any permissible trip w/o mahram.

    But even if no one had said it, the point all people of knowledge should get is that in the last 100 years the world has changed more than it did in the previous 1000 years. There were no cars, trustworthy police, or highways. Lets go into the depth of Shari’ah without this dull rigid cut and paste method we see from most nowadays. The way ibn Taymeyyah thought in Fiqh was considered just as some look at al-Qaradawi today, but later it will prove to be what it is- The noble Tajdeed which the Prophet Prophesied

  • [quote]The noble Tajdeed which the Prophet Prophesied[/quote]

    Please could you please elaborate on what you mean by the above?

  • Salaam,

    Thank you for emphasizing the need to go to the underlying principle of the situation. I do have one point of contention, which is there should be no difference between a man and a woman in terms of going away for college. In fact, the stipulations you have mentioned for the women, should also be applied to the men, especially because American society makes it easier and more acceptable for men to “explore” more. I don’t think there is a natural/genetic difference between men and women which makes them more succeptable to the influences of shaytaan.

    Also, we need to break free of the mentality of trying to prevent people from harming themselves, and to emphasize the forgiveness of Allah when people do. We need to empower people to face the world with the support of Allah, so they don’t feel fearful when they do. As muslims we should know that Allah is there to protect and guide us, and that when we face the obstacles he puts in our path, He gives has also communicated that we have the ability to overcome them. If we falter, then He is there to accept our sincere forgiveness; however, the possible failure to remain on the Path should not deter us from facing the world and challenging it.

  • Bismillah.
    When you love a being, you will do everything to make sure they are safe and free from all harm. The difference in ahkaam (rulings) between men and women should not lead us into thinking men are favoured, etc. Rather, it shows the concern Allah and His messenger (salAllahu alayhi wasallam) have for the well-being of women, and for that, we should be thankful.

    Know that your Rabb (Lord) is Al-Wadud, the Loving, and He (SWT) sent us the prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasallam) as a mercy, to guide us to the best way in all matters of our life. And Allah Knows best

  • Assalamu Alaikum,
    I am an accountant in New York. I am not interested in the topic but rather the reasoning behind the author’s response to the matter. He said, “In the last 100 years the world has changed more than it did in the previous 1000 years”. In the past, riba was used to lend money to poor folks and then charging them interest. The poor poeple would be burdened for a long time as he was not be able to pay while interest accumulated. In a society like ours, riba is not used in a similar manner. The US loans money on interest which helps it run the government. Otherwise, we would be taxed more. Many other companies do the same. Insurances (auto, home, business and others) are also designed to help both sides. Even in the case of an individual who cant pay back loans and becomes burdened, there is always bankruptcy.
    Some might say that the recent economic recession is due to the use of interest but I can assure you that it was not caused by interest. If I can apply the same ruling as the topic above, interest should be permitted because in the 21st century, the different forms of interest is quite harmless. I can provide a more concrete proof on why interest in the present form is harmless. Assuming that my proposition is true, would you then say that Riba should also be permissible.

  • salam alaikun,i am a 33 yr old single muslim,all efforts to get married have been abortive due to inability to get a man that i desire,though many come but which i do not wish to marry and i let go.many peopla have prayed for me in hajj but noresponse,i have prayer nawafil in tahajud ,fasted and given charity,but no so hajj my choice byut muharam pls help with response to my box,can i go without muharam as ther is no money for 2,pls send response to phlakkie@yahoo.com

  • Shaikh Suhaib,
    I want to remind myself and you that we will hold accountable for every thing we say, I love you for the sake of Allah. Every person could have a find different wisdom for our Islamic rulings, so we will not cancel the rule because we think that the wisdom behind it does not apply. For example covering one shoulder in Hag and it used to be to show the strength of Muslims so should we stop doing it. Imagine a lady travel and a handsome man was sitting next to her for 7 hours in the plane and then it leaded to more haram things, you will hold responsible. You know that there are men know how to play with women psychology especially if they get the chance to sit next them shoulder to shoulder for a while. There are much many wisdom the scholars mentioned behind this ruling. Allah knows best.

  • so is a muslim sister allowed to travel with another sister (muslim or non muslim) or is that not allowed as well?

    for example,

    i am muslim and i want to either go out some day or go on vacation for a few days for fun and my non muslim girl friend wants to go, too. she is not a bad influence and we would not sin on this night out or vacation. is that allowed since i would technically not be alone?

  • Assalamu Alaykum,

    I’ve read your article and sounds good to me. It’s been my ultimate dream to go to Macca and perform Hajj but due to financial constraint, I couldn’t go. As a solution, I took up Nursing so that after I could go to Saudi Arabia to work there and hopefully to perform Hajj as well. It’s been 5 years now since I’ve graduated and started to work here in our country, Philippines, because I’ve heard from most of our scholars here that “Women are not allowed to travel without Mahram”. For all these years, I’ve been controlling myself to apply for work in Saudi Arabia. I have so many female single friends who already applied and worked there for years and they wanted to request so that I could perform Hajj too as they did. It’s so hard for me to decide given that I am being torn between the idea of performing Hajj and following the sunnah and guidance of Islam. I hope you could give me an advise regarding on this matter.

    Jazakumullahu khair

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