First of all, it should be clear that Islam cares for the dignity and honor of the woman. Because a woman is vulnerable to being targeted by vile men, Islam closes the doors to such situations by insisting that a woman should not travel long distances or stay away from home by herself unless she has taken adequate measures to ensure her protection.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: Asa woman, If you have a genuine reason to travel, then you are allowed to travel without a mahram—provided that you have taken all the necessary precautions for your safety and security during the course of your journey. This can be done by making prior arrangements for a safe journey to and from the airport, as well as for your stay with trusted Muslim friends or in a hotel under the guidance of the organizers of the conference. I assume that the conference you are attending is being organized by a reputable Muslim organization; if not, at least by a reputable organization or institution with integrity and acceptable ethical and moral standards.
Islamic laws are not whimsical dictates of a tyrannical master who is simply testing the obedience of his slaves; rather they are the orders of Allah, Who is All-Wise and All-Knowing. His orders have tangible purposes and objectives that are discernible for all rational minds. The Prophet’s interdict against a woman’s travel without a mahram is primarily intended to ensure that a woman’s honor, dignity, and reputation are fully protected. This is why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is also reported to have made the following statement in the early years of his mission in Makkah: “I will continue to struggle with this mission until a woman can travel (all by herself freely) without any fear for her safety!” It is, therefore, only reasonable for us to assume that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), while forbidding women from undertaking a journey of three days without a mahram, had in mind the perils of the journey in the wide expanse of the desert where there was no semblance of law and order; where in fact, for all practical purposes, the predatory tribal lifestyle prevailed before Islam established law and order.
It is also for this reason that we find that `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), the beloved wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), while being fully aware of the above Prophetic interdict, replied when someone asked her if a woman could travel without a mahram, “Can everyone find a mahram always?” In other words, if a woman needs to travel, she can do so if she can be reasonably assured of her safety and protection. We also read that Imam Shafi`i’s mother traveled from Gaza to Makkah carrying the imam, who was still a toddler at the time, in her own arms in a safe company. It is for these reasons that we find that a number of eminent scholars from both the Maliki and Shafi`i schools have ruled that a woman can travel without a mahram as long as she can find a safe company.
Today in counties where law and order prevail, we can be reasonably assured of a woman’s safety and security especially in airplanes and public transportation networks. As some scholars have rightly pointed out, these conditions are vastly superior in terms of safety and security than the perilous and unpredictable conditions of a remote desert especially in the past.
So I do not find anything wrong for you to undertake this journey if you have to; nor do I think that your parents should be particularly concerned about your safety in this case. Perhaps you should have a free and frank discussion with them on this matter. You should also give them the details of your booking and relevant travel details, as well as your contacts in the city of your destination, including your stay or hotel arrangements. May Allah grant us all rectitude in speech and action. Ameen.