Can Muslim Women Travel without a Mahram?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Salman Younas

Question

My wife works at a travel agency. During the year, not consistently, the company will have what they call educational overseas—usually, Mauritius, Thailand, etc.

I want to ask whether we are allowed to go on these vacations without a mahram. Also, there are people from other agencies, and obviously, when they sit down to eat, there will be alcohol served. And my wife will be in their company.

Answer

The first thing you should note is that concerning the actual travel itself, there is some flexibility, as I detail in the answer below:
Can a Woman Travel Alone for More Than 48 Miles If There Is a Benefit?

This could potentially apply to a work situation of the type you describe as it may be characterized as a “need,” significantly if it negatively impacts one’s employment and/or if it is for purposes of training/education. Nonetheless, as her husband, you still have a right to be consulted on this matter for approval.

It is up to you and your spouse to discuss how you feel regarding this matter—keeping in mind the rulings of shari’a outlined in the link above. Rather than making it a sticking point that will harm your relationship, both of you should come to some agreement. This may require some compromise on the part of one of you or both, but this is far better than your relationship sours.

When it comes to dinners where alcohol is incidentally present, she should sit at a table where there is no alcohol being served. This is not always easy to do in these settings, but she should try her best to do so.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Born and raised in New York, Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studied Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. He is now in his final year of his Ph.D. at Oxford University, looking at the early evolution of the Hanafi madhab. His teachers include: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Salah Abu’l Hajj, Shaykh Ashraf Muneeb, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Shaykh Hamza Karamali, Shaykh Ahmad Snobar, Shaykh Ali Hani, Shaykh Hamza Bakri, Ustadh Rajab Harun and others.
Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in the UK with his wife.