Question # 55: My mother wants to perform Umrah without Mahram but as part of organized tour group. Is it permissible in Islam?

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).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

[Note: A Mahram is an adult man of sound mind, whom a woman is forever forbidden to marry because of blood ties or for a permissible reason]

Shorter Answer:  The traveling of a woman without a mahram is primarily unlawful according to the hadith of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “A woman who believes in Allah and the Hereafter shall not travel for (a period of) a day and a night unless accompanied by a mahram of hers.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Depending on this general text, some scholars are of the opinion that a woman should not travel by herself. Other scholars stipulate that her travel is permissible in the company of a trustworthy group of men or men and women. The prohibition conveyed in the hadith is justified for reason of fear that the woman may be exposed to mischief or temptation if she travels alone, bearing in mind that the dangers of travel were numerous in the past unlike today, wherein travel has become easy by different means of transportation. Umar Ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) allowed the Prophet’s wives (Mothers of the Believers) to travel for Hajj with a group of believers and sent with them Uthman Ibn Affan and Abdul Rahman ibn Auf. Aldo, in a hadith, Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to Adiy Ibn Hatim: “If you live long, you will see the woman travel from Hirah (a city in Iraq) to circumambulate the Ka`bah fearing none but Allah.” (Al-Bukhari)

According to Saudi rules and regulations, a woman of 45 years old or older can go to Umrah/ Hajj without a mahram, only if she is traveling with an organized group or family.

Long Answer: 

  1. From Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah li’l-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta’:

“The scholars of the Standing Committee said:  A woman who does not have a mahram does not have to do Hajj, because in her case a mahram is part of being able to do Hajj, and being able to do it is one of the conditions of Hajj being obligatory… It is not permissible for her to travel for Hajj or for any other purpose unless she is accompanied by her husband or a mahram, because of the report narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) that he heard the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) say: “No man should be alone with a woman unless her mahram is present, and no woman should travel unless she has a mahram with her.”  A man stood up and said: “O Messenger of Allah, my wife has gone out for Hajj, and I have enlisted for such and such a campaign.” He said: “Go and do Hajj with your wife.” This was also the view of al-Hasan, al-Nakha’i, Ahmad, Ishaaq, Ibn al-Mundhir and ashaab al-ra’i, and it is the correct view…. [However,] Malik, al-Shafl’i and al-Awza’i held a different opinion and each of them stipulated a condition (allowing her to do that), but with no evidence. Ibn al-Mundhir said: they did not follow the apparent meaning of the hadith, and each of them stipulated a condition (allowing her to do that), but with no evidence.”

[Thus,] a woman who does not have a mahram to travel, does not have to go for Hajj or ‘Umrah, and she is excused if she does not go. It is haram for her to travel for Hajj or for any other reason without a mahram, and she has to be patient until Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) makes it easy for one of her mahrams to travel with her. By the bounty of Allah towards His believing slaves, if a person resolves to do an act of worship but he is unable to do it because of some excuse, he will be granted the reward of one who does it. (Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)

  1. Fatwa issued by the prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi:

“The principle in Shari`ah is that a woman is not to travel by herself; rather, it is obligatory upon her to have as her companion her husband or a mahram. This ruling is founded [from the hadith of Ibn `Abbas mentioned above].

 And also on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه), the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is quoted to have said: “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel a distance of one day and one night without a mahram with her.” Abu Sa`id narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “A woman is not to travel a distance of two days without her husband or mahram with her.” And Ibn `Umar narrated that: “She is not to travel for three nights, except if she has a mahram.” Apparently the differences in narrations are because of the different questioners and the questions posed.

But what is the ruling on a woman, who does not find a mahram to accompany her in a legitimate travel, whether obligatory, preferred or permitted? And there is within her reach a group of protective men, or trustworthy faithful women, and the roads are safe? The jurists have researched this topic whenever they discussed the obligation of Hajj upon women, and they kept in mind the Prophet’s injunction prohibiting a woman from traveling without a mahram. Their thoughtful opinions include the following:

  1. Among them are those who hold on to what is apparent from the mentioned ahadith, they prohibit traveling without a mahram, even for the obligation of Hajj. And there is no exception to this rule.
  2. There are those who make an exception for older women who have passed the age of being subject to temptation, as has been transmitted from Al-Qadi ibn Al-Walid Al-Yaji, from the Maliki Juristic school. It is especially for women in general if we look at the meaning as was said by Ibn Daqiq Al-`Eid.
  3. Some of them make the exception that as long as the woman is with trustworthy and faithful women, then the travel is permissible. Furthermore, some conclude that it is enough for just one free trustworthy and faithful Muslim woman.
  4. And some concluded that the roadway must be safe. This is the opinion that was chosen by Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah. He mentioned that Ibn Muflih in Al-Faru` said: “Every woman can perform Hajj without a mahram as long as she will be safe.” And he said: “This is directed towards every travel in obedience… Al-Karabisi transmitted this from Ash-Shafi`i pertaining to the supererogatory Hajj. And some of his companions also said this about supererogatory Hajj and about every travel that is not obligatory, like visiting and trading.”

Al-Artham transmitted from Imam Ahmad: “A mahram is not a condition in the obligatory Hajj.” His justification for this is his saying: “Because she goes out with women, and with all those whom she is safe with.” Ibn Siyrin even said: “With a Muslim it is okay.” Al-Awzai said: “With a just people.” Malik said: “With a group of women.” Ash-Shafi`i said: “With a trustworthy faithful Muslim woman.” And his companions said: “By herself if there is safety.”

Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar said: “What is well-known with the Shafi’is is that it is conditional that there be a husband, mahram, or trustworthy faithful women.” And in another saying: “It is enough for just one trustworthy faithful woman.” In a saying transmitted by Al-Karabisi, authenticated in Al-Muhadhab, is that she can travel by herself if the roads are safe. If this is what was said about traveling for Hajj and Umrah, then this ruling should be uniform concerning all types of travel, as some scholars have agreed.

The purpose here is to safeguard the woman and protect her, which is fulfilled by knowing that the roadway is safe and that trustworthy faithful men and women are present. The proof of the permissibility of a woman traveling without a mahram is incumbent upon there being security and the presence of trustworthy faithful people. What was reported by Al-Bukhari is that during the final Hajj of Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه), he gave permission to the wives of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to perform Hajj. So he sent with them Uthman ibn Affan and Abdur-Rahman. This act is considered to be a consensus, for all of them, Umar, Uthman, Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf and the wives of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) agreed to it, without any objection.

Second is what was reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim from the hadith of `Ada Ibn Hatim that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) told him about the future of Islam and how its light will be spread throughout the earth. Among what he mentioned is: “The day is near when a young woman will travel from Al-Hira (a city in Iraq), going to the Sacred House with no husband accompanying her. She will fear none but Allah.” This information does not only prove that this will happen, but proves its permissibility, because it was mentioned in a phrase praising the spread of Islam along with its sense of security.

…It is incumbent upon us to look at traveling in our time. It is not like how traveling was in the past. It is no more filled with the dangers of the arid deserts, or awe of being encountered with thieves, highway robbers, etc. Now traveling is by various modern means of transportation that usually gather large amounts of people at a time, like ships, airplanes, buses, or cars that travel in caravans. 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.

Thus, in the light of the above, I see no objection to woman performing Hajj within such safe environment, which provides all the necessary security and contentment.”

  1. According to Saudi rules and regulations, a woman under the age of 45 cannot go for Umrah unless she is accompanied by a mahram. If a woman is 45 years old or older then she can go without a mahram only if she is traveling with an organized group or family and she submits a notarized No Objection Certificate from her Mahram.

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.