May a Woman Travel Internationally Safely without a Mahram?

Shafi'i Fiqh
Hanafi Fiqh
Maliki Fiqh
Hanbali Fiqh

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question

What is the Hanafi ruling of a woman traveling locally and internationally safely without a mahram?

Answer

The Hanafi school stipulates a mahram for any travel undertaken by a woman exceeding the travel-distance, which is 48 miles.

However, the position I have seen adopted by my teachers and other scholars is permission for a journey without a mahram provided there is:

  • (a) need or benefit, and
  • (b) the travel is safe.

This has been mentioned as fulfilling the major conditions of the Maliki school, according to Shaykh Rami Nsour who adds the condition that the actual journey itself should last less than 24 hours. Most travel today lasts less than this.

This position of permissibility is also lent support by some scholars in other schools, such as the Hanbali and Shafi’i schools. [Ibn Muflih, al-Furu‘; Nawawi, al-Majmu‘; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]

Due to the difference of opinion on the issue, a number of contemporary scholars have permitted women to travel without a mahram for educational purposes, visiting parents, and so forth when the conditions of safety and security are met, which are generally fulfilled by modern modes of transportation. These scholars include Shaykh Qara Daghi and Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

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

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 studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

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.