Are women allowed to drive in Islam, and if so then why in a Muslim country like Saudi Arabia are they forbidden from driving?

Fatwa Question or Essay Title: 
Are women allowed to drive in Islam, and if so then why in a Muslim country like Saudi Arabia are they forbidden from driving?

The ruling for women driving must be derived from other laws and principals; meaning that we do not have a direct ruling on women driving in the Quran or Sunnah, because it is a new issue (mustahdathah). Arabian scholars, who have ruled that it is unlawful for women to drive, have declared very disputable and irrational arguments. However, all of the Shia scholars, by using the Quran and Sunnah, and having not found any basis for its prohibition, have ruled that it is permitted, so long as proper hijab and Islamic values are observed. Just as some of the Sunni scholars of other Arab countries have ruled that it is permissible for women to drive.

In society often new issues arise for which Islamic law has not established a specific ruling. The ruling must be deduced from other general legal precepts and juristic principals. Women driving are one of these types of rulings which must be deduced.

Arabian scholars, who have ruled that it is unlawful for women to drive, have declared very disputable and irrational arguments.

In a religious question asked to Abdul-Aziz Abdullah Ibn Baz on the ruling of women driving, he stated, "there is no doubt that it is not permissible, because women driving will cause much corruption, and according to Islamic law we should prevent corruption."[1] Muhammad Ibn Salehul Athimeen in this regard has also stated that, "It is not permissible because it will cause a lot of corruption."

[2] The reason he considered driving to be haram for women is that he saw many intangible corruptions with the driving of women. These are some of the things he recognized as corruptions: taking off hijab, loss of modesty, leaving the house too much, streets becoming overcrowded, going against and defying her husband, and depriving some of the youth from driving.[3]

Just as you can see he considered some of the affairs associated with the driving of women as definite and some conceivable, and accordingly he ruled it haram for women to drive. But the question is; are these concerns true for Muslim and Mumen sisters who want to drive? And, is it possible for women to drive without any of these unbecoming issues to take place? In the Islamic republic of Iran for years many Muslim and Mumen women have been driving without any of these indecent outcomes taking place. Meaning that, it has been practically proven that Muslim women can drive while maintaining and observing their modesty, self-respect and hijab and not causing any corruption. It seems that Muslim legal scholars of Arabia have confused a number of issues. Is it haram for a woman to leave the house a lot if it is with her husband's permission and with the observance of Islamic values? Is driving a cause of a woman's disobedience? How is that possible? Yes it is possible in one or a few cases that a woman who drives also disobeys her husband, but that is not always the case. These are not reasons which can be present in the case of Mumen and Muhajabah (Islamicaly covered) women who observe Islamic principals. Is it haram for the streets to be crowded, and can that be a reason for it to be haram for women not to drive? If it is proven that men are the causes of the streets being crowded then is it still haram, and should they be forbidden to drive as well? Then, is it permissible for women to drive in small cities and villages which have deserted streets?

It has to be mentioned that the actions of some countries are not necessarily the applicability of islam, meaning; we can not say if a certain (Islamic) country considers something to be permissible then surely from an Islamic standpoint it is permissible, and if something were forbidden [by this country] then according to Islam such a thing is definitely forbidden. There must be a creditable Islamic basis in order for something to be deemed as Islamicaly permissible or forbidden.

Taking into consideration that without a creditable Islamic basis, no one has the right to make something haram halal or visa versa, and the fact that when we have doubt as to whether or not something is haram then the primary principal is that we consider it to be halal; Shia scholars have given the fatwa that women can drive as long as completely maintain their hijab and observe Islamic values. [4] It is noticeable that the respectful and modest women of Iran do this without any problem, while observing Islamic laws and values. Of course, other than Iran, a lot of other Arab Muslim countries have not forbidden woman to drive, and many of their scholars have not accepted and criticized the Saudi Arabian verdict on this matter.[5]

[1] Various Arguments in Primary Principal and an Analysis of it's Effects Dr. Musleh Ibn Abdul-Hay Annajar (Professor of Riyaz College) Pg.144; Benefits and Fatwas, Abdullah Ibn Abdul RAhman Pg.164;The Fatwas of Women, Khalid Aljarisi Pg.8
[2] {Same} Pg.147
[3] {Same}
[4] Catechism of Legal Authorities Vol.2, Pg. 931; Religious Question Responses by Imam Khomeini (May Allah have mercy on his soul) Vol.3, Pg.358, Ques.35-41
[5] Various Arguments in Primary Principal and an Analysis of it's Effects