Question # 368: ASA Akhi, please help to provide an answer to the following question (although, I think I have some idea about the answer) , but I want to have an authentic response with valid references etc. *): Is it permissible in any condition or situation for a married woman to travel out of town with her female friends for a leisure trip?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: The principle rule is that a woman does not travel alone except with a Mahram because of the various ahadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). This measure was to protect the Muslim women from harm. However, there are indications in other ahadith that once safety is reasonably assured, it may be allowable for women to travel without a mahram or husband.
It is obvious that the traveling now is safer (at least in many places) than that was at the time of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم); hence, some scholars have permitted woman to travel without mahram, given her safety is reasonably assured and she is in good, trustworthy, female company; while others still feel that she would still need a mahram. All of this, given she has the permission from her husband/guardian. Likewise, if there is any reason to doubt her safety, or fear temptation for her, then this would be clearly disobeying the shari`ah. In the end, it all appears that this is a matter of ijtihad and the safest and most adequate view is the view of the majority that prevents woman from traveling without a mahram except for obligatory Hajj and exigent need / real necessity.
Long Answer: There has been various reports from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) regarding women traveling alone, in some he stated a certain number of days and in others he didn`t:
- In the hadith of Ibn `Abbas (رضي الله عنه), he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “A woman should not travel except with a mahram” (Imam Ahmad, al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- In the hadith of Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه), he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “It is unlawful for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel a distance of one day and one night without a mahram.” (al-Bukhari)
- In the hadith of Abu Said al-Khudri (رضي الله عنه), he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “A woman shouldn`t travel a distance of two days without her husband or mahram.” (Muslim)
- In the hadith of Abd Allah ibn Umar (رضي الله عنه), he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “She shouldn`t travel for three nights, except with a mahram.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
It seems, thus, that any travel is included under the prohibition. In other words, leaving your town or city and embarking on a travel during which you will shorten and/or combine the prayers.
This measure was to protect the Muslim women from harm. However, there are indications in other reports that once safety is reasonably assured, it may be allowable for women to travel without a mahram or husband:
- Al-Bukhari reported that Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) allowed the wives of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to perform Hajj right before his death, and he sent with them `Uthman ibn `Affan and `Abd-ur-Rahman ibn `Awf (رضي الله عنهما).
- Al-Bukhari and Muslim also reported from `Adiyy ibn Hatim (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to him: “The day is near when a young woman will travel from Al-Heera (a city in Iraq), going to the Sacred House with no company with her, fearing none but Allah.” (Since the context is one of praise, it seems that the Prophet doesn`t condemn such conduct)
Each party has his own arguments and opinions towards this issue. However, we see that the basis is preventing women from travel without her husband or a Mahram, according to the majority`s rulings concerning maintaining inviolabilities.
It is obvious that the roads now are safer (at least in many places) than they were at the time of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), this would particularly apply to air travel. Now, it is allowed for women to travel as a Fiqh license that Shari`ah scholars rely upon when there is an urgent need for making it easy. Hence, different texts become coherent and go in harmony in this regard.
[Hence,] the scholars and great imams entertained this situation, in which the safety of the woman is assured, at least reasonably, some of them felt that she would still need a mahram where others felt she doesn`t, and if there is a good company or – according to some – safe roads, she may travel alone.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (May Allah bestow His mercy upon him), as reported by Ibn Muflih in his book : “al-Foroo’: when he said: “Our Shaykh [Ibn Taymiyya] said: ‘The woman can travel without her mahram so long as she is safe on her journey and said that this applied to every travel for a good deed”
All of this, given she had taken permission from her husband or guardian, and given safety is reasonably assured. For instance, if she has to make stops on her way and sleep over in motels and such, then, she is clearly disobeying the shari`ah. Likewise, if there is any reason to doubt her safety, or fear temptation for her.
Ibn Abil-Barr said in al-Istithkaar “collecting the meanings and different wordings of the hadith show that a woman is forbidden to travel when there is a fear of risk on her unless she is with a Mahram or a husband, whether this travel is short or long, and Allah knows best.” And similarly, he said that in al-Tamheed. Thus, it appears that this is a matter of Ijtihad and the safest and most adequate view is the view of the majority that prevents woman from traveling without a mahram except for obligatory Hajj.
[Finally,] …no scholar has given open permission for women to travel without a mahram. Rather, there are a minority of scholars who have allowed it in times of exigent need and real necessity, with the condition that she be in good, trustworthy, female company.
(The above answer is based on various fatawa of Dr. Hatem al-Haj, Shaykh Waleed Basyouni and Dr. Salah Al-Sawy, Members of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.