Women travelling more than 48 miles

Fatwa ID: 03184

Answered by: Alimah Nasima Umm Hamza​

Question:

Assalamu alaikum

I understand the Hadith in question that says we should not travel a journey that is three days long but the 48 miles rule is just stupid and oppressive and the does not even hint about miles so why create such a weird ruling also Surah Ahzaab verse 33 is talking about the Prophets (saw) household.

 

Answer:

In The Name Of Allah, The Most-Merciful, The Most Kind

       

Before looking at the Fiqh or hukm on any matter it is vital that we approach the matter with the correct mentality. As believers in Allah (SWT) as the Creator of mankind and the heavens and the earth, we must know with certainty that He (SWT) knows what is best for His creation, and the best solutions for man’s problems. Although we, as the creation may not be able to comprehend the wisdom or reasoning behind every command, we should realise that this is due to our own weaknesses as the creation, we do not have the overall picture of why things are a certain way. This does not mean that a rule is unsuitable, oppressive or backward.  Yet Allah (SWT) as the Creator has the overview of the creation and what is best suited to it.

If we think of the analogy of a director of a company, he has the overview of the whole company and makes decisions about where he wants to go with the company and what rules he wants in place for the company. As the director of the company, who has the overview, he can make the best decisions for the company, even if the employees of the company do not understand the wisdom, they must still follow the company rules, and accept they are not in a position to decide, as they don’t have an overview of every employee in the company.

 

Knowing that Allah (SWT), as the Creator, knows what is best for His creation as He made them and fashioned them with the differing dispositions, leads us to willingly and wholeheartedly submit to His commands. This means that our emotions and actions both must be in line with whatever Allah (SWT) has commanded, as submission requires both the heart and the limbs to be in submission to Allah (SWT). 


وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَن يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ ۗ وَمَن يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا مُّبِينًا
“It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.”

(Surah al-Ahzaab, Verse 36)

 

عَنْ أَبِي مُحَمَّدٍ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم "لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يَكُونَ هَوَاهُ تَبَعًا لِمَا جِئْتُ بِهِ".

On the authority of Abu Muhammad Abdullah bin ’Amr bin al-’Aas (RA) who said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “None of you truly believes until his desires are subservient to that which I have brought.”
(Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadith)

 

With regards to the ruling on women travelling, the Hanafi madhab adopts that a woman is not permitted to travel for more than the distance of 3 days, based on the Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH):

‏ لاَ تُسَافِرِ الْمَرْأَةُ ثَلاَثًا إِلاَّ وَمَعَهَا ذُو مَحْرَمٍ ‏‏
“A woman should not set out on three (days journey) except when she has a Mahram with her.”
(Sahih Muslim, Hadith Number 1338)

 

The scholars have calculated three days travel to be estimated as 48 miles because this is the distance which would have been covered by foot, which was the main means of travelling during the time of the Prophet (PBUH).

Although the Hanafi’s have adopted the distance as being 48 miles, most of the other schools of thought do not allow women to travel for any type of journey, and even Imam Abu Hanifah (RH) disliked women going for any type of travel which was considered a journey. The only exception made by some of the schools of thought is for travelling for Hajj. The reason for the other madhabs not permitting any type of travel is due to the following Hadith from Sahih al Bukhari, where any travel requires a Mahram. (Sharh of Sahih Muslim, by Imam Nawawi)

 

‏"لاَ تُسَافِرِ الْمَرْأَةُ إِلاَّ مَعَ ذِي مَحْرَمٍ‏"‏‏

Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The Prophet () said:

"A woman should not travel except with a Dhu-Mahram."

(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith Number 1862)

 

There is much wisdom behind women not travelling on their own. Many of the commands of Allah (swt) work in a preventative manner, so that people do not fall into a problem or harm in the first place so that rather than solving the harm when it has already occurred and punishments being given, the harm is prevented from occurring initially and therefore the society is built to be peaceful and trouble-free. This is the wisdom and beauty of the Deen of Islam, that many human problems are solved just by following the rules and laws set by the Creator.

 

With regards to the Ayah you mentioned from Surah al-Ahzab verse 33, where Allah (swt) says:


وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَىٰ
“And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance.”

 

The Mufassiroon (scholars of Tafseer) have mentioned that although this Ayah is in regards to the wives of the Prophet (pbuh), it also applies more generally to all women.

 

Syed Qutb (rh) explains in his Tafseer, that the meaning of the Ayah is not that women remain in their homes unconditionally, but rather that the norm is for women to remain at home because this is where their roles and duties as mother and wives are fulfilled. Whereas men have been given the role of being the breadwinner and provider for the family which requires them to spend extended periods of time outside the home. These complementary roles of men and women inside and outside of the home have been designed by the Creator to bring harmony and tranquillity to the family life when they are fulfilled in the correct manner.

 

This does not mean a woman cannot leave the home, rather when she has a need she is permitted to go out to fulfil that need. So for example, if she needs to work, to go shopping or visit family, she is permitted to do so.

 

““And stay quietly in your homes.” (Verse 33) The Arabic word used here, qarna, connotes having a weight that facilitates stability. This order does not mean staying permanently at home so as not to go out at all. It only indicates that to be at home is the normal situation, and whatever else is the exception that meets a need. In the home, a woman finds herself as fits her nature: sound, undistorted and uncontaminated. She fulfils her role without being overburdened with duties God has not equipped her to fulfil.” (In the Shade of the Quran, Syed Qutb, Tafsir of Surah al-Ahzab, p56)

 

[Additional References:

هُوَ ثَلَاثَةُ أَيَّامٍ وَلَيَالِيهَا فَيُبَاحُ لَهَا الْخُرُوجُ إلَى مَا دُونَهُ لِحَاجَةٍ بِغَيْرِ مَحْرَمٍ بَحْرٌ

(Raddul muhtar, Kitaab al-Hajj, page 464)

وَإِنْ كَانَ الْخِطَابُ لِنِسَاءِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَدْ دَخَلَ غَيْرُهُنَّ فِيهِ بِالْمَعْنَى .

(Tafsir Qurtubi, Surah al-Ahzaab, Verse 33)

وَهَذَا الْحُكْمُ وُجُوبٌ عَلَى أُمَّهَاتِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَهُوَ كَمَالٌ لِسَائِرِ النِّسَاءِ .

(Tafsir At-Tahreer wa At-Tanweer, Ibn ‘Aashour, Surah al-Ahzaab, Verse 33)]

 

And Allah SWT knows best

Answered by Aalimah Nasima Umm Hamza

Checked and approved Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

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