Praise be to Allaah.
One of the ways in which Islam protects women is that it requires a
woman to travel with a mahram, to protect her from those who have bad intentions and to
help her, because of her weakness, in facing the arduous trials of travelling. A woman is
not permitted to travel without a mahram because of the hadeeth narrated by Ibn
Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him), who reported that the Prophet
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: A woman should absolutely not travel
unless she has a mahram with her. A man stood up and said, O Messenger of
Allaah, I have enlisted in such-and-such a military campaign, and my wife has set out for
Hajj. He said, Go and do Hajj with your wife. (al-Bukhaari, al-Fath,
What indicates that a mahram is obligatory is the fact
that the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded this man to
give up the idea of jihaad (on this occasion), even though he had enlisted for a campaign
and his wife was travelling for the purpose of worship, not for some frivolous or
suspicious reason. In spite of all this, he told him to go and do Hajj with his wife.
The ulamaa have listed five conditions for a person to be
considered a mahram. He should be male, Muslim, adult, and of sound mind, and he should be
a relative to whom marriage is permanently forbidden, such as a father, brother, paternal
uncle, maternal uncle, father in law, mothers husband or brother through
radaaah (breastfeeding), etc. (as opposed to relatives to whom marriage is
temporarily forbidden, such as a sisters husband, paternal aunts husband,
maternal aunts husband).
On this basis, the husbands brother and the son of a paternal or
maternal uncle are not mahrams, so it is not permitted for her to travel with them. And
Allaah knows best.