Can a woman travel?

Islam has not forbidden women to travel. She can go on holiday abroad, visit her family in another city or country and more.

However, Islam does impose some conditions on women's travel. For example, she is only allowed to travel if she does this with her mahram.

A mahram is any male relative that the she is not allowed to marry (father, brother, uncle etc).

  1. Traveling without a mahram
  2. Traveling with a group
  3. Distance of traveling

Traveling without a mahram

The Muslim woman is not allowed to travel without her mahram. There are several narration that speak about this matter.

So it is not allowed to go outside the city without her mahram being present. This is based on the various narrations about the woman who is not allowed to travel without her mahram.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "The woman is not allowed to travel without a Mahram." [Sahih Muslim 1341a, Sahih Bukhari 1862]

This is the general rule: that a woman should not travel without a mahram. So the Muslim woman cannot leave the city alone and go on a journey, even if she has planned it.

Are friends, family, shops or other businesses located outside the city? Then the Muslim woman goes there with a mahram. According to the correct opinion, there is no specific allowed distance in which the woman may travel without her mahram.

Traveling with a group

Today, groups are made to travel to Hajj. This is a permissible act according according to the Shafi'i, Maliki madhab and others.

However, they state as conditions that it only applies to the obligatory Hajj and that the groups must consist of women or trusted persons.

This form of travel only applies to women who want to perform Hajj for the first time. It is therefore not possible to go a second time with this method.

Imam Tirmidhi said: "And the people of knowledge differed in the woman who has no mahram if she can perform Hajj. They use the verse: 'For whoever can find a way to it'. So they consider that if she has no mahram, then she is unable to do so. This is the saying of Sufyan al-Thawri and the scholars of Kufa. Some scholars said that if the road is safe, she can go on Hajj with the people. This is the saying of Malik bin Anas and Al-Shafi'i." [Comment on Sunan Tirmidhi 1169]

The proof that Imam Malik and Imam Shafi'i use is the narration of Umar ibn Al-Khattab. He sent the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) in a group with two trusted companions as guides.

'Umar (during his caliphate) allowed the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) to perform Hajj and he sent 'Uthman bin 'Affan and 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf with them as attendants. [Sahih al-Bukhari 1860]

Distance of traveling

How far can the woman travel without a mahram? There are generally two opinions on this. Scholars specified different distances, some did not.

  1. You do not travel until you exceed 50 miles (80 kilometer)
  2. Travel is considered the way the people understand it

Opinion 1: You do not travel until you exceed 50 miles

Those who believe this use various interpretations of narrations. It is a calculated distance based on interpretation. This opinion is unfortunately not strong enough, because other narrations contradict this interpretation.

They also use the narration of the woman who is not allowed to travel more than three days without a mahram. They calculate that a person would travel 50 miles on foot in three days.

The problem with this argument is that there are other narrations, namely that the woman is not allowed to travel alone for two, one or even half a day.

2 days The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "The woman may not travel a distance of two days without a Mahram." [Sahih al-Bukhari 1864]

1 day The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "It is not halal for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel a distance of one (whole) day without a mahram." [Al-Muwatta Book 54, Hadith 38]

0.5 day The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "It is not permissible for a Muslim woman to make a night journey except when a Mahram is with her." [Sahih Muslim 1339a]

Opinion 2: You only travel at a distance that people see as traveling

Others believe that the distance is irrelevant because it is not specified, but it is more about the habit of the people. This seems to be the correct view here.

Nowadays people talk about traveling as soon as the city is left. This can therefore differ in miles depending on the city where the Muslim woman lives.

The general rule is that a woman should not travel without a mahram. Since no distance has been specified, she should not go out of her city without a mahram according to the correct opinion.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "The woman is not allowed to travel without a Mahram." [Sahih Muslim 1341a, Sahih Bukhari 1862]

Ishaq ibn Mansour asked, "How long does a woman travel for without a mahram?" Ahmad ibn Hanbal replied: "She does not travel, even if it is for an hour. That is according to the hadith: 'The woman should not travel without a Mahram.' And the Hadith: 'A man should not be alone with a woman unless she is accompanied by a Mahram.'" [Masail al-Kawsaj 1375]

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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