Is it permissible for a Muslim woman to go out or travel alone?
It is permissible for a Muslim woman to go out inside city if she wears clothes ensuring tasattur. However, it is not permissible for a woman to set out on a journey alone.
First, let us take a look at the Hadiths which are related to the issue:
Abu Said al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: “It is not lawful for a woman believing in Allah and the Hereafter to undertake a journey extending over three days or more, except when she is in the company of her father, or her son, or her husband, or her brother, or any other Mahram.”1
The issue is reported in another account as two days:
Abu Said al-Khudri reported: “Allah's Messenger forbade a woman to undertake a journey extending over two days but with her husband, or with a Mahram”2
The issue is reported in another account as one day:
Abu Hurayrah reported Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said: It is not lawful for a Muslim woman to travel a night's journey except when there is a Mahram with her.3
Giving this Hadith as a proof, Imam Awzai and Abu Layth say the following:
“It is not lawful for a Muslim woman to travel one-day journey without accompanied by a Mahram with her. However, if the distance is shorter than one-day journey, she can go alone.”4
While explaining those Hadiths, the Hadith scholars say the following:
According to Hanafi School, a Muslim woman without accompanied by her husband or a Mahram must not travel extending three-day distance or more. However, it is permissible for a Muslim woman to go by herself for a distance less than that without those mentioned-above with her. Also in Hidaya it is said that it is Mubah for a Muslim woman to travel alone for less than three-day distance without accompanied by a Mahram. 5
Imam Ayni also talks about this question and its answer related to that matter: if you said “Aisha traveled alone, without accompanied by a Mahram, Acting upon it, a group from the scholars said a woman could travel without accompanied by a mahram”, I would say to you: “Since Aisha was the mother of all believers, she was Mahram to all. Whoever traveled with her, he or she would be a Mahram. This rule cannot be valid for the other women. That answer belongs to Abu Hanifa.6
As far as it is understood from all those narrations and reports, a Muslim woman cannot travel a three-day journey without accompanied by a Mahram such as her husband or father, brother, son, and uncle. It is not permissible. However, she can travel alone for a distance less than that. The Ijtihad (judicial opinion) of Imam Awzai which says that a Muslim woman cannot travel even one-day journey without accompanied by a Mahram seems more important in terms of being cautious. Here, by “outside the district”, it is meant outside the city. There is no limit in Hadiths about how many days a Muslim woman should travel alone inside the city because the inside of the city is residential district; it is thought that it is secure.
However, sometimes there can be urgent cases for journeys outside city for a woman. Today, after possible measures are taken, it means that it is secure and they can travel alone since they will travel by bus, train, and plane. In those cases, there is no harm to travel alone. As it is mentioned above, there is an urgent case.
It can be evaluated in the same category when a Muslim woman gets into a cab alone inside the city. Even if the inside the cab is seen, the woman who gets into a cab is alone with the driver. Thus, she should prefer to sit in the back seat. On the other hand, as it is possible to come across with evil-minded drivers, it is also possible to be addressed in a bad way by drivers. In order to prevent those kinds of cases from happening, she should use her mind and try not to meet those kinds of people. After all, it is the best for a woman not to prefer getting into cabs unless she has to.
As for the issue of Hajj:
For someone to be considered as responsible for Hajj duty, he or she must be a Muslim, sane, mature, free, and capable. To be capable means that she or he must have financial possibilities and health. For that reason, one must have financial possibilities to be enough for himself and persons for whom he is responsible till he returns from Hajj; he must not have a disease or handicap preventing him from going to Hajj, and there must not exist a life-threatening situation on the way to Makkah (the way should be secure and clear).
Furthermore, women must travel with a Mahram (first degree relative) or their husbands. If someone who has neither husband nor a Mahram and has the other conditions of Hajj wants to perform Hajj, which is Fard, she can perform Hajj together with trustable women in accordance with the sect of Shafii; there is no need to make fake marriages for it.
Hajj is not fard for those who do not fulfill those conditions mentioned-above. If they had possibilities to perform Hajj and later lost those possibilities, they would still be responsible for the duty of Hajj. For example, if a rich person, after the time of Hajj, is caught with a chronic disease, he or she has to send someone in place of herself or himself. For that reason, a Muslim should perform the Hajj duty as soon as possible and at the earliest opportunity.
According to the sect of Shafii, for Hajj can be obligatory (wajib) for a woman, she needs to go together with a Mahram or her husband, or a few trustable women. Namely, if a woman has a Mahram or husband, she goes together with them to Hajj, if she does not, then she can go to Hajj together with a few women. If she cannot find those mentioned-above, she does not have to go to Hajj even if ways are safe. However, if she still wants, she can go. If a woman performed Hajj, which was Fard, and wants to go for nafilah (supererogatory) hajj, she just can go with her husband or a Mahram. It is not permissiblel for her to go to Hajj even together with women.
1. Muslim, Hajj: 423.
2. Muslim, Hajj: 416.
3. Muslim, Hajj: 421. Tirmidhi, Rada: 14.
4. Umdatu’l-Qari, 7: 130.
5. İbn Majah Translation, 8: 69. Tuhfatü’l-Ahwazi, 4: 332.
6. Umdatu’l-Qari, 7: 128.
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