Can I travel alone?

Asalamu alaikum, brother! So good to finally get in contact with you alhamdulela. I left the forum that you used to post on after you. I couldn’t find anything worth reading so I’m here on your blog now. 🙂

I have a question. My parents have a great issue with me traveling on my own. I am now 21 years old and have not been anywhere on my own for more than a day. Now that I’m graduating inshaa Allah and would like to continue my studies perhaps abroad, I’m finding it very hard convincing them to let me go on a leisure trip let alone to another country! In my opinion and although they say it is because I’m without a mahram, I think this is more culture than Islamically. So I need to prove that I don’t need a mahram so they would have no excuse inshaa Allah!

JazakAllah khairan! 🙂

Welcome to the blog, sister. It’s good to hear from you again. I enjoyed reading your posts on that forum.

The issue of women traveling alone is more than culture or tradition. Many of the hadeeths that forbid it are authentic, narrated by Ibn Umar, Abu-Sa`eed Al-Khudri and Ibn Abbaas and reported by Al-Bukhaari. These hadeeths all say that a woman may not travel by herself, only with a mahram (chaperon) if the trip will take two or more days of walking.

Why is that? To answer this question, one needs to picture Arabia in the Seventh Century. Traveling between any two points was hazardous even for men, but at least men carried their swords and could defend themselves from thieves and thugs along the uncharted roads. How could any woman by herself?

That is the contingency of the hadeeths. If there are no risks to a woman’s dignity or property while traveling by herself, then the hadeeths do not apply.

Can such assurance be made today? While there will always be some risk, because there are always thugs and rapists out there, one has to admit that the risk has become much less than it was in Seventh Century Arabia. Airports and airplanes are packed with security. There are police officers in every town. Roads are well lit.

And nowadays, there are many ways a woman can defend herself. I always recommend to whomever asks me that a woman carries in her handbag defensive weapons, such as mace, pepper spray or “shriek alarms” and learn martial arts techniques.

If you are going to travel abroad, learn all you can about the crime rate where you will be living and seriously take precautions, passive and active. Passive precautions are things like not going out at night, always closing doors and windows after dark, etc.

Your parents will be constantly worried about you while you’re abroad, so stay in touch with them. Modern technologies and communications make this easy. Get them cell phones with webcams if they don’t have them already and call them daily so that they can see and hear you and know that you’re doing well and are safe.

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