Another medieval fatwa from Indian clerics

’48-mile cap for women travelling sans escort’

LUCKNOW: Darul Uloom Deoband has issued a travel advisory for women. The latest fatwa by the Islamic seminary rules that a single woman must not venture beyond 48 miles unless escorted by a ‘mehram’ — defined as a close kin with whom marriage or sex would be considered incestuous. Apart from this, a husband also qualifies as ‘mehram’. The fatwa has invited derision from activist Muslim groups.

The edict was in response to a query 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) posted on the Deoband website on March 2 said: “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.”

Justifying the fatwa, Deoband’s spokesperson Adil Siddiqui told reporters on Tuesday that their intent is to protect women. “The fatwa is relevant considering growing crime against women. Therefore, no Muslim family should have any objections,” he said.

The ruling, made public on International Women’s day, raised the hackles of activists who condemned the attempts to “shackle women by insecure maulanas”. The issue was discussed threadbare at the meeting of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) and each of the 253 participants vowed to ignore it completely.

“To try and impose 1,400 years old restrictions when people travelled in kafila is absurd,” said Naeesh Hasan, the founder president of BMMA. “This in an era when women pilots fly planeloads of people across thousands of miles without their fathers or husbands lurking in the cockpit.”

Bazm-e-Khawateen chief Beghaum Shahnaz Sidratwell (76) wanted to know what happened to women who had no mehram. “I was the lone daughter of a widowed mother and have been moving alone ever since I can remember. The maulanas must think of better ways to make their presence felt,” she said.



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6 responses to “Another medieval fatwa from Indian clerics

  1. Hari

    Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) are doing something empowerment of women ,they know better about their protection.

  2. som

    Silence is not always golden. And certainly not, if that means suppressing rights of an entire community

  3. nitha

    Naish Hasan is the name of a woman who made a history and earned lot of criticism when her nikah was officiated by a Muslim lady. She refutes that was a popularity stunt. Rather, it was to show that women are eligible to conduct nikah. Talking to Mumtaz Alam Falahi of, Hasan, who is founder member of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, calls for reform in Muslim law for women and also an alternative leadership for them.

    • nitha

      Ms Farhat Amin is a post-graduate in English Literature and has done her PG diploma in Ecology & Environment, Journalism & mass Communication and Diploma in Cartooning.
      For more than a decade she worked as a journalist and has written and sketched for various local, national and international dailies, magazines and journals. She also has experience in teaching communicative English to school, college students and professionals in various educational institutions.

      For the past six years she has been actively working for the rights of marginalized women in 5 districts of her state, Odisha. As secretary of BIRD (Bold Initiative Research and Documentation and State Convenor of BMMA (Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan), she has tried her level best through various right based activities on education, livelihood, Constitutional & Muslim personal Law and Health to orient and aware the community members and sensitize the stakeholders respectively to help the poor and needy to get their entitlements.

      Her sincere endeavors to help the community has fetched her various awards in and outside the state.

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