Ruling on a woman traveling abroad for studying
Fatwa No: 314428

  • Fatwa Date:11-2-2016 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 3, 1437
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu. As I asked question 2592233 before, I feel that I have not found a relevant reply to my question as it was compared to a previous case of a sister which I feel was a completely different scenario compared to my question. I hence repeat my question: I am a 22-year-old female from India, I just completed my engineering bachelors degree, and I wish to continue my postgraduate degree country as the course that I am prefer is not available in my country. My (female) paternal cousin and two of my female friends will be staying with me in my paternal aunt's home, which is closer to university. The hadith states that a women cannot travel alone without a mahram (permanently unmarriageable kin), so is it permissible to accompany my father while travelling? And does Islam give permission to travel abroad to pursue education as a female. It is my wish to continue my studies within Islamic boundaries, but society takes this in completely different way. There is a hadith in which our beloved prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, "We should acquire knowledge from cradle to death," and that for acquiring knowledge we may even travel till China. But every other person is denying my request, saying that it is not permissable in Islam. I asked many scholars but none gave me an apt reply. It is very necessary for me, so I please request you to send me a relevant reply to my situation. May Allaah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

Firstly, we commend your good ambition and keenness to acquire knowledge; we implore Allaah to facilitate your affairs and bless you with success by His grace and generosity.

There is no religious impediment to the Muslim woman's traveling abroad for the purpose of completing her studies provided that she shall be safe from temptations in that place and that one of her mahram men accompanies her in her journey back and forth. It has been reported on the authority of Ibn ʻAbbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, “No man enters upon a woman except in the presence of her mahram. No woman travels except in the company of a mahram.” A man said, “O Messenger of Allaah! I have been enrolled for such and such military expedition, and my wife wants to go for Hajj.” He, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said to him, “Go with your wife.” This hadeeth confirms the requirement of a mahram in traveling, because that man intended to go out for jihaad (fighting in the cause of Allaah) while his wife wanted to go for Hajj, so he was ordered to go with her.

It is not necessary that the woman's mahram should accompany her throughout her stay; rather, he should accompany her in her journey back and forth. It is obligatory, though, to ensure that she is staying in a place where she can be safe from harms and temptations.

Lastly, it is worth highlighting that the statements mentioned by the dear questioner as a hadeeth reading, “Seek knowledge from cradle to death bed,” and “Acquire knowledge even in China,” are not ahaadeeth that are attributable to the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, as advised by Muslim scholars. Al-ʻAljooni  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him cited them in his book Kashf Al-Khafaa' wa Muzeel Al-Ilbaas ʻamma Ishtahar min Al-Ahaadeeth ʻala Alsinat An-Naas. Nevertheless, their meaning is correct.

Allaah knows best.

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