Intermingling Between Men and Women

Al-Ikhtilat, which means intermingling between men and women, contains both good and bad aspects. Ikhtilat is a word that has a general meaning and which is used to accommodate the intention of whoever uses it. Intermingling between men and women cannot be avoided in some cases, such as Tawaf (circumambulating) around the Kaa’bah. However, in such cases, women must firmly adhere to the code of dress, Al-‘Hijab, and the Muslim code of conduct. They must be shy in that they do not look directly at men. Also, they must not show off their hidden jewelry, such as gold or necklaces, and avoid mingling within a crowd of men.

Also, men should not look freely at women or try mingle in crowds of women. Allah said, what translated means, {Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do.} [24:30]. Also, the Messenger of Allah said, “It is better for one of you to be stricken with an iron needle on his head, than to touch a woman who is not allowed for him.” [At-Tabarani].

Al-Ikhtilat, intermingling between men and women, in the places that we have mentioned while disregarding the rules of religion, will be an act deviation, a sin and a bad deed. This is especially true in the case when there is no need for such intermingling. An example to this, is this free intermingling between female and male students at universities and schools today. This type of Ikhtilat, especially when women do not wear Al-Hijab, is a cause for all types of sins and deviations. Such type of Ikhtilat entails looking freely at what Allah has prohibited and opens the door wide to all types of Fitnah (calamities) and social decay, that if not stopped, will lead to the destruction of the society and the spreading of sin.

Also, men should not look freely at women or try mingle in crowds of women.

The Quran Prohibits Free Intermingling

{And when you ask (the Prophet’s wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts.} [33:53]. This Ayah was revealed to the companions of the Messenger of Allah, who had the most clean and pure hearts, the most firm belief in Allah and in following His Commandments. So what about those who cannot be compared to the companions in their belief and purity of heart? This Ayah clearly prohibits free intermingling and restricts the Muslim by advising him to avoid direct contact with women, even when it is necessary.

{And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance.} [33:33].

{O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks all over their bodies (screen themselves completely). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so not as to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.} [33:59].

{And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.} [24:31].

The Sunnah Prohibit Free Intermingling

1 — The Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wasallam, said, what translated means, “I have not left a Fitnah (trial, calamity or cause for calamity) after me more than (the Fitnah) with women for men.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim].

2 — Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri said that the Messenger of Allah said, what translated means, “This Dunya (the life of this world) is beautiful and green, and Allah has made you Khulafaa’ (living in it generation after generation) in it. Therefore, be cautious with regards to this Dunya and be cautious with regards to women. Certainly, the first Fitnah that started between the Children of Israel, is the Fitnah with women.” [Ahmad].

3 — The Messenger of Allah said, what translated means, “The best lines of men (in prayer) are the first ones and the worst are the last. The best lines of women (in prayer) are the last ones and the worst are the first.” [Muslim]. This Hadith is clear in its emphasizing the importance of avoiding Fitnah between men and women. The last lines of women are the furthest from men, thus lessening the possibility of Fitnah. At the time of the Messenger, women used to pray in the Masjid behind the men. But the Prophet ordered women not to come to the Masjid as long as they were wearing any type of perfume.

Also, free intermingling leads a woman to lose her precious gift and bounty given to her by Allah, that is, her shyness.

4 — The Messenger of Allah explicitly warned Muslim women against rushing out of the Masjid at the same time as the men after the end of the prayer. He ordered women to wait until all men depart from the Masjid, or for women to exit first and quickly. He also ordered women to avoid walking in the middle of the street.

5 — Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri said that women said, “Men have taken over (meetings) with you, O Messenger of Allah! Appoint a day for us that we come to you…” The Messenger of Allah appointed a day for women to teach them matters of the religion. This Hadith is evidence that teaching women matters of Islam is recommended and even required. However, the Prophet appointed a separate day for this purpose and did not invite them to attend along with men.

6 — Women used to come to the Masjid to hear the Prophet’s speeches. They would also ask him about matters of the religion. However, they did not mingle with men, and when the Masjid became crowded for them both, Allah ordered the wives of the Prophet to open their houses for lessons about religion for women. Allah said, {And remember (O members of the Prophet’s family) that which is recited in your houses of the Verses of Allah and Al-Hikmah (the Prophet’s Sunnah) Verily, Allah is Ever Most Courteous, Well-Acquainted with all things.} [33:34].

7 — Umm Salamah, the Prophet’s wife, said, “I was with the Messenger of Allah, along with Maymoonah, when Ibn Umm Maktum came, at a time when Al-Hijab was ordained on us. The Prophet said, ‘You both wear Hijab in front of him (or go behind a barrier).’ We said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Is not he blind and can neither see nor recognize us?’ He said, ‘Are you blind, do you not see him?’” [Abu Dawood and At-Tirmithi].

For all these evidences from the Quran and Sunnah, scholars of Islam have issued their Fatwas (religious decrees) that free intermingling is impermissible in Islam. There are those who call for free intermingling without necessity or without adhering to the code of dress in Islam or the code of conduct. Such people are directly defying the order of the Messenger, when he said, “Do not have audiences with women.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]. There is a well established rule in Usul Al-Fiqh (major rules of the religion) that states, “An act may become impermissible because of what it may lead to of sin (or evil).” Free intermingling is a door wide open for sin and following what Allah has prohibited. Also, free intermingling leads a woman to lose her precious gift and bounty given to her by Allah, that is, her shyness. A sign that a certain woman still has shyness is her refusal to mingle with men freely. The Messenger of Allah was once with some of his companions when he saw Asmaa’, the daughter of Abu Bakr, walking. He offered that she rides behind him on his camel. She said, “I was shy to walk with men. ” This is how a woman reaches completeness in her good conduct and righteous behavior.

In summary, Ikhtilat, free intermingling between men and women, is a matter about which the Messenger of Allah has issued a decree. There is no valid decree after Allah’s Messenger has issued his decree, because Allah said, {It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.} [33:36].



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