All praise be to Allah Alone, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and Companions. (Part No. 17; Page No. 310) The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’ has reviewed the question sent to His Eminence the General Chairman by the Dean of Student Affairs at the University of
via Dr. Mohiy Al-Din Khalil, Head of the Department of Islamic Culture. The question that was referred to the Committee no. 2554/2 dated 7/8/99 A.H. is as follows:Female university students, who are not from
the city of Riyadh,
stay in the Umm Al-Mu’minin residential unit. On holidays or weekends, they travel to their home towns. Most of them set out for
by air. The Deans Office stipulates that no female student should travel except with a Mahram (spouse or permanently unmarriageable relative). However, this condition cannot be met by all the female students and in all cases. Sometimes, they are required to travel due to certain urgent circumstances. Some of them object to this policy and believes that in their case Shari‘ah (Islamic law) allows
traveling without a Mahram.
Since the journey takes only a few hours. They cite the following Hadith as evidence:
It is not lawful for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel on a journey that takes three days or more, except with her father, her brother, her husband, her son, or a Mahram.
And, the Hadith on the authority of
(may Allah be pleased with him) in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
No woman should travel for the distance of one day and one night except with her Mahram.
Also, the Hadith on the authority of
in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
It is not permissible for a Muslim woman to travel (Part No. 17; Page No. 311) for the distance of one day and one night except with her Mahram.
We hope that you will inform us whether it is permissible to allow female students to travel to
by air without Mahram.
The Committee gave the following answer:
Achieving benefits and averting evils is a basic principle of Shari‘ah whose essential purpose is to preserve people’s honor and purity of lineage. There are clear proofs in the Qur’an and Sunnah asserting the necessity of blocking the means leading to violation of honor and mixing of lineage. Among such forbidden means that must be blocked are Khulwah (being alone with a member of the opposite sex); a woman publicly displaying her beauty or adornment to anyone other than her husband, Mahrams, or males coming under the heading of Mahrams who are specified in Surah Al-Nur; and furtive glances and not lowering the gaze. Therefore, women traveling without their husbands or a Mahram, who are considered in the view of the Shari‘ah the means that ensure their safety, is prohibited. Moreover, it is regarded as a means leading to adultery, rape, and mixing of lineages. It was authentically reported from
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
No woman should travel a three-day journey except with a Mahram.
(Related by (Part No. 17; Page No. 312)
It was authentically reported on the authority of
Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
No woman should travel for a Barida (a distance equal to four parasangs or a distance of half a day) without a Mahram.
Abu Dawud and
It was authentically reported that
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) while delivering a Khutbah (sermon), stating:
No man should be alone with a woman unless there is a Mahram with her, and no woman should travel except with a Mahram. A man stood up and said, 'O Messenger of Allah! My wife has set out for Hajj, whereas I am enrolled in such-and-such an expedition.' He (peace be upon him) said, 'Go and perform Hajj with your wife'.
According to some reports, the limit is restricted to "one day," in some reports it is restricted to "one night," in some to "three days," and in some to "two days." Therefore, specification of the limit is not what is meant, for these reports were stated in reference to specific incidents. No attention should be paid to days or distance, for their connotation will disagree with the explicit statement in the Hadith on the authority of
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) and those conveying the same meaning. (Part No. 17; Page No. 313) This is not the point to be considered; rather, what should be considered is the general ruling given in the Hadith on the authority of
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) that clearly states that anything that is regarded as traveling is forbidden to a woman unless she has a Mahram with her. This applies regardless of the woman’s age, the distance of the journey, or the means of transportation. Anyone who opposes this claiming that the prohibition is limited to young women, to fixed distances or days mentioned in some reports, to insecurity of the road, or who claims that the company of trustworthy, pious women is sufficient, their argument is rejected based on the general meaning of the Hadith on the authority of
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father). The ruling explicitly stated in this Hadith should be given precedence over the implications of the number of days in other Hadiths. Accordingly, it is prohibited for a woman, whether she a student or not, to travel by air without a husband or Mahram. Since the case mentioned in the question entails traveling, the general prohibition indicated by the Hadith applies to it. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions.