The travelling woman who has no Mahram to escort her
Fatwa No: 88562

Question

When a woman does not have a husband – either she is a widow or divorced and has no other living Mahram relatives – what are the rules for her regarding traveling when she travels for less than one day and one night (total journey time from her home to her destination is less than one day and one night) and when she travels for more than one day and one night? Does she need a Mahram? Also how is the traveling measured when she want to travel from her place of residence (place a) to another place (place b) but she stops at middle place (place c) for less than one day and one night? What is the position if she travels from A and stops at C for more than one day and one night before continuing to her destination B? Does she need a Mahram at any time?

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 is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

 

It seems that all your questions relate to the distance that is forbidden for a woman to travel without a Mahram (a non-marriageable relative). The narrations reported in the book of Imaam Al-Bukhari and Muslim and others in this regard differ. One narration reads: ''A woman should not travel for a distance of three days except with a Mahram''. Another narration reads: ''It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allaah and the Last Day to travel for a distance of one day and one night without a Mahram''.

Another narration forbids a woman to travel without a Mahram, but did not specify the time (and or distance).   

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: ''A woman should not travel except with a Mahram''. However, another narration specifies the distance as being 12 miles. Thus it becomes clear that what is meant is not the distance but it is the travel itself. Therefore it is not permissible for a woman to travel a distance that is considered a travel according to the customs of her country without a Mahram. This is the preponderant opinion in this issue. However, there is no difference whether the travel is continuous or interrupted by pauses. Anyway, if a woman is obliged to travel and did not find a Mahram or husband to accompany her, then Allaah does not prevent her from travelling because necessities make what is forbidden permissible. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): {Allaah has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.}[22:78]. And an urgent need is considered as a necessity.

Allaah knows best.

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