In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful
Can a woman/a group of women travel without a mahram?
By Shaykh Muhammad Naasir ad-Deen al-Albaani, may Allah have mercy on him
َQuestion: What is the ruling of a woman traveling without a mahram, but instead, traveling with safe companionship from other women? Some use this hadith as evidence for its permissibility, “Indeed a woman will mount her riding beast traveling from Yemen to Iraaq without fearing anyone but Allah, and having no fear of her flock being attacked by a wolf” (Rough translation of the meaning of the hadith) [Ibn Hibbaan in his book al-Ihsaan 6729]
Answer: This hadith does not show the permissibility of a woman traveling by herself, because the hadith wasn’t used to make a ruling. It was narrated to inform us of the future. Akhbaar Ghaibiyah informs us about what will happen, whether it is something praiseworthy or not. The statement of the Messenger (peace be upon him),
“The Hour will not be established until people will engage in public sex like donkeys.” [Bukhari 1087, Muslim 1338, Ahmad 2:13]
This hadith is informing us about what will happen, and it does not mean that this action is permissible.
The proof used for the prohibition of a woman traveling by herself is a hadith which is narrated in various wordings:
“It is not permissible for a woman to travel three days except that she has a mahram with her.”
In some narrations it says, “…two days…”, and in other narrations, “It is not permissible for a woman to travel (meaning generally) without a mahram.” [Bukhari 3006, Muslim 1341, Ahmad 1:222]
Even if women traveled together without a mahram, then is not possible to have peace of mind no matter where they went. There comes a story in the book, “Tauqul Hamaamah” by ibn Hazm that a group of women left their homeland from the west to make Hajj, and they returned by using a ship. It turned out that they fell into Faahisha (illegal sexual intercourse) with one of the workers on the ship.
It is not necessary for us to think that every woman who travels without a mahram falls into faahisha. Or that every group of women that travels with their mahram falls into faahisha. However, in order to not fall into faahisha the Messenger (peace be upon him) made the condition of having a mahram present.
And a person should not say today, for example, that traveling by plane for a period of an hour or two (or more) prevents faahisha from happening. Because there are some stories in which women fell into faahisha in this manner.
Source: al-Fataawa al-Muhimmah: Chapter of Safar, Tadaawi, Musaafahah p. 823.
Translated by: Abu Awzaa’ee AbdusSalaam
الفقير الى الله