48-mile limit for women traveling alone

Darul Uloom Deoband has issued a travel warning for women in Lucknow. According to the most recent fatwa issued by the Islamic seminary, a single woman is not permitted to travel more than 48 kilometers alone without the company of a “mehram,” who is a member of a close family whose union or sexual activity would be seen as incestuous. In addition, a husband is also considered a “mehram.” The fatwa has drawn criticism from activist Muslim organizations.The edict was issued in response to a question to Darul-Ifta (Deoband’s fatwa department): “Is a married woman permitted to travel to another country with her female sibling?” The response (511/308/d) was posted on the Deoband website on March 2 and stated: “She cannot travel without a’mehram’ because it is mentioned in the Hadees that a woman should not No Muslim household should disagree, he said, adding that the fatwa is pertinent given the rise in violence against women. The decision, which was made public on International Women’s Day, incensed activists who decried attempts to “shackle women by insecure maulanas.” Each of the 253 attendees at the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) conference swore to entirely disregard the problem after it was discussed in great detail. “To try and impose 1,400 years old restrictions when people traveled in kafila is absurd,” stated Naeesh Hasan, the founding president of BMMA. According to Bazm-e-Khawateen chief Beghaum Shahnaz Sidratwell (76), “this is in an era when women pilots fly planeloads of people across thousands of miles without their fathers or husbands lurking in the cockpit.” Sidratwell wanted to know what happened to women who did not have mehrams. “The maulanas must think of better ways to make their presence felt,” she added. “I was the lone daughter of a widowed mother and have moved alone ever since I can remember.”

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