Woman! You cannot travel!

Standard

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 permissable 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 travelling 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 travelled
far and near. Many a times travelled alone!

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

I’ve travelled to 3 regional areas of my country
on work purposes with colleagues, travelled 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 civilised.

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 civilised world, and we
(most of the time) only get what we ask for.

So I say,
I’m perfectly fine travelling 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.

==========================
P.S. Scribbled on March 24, 2012.
Not sure if I should be publishing this. but who cares!!!!???
Held on to this without posting for a while.
Our society has been a very open-minded one, up until recently.
It has been changing drastically in the last few years.
Changing to the worst, embracing unreasonable restrictions
at an alarming rate.

13 thoughts on “Woman! You cannot travel!

  1. Great perspective. Stand up for what you believe in is a great way to fight back nonsense. :)

    … umm this part

    “We live in a civilised world, and we
    (most of the time) only get what we ask for.”

    It made me pause for a little bit. The reason is I’ve seen it being used somewhere else to justify sexual harassment. Men who attack women use it to excuse themselves. They say women shouldn’t dress this way or that way because they will force them to commit sin or they are asking for trouble, etc. That’s cheap and quite idiotic. Any person should have the right to wear whatever they want, and no they are not giving a license to anyone to harass them. That does not mean there arent women who do stupid things that easily expose them to danger.

    Nice piece mon amie!

    • that is right Elyas. this is utter nonsense. What we need is empowerment; not to be trapped in a narrow minded interpretation of ideologies.

      I enjoy traveling and I am going to continue to do so whenever the opportunity arise.
      And I find traveling alone to be easier as I get breathing space to enjoy what I like; which basically is gaping at natural formations, snap photos, just marvel at great architectures, different cultural displays, and just simply having a jolly good time enjoying the differences of the new place :)

      and about adding that specific part
      “We live in a civilized world, and we
      (most of the time) only get what we ask for.”

      I also have heard some people justify harassment on a similar basis. even religious scholars go as far as saying that rape and similar occurrences happen only because women go out there in indecent clothes.
      that’s just so wrong. the society needs to teach men to control their lust. it sickens me to realize that some people see women as just sex objects.
      “indecency and modesty in dressing” are also loaded words, and very subjective….

      what I meant to say with those lines was that most of the time things happen on a mutual want. whether it is an extramarital affair, whether it is infidelity or just sex before marriage or whatever.
      harassment and rape cannot be justified based on what other person wears or not wears. we need to respect people irrespective of gender, irrespective of belief system, irrespective of what there wear ……..

  2. It must be so hard to live in your society Amira. In the west we ladies are unaccustomed to being told what to think and what to do, what is right and what wrong for our sex. It’s so narrow and difficult to understand.
    What can we do to help change things? But that is presumptuous of me. I don’t mean you should be Westernised, it’s just that these restrictions seem so wrong.

    • These restrictions are there only because some people try to enforce their thoughts on others. People like me will always stand for our rights.
      and as long as there is education and empowerment, many more people like me will be born :)

      On a note on westernization … there are problems in that too.
      the social fabric of a society somehow gets effected due to extra marital affairs and children made out of uncommitted families ….
      The “living in together” phenomena has more downs than ups and usually is more draining on women than in a traditional matrimonial arrangements.
      but then again, this is a debatable area :D
      as long as we as humans find a way to respect others decisions and others way of life with full freedom, things will work out for the good, I suppose :)

      The problem is not with any religions, but with its interpretations …

  3. Here in the country where I live this is just accepted. Women mostly travel with men or in a group. And when you have to be out there alone without the escort of a man there are are hundred eyes to pierce you (through the full length black abhaya you are hiding yourself in) and you will long to vanish. Here it is not at all safe for women to travel alone, even to the shop in the neighbourhood.
    Hats off to your courage, Amira!

    • “the full length black abhaya you are hiding yourself in”

      that’s exactly how I think of abhayas. something to HIDE yourself in.
      And I take it on a negative perspective.

      Here in Maldives, we usually are (were) free to wear what we want. But things are changing and there are more people ta
      king the abhaya (also with the full face cover).
      these days I feel piercing eyes when I walk down the road. And I am covered from head to toe… I consider myself dressed modestly. But my western looking shirt and jeans and a small scarf must be the cause … :)

      I have walked down the roads of Australia, USA, and some asian countries and I feel more at ease on those roads with “my style of dress” with my headscarf. One would think more piercing eyes would be there because of the headscarf. But no! Nobody seem to care what someone wears or not wears.

      women are just seen as such a strange creature, by some people :(

  4. love the honesty of your writing…it takes courage to write the way you do…I’m so glad you are bold in what you believe. Freedom & trust are so important not narrow minded extremism of any kind. You may enjoy Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi….I loved it.
    Be yourself…you can’t please all the people all the time & even if you could, it’s not worth it ! ;-)

    • thanks Kavi for the vote of confidence :)
      narrow minded extremism gets to me … big time!!!
      my blood boils at the tyranny…
      it just gets to be too much.

      thanks for the recommendation. I quickly looked it up on Wikipedia and I enjoyed the overview. I would love to read the book … when I get hold of it :)

  5. Well said. I am SO glad you posted this. We can only be truly limited or enslaved with our permission and cooperation in the process. I am so glad to read this post and that you continue to make people aware of alarming changes in the world.

    • The sad part is that some women fall into this trap of becoming enslaved. totally brainwashed into believing that they are nothing but a an object that causes immoral acts by men …
      All and any religion is beautiful in itself. Spirituality cleanses people off sins …
      but such narrow minded interpretations is unhealthy …

leave a thread to follow :) merci

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