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Is Mingling between the Two Sexes Prohibited or Permissible in Islam?

 

Is Mingling between the Two Sexes Prohibited or Permissible in Islam?

Published in December 22, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

Introduction:

 We have received this important question via email; we quote part of the message here followed by our reply.

  (... I am a 26-year-old young woman ... I used to be a Sunnite, but now, I take pride in being a Quranist who follows True Islam, thanks to you ... I have been brought up to assume that mingling between the two sexes is a strictly prohibited thing; women rarely deal with men in the public sphere and mostly wear niqab and hijab ... My family would have liked to prevent me from being educated at the university, as they fear the 'hazards' resulting from mingling between the two sexes, but I insisted ... I have a university degree now; but when I was a student, I felt so guilty to witness that male and female students mingled at the university; I avoided all male students most of the time; I talked to some of them, only when necessary, on very rare occasions ... I was astonished at the time as some of my female friends and colleagues dated some young men, in hope of getting married upon graduation; I sensed at the time that they are sinners who lied to their families and concealed their dates ... As a student, I never dated a man, for fear of being alone with him or that he might talk to me in a lewd manner as if I were a 'loose' young woman; I feared that such relations might lead to fornication ... My question to you here is as follows: families in my Arab country marry off their daughters to men assumed by them to be suitable bridegrooms; the brides never get the chance to know their husbands before marriage; is it permissible or prohibited in Islam that young women would meet and go out with their fiancés? What about dating men (i.e., colleagues of the university or of workplace, or even Facebook male friends) and going out with them since fornication will be avoided? The purpose of such encounters is to know one another and to discuss the prospect of marriage; there are no intentions to commit sins, of course, but what do you think? Thank you for your time ...).

 

OUR REPLY:

Introduction:

1- Mingling between the two sexes was frowned upon in the Middle-Ages heritage books of history and Sunnite traditions and fiqh (especially in relation to the Mameluke Era) because it was the euphemism of immorality and promiscuity (and sometimes orgies) in Sufi feasts/celebrations and other festivals. This is why Sunnites (especially Wahabis) view mingling between the two sexes as a grave sin. This nonsense has nothing to do with Islam. Of course, mingling between the two sexes is permissible and a healthy, positive phenomenon as long as fornication/adultery is avoided. Wahabi societies of extremists and fanatics are based on hypocrisy, concealment, and segregation, and such corrupt, unhealthy societies allow immorality to dominate and spread in secret, away from the prying eyes, while covering their sins and promiscuous lifestyle with a thin veneer of superficial religiosity, inventing endless lists of prohibitions (under the pretext of avoiding chances of committing sins), a favorite task of all clergymen, and the so-called niqab (i.e., full-body veil) and hijab (i.e., any headwear that cover female hair), which have nothing whatsoever to do with Islam.     

2- Mingling between the two sexes intended in the above message is when a woman, in public or in private, talk to and deal with men who are not her relatives. This is OK in Islam within healthy, positive atmosphere based on purity of heart and piety. Thus, it is permitted that men and women of all age-groups would date and get to know one another within mutual respect, since fornication is avoided. Real, pious male and female Muslims with pure hearts never care to please society or hypocrites; they only seek to please and gratify God. It is the right of Muslim men to seek good wives; likewise, it is the right of Muslim women to seek good husbands. This should be done within an open, healthy atmosphere of mingling and getting to know one another without fear and concealment at all since they never sin. God says the following about men who desire to be engaged to widows: "You commit no error by announcing your engagement to women, or by keeping it to yourselves. God knows that you will be thinking about them. But do not meet them secretly, unless you have something proper to say. And do not confirm the marriage tie until the writing is fulfilled. And know that God knows what is in your souls, so beware of Him. And know that God is Forgiving and Forbearing." (2:235). Thus, they can date one another or meet in private or in public, secretly or not, provided that they adhere to piety. If this is the case of widows, this also applies to young men and young women seeking to get acquainted with one another before being betrothed or engaged to be married.   

3- Attaining piety is the higher purpose of all Quranic sharia legislations, commands, prohibitions, duties, and acts of worship. When one is pious and fears only the Almighty Lord God, one should never care about people's gossiping. God, and not people, is the One Who will judge us on the Last Day, as per Islam. As for societies of hypocrisy, people there fear one another and never fear the Lord God.    

4- We implore the Almighty Lord God to grant to our daughter, the sender of the above message, a happy marriage and a good, understanding husband and that she would have good progeny.

5- We provide some details below about mingling between the two sexes within a Quranist viewpoint.

 

Firstly: mingling between the two sexes is a healthy positive phenomenon which is unrelated to prohibitions of the Quranic sharia:

1- Of course, fornication (and all heterosexual extramarital activities) and homosexuality (and all activities under this label) are prohibited in Islam and considered in the Quran as major, grave sins. There are minor mistakes or mishaps (i.e., things getting one nearer to fornication) which are not full-fledged sins and most people do them (e.g., thinking about sex, masturbating, having a sexual desire for someone inside one's hearts, looking at someone or a picture in a sexual manner, and watching a hot scene in a movie), but only the pious persons ask God's pardon for such minor mistakes and attempt to avoid them as much as they could, while never falling into the trap of illicit sex: "And do not come near adultery. It is immoral, and an evil way." (17:32). God forgives lapses and mishaps if one avoids major, grave sins during one's lifetime: "If you avoid the worst of what you are forbidden, We will remit your sins, and admit you by a Gate of Honor." (4:31). Thus, the Quran describes believers as those who avoid immorality and major, grave sins (as no one is immune against mistakes, mishaps, and lapses): "And those who avoid major sins and immorality..." (42:37); "...He will repay those who do evil according to their deeds, and recompense those who do good with the best. Those who avoid gross sins and immoral behavior - except for minor lapses - your Lord is of Vast Forgiveness..." (53:31-32).    

2- In a given Muslim society, the above Quranic facts must be known; male and female individuals of the Quran-based society cooperate with one another as citizens and brethren in peace for the sake of the public good: "...And cooperate with one another in virtuous conduct and conscience, and do not cooperate with one another in sin and hostility. And fear God. God is severe in punishment." (5:2). 

3- Thus, male and female Muslims mingle in public/private gatherings and in mosques in their best possible attire and ornaments while adhering to piety and chastity; men and women are commanded to restrain their looks, and this clearly implies they mingle in society and see/recognize one another: "O children of Adam! Dress properly at every place of worship..." (7:31); "...Tell the believing men to restrain their looks...And tell the believing men to restrain their looks..." (24:30-31).

 

Secondly: mingling between the two sexes is a healthy positive phenomenon in relation to acts of worship:

1- Quranic commands related to acts of worship include both men and women within phrases such as (O you who believe...), (O people...), and (O children of Adam...); both men and women must pray together within congregational prayers on Fridays in mosques: "O you who believe! When the call is made for prayer on Congregation Day, hasten to the remembrance of God, and drop all business. That is better for you, if you only knew. Then, when the prayer is concluded, disperse through the land, and seek God's bounty, and remember God much, so that you may prosper." (62:9-10). 

2- Fasting is ordained for both men and women and both have times of retreat (dedicated to worship) inside mosques (without husbands having sex with their wives inside mosques, of course). "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you..." (2:183); "Permitted for you is intercourse with your wives on the night of the fast...But do not approach them while you are in retreat at the mosques. These are the limits of God, so do not come near them..." (2:187).

3- All excuses for being exempted from performing acts of worship apply to men and women; all Quranic commands/prohibitions are addressed to both men and women as well. "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you...But whoever among you is sick, or on a journey, then a number of other days. For those who are able: a ransom of feeding a needy person. But whoever volunteers goodness, it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew." (2:183-184); "There is no blame on the blind, nor any blame on the lame, nor any blame on the sick. Whoever obeys God and His messenger - He will admit him into gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoever turns away - He will impose on him a painful torment." (48:17); "There is no blame on the weak, nor on the sick, nor on those who have nothing to give, provided they are true to God and His messenger. In no way can the righteous be blamed. God is Forgiving and Merciful." (9:91).

 

Thirdly: mingling between the two sexes is a healthy positive phenomenon in relation to social interaction:

1- Piety attained from acts of worship performed with reverence, devotion, and dedication to God makes one acquire a high moralistic attitude that makes mingling between the two sexes a healthy positive phenomenon within social interaction that includes visiting people in their houses; manners of such visits expressed in this verse show that there is no segregation between the sexes and certainly no niqab at all. "O you who believe! Do not enter homes other than your own, until you have asked permission and greeted their occupants. That is better for you, that you may be aware." (24:27).

2- This applies to banquets and gatherings which of course include men and women who greet one another: "There is no blame on the blind, nor any blame on the lame, nor any blame on the sick, nor on yourselves for eating at your homes, or your fathers' homes, or your mothers' homes, or your brothers' homes, or your sisters' homes, or the homes of your paternal uncles, or the homes of your paternal aunts, or the homes of your maternal uncles, or the homes of your maternal aunts, or those whose keys you own, or the homes of your friends. You commit no wrong by eating together or separately. But when you enter any home, greet one another with a greeting from God, blessed and good. God thus explains the revelations for you, so that you may understand." (24:61).

 

Fourthly: mingling between the two sexes is a healthy positive phenomenon in relation to political participation:

1- Islamic Shura consultation or direct democracy councils include all citizens equally of both sexes, as this was the case with the Yathreb city-state led by Muhammad, which was the first and last Quran-based country on earth. Dwellers of Yathreb (men and women) who disregarded such councils have been severely rebuked in the Quran. "The believers are those who believe in God and His messenger, and when they are with him for a matter of common interest, they do not leave until they have asked him for permission. Those who ask your permission are those who believe in God and His messenger. So when they ask your permission to attend to some affair of theirs, give permission to any of them you wish, and ask God's forgiveness for them. God is Forgiving and Merciful. Do not address the messenger in the same manner you address one another. God knows those of you who slip away using flimsy excuses. So let those who oppose his orders beware, lest an ordeal strikes them, or a painful torment befalls them." (24:62-63). Society of real, pious believers must cooperate and participate in all activities for the welfare of their society; God describes believers in the following verses: "Whatever thing you are given is only the provision of this life. But what God possesses is better and more lasting for those who believe and rely on their Lord. And those who avoid major sins and immorality, and if they become angry, they forgive. And those who respond to their Lord, and pray regularly, and conduct their affairs by mutual consultation, and give of what We have provided them." (42:36-38). 

2- Early believers, males and females, were pious ones who actively participated in their society within the Yathreb city-state; their mingling with one another was within elevated level and high morals, without sexual intentions or focusing on genitalia, or turning women into sex objects. "The believing men and believing women are friends of one another. They advocate virtue, forbid evil, perform the prayers, practice charity, and obey God and His messenger. These - God will have mercy on them. God is Noble and Wise." (9:71).

3- Within hypocritical, obscurantist, backward societies of fanatics and extremists among the Muhammadans, like Wahabis, people focus on their genitalia and are obsessed with sex all the time; they segregate women, move them away from the public sphere, and imprison them behind walls and closed doors, while allowing them to get out only when chaperoned/guarded by male relatives and after wearing niqab and hijab ascribed falsely and forcibly to Islam.     


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