The following is a draft translation from Arabic.
Question: Is a woman allowed to ride with the driving-teacher to learn driving, if she was alone without a Mahram or husband, considering the car of teaching driving a public car and not a private car to need a Mahram? Does the teacher of driving commits a sin if he teaches driving for a woman who came to him without a Mahram or a husband?
It is true that the car of teaching driving is a public car and not a private one, but the duty here is the presence of the husband or a Mahram with the woman, if she does not do that, then she commits a sin, also the teacher of driving commits a sin if he teaches her in the car without a Mahram.
We explain as follows:
1. Allah (swt) allowed for the woman a few affairs in public life: Wujub (necessity), Nadb (preferable to do), Ibaha (allowance) so the woman should accomplish them in public life in the required manner.
These affairs are two parts:
The First Part does not require Ijtima’ (the meeting) of men and women together or the presence of Khultah (social intercourse) between them, (Khultah-social intercourse- is meeting and talking together).
Such as: walking in the street, going to the mosque, going to a public park… and similar things. The woman is not allowed to mix with men in doing these affairs, because the origin is separation as was stated in the Ahkam concerning men and women in Islam, and as long as accomplishing what the Shari’ah had allowed for women does not necessitate Khultah and Ijtima’ (the meeting) for it, the Hukm remains as it is, meaning that the woman walks in the street, goes to the Masjid, or to her family or to the park… whether walking or riding (not exceeding the distance which requires a Mahram), she should do all of that without Khultah with foreign men, that is without meeting or talking together, she can ride the bus without talking to the foreign man who sits beside her, she can enter the park and walk in it without Khultah, … in these general cases there is no need for the woman to have a Mahram, also there is no need for the women to have special passages in the park and others for men, or special roads in the city for women and others for men. There will be the same passages and roads to use but without Khultah, in the above mentioned meaning.
Therefore the accomplishing of all the affairs which Shari’ah allowed for women, do not necessitate the Ijtima’ (the meeting) of men with women.
The Second Part: Its accomplishing necessitates the Ijtima’ of men and women for a certain affair.
Such as: Selling and buying, tenancy, medical treatment, nursing, some kinds of learning and teaching, the general scientific lectures, increasing money by agriculture or industry…. In these cases life has specials Ahkam which organize this Ijtima’ in the bounds of Shari’ah.
Praying in the Masjid necessitates the Ijtima’ of men and women, therefore it has a special Hukm which separates the rows, men stand in front then the women, without the necessity of having a Mahram among those who pray.
Al-Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) also necessitates the Ijtima’ of men and women without separating the rows, therefore there were special Ahkam for Hajj; which are known for men and women.
Accomplishing medical treatment and nursing necessitates -in some cases- the Ijtima’ of men and women, therefore they have a special Hukm which allows seeing the place of illness even though it was from the private parts. And so on...
2. Teaching driving necessitates the presence of men and women for learning -if it is not possible to have women teachers for women, and men teachers for men- therefore this case has its own Ahkam.
By examining the reality of teaching driving, the following is manifested:
The actuality of teaching driving in the car is limited to the teacher and the learner, the aim is to teach driving for an individual and not a group, so the special aim which the men and women meet for is restricted to them, and not like the mosque or general lecture, where the aim which they meet for includes many numbers, so Khulwah (privacy) is negated, the problem is in the rows of men and women, therefore evidences came to separate the rows without considering Khulwah (privacy) and Mahram. As for the case of learning driving in the car, the aim which gathers men and women is related to two: the driving teacher and the one who wants to learn, therefore the probability of Khulwah (privacy) is present according to the requirement of teaching driving in different roads, besides the presence of Khultah (social intercourse), because of meeting and talking during learning driving. Therefore Khulwah (privacy) should be cut, and the Khultah (mixing) should be restricted to the aim of teaching driving, and that is done by a Mahram because Rasulallah (saw) said:
«لا يخلون رجل بامرأة إلا ومعها ذو محرم»
“A man is not allowed to sit in Khulwah with a woman, without a Mahram” reported by Muslim. Therefore the duty is the presence of the husband of the learner or her Mahram during riding the car to learn driving. All of that if it was not possible to find a woman teacher to teach driving for women, if that was not possible, then what we mentioned above should be followed.
The Conclusion: A woman is allowed to ride the car of teaching driving with the driving teacher, but her husband or a Mahram for her should be in the car with her. If the Mahram is not with her, then she will commit a sin, also the driving teacher who teaches her commits a sin, without the presence of a Mahram or her husband.
Drawing the attention that the women in public life, in all cases, must cover her private parts with the Shar’i dress, which is the gown (jilbab) and khimar according to the bounds of Shari’ah.
By Sheikh Ata ibn Khaleel Abu al-Rashta
18 Ramadan 1427 AH
10 October 2006 CE