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Woman! You cannot travel!

This morning I heard a snippet from a radio broadcast
“mahramakaa nulaa dhathurkurumakee
mulsim anhenaa ah haraam kameh”
This in English translates to
“it is not permissible for a Muslim woman to travel alone”

The word haraam connotes a meaning that says it is forbidden;
it’s against the religion.
Drinking (in terms of alcohol consumption) is haraam,
extra-marital sex is haraam,
any intoxicant is haraam.
consumption of pork is haraaam.
These I can agree to;
“but traveling alone is haraam for women!”
That is difficult for me to digest.

I live in a free country where
women have a sense of freedom and independence.
And I like that, I want that!

We live by our faith, I live by my faith!
But lately, I’m starting to get very confused.
These so very narrow interpretation
of our religion by some so-called scholars
just rubs me the wrong way!

In my over three decades of living,
I have been lucky enough to have traveled
far and near. Many a times traveled alone!

This fatwa I heard today
“traveling without a mahram is haraam for women”
means I’ve knowingly or unknowingly
repeated this haraam act quite a few times.

I’ve traveled to 3 regional areas of my country
on work purposes with colleagues, traveled alone;
no mahram with me.

I’ve left my home country and returned 20 or more times
during the past 1.5 decades.
six of these were with hubs & family.
two from the rest were with just my toddler son.
three of it were with colleagues
but not mahrams I should note.
the rest of the trips were completed alone;
and they were work vacations for me.
On some trips I sat next to total strangers ,
sometimes making small talk,
sometimes spent in total silence;
but all were civilized.

I’ve managed perfectly well
I’ve never been harassed, never been seduced :)
I have never been tempted to do anything wrong!

Because I know who I am
and I know my boundaries!
I do not need anyone to tag along to remind me
who I am!
We live in a civilized world, and we
(most of the time) only get what we ask for.

So I say,
I’m perfectly fine traveling myself.

Oh people who call themselves “religious scholars”!
have some faith in us woman folk.
of course a ‘bodyguard’ would be needed if you go to a barbaric society.
Thankfully, it is safe at least for people like me
who travel on professional work related matters,
there most often is a host institution overseas
who are there to take care of us, where needed.

So please don’t call this haraam.
That’s a very strong word to be used in this context.

Originally published on my blog @

Gender-based Violence
Human Rights
South and Central Asia
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