Bint Ahmed Sulaymaan
Shari’ah prohibits men and women meeting together, mixing, and intermingling. Islam prohibits the crowding of them together, and the revealing and exposure of women to men. It is prohibited because intermingling is among the causes for fitnah (temptation or trial which implies evil consequences), the arousing of desires, and the committing of indecency and wrongdoing.
Islam has detailed the relationship or mixing between men and women in a precise manner. It has set out clear guidelines showing men and women how they must conduct themselves with one another.
In an online survey, Cii asked its page followers, “The Islamic rulings on the mixing between males and females is clear-cut and well established. As far as you know, is the free mixing between males and females: permitted, not permitted or you don’t know?”
Almost 90% of the 67 respondents answered that it was not permitted, with the rest saying they “didn’t know”. In a survey conducted by another Muslim organisation, “76% of respondents said, ‘It is not permitted’, 12% said, ‘It is permitted’ – but moral, religious, etc. restrictions apply and 12% said, ‘I don’t know’.”
When it came to the question regarding working in a mixed gender environment and working in a place where there was no mixing, 62% of the respondents chose “a workplace where there was no mixing”, 1% chose “a mixed workplace” and 36% chose “a workplace which suits my specialties, regardless of whether it is mixed or not”. Sixty three percent of this 36% were female and of the 62% who chose a segregated workplace, less than 50% was female.
In a Q&A conducted by renowned Da’ee, the late Ahmed Deedat RA, he said, “Men and women are not allowed to intermingle. In Islam no Muslim man is allowed to be alone with a woman who is not his mother or wife or sister or daughter. Everybody else he has to keep at a respectable distance.” Being alone with a woman in the example he gave, is “a challenge to man’s manliness if he doesn’t make some suggestions. This is man. Any man. Every man.”
We live in a time where haraam has become normal, sadly amongst Muslims also. We watch movies and television programmes and listen to music – haraam pastimes which promote haraam. Our senses are bombarded in many ways by haraam, telling us how to look, dress, act and think. Magazines, music, billboards, television, books promote zina, and desensitise us to the fact that we commit zina of the eyes, the tongue, the ears. We are only aware that we are entering sin when it reaches zina of the body.
At universities, shopping centres, work environments, it is normal for men and women to engage with each other. There is no such thing as hijaab. It is common that Muslims live in secular societies and have to integrate in them. But the result of this integration is the wiping away of Islamic values and the disregard of Shari’ah injunctions such that we don’t even realise that there is something wrong.
Being in the company of non-mahram men is forbidden. The hadith of the Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) states, “No woman should travel except with a mahram (a man to whom she is forbidden to marry)” [Sahih]. In another hadith Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is reported to have said, “No man is privately alone with a woman; but their third is Satan” [Reported by At-Tirmidhi]
Speaking with foreign women is carried out as though it is permissible. Men and women entertain each other at family gatherings, or when friends get together. A man may come to the house of his friend and does not find him. The wife speaks with the man while waiting for her husband. This too is impermissible as a woman should not allow a foreign man into the house of her husband in his absence, even if he is the friend of her husband, and even if he is honest and reliable. This constitutes privacy with a foreign woman, which is mentioned in the above Hadith. A foreign woman is not one who is unknown– as has come to be regarded in today’s time – but one who a male can marry.
One of the virtues of Shari’ah is that its laws have clearly laid out preventions of all evil and immorality, and all the roads that may lead to it or grip people in evil are shut off. In this way truth and morality is protected.
One of the biggest preventative measures are those related to women and men and the limits that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala has defined for them not to exceed. Islam has clearly laid the guidelines for Muslim women to adhere to so that her honoured position in society is maintained, her personality remains distinct and her safety, purity, and good conduct are guaranteed.
The correct dress and covering for women and the prohibition of them intermingling with men are the two most important and interconnected preventative measures that Islam has laid out. Muslims must submit to the rulings which oblige women to properly cover in order to not only protect their chastity and purity but maintain shyness and protect them from being harassed or bothered.
Allah says, “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known [as chaste believing women] and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful” [Quran 33, verse 59].
Some might argue that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala has here addressed the wives of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and not all Muslim women. But the wives of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) – the ummahatul mu’mineen – were the furthest from immorality and evil actions. They were the purest and most pious women and have been given a status of much honour. They are the examples for the rest of the women of the Ummah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
During the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) men and women prayed separately – the men in front and the women at the back. If this is the extent of separation of Muslim men and women during worship in the mosque, it is even more necessary in places outside the masaajid.
The people whom Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) addressed in the Ahadith were the best generation of the Muslim nation. The need for these warnings has not disappeared but has become more crucial because of the dangers of evil in our time has become more widespread and its means or being spread are diverse.