Women: Restrictions on

Q699 :A Muslim woman who is keen on abiding by the teachings of Islam is nevertheless very assertive of her freedom. She claims that there is nothing in the Qur'an to suggest that women cannot travel alone. To her, freedom means that she can travel wherever and whenever she wishes. Please comment.

A699 : This lady is partly right. There is nothing in the Qur'an to suggest that women cannot travel alone. May I suggest, however, that it is also not mentioned in the Qur'an that we should pray five times each day. We are only commanded in the Qur'an to attend regularly to our prayers. The number of times we should pray every day, and how we should pray and the time range for each prayer and the number of rak'ahs included in each, and what part of our prayer is obligatory and what is voluntary are all matters that have no mention in the Qur'an. Nevertheless, every Muslim the world over and in all generations knows that we must pray five times each day, within a specific time range for each prayer, and our five prayers include 17 obligatory rak'ahs and some voluntary ones. Moreover, there is no disagreement among Muslims on the form our prayers should take or what should be included in it as a matter of duty. If anyone denies any part of these facts, he runs the risk of being considered a disbeliever, because he is denying something of Islam which is essentially known to all people. The same can be said about numerous aspects of the faith of Islam. Only a few regulations about pilgrimage are mentioned in the Qur'an, but there is little difference among scholars on what parts of pilgrimage are essential for the completion of this important duty. What I am driving at is to emphasize that it is not necessary that something is specifically mentioned in the Qur'an for it to be obligatory to all Muslims. We have a general rule clearly stated in the Qur'an which tells us that we must obey the Prophet, whatever he commands us. Allah says "So take what the Messenger gives you, and refrain from whatever he forbids you. " (59 ; 7 ) This Qur'anic verse illustrates that the Prophet's orders have Allah's support. This is only right because, in whatever relates to the religion of Islam, the Prophet only conveys to us Allah's revelations. In the Qur'an Allah tells us, referring to the Prophet : "This fellow man of yours has not gone astray, nor is he deluded, and neither does he speak out of his own desire : that (which he conveys to you) is but ( a divine ) inspiration with which he is being Inspired. " (53 ; 2-4 ) Therefore, what you should explain to this lady is that Islamic orders can be given by the Prophet, and all Muslims must abide by them. The Prophet has told all Muslim women not to travel alone, because Islam takes good care of women. When a woman finds herself in a foreign country, on her own, she may be vulnerable to a variety of risks. Having her husband or a male companion who is a close relative of her by side will ensure her safety and protection.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )