Free-Mixing between the sexes in Islam: A detailed discussion

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Free-mixing between the sexes in Islam

My dear brothers and sisters, from the greatest of fitan, and from the greatest of tribulations that has afflicted the Muslims in these times, is the fitnah of al-ikhtilāt, which is the fitnah of free-mixing and intermingling between men and women. This type of intermingling which Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) and the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) have forbidden are from the affairs which cause great corruption within society.

So, the Islamic Shari’ah, which is the legislation of Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى), came to bring about all forms of benefits. It also came to remove all types of harm and corruption. Therefore, there is no doubt that free-mixing between the sexes is a huge door towards evil. It is a key that opens up all types of tribulations within society.

This is why we find in the Qur’ān and the Sunnah, and likewise from the statements of the Salaf of this ‘Ummah, that they were very strong in forbidding the intermingling between the males and females of the ‘Ummah of Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم). And Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) has informed us, and has commanded the women folk in the following statement, wherein Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) mentions:

 وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَىٰ ۖ  

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

Here Allāh (سبحان و تعالى) commands the women وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ and remain in your homes, and do not display yourselves like the displaying in the times of Jāhiliyyah (meaning the times of pre-Islām).

So the asl (origin) with regards to our women, sisters, mothers and our daughters is that they remain in their homes. They shouldn’t really leave their homes unless there is a need or a purpose for them, such as for example, if they desire to attend the houses of Allāh meaning the Masājid. In this case they are allowed to leave with the permission of their guardians to attend the Masājid. And likewise (they may leave) if they are invited for a meal, a wedding or need to go and get groceries for the home, or to take the children to school, etc.

However, as for them leaving their homes just for the sake of intermingling within society, and to be amongst men or to intermingle amongst men and women, then it is better for the women to remain in their homes. Ibn Kathîr (رحمه لله تعالى) the great Mufassir of the Qurān mentions in his Tafseer in regards to this āyah: 

Cling to your homes and do not leave the home except for a need”

And from the needs that are mentioned in the Qurān and in the Sunnah of Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is the permissibility of the women folk attending the Masājid (attending the mosques) as long as they fulfil the necessary conditions: they do not leave the home perfumed or beautified or adorned except that they desire the face of Allāh and not the dishonour of their guardians or husbands.

Likewise Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) mentions:

“Do not prevent the female servants of Allāh from the Houses of Allāh…”

And Allāh’s Messenger continued:

“And when they leave that they do not leave in a beautified or an adorned state.”

And in a Riwayah (chain of narration) that has been collected by Imām Ahmad in his Musnad, he mentions:

“And their homes are better for them.”

So, even though we do not prevent our women folk from attending the Masājid if they wish to worship there, but, at the same time their houses are better for them, even with regards to the Salāh (the prayer). As the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) mentioned with regards to the men, that the prayer in the Masjid is twenty-seven times, in one narration, and twenty- five times more virtuous than the prayer in the home. And the prayer in the Masjid of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in Madeenah is a thousand times more than that, and the prayer in Masjid al-Haraam in Mecca is a hundred thousand times more than the prayer in any other masjid, meaning from the general Masājid except from the Masjid an-Nabawee in Madeenah.

Therefore, the best prayer for the women folk without exception is the prayer that they pray in her homes. This is because when the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) mentioned this hadith where he said:

“And their homes are better for them.”

This was for the women folk in Madeenah. Meaning that the prayer of the woman was better in the home, than the prayer, in Masjid an-Nabawee, behind the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم). So this is what is best for the women, even though we hold the position of that which our Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) informed the men:

“Do not prevent the female servants of Allāh from the Houses of Allāh…”

So, O husbands and O fathers do not prevent your women folk from attending the Masājid if they wish to do so. As for preventing them from the Masājid of Ahlul Bid’ah (the people of innovations), then that is a means of you protecting your women folk. So, if you wish for them to be prevented from danger because your wife or your daughter might be affected by the bid’a (innovations) of those gatherings in the Masājid of Ahlul-Bid’a, then is it permissible for you to prevent them. Why? Because of the following principle from the Shari’a:

“That warding off evil takes precedence over bringing about good.”

This is a principal in the Shari’ah that has been mentioned by Ahlul-‘ilm, such as, Sheikh al-Fawzaan, Sheikh al-Albāni, Ibn Taymiyyah and other than them from the ‘Ulemah of Ahlul-Sunnah that: “Warding off evil takes precedence over bringing about good.”

So what is the good that they wish to bring? The good is that they wish to attend the houses of Allāh. And what is the evil that you wish to prevent them from? The evil is that if they keep company with Ahlul-Bid’a, or they hear something from them in those Masājid then they may be affected by the disease of bid’a and hawah (innovations and desires). So be careful with regard to this affair my brothers and sisters. So, in general we say that we do not and must not prevent our women folk in attending the Masājid to worship Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى).

Mujahid (رضي الله عنه) from the Tabi’een mentioned:

كانت الإمرأة تخرج تمشي بين يدي الرجال فذلك تبرج الجاهلية

“The women folk used to leave their homes and would walk in the company of the men, and this is what is referred to as Tabarruj alJāhiliyyah.” These women would leave their homes uncovered without hijāb (Islamic dress), and perfumed.

Ahlul-‘Ilm have mentioned that in times of Jāhiliyyah many of the women would leave their homes and that they used to have raised heels upon which they used to walk. Meaning that they used to have heels connected to their shoes which used to raise them up high so that when they were in the market places they were seen to be taller than they actually were. Many of our ‘Ulemah of our times do not differ in this regard whether it be the Lajnatul-Da’imah, the likes of Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz and other than them: that they forbid the women from wearing high heels and platforms when they leave their homes. This is because this comes under the heading of Tabarruj al-Jāhiliyyah. This raising of height makes them higher than the rest of the women and likewise, they are seen by the men and likewise it is a form of beautification. This type of beautification Allāh has forbidden the women to display. In addition to this, when a woman wears high-high heels it changes her posture, and this is how these high-heels are designed; to change the posture of the woman, so when she walks she walks with a swagger that entices the vision of the men towards her, so all of this is from the Tabarruj alJāhiliyyah that Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) has forbidden.

Therefore, if you do not like that your mother should leave the house wearing high-heels, perfumed and that everyone is looking at her in a manner that you know in your heart that you would hate for anyone to look at your mother. Then likewise you should have the same jealousy for your daughters, for your wives, and for the rest of the Muslim females around you, i.e. for the daughters of your brother and your neighbours. Take heed, my brothers and sisters, of that which you desire from others, which others may desire from your women folk. May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) protect us from the evils of what at-Tabarruj and the fitnah of women leads to, meaning the tribulation of what many women are enticed into as we will make clear insha’Allāh.

Imām al-Bukhāri and Muslim (رحمهما الله) reported from the hadith of ‘Uqbah bin Aamir that the prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“Beware of entering upon women.”

So a man from amongst the Ansār said: “O Messenger of Allāh what do you perceive with regards to the brother-in-law?” Meaning: the brother of one’s husband. Many of the ‘Ulemah have mentioned that this can also refer to the cousin of one’s husband.

So the man from among the Ansār said:

“What do you say with regards to the brother of her husband?” And the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “The bother-in-law is death.”

Many of the ‘Ulemah have mentioned, from the likes of Sheikh ‘Abul Aziz bin Bāz and other than them, that the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) mentioned the severity of a woman displaying herself in front of her brother-in-law, meaning the brother of her husband or the cousin of her husband. It is prohibited for the woman to socialise with them, or to flirt or to laugh or jest or to joke with them. This is because the Messenger of Allāh described the brother-in-law as mawt (death), meaning: that he is death for you, and that he will be the cause of your death. This is because when a woman talks to her brother-in-law and mingles with them or with the cousins of her husband then the Shaytān lowers her sense of honour, and her sense of self protection. Because she thinks to herself that this is the brother of my husband what could occur between me and him? But then the Shaytān feeds on that, and plants things into the mind of the brother and into the mind of the woman up until Shaytān leads them down a path of destruction and death for them. So this affair of mixing with family members, meaning the family members of your husband or in some cases the family members of your wife, is a very severe affair, my brothers and sisters, an affair not to be taken lightly.

Likewise, it is forbidden for men to enter upon the gatherings of women, because of this same mentioned hadith: “Beware of entering upon women folk or upon the gatherings of women.”

Therefore, if it is forbidden by the tongue of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) for men to enter upon gatherings of women then how much more forbidden would it be for a man to be in seclusion with a woman that is harām (forbidden) for him? The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said when a man is alone with a woman then the third of them is Shaytān. Never would Shaytān leave alone a man and a woman who sit together and they are harām for one another meaning: that it is not his blood sister, or his aunty from his mother or father, or it is not his grandmother, daughter, wife, rather it is other than these classes of individuals that is permissible to mix with, so, it is other than them meaning: a cousin, a neighbour, an in-law, that Shaytān would be the third amongst them. So beware of this affair of seclusion, and intermingling and desiring to be in the company and in the gatherings of women.

Rather if one needs to converse with a non-mahram woman then it should only be done behind a screen. The Scholars have explained that this screen is the hijāb of a Muslim woman. That it is permissible to speak to a Muslim woman as long as she is in hijāb, meaning: that she is wearing, the Jilbāb, the Khimār, and the Niqāb.

Some of Ahlul-‘Ilm have mentioned that it is a physical barrier like a wall or a door between you and the woman that you are speaking to. Either way, when a man speaks to a woman then the woman should be concealed. He should not be looking at her face and she should not be looking at him, rather they should lower their gaze, and they should only they speak to each other for a need, not due to any desire, or a desire to socialise and flirt. But, rather if a man needs to speak to a woman that is foreign to him then he treats her with the honour and respect that Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) has given her. Even if she does not respect her own self, and she does not respect her own honour, then you maintain your self-respect and honour by lowering your gaze if she is not dressed properly, and by turning your gaze to a direction other than her body and face, so that shaytān does not enter into your heart and establish himself therein. BārakAllāhu Feekum yaa ikhwān, this affair is a mighty affair; it is an affair that has broken up households, separated men from women, meaning: a husband from his wife, a brother from his sister, families have been broken apart because of this affair being taken too lightly. So, be aware and cautions with regards to the affair of free-mixing.

Sheikh ‘Abul Aziz ibn Bāz (رحمه الله) mentioned: That the women in the time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not intermingle with the men, not in the Masājid or in the market places. This is from the types of intermingling that people who desire rectification have forbidden even in these times. The Qur’ān and the Sunnah and ‘Ulemah of the Ummah warn against this as a caution from falling in to fitnah, tribulation and corruption in society.

Rather, the women who used to attend the Masjid of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in his time, they used to pray behind the men at the very back of the Masjid, and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to say:

“The best of the rows for the men are the foremost rows:” [meaning the front rows].

As I keep mentioning, Jumu’ah after Jumu’ah after Jumu’ah to the brothers: Fill the rows at the front and not to sit at the back. Sometimes, I would come to SalātulJumu’ah and the first few rows will be filled, and then the middle of the Masjid is empty, and all across the back of the Masjid we find the Muslim youth. Young brothers with nothing wrong with their backs, maybe something wrong with their hearts. When the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) informed you that: that the best of the rows for the men are the front rows, then why do we still find brothers sitting at the back? Making it difficult for the late-comers, so, when they come to the Masjid they have to walk between the rows looking for gaps. Why? Because we are not filling the gaps between the rows. As the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“The best of the rows for the men are the foremost rows:”

And the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) continued:

“And the most evil of rows (for the men) are the back rows.”

So leave those rows my brothers except for the ones who come in late, and if you are here on time then sit in the front rows, this is the Sunnah of our Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), the Manhaj of a Salafi. We take our knowledge from the Kitāb and Sunnah in all of the affairs of our deen (religion), meaning: in the way that we pray, the way that we fast, our ad-dāb (manners) and our akhlāq.

And the Sheikh ‘Abul Aziz ibn Bāz (رحمه الله) continued that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“And the best of the rows for the women are the back row, and the worst rows for the women are the front rows.”

So, when the women enter the Masjid, and the Masjid is empty, meaning that there is plenty of room for them to pray, then they start their row right up against the back wall, and they do not make a row directly behind the men. This is the command of our Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

Sheikh ‘Abul Aziz ibn Bāz mentions: And the reason why the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said so, was a caution from the tribulations between the last rows of the men and the first rows of the women. And he continued to say: the men in the time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) were commanded to wait and hold back at the end of the prayer. So when the Imām used to give the tasleem (the salaam at the end of the prayer) the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would command the men to remain where they were at the end of the prayer, and not to stand up and leave until the women had finished their Salāh and exited the Masjid, out of fear that they may intermingle at the doors of the Masjid. This is the Sunnah of Allāh’s Messenger. Why? This was to prevent intermingling. Is Itktilāt not forbidden in the deen?! Wallāhi (By Allāh), ikhtilāt is forbidden in the deen. Free-mixing is forbidden between men and women, even in the Masjid.

When men and women enter the Masjid they should enter with the fear of Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى), with a sense of feeling that we need to protect ourselves from sin, and we need to seek nearness to Allāh whilst we are in the Masjid. This is the case in a Masjid so much so that the men remain behind until the women leave to avoid the men glancing at the women and intermingling with them at the doors and other than that.

Sheikh ‘Abul Aziz ibn Bāz mentions: This was alongside the fact that what those males from the companions of Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) possessed of Eemān and what they possessed of Taqwā in that time even with that, they were forbidden and commanded with this, and who were they and who are we Yaa Ikhwān?! Who were they?! The most pious of mankind and the most righteous after the Prophets and the Messengers, and they were commanded with this, so how about those who come after them? Who do not possess of what they had of the level of Eemān and Taqwā.

Also, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) forbade the women folk from walking in the middle of the path, rather he commanded them to stay to one side as a caution and to protect them from the men who may harass them and from against rubbing shoulders with the men, and from the fitnah of touching men even inadvertently. This is what was commanded to those women in that time, who were righteous and pious and they used to fear Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى). This was not a command of the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to demean them or to belittle them, as Sheikh al-Albāni mentioned: If you find a hadith of the Messenger of Allāh ascribed to the Messenger of Allāh diminishing or belittling or reviling the women, lowering the honour of women then know and have a question mark over that hadith that it is munkar (rejected), because the Messenger of Allāh would not demean or belittle women.

So, our sisters should take heed and likewise our brothers, because in this society these are things which are easy to forget.

Wal-hamduliāhi rabil ālameen wa-sallalāhu alaa Nabeenā Muhammad wa alaa ālihi wa sahbihi wa-salam.

[End of Part One]

الحمد لله رب العالمين، والصلاة والسلام على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين أما بعد

Then we continue my brothers and sisters by mentioning that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) established a door for the women to leave the Masjid, as has been reported by Abu Dawūd in his Sunan authenticated by Sheikh al-Albāni, and likewise ibn al-Qayyim (رحمه الله). Ibn al-Qayyim stated: From this, it is known that it is binding for the one in authority to forbid intermingling, in the marketplaces, in the gatherings of men, the ruler is responsible for that, and the fitnah that results from free-mixing is immense indeed. So much so that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said in a hadith reported by Imām Muslim in his Sahih:

“That I have not left a fitnah greater than the fitnah of women after me.”

Likewise the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) mentioned in a hadith collected by Abu Dawūd (رحمه الله) in his Sunan, where the Prophet informed the women:

“Upon you are the sides or the edges of the path.”

Meaning, don’t walk in the middle of the path; to avoid the brushing of shoulders of men and inadvertently coming into contact with men. To keep away from this; this is because your husband and father would not like it for you; the one who honours you and respects you, the one who nurtures you, and more than that the Lord of the Worlds would not like it for you. So sisters, please be weary and be careful, this is because the men are less reserved than the women. And the women are more reserved because they are shyer, so use this shyness.

Amongst the society we are living in, even those who claim to call to Islām, they call for the women to be less shy, to be more open, to be outward, and to be out-going – make “selfies” of themselves and broadcast themselves and even dance openly and in public! This is not good Yaa Ikhwān. The woman is supposed to be shy, hidden, and honourable, she is our honour and we respect her, we nurture her, we love her, we have affection towards her, and we do not like to see her being dishonoured.

Imām ibn Qayyim (رحمه الله) continues: That there is no doubt that allowing intermingling of women with men is from the root of tribulation and evil in societies. It is from the foremost reasons for the descent of the punishment of Allāh upon the people, and it is a cause for the general corruption in society, and likewise individual corruption i.e. that general corruption in society are from the crimes that are committed as a result of that, and specific corruption with regards to the lives of individuals that marriages fall apart, that a man no longer knows how to respect the honour of his daughter, and individual corruption within homes occurs because of this. This is because we do not protect ourselves as men, and we do not protect our womenfolk from free-mixing. Imām ibn Qayyim (رحمه الله) mentions: that the free-mixing with men results in an increase in lewd behaviour, fornication and adultery.

So, this is why I say my brothers and sisters that one needs not look any further than the society that we are living in. It is not hard to see why societies which are promiscuous in nature wherein pornography, adultery and fornication is widespread, that the women are displayed in public, and the men and women have no barriers between them of honour and respect and hijāb. Those are the very same societies where women are subjected to greater indecency, and they are subjected to incidences of prostitution, sexually motivated crimes, domestic violence and rape. Any society in which there is a free-for-all in terms of promiscuity are the very same societies in which there is a rampant rate of rape, forced prostitution, domestic violence, sexual child abuse and paedophilia.

This is not to say, that the societies in which women are dressed inappropriately gives a licence to men to go out and abuse them, harass or rape them, no! This is not an excuse at all because that which Allāh has forbidden is forbidden, and is immoral and evil. So even if a woman appears in front of you naked, then it is harām (forbidden) upon a Muslim man to look at her touch her let alone touch her. Look at the story of Yusuf (عليه السلام) when the noblest of women, the highest ranking of women and the most beautiful of women presented themselves to Yusuf (عليه السلام), then this was not an excuse for him, and he did not take this as an excuse, rather he said to His Lord I prefer imprisonment to what they call me to. This is Yusuf (عليه السلام)! So even if a woman was to present herself to you it is not an excuse to commit fornication with her, let alone rape her!

So, in a society in which promiscuity is widespread and sexual crimes are widespread, you will find rape, pornography, indecency, exploitation of minors and corruption are also widespread in the same societies. So there is a link between the two. For example, if you were to look at any society where the women are dressed modestly, and being modest it is not oppressiveAllāh (سبحانه و تعالى) does not oppress anyone of His creation—you will find in such a society that rape, adultery and pornography are rare and even unheard of unless it is imported through the internet from the lands of corruption, so, there is a link between the two, my brothers and sisters.

So, we protect our children we protect our families, we protect our wives. Do not be of those who are naive in regards to the affairs of your children. Your children are aware, especially when they enter the teenage years. They are fully aware of the corruption of society around them. It is parents who are negligent in not recognising that in their children. So, keep your children close to you, do not allow them to wander in the streets, do not allow them to go to colleges where there is free-mixing. They can attain a secular education, and an Islamic education without free-mixing. It is possible and easy to do even in this society that we live in now.

At a time when your children are targeted with fornication and promiscuity and when their own inclination races towards that, then where do you put them? Do you put the cat amongst the pigeons! Parents, what kind of naiveté is this?! Meaning, you put your son or your daughter in an environment where this type of behaviour is promoted and actively pushed amongst society. At a time when you should be protecting them and when you should have been educating them islamically and cultivating them correctly. Where do you put them? You put them in the worst possible place! This is why you see, even from our bothers and sisters and from our children, our children are lead astray! Why? Because of two factors: Firstly, that some of our children are foolish, they don’t know right from wrong, even when you tell them they choose not to listen, so may Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) guide them āmeen. Secondly, the parents are naive. They don’t know what types of traps are out there in society, so they don’t take the right measures even though we read them to you week in and week out! You don’t take the measures and the precautions. So protect your children and advise your children. If your children are on a long leash and they go out and they cause corruption then bring them close to you. And if when they are old enough and they choose misguidance over guidance then their affair is with Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى). You have done your best.

May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) protect our families, protect our children, protect our societies, protect our communities, and protect our Salafi brothers, sisters and their children from the corruption of society around them. Protect your wives, protect your daughters from this corruption my dear brothers and sisters. May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) preserve our families upon righteousness and piety.

Wal-hamduliāhi rabil ālameen wa-sallalāhu alaa Nabiyyinā Muhammad wa alaa ālihi wa sahbihi wa-salam.

[End of Khutbah]

* May Allaah reward our sister Umm Abdillaah for transcribing this lecture from a khutbah of Abu Khadeejah —> Listen to Lecture

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