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Assalamu'alaikum Mufti Sahab, My wife and I are inshaAllah going on a trip to India soon from the Boston airport and are concerned about the enhanced pat-downs and full body scanners. As you might already be aware of, the Full Body Scanners create a naked x-ray image revealing the finer details of a persons body, a TSA representative screens these images to look for any suspicious items a traveller might be carring. A person can opt-out of this full body scanner and then be subjected to the new "enhanced" pat-down, in this new procedure, the TSA representative will pat-down a persons body using the palms of their hands all over the body of the traveller and as per recent news they even touch/feel/lift the traveller's private parts to confirm that the traveller is not concealing anything. We seek your suggestion in the light of shariah as to which among these two undesirable options shall we take for this trip.

الجواب حامداومصليا

TSA has installed about 400 full body scanners at about 69 airports all around the country and those who opt out of the scanning are subject to an enhanced pat-down.

Both of these procedures are very intrusive and invasive as we are learning more and more about them.

We pray to Allah that these are replaced by some procedure that alleviates the privacy concerns of many travelers without compromising the safety of passengers.

Since both of the procedures are invasive, we should look for the one wherein there is less harm for the traveler. In my opinion, in such a situation a person should go through the full body scanner as the image developed by the scanner is only in form of x-ray and not digital. Furthermore, the officer appointed to do the monitoring is remotely located and can not see the traveler.

With the new enhanced pat-down, a person will have to allow the officer to literally strip search the traveler in public which should be avoided at all cost if there is an alternative available.

Therefore, I advise the travelers that they should use the body scanners when passing through a security clearance point at an airport, instead of selecting enhanced (invasive) pat-down.

If our opinion changes based on some new information, we will inform everyone Insha'allah.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Ikram ul Haq

Fatwa Center of America

15 Dhul-Hijjah 1431/ November 21 2010

ثم الاصل فى جنس هذه المسائل أن من ابتلى ببليتين وهما متساويتان يأخذ بأيتهما شاء وان اختلفا يختار أهونهما لأن مباشرة الحرام لا تجوز الا للضرورة ولا ضرورة فى حق الزيادة

(الأشباه والنظائر ج1 ص 261)