Fatwa: "Is It Permissible for Women to Ride Bikes?"

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Translated from the original Arabic by Al Mutarjim

Translated from the website of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, a Muslim Brotherhood-linked group which is presided over by Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Question: Is it permissible for women to ride bikes? What about for a girl who is a virgin, with the probability that she could lose her hymen?

Answer: Regarding riding bikes or cars or any other vehicles: it is a thing which is permissible in and of itself. In the days of Jahiliyyah [i.e. pre-Islamic period], and even after converting to Islam, Arab women would ride camels. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “The best women who ride camels are the women of Quraysh; they treat children with compassion in their youth, and watch over what is in the hands of their husbands,” meaning their money.

This is on the condition that she guards the rules of the shari’ah on propriety while she’s riding, regarding the requirement to wear lawful clothes, and to beware of body to body contact, for that is prohibited by the shari’ah. Regarding the probability that virgin girls could lose their hymens, you should study this issue and find out the level of probability. If it is a rare thing, the legal decision is that there is no ruling against things which are rare, for rulings are adopted (only) for things which are likely or common. On the other hand, if it happens often and cannot be guarded against for one reason or another, then the virgin Muslim girl must be prohibited from doing this, so that ill is not thought of her, and she be accused of something of which she is innocent. The exception to this is if it is ruled to be necessary, such as if it is the only means by which she can arrive at school or work which is obligatory for her, or so forth, for necessity can make that which is (otherwise) prohibited permissible, as the Most High said: “But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- then is he guiltless. For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful” [Qur’an 2:173].
Is it permissible for women to ride bikes?
European Council for Fatwa and Research, August 23, 2009