Is there a dispensation in the Shafi`i school for a woman to travel with a safe group upon need
Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed
Is there a dispensation in the Shafi`i school for a woman to travel with a safe group upon need when she does not have a mahram (unmarriageable kin) that she can travel with?
When a woman travels without her husband or mahram, there is some detail to discuss. If the purpose of her travel is to perform an obligation, such as the hajj or umra, according to our school, it is permissible for her to travel by herself, if she feels it is safe for her. Included in this is travel for seeking a livelihood, if no one else spends on her, as the scholars have explicitly stated, because seeking halal livelihood is obligatory. However, she must be sure to observe the rules of covering and not be in seclusion with men.
As for a trip that is for something non-obligatory, it is haram for her to travel without a husband or mahram, even if she feels it is safe, and I have not heard anything in our school that permits it.
I have seen in Maliki works a position that it is permissible if the travel is with a secure group and some of the later scholars have relied upon this. I asked the erudite scholar, Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Shanqayti al-Maliki and he said that it is permissible to follow this opinion and to act upon it in their school, such as airplane passengers if they are many. In this is some room for ease.
(Translated by Shazia Ahmad)