Travel Advisory for Darul Uloom

"Go take a walk."

And before I am branded as not Muslim enough, if at all, then let me assure you I am closely acquainted with Muslims who practise their faith religiously.

I understand that by quoting the Darul Uloom Deoband I am furthering their cause, but if newspapers continue to publish their latest fatwa, as though it is the newest trend, we will have to speak up. The seminary purports to represent the faith and the Quran; it also ends its fatwas with “Allah knows best”. Therefore, I wonder why people ask them questions at all.

Here is the query on travel:

“Is a married woman permitted to travel to another country with her female sibling?”

The Darul Uloom reply:

“She cannot travel without a ‘mehram’. It’s mentioned in the Hadees that a woman should not travel for more than 48 miles except in the company of a ‘mehram’ relative.”

A 'mehram' is an immediate relative, with whom having sex would amount to incest, or the husband.

I would like to know whether implicit in the reply is that women travel for sex or that there is always the possibility of them being sexually exploited. The latter does pose a danger, but wasn’t it the Deoband that issued a fatwa on a raped woman who was asked to marry her father-in-law, the rapist? Where was she travelling to?

There are several aspects in religion that had validity at one point in time; it is important to seek the essence and not the superficals. And I am not sure about the verity of the Deoband pronouncements. In respect of removal of hair in private parts, for example, it talks about tweezers for women. Were there tweezers in the Prophet’s time? Or depilatory creams? Anyhow, all these were for reasons of hygiene and not because it interfered with people’s belief in god.

Now back to their travel advice. Quite a few of my relatives are religious and the women travel alone and are professionally qualified. Some also wear the hijaab and drive the fastest and take holidays without their male relatives.

The Deoband's extreme position will work against itself. A woman asking the query obviously wishes to or needs to travel. She may not know how far her destination exactly is in miles or kilometres. She might need to use transport and the driver need not be a woman. Then what? Okay, she will be in full hijaab and all that. Then? What if she takes a break every 48 miles and then resumes for another 48 – will that be halal?

In the same state of Uttar Pradesh some miles away from the Deoband in Lucknow women in Varanasi are running madrassas. They have had regular education and are inculcating these values in their students. They are showing the community, the country and the world that madrassas are not only about religious teachings. It is not to justify the existence of such madrassas or to whitewash a bad image, but to fight ignorance and empower themselves.

I should hope they travel far, beyond the 48 miles, because in their minds they have already traversed way ahead of the clerics.


  1. We want to change our cell phone model each year to be in sync with modern technology and what science has to offer, make use of the most modern medicine and diagonstics and still refer to the ancient practices in religion.
    There should be a directive against open heart surgery and angioplasty as well :), let see how many survive a heart attack purely on prayers.
    We have stopped evolving and hence the fear of extinction.

  2. And these same people now use hi-tech to spread regressive ideas. What an irony.

    As regards prayers, haven;t you met doctors who say 'we have done what we could, now it is upto god/fate/luck'? It is not only in films, trust me.

    One doc even told me I was lucky for him? Why? Boni hui kya?


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.