Courtesy: Photo By Johnexley Online

Some male scholars say that if a wife leaves the house for any reason, she must ask her husband’s permission. They say that even the woman’s voice is “awrah” and should not be heard. If she travels, her husband or a male relative must accompany her. What do the Qur’an and the Hadith really say?

Answer by Br. Kaukab Siddique: We must realize that according to the Qur’an, authority belongs to ALLAH ALONE. [1] Any attempt to give authority to any human being is SHIRK, which is the only sin Allah does not forgive.

The Qur’an is a progressive revelation, which went through stages of development of the Muslim woman and the Muslim male. In the final analysis, male-female relations in Islam are based on TAQWA [Fear of Allah, God-conscious behavior], not on gender. [2]

In the FINAL revelation about men and women, the Qur’an proclaimed without ambiguity that the believing men and women are EACH OTHER’S protecting friends and guardians, not the woman under the domain of the male. [3] For more on (obedience to the husband issue) this click here…

In times of insecurity and war, in long journeys, the Prophet, pbuh, ordained that a woman should travel with her husband or a male relative. The intent of this was to help the woman and to provide security, not to put the woman under the control of her husband.

 Some scholars who argue that the wife must obey the husband use the issue of travel.

There is a whole series of omissions, either dishonest or out of ignorance, carried out to use this issue. The following Hadith is quoted:

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel except with a Mahram.” [Bukhari]

However, that is not the complete Hadith. Here it is with the key words in bold type:

The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel for one day and night except with a Mahram.” [Bukhari]

One day and night connotes a long journey. Nowadays, one can travel halfway around the world in a day and a night. This is certainly not about a woman going shopping or to meet her friends down in the city. In those days, it was dangerous and one could lose life, goods and honor to bandits on the way. There were no highways or electric lights on the sandy desert.

However, the misuse of Hadith does not end there. These scholars do not note the context and do not let anyone know that restrictions were put on males too. Here are the relevant Hadith:

 The Prophet, pbuh, said: “Travel is a kind of punishment. It limits food, drink and sleep. When you have completed the requirements of travel, return quickly to your family.” [Bukhari and Muslim.]


The Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, spent much of his life in Madinah in jihad. He traveled extensively for jihad and hence there are numerous hadith about travel and its rules.

It’s a shame for some modern Muslims and who have never spoken against the oppressors, let alone gone for jihad, to use the words of the greatest liberator of women, Muhammad Mustafa, pbuh, to subjugate women.


When a man went out for a journey, his life was often in danger. Here is another Hadith on the subject, which stops men from going forth alone:

The messenger of Allah, pbuh, said:

 “A horseman going alone is satanic. If there are two going by themselves, they are two Satans. And three is the proper [recommended] caravan.” [Sunan of Abu Dawood and Sunan of Nasa’i]

The messenger of Allah, pbuh, said;

 “If people knew what I know about the bad aspects of traveling alone, no one would travel alone at night.” [Sahih Bukhari]

The Islamic solution, the Prophet, pbuh, gave was excellent but we Muslims have forgotten it. Where possible, especially where satanic forces are at work, Muslims should travel in groups, even if these are very small groups, and the traveling should be well organized:

The messenger of Allah, pbuh, said: “When three of you travel, make one of your companions the ameer.” [Sunan of Abu Dawood]

We are living in times where travel conditions are being affected by the antagonistic activities of our enemies. So go forth prepared:

Someone asked the messenger of Allah:”O messenger of Allah, I have the intention of travel. Please advise me.

He [the messenger, pbuh,} replied:

“The fear and awareness of Allah [taqwa] should always be with you, and at every high point [in the journey] say takbeer!” [Sunan of Tirmidhi]. [8]

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About Kaukab Siddique PhD

Professor of English, World Literature and Journalism at Lincoln University. Research specialization in Women and Islam


  1. Ayesha javaid says :

    is it right for a woman to live without a mehram in a foreign country for any specific reason, like studies etc???? is there any bukhari hadith regarding it????? please do guide me about it

  2. qatheworld says :

    Do you know more about the context of hadith “If people knew what I know about the bad aspects of traveling alone, no one would travel alone at night.”? Is it simply a matter of safety? Also about the single horseman being satanic… is it know what this was spoken in relation to?

    • Kaukab Siddique PhD says :

      asalaam o alaikum!

      This has relevance to the hadith that Satan runs through us like our blood.

      When we travel, the danger of temptation and bad thoughts increases.

      Also relevant is the hadith about praying in jama’ah. The praying together enhances our courage to defeat sins.

      Thirdly, if we become very spiritual ALONE, the feeling of spiritual arrogance can increase that we are better than others.
      Notice sura al-Fateha: “Show US the straight path. ” [NOT show me…]

      Physical security too is an important concern.

      May Allah forgive our sins and shortcomings.

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