Transporting female students between cities by bus

Q: We are the Waliys (legally accountable persons acting for others) of more than thirty female (Part No. 17; Page No. 328) students who live in Al-Khafjy city but study at the Faculty of Arts in Al-Dammam. We are suffering from the ban of the bus that would transport our daughters at the end of every week from the college housing to Al-Khafjy to visit their families and bring them back. We called the Prince of the Eastern Region to permit the bus again to transport our daughters, but he mentioned that the matter relates to Shari`ah (Islamic law) and that he can not take any action unless your Eminence issues a Fatwa in this regard. It is worthy mentioning that the bus driver is an old man who is known for his virtuousness. He has two wives, and one of them accompanies him during the concerned journey. On the other hand, most of us, i.e. the Waliys, are aged and can not travel regularly. Moreover, we are of low incomes. We do not have enough money or cars to go on this journey on a weekly basis bearing in mind that the driver in question charges only three hundred and fifty riyals monthly for the journey from Al-Dammam to Al-Khafjy and vice versa. Please issue a written Fatwa for us in this regard. May Allah safeguard you.

A: It is impermissible for Muslim women to travel without being accompanied by a Mahram. Proof for this is the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which is narrated by Ibn `Abbas: A woman should not travel except with a Mahram. (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, and Muslim) Moreover, it is narrated on the authority of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying while he was giving a Khutbah (sermon): 'A man must not be in privacy with a woman but a Mahram of her should be present. A woman must not travel unless she is accompanied by a Mahram.' (Part No. 17; Page No. 329) Thereupon a man said: 'My wife started her journey for Hajj and I am going to join the battle of so and so.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'Go and perform Hajj with your wife.' (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, and Muslim) Accordingly, it is impermissible for a woman to travel (from one city to another) unless she is accompanied by a Mahram who is to protect and look after her. The Mahram of a woman is her husband or a male relative who is permanently unmarriageable to her such as her father, son, brother, nephew, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, father in law, stepson, foster son, foster brother, etc. The foregoing applies whether such a woman is in her youth or old age and whether she is alone or with a group of other women. A group of women is not a substitute for a Mahram due to the generality of the Hadith and for the persistence the expected danger. It is thus Wajib (obligatory) on women and their Waliys to fear Allah and adhere to His Commands and those of His Messenger. They should abandon what Allah and His Messenger forbade and avoid means of evil and corruption. Greediness for worldly pleasures must not prompt them to neglect the instructions of their Din (religion). May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.