“WHAT’S SO WRONG ABOUT IT?” That question is usually followed by excuse after excuse, yet each reason that is always given has many flaws. NON-MAHRAM FRIENDSHIPS ARE NOT PERMITTED IN ISLAM, NO MATTER HOW MUCH ONE MAY TRY TO JUSTIFY THEM BY SAYING, “BUT…”
“It’s a normal thing these days.”
Everyone is best friends with a person of the opposite gender these days, so what’s the big deal if we go with the flow? The BIG DEAL IS THAT IT’S WRONG. Just because everyone else is doing something, that doesn’t make it right.
In order to promote a lifestyle of selfishness and immorality, society pressures the public from all around. Be it through sit-coms, books, movies, or real-life examples, we are faced with a smorgasbord of practices that have become common. This idea of “FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS” – the concept of having a friend of the opposite gender with whom one has physically intimate relations, while both still consider each other to be “just friends” – has permeated the fabric of our society, so much that it is no longer considered wrong. Yet the relation of “friends with benefits” does not truly provide anything but momentary pleasure; it destroys the moral compass by promoting easy indulgence in carnal desires, it shatters the honorable concept of being committed to one person, and it severely blackens the soul by gaining the displeasure of Allah.
As mentioned in the yesterday’s post scientific studies, the question of “WHAT IF WE WERE MORE THAN JUST FRIENDS?” is always in the air. So why go through all that doubt and put ourselves in a situation that has a great potential to become sinful?
“I KNOW MY INTENTIONS ARE PURE.”
First of all, what does it even mean to “have a pure intention” when it comes to being pals with a non-Mahram? Second of all, even if you have no ill intentions, Shaitan has promised to mislead any person that he can, so what makes you think you’re immune to his whispers? We have already been clearly warned in the Holy Qur’an, “DID I NOT TELL YOU, O CHILDREN OF ADAM, THAT YOU SHOULD NOT SERVE THE SHAITAN? SURELY HE IS YOUR OPEN ENEMY.” (36:60)
We have to be on guard and be able to abstain from situations that are not only spiritually harmful but even potentially spiritually harmful.
One writer response to this can be found in his book, A Code of Practice for Muslims in the West:
328. Question: Is it permissible for a Muslim youth to accompany the girls who study with him in foreign universities for walking together, in vacation tours, etc.?
Answer: It is not permissible, except with surety that he will not commit a forbidden act.
To have absolute surety of oneself is the condition here, and not everyone can claim this sense of surety. In order to qualify for such a claim, one would have to be the kind of person who – at the very least – has impeccable God-consciousness and Hijab in that (s)he keeps the gaze lowered, does not participate in idle chatter, and has control over his/her thoughts from wandering into inappropriate territory. Even then, the manner in which such a person would interact with non-Mahrams would end up falling under the “colleague” category and not that of “friend”. Recalling the manner of our Infallibles (peace be upon them all), they fit this pious description perfectly and had the strongest of faith, yet we do not see evidence of them ever having befriended non-Mahrams or having spent time with them without official reasons.
And assuming that our intentions are pure, what about the intentions of our non-Mahram friend? We cannot claim to be absolutely sure of his/her intentions, so it doesn’t make sense to put ourselves in that situation. It’s one thing to be confident in the strength of our faith in the face of temptations that may arise; however, it is entirely foolish (not to mention outright vain) to be so confident in the strength of our faith that we voluntarily dive right into a situation that is wrought with potential sin.
Ultimately, all our actions are supposed to be based on whether or not they will please Allah and take us closer to Him. Having a non-Mahram friend does neither.
“I’m engaged/married/older than him/younger than her, so it’s okay.”
All those factors make no difference. Again, we are reminded by Allah, the Prophets, and the pious companions that Shaitan is our open enemy who attacks from all sides. He targets everyone, so being engaged, married, older than the brother, or younger than the sister does not make a difference.
In fact, for an engaged/married person to befriend a non-Mahram would only cause misunderstandings and problems. In the study by Kaplan and Keys, participants who were already involved in a relationship reported that their attraction towards non-Mahram friends was less, relative to those who were single. A point worth noting is that the word used in reference to the level of attraction was “less” not “none”, so there is still the potential for falling into sin. Just as the engaged/married factor, the older/younger factor would cause a person to let down his/her guard, leaving an opening for Shaitan to easily enter through.
“It’s A Good Way To Learn How Guys/Girls Think So I Can Relate With My Future Spouse Better.”
A practice spouse? That’s just plain wrong. Many of the official studies, such as April Bleske and David Buss’ “Can Men and Women be Just Friends?” (2000) in the Journal of the International Association for Relationship Research, as well as informal interviews all reveal that men and women see this as one of the main beneficial reasons for having non-Mahram friends. By spending time with a non-Mahram friend, people claim that they can pick up tips on how to improve their relationship with their partner. So a person spends time both with a non-Mahram friend and with his/her spouse, talks over important issues with both, and is intimate with both – and according to the studies already mentioned, the level of intimacy with both is actually equal for a majority of cases. But then what’s the difference between your close friend of the opposite gender and your spouse?
Prevention, Not Cure
There is no truth to this fashion of non-Mahrams being just good friends. Getting into such a tainted “friendship” will only cause problems on multiple levels. A person may be able to control their thoughts and desires, but after repeatedly meeting a non-Mahram in an unstructured setting to spend time as friends, the battle against the self becomes increasingly difficult. With regard to one thing leading to another, the Leader of the Pious, Hazrat Ali (peace be upon him) said: “Simply thinking about sinful carnal deeds encourages you to commit them eventually.” (weak hadith) Islam is about looking ahead and being wise to the on-goings around us. Some things are forbidden to us because they are harmful in essence, and other things are forbidden because they lead to harmful things. Here, we have a situation that is harmful in itself and that will also lead us to even greater harm in this world and in the next.
We are taught to surround ourselves with friends who inspire us to strive even closer towards Allah, not with those because of whom we risk falling into sin. We must not let our desires direct our actions; rather, we must let our God-consciousness guide us towards what is pleasing to Him and thus beneficial for us. So let’s not fool ourselves, because non-Mahram guys and girls can’t be “just friends”.