Women Traveling Without a Mahram*

What is the norm for the woman who decides to travel to other cities, in a trip- considered distance, alone or with a group of women as a requirement of her job or as a tour without a custodian (mahram) of her?

The issue would better be explained under two topics, the traveling and safety of the traveler.

A- TRAVELING

The Almighty Allah commands the traveling for some reasons. Those are:

1-     Cultural Traveling

أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَتَكُونَ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ يَعْقِلُونَ بِهَا أَوْ آذَانٌ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَعْمَى الْأَبْصَارُ وَلَكِن تَعْمَى الْقُلُوبُ الَّتِي فِي الصُّدُورِ

“What if they travel through the land? So, hearts wherewith to feel and ears wherewith to hear would come into being. For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts, which are in the breast that grow blind.” (Hac 22/46)

2-     Scientific and Explorative Traveling

قُلْ سِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانظُرُوا كَيْفَ بَدَأَ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ اللَّهُ يُنشِئُ النَّشْأَةَ الْآخِرَةَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“Say: “Travel in the land and see how (Allâh) originated the creation. Then Allâh will bring forth another creation. . Verily, Allâh determines a standard for everything.” (Ankebut 29/20)

3-      Religious Historical Traveling

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُواْ الطَّاغُوتَ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ هَدَى اللّهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلالَةُ فَسِيرُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ فَانظُرُواْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ

“Verily, we have extracted a Messenger from every People. “Worship Allah, and keep away from tyrants” we said. Then, of them were some whom Allah considered guided, and some who merited to be considered astray” (Nahl 16/36)

4-      Worship Traveling

The AlmightyAllah commands Hajj, as a worship form:

“And Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House of Allah (Ka’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allâh, for those who can afford the pilgrimage.”(Ali İmran 3/97)

The expression “Those who can afford” mentioned in this verse, includes the safety of the traveler as well as the health and the economic welfare of the pilgrim. Hajj is an individual form of worship, for that reason, those who can afford it, those who must fulfill this duty.

B- TRAVELING SAFETY

These verses point out that ulfet -the safety and the food during the travel are crucial issues for the traveler.

“For the ulfet- safeguard and nutrition enjoyed by the Quraish,

Their ulfet- safeguard and nutrition during their traveling in winter and summer,

Let them adore the Lord of this House.

Who provides them with food against hunger and with safety against fear” (Surah Al-Quraish)

Ulfet is the notion used to define the addition of something to something; the completion of a number to thousand. The safetyis being safe with ease.

The word translated as traveling here, is rihle. Rihle is the word used for the walking during a journey. (and for a traveling with charge silinebilir burada ne kasdediliyor anlamadim). The notion rihle in the last verse is used to point out the possession of the safety and the adequate food.

This verse points out the safety during the traveling, too.

وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ وَبَيْنَ الْقُرَى الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا قُرًى ظَاهِرَةً وَقَدَّرْنَا فِيهَا السَّيْرَ سِيرُوا فِيهَا لَيَالِيَ وَأَيَّامًا آمِنِينَ

“We set, between them and the towns which We had blessed, towns in prominent positions , and We made the stage between them easy, We said: Travel therein safely both by night and day.”(Sebe 34/18)

There is no genfer difference between women and men in this verse. The safety and the adequate food during the traveling are essential for both gender. The food supply can be provided before the trip, but the safety can be related to other reasons.
Obviously,the safety requirement is more essential for the woman than man. After investigation of all the authentic hadiths that prohibition of the women’s traveling without a mahram, we’ll find out that the most important issue is the safety of her during the trip. Some hadiths prohibit the traveling of the woman in a distance which last two days, some other hadiths three days and some hadiths prohibit all her traveling without any limitation in the distance or duration of trip.  Whereas our Messenger has envisioned that one day a woman would be able to travel by her own, without a mahram accompanying her. The related hadiths are:

1 – The hadith that forbiddens the woman traveling without her mahram for one day and one night lasting trip:

Abu Huraira narrates that the Messenger of Allah 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).

2. The hadith that forbiddens the woman traveling without her mahrem for two days and two nights lasting trip:

Abu Said al-Hudri narrates that the Messenger of Allah said:

“Let no woman travel for more than two days unless her husband or a Mahram is with her.” (Sahih Muslim).

3. The hadith that forbiddens the woman traveling without her mahrem for three days and three nights lasting trip:

According to the Abd Allah ibn Umar narration, the Messenger of Allah said:
“A woman can not travel for three days except with a Mahram (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1036 & Sahih Muslim).

4. The hadith that prohibits all the kinds of the woman traveling without a mahrem accompanying her.
According to the Ibn Abbas’ narration, the Messenger of Allah said:
“A woman must not travel except with a Mahram and a man must not enter upon her except if she has a Mahram.
After this command of the Messenger, one of His companions stood up and said:
“O Messenger of Allah! I decided to go fighting with that and that fighter; but my wife wants to go to Hajj.
The Messenger of Allah said:
“Go with your wife!”(Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1763).

5. The good news that a woman will be able to travel alone.

Adeey  b. Hâtim narrated:
I was beside to the Messenger of Allah. A man came and complained for his poverty. Later, another one came and complained for the bandits that waylaid people in order to rub them. The Messenger of Allah said:

–  “Adeey, have you seen Heerah?”

–  No. I have not seen, but I heard about it.

– “If you would live long enoungh, you will see a woman, inside her strongbox over the camel, traveling from Heerah at Ka’ba for pilgirimage, without fearing from anything, except Allah.” He said.
I was surprised and I said to myself: “What with the bandits of Tai tribe, those who fired the sedition and mischief all over the towns?…

Adiyy continued his words: I saw the woman traveling from Heereh and walking around Ka’ba, without fearing from anyone, except Allah. (Bukhari, Stories, 25)

—————–
Heereh: İt is a town established over a meadow near Euphrate, in the South-East of Kinidre, which is 5 km in South of Kufe, between Kufe and Havernak, today related to the province of Nejaf in İraq.

6. The Practice of Sahabe-companion- related to the woman’s travel.

During his last Hajj, Umar İbnu’l-Hattâb (radıyallahu anh), has allowed the wives of the Messenger to go to Hajj and he has sent Uthmân İbn Affân and Abdurrahmân İbn Avf together with them. )
It is a well known fact that these companions are not mahram of the wives of the Messenger.

CONCLUSION
The verses and the hadiths mentioned above point out clearly that a woman, in the event that the safety and the security of the traveling ensured, can travel without her mahram, alone or in a group of women, as a requirement of her job as well as for touristic or worship trips.

Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz Bayındır

*Mahram (i.e. a husband or a person whom one is permanently prohibited from marrying due to suckling, marital, or blood relations)

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Date: Sep 2, 2009