Travelling as a group of women beyond 82km

Question

Are we allowed to travel, as a group of women, to Tulbagh for a women’s retreat, knowing that the distance is beyond 82km (masafat al-qasr)?
  1. The issue of travelling without a mahram has been the subject of much discussion amongst scholars in recent years. This is primarily because contemporary modes of travel are considerably different from the modes of travel in the agrarian world.
  2. Notwithstanding this, however, the official view in the Shafi’i school states that a mahram is required for any travel undertaken by a female exceeding 82 km [Nawawi, Minhaj al-Talibin]. This view is supported by the hadith of the Messenger salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, “A woman should not travel for three days [referring to the distance of travel] without a mahram (unmarriageable kin)” [Bukhari].
  3. We are aware that the previous Mufti, our beloved Shaykh Maulana Taha Karaan, permitted the MJCWF to undertake a journey exceeding 82 km, despite the absence of any maharim (sing. mahram).
  4. Mln Taha’s fatwa finds support in the following:
    1. The fact that the ruling of impermissibility was predominantly based on the danger of travelling in an agrarian world, and that such danger is largely absent from modern-day travel. The Messenger salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam alluded to this when he said to ‘Adiy ibn Hatim radi Allahu ‘anhu, “And if you live a long life, you will surely see women travelling from Hira till they circumambulate the Ka’bah, fearing no one except Allah” [Bukhari and others].
    2. The fact that alternative views in the Shafi’i school permit a group of women to travel provided that the road is safe [Nawawi, Majmu’].
    3. The fact that the carried position in the Maliki school permits a woman to travel alone without a mahram if she is accompanied by a large number of people who guarantee her safety [Al-Hattab, Mawahib al-Jalil].
  5. The MJCWF and participants of their retreat, may adopt these alternative views if they so wish.

والله تعالى أعلم

And Allāh knows best

MJC (SA)

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