I understand that women are not meant to travel over 48 miles without a mahram, would you be able to provide the relevant Hadith’s to explain this? Many people have told me that this ruling does not need to be applied in this day and age as it is much safer for a woman to travel now than it was before when the narration was told, as the reason why women were not allowed to travel before was due to high safety risks which isn’t the case anymore.
Also, I have heard that there is a Hadith where the Prophet (SAW) saw that women will one day be able to travel from Hira to the Ka’bah fearing no-one except Allah, which has been interpreted that it may be permissible for women to travel and the Prophet (SAW) saying this is him foretelling it and giving his glad tidings on it.
If you could provide clarity on this matter then it would be greatly appreciated.
There is a narration in Sahih Muslim which states that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “It is not lawful for a woman who believes in Allah and the Hereafter to travel for more than three nights journey except when there is a mahram with her.”
Three nights journey has been converted into miles by scholars and many have adopted the position of forty-eight miles. Hence, if a journey is longer than forty-eight miles a woman will not be able to travel without a mahram.
The hadith does not mention that this ruling is only to be applied in cases where the journey is unsafe. Rather, the hadith is unrestricted and mentions that once a woman is travelling she will require a mahram.
In such cases a distinction must be drawn between the potential wisdom (hikmah) behind a ruling and the actual basis of the ruling (‘illah). Rulings are implemented according to their actual basis and not the wisdom. For example, wine is unlawful to consume. The basis here is wine, hence, as soon as a drink fulfils the definition of wine, it will be unlawful to consume. One potential wisdom behind this ruling is to avoid intoxication. If we had a case where a particular person did not become intoxicated by consuming wine, it will still be unlawful for them to consume the wine.
In our case the basis of the ruling is shar’i travel and one potential wisdom is safety. Hence, as soon as a sister becomes a traveller she will need a mahram regardless of whether the journey is safe or not. For this reason, we will act upon the hadith as it is and as soon as a journey is forty-eight miles the ruling will come into effect.
The final hadith which is used by some to argue that travelling is permissible without a mahram is not explicit in the matter. Rather, it just describes how safe travelling will be at that time without mention of whether or not one should travel by themselves in such a manner.
Contrary to this, the narration we have quoted above from Sahih Muslim is explicit and therefore would be given preference.
صحيح مسلم (2/ 975)
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، قَالَ: «لَا يَحِلُّ لِامْرَأَةٍ، تُؤْمِنُ بِاللهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ، تُسَافِرُ مَسِيرَةَ ثَلَاثِ لَيَالٍ، إِلَّا وَمَعَهَا ذُو مَحْرَمٍ
Ifta Research Fellow
Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel