Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. What are the rulings concerning the woman’s taking permission of the husband if she wants to leave the house and her traveling without a Mahram (husband or close male relative)? Jazakum Allah khayran.
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Islam cares for the dignity and honor of woman. Because of her weakness and vulnerability to being targeted by vile men, Islam is keen to close the doors to such situations by insisting that a woman should not travel long distances or stay away from home by herself unless she has taken adequate safeguards in order to ensure her own protection.
Answering your question, the European Council for Fatwa and Research states:
“1. The ruling concerning the woman’s taking permission on leaving home:
It is incumbent on the woman to inform her husband when she wants to go outside her home. However, the woman’s leaving her house to work, study or run errands for the home and the children does not require but a general consent on the part of the husband, and the wife does not have to ask permission every time. The matter is subject to common tradition. If the wife’s going out of the house is to visit a family not known to the husband, or if her going out entails staying overnight outside the house, the permission of the husband become necessary. If the husband refuses, the woman shall not go out. Muslim morality also requires that the husband should tell his wife if he wants to travel or stay overnight outside the house, for she has the right to know her husband’s whereabouts when he is absent from home.
2. The ruling regarding a woman’s travel without a mahram
This is primarily unlawful according to the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): “A woman who believes in Allah and the Hereafter shall not travel for (a period of) a day and a night unless accompanied by a mahram of hers.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Depending on this general text, some scholars are of the opinion that a woman should not travel by herself. Other scholars stipulate that her travel is permissible in the company of a trustworthy group of men or men and women. The prohibition conveyed by the hadith is justified by fearing that the woman may be exposed to mischief or temptation if she travels alone, bearing in mind that the dangers of travel were numerous in the past. Caliph `Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) allowed the Prophet’s wives (Mothers of the Believers) to travel for Hajj with a group of believers and sent with them `Uthman ibn `Affan and `Abdul-Rahman ibn `Auf.
In the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to `Adiy ibn Hatim we read: “If you live long, you will see the woman travel from Hirah (a city in Iraq) to circumambulate the Ka`bah fearing none but Allah.” (Reported by al-Bukhari)
This confirms that the cause (of the prohibition) is fear (of insecurity). If security is guaranteed and fear is no more present, a woman may travel, particularly nowadays when travel has become easy, whether by air, train or coach. In all these means of transportation, company is available and security is realized for the Muslim woman.
This is in respect of the woman’s travel from one town to another or from one country to another and her arrival on the same day of her travel, whereupon she finds company providing security. If the journey requires staying overnight in a hotel on the way, or the journey is intended to perform a certain task that requires residence for a certain period, the woman, in this case, is supposed primarily to travel with a mahram of hers, or reside for the required period with a Muslim family in that country to avoid the likelihood of temptation or mischief the woman may face.
Finally, the Council urges parents to bring up their daughters and the husbands to educate their wives according to the guidance of Allah, for a Muslim woman will certainly follow the guidance of Allah steadfastly if she has received her due amount of education and instruction and has learned the rulings and rules of Shari`ah and has comprehended her religion.”
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