Why Don’t Men Need Mahrams?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


Psychologically and statistically speaking, men have a higher sex drive and more sexual desires. They are also more permissive about casual and promiscuous sex. Also, men are in more danger than women of being physically assaulted/beaten and murdered than women. So technically speaking, they are in more danger just walking alone at night. So if a mahram is supposed to protect and guide you, why don’t men need mahrams as women do?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him.

When asking why Sacred Law makes a certain rule, the first answer is always because Allah, in His Infinite Knowledge and Wisdom, set the rule as such. After that, we may attempt to understand some of the perceivable wisdom of Sacred Law.

Whether or not the described and alleged psychological and statistical information is accurate has no impact on Sacred Law that is derived from the Quran, Sunna, and other accepted sources of the Law.

Islam seeks to protect the honor and dignity of women through Sacred Law. Men, in general, are physically stronger than women and can defend themselves against assault (to varying degrees). Men are far less likely to fall victim to the worst kind of assault, sexual assault. The severity and widespread sickness of Gender-Based Violence attests to this. One must wonder how many crimes of gender-based violence, especially sexual assault, would occur if all women were always accompanied by trustworthy unmarriageable kin, and Allah knows best.

Sacred Law on Women Requiring the Accompaniment of Unmarriageable Kin

Generally, the classical Schools of Law are pretty restrictive concerning ladies traveling without an accompanying unmarriageable kin (mahram) or husband. But there is a position in the Maliki school that allows safe, public, and dignified travel for women. Contemporary jurists clarify that this is an acceptable dispensation to follow whenever there is a clear need or benefit in doing so.

According to a reliable contemporary fatwa, “It is permissible for a woman to travel without a mahram provided the way, destination, and return journeys are safe and provided she does not meet with any harassment jeopardizing both her safety and religion.

It has been narrated through ‘Adiy Ibn Hatim (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told him, “And if you live a long life, you will surely see women traveling from Hira till they circumambulate the Ka’ba, fearing no one except Allah.” [Bukhari and others]

Imam Ahmad’s report of the hadith includes: “By He in whose hands is my soul, verily Allah will bring this matter [Islam] into completion till women travel from Hira and circumambulate the Ka’ba without being accompanied by anyone.”

With its different chains of narration, the above hadith has led some scholars to conclude the permissibility of a woman traveling alone if her safety is guaranteed. Moreover, they have used this hadith to restrict other prohibiting hadiths which, according to them, referred to the lack of security associated with travel in the distant past.” [Dar Al-Ifta Misriyya]

Equality versus Equity

Females are different from males, and in both, there is goodness. Therefore, Islam values both males and females differently. Sacred Law values each gender with equity and justice and not equality, which means that the rules for each gender are slightly different but fair.

Allah says: “But when she [Hanna] delivered her [baby Mary], she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, “And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah].” [Quran, 3:36]

Are Men Favored or Women?

Superficially it may seem that Islam favors one gender over the other at different times. Sometimes it appears that the female gender is the privileged one. One example of this is the reward for fighting in God’s cause. Males have to physically defend their faith to attain that reward, while females earn it from fulfilling their Hajj. ‘Aisha, the mother of the faithful believers (may Allah be pleased with her), narrated that she said, “O Allah’s Messenger! We consider Jihad as the best deed.” The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The best Jihad (for women) is a righteous Hajj (Mabrur).” [Bukhari]

More examples of the above follow.

Special Blessings of Daughters

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “If anyone has a female child, and does not bury her alive [a common practice among the Arabs before Islam], or slight her, or prefer his male children to her, Allah will bring him into Paradise. [Ahmad, Hakim]

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Whoever supports two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on the Day of Resurrection (close to each other) like this –The Messenger of Allah joined his fingers to illustrate closeness.” [Muslim]

Better than Equality

Nothing physical distinguishes one group’s superiority over the other in this world. Only righteousness and piety make us ‘better’ by Allah. Allah says: “Oh humankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Quran, 49:13]

In the Hereafter, our souls are absolutely equal by Allah. Allah says: “Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men, and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” [Quran, 33:35]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani 

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.