Girl traveling with maternal uncle and his grown-up sons
Fatwa No: 343786

Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah. If my uncle (maternal) is going on a trip with his grown-up sons and they have asked my mum to ask me if I would like to go along with another female cousin of mine, is this permissible? I hardly spend time with my uncle but have been on a trip abroad with him and other family members in the past. I would like to go to spend time with him and enjoy the trip, which is an outdoor activity trip, therefore there may be some climbing and such team building activities to do. As I have realised, my cousins will be there with my uncle, I am not sure if I want to do it as I would not be entirely comfortable traveling and then doing activities there with them even though my uncle will be there too. My mother is not happy at my response. I am not sure how it will be as it could be that I and my female cousin get to be together and avoid being close with the male cousins during our time there, however I am not sure how that will be as they are not conscious about these issues, and we may end up having normal conversations as a family. I think that my uncle and his sons do not realise that this may be a problem in light of the rules regarding the hijab between us cousins, who are not Mahram (permanently unmarriageable) to each other, and that is why it can be difficult whenever I go to my uncle's house or they come over because they tend to make conversation, and I am not sure whether it is wrong to speak to them or not. My question is the following: in such a situation, if my uncle will be there, would it be permissible for me to travel with him and his sons and go on this trip with all of them whilst my uncle is there? Please advise about this and on how I should respond when they greet me or speak to me. I would be very grateful, as I have always been unsure on this. May Allaah reward you.

Answer

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

First of all, we say that there is no harm in traveling with them since your maternal and paternal uncles will be with you; as they are your Mahrams. Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, "No woman should travel unless she is escorted by a male Mahram." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

Your male cousins are not among your Mahrams, so you must abide by the Shariah provisions in talking to them. It is permissible if there is a need for it and within the scope of that need, and without using soft speech or the like that may lead to Fitnah (temptation). Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {O wives of the Prophet, you are not like anyone among women. If you fear Allah, then do not be soft in speech (to men), lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech.} [Quran 33:32]

The permissibility that we mentioned applies in case Fitnah is not feared. However, if Fitnah is feared, then talking to them becomes prohibited. An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him quoted the following statement of Abu Sa‘eed Al-Mutawalli:

"If the woman is a non-Mahram and she is beautiful and there is fear that a man may be tempted by her, then he should not greet her. If he does, then it is not permissible for her to reply. She should not initiate the greeting either, and if she does, she does not deserve a response. If he responds, then this is disliked for him. If she is an old woman who would not tempt men, then it is permissible for her to greet the man and for the man to return her greeting. If there is a group of women, then a man may greet them, or if there is a group of men, they may greet a woman so long as there is no fear that any of the parties may be tempted."

We also warn of family gatherings in which Shariah provisions are not observed. The Muslim women should wear their hijaab before non-Mahram relatives, and there should be no prohibited mixing and the like. If someone is unaware of such provisions, he should read the scholars' statements in this regard. If someone knows of them and ignores them, he should kindly be advised. Firmness in this regard is required; it is impermissible for the Muslim to compromise his religion in order to please anyone or seek the pleasure of people by doing what incurs the Wrath of Allah, The Almighty. It was reported that ‘Aa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her wrote a letter to Mu‘aawiyah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him reading, "Peace be upon you. I heard the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) say, "Whoever seeks the pleasure of Allah by incurring people's wrath, Allah will suffice him from the people. And whoever seeks the people's pleasure by incurring the Wrath of Allah, He will entrust him to the people." [At-Tirmithi]

We also warn against the kinds of sports that may be inappropriate for women, such as climbing, which is mentioned in the question. For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 126934.

Allah knows best.

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