Friday, July 17, 2009

Jum'a Thoughts: Are Male "Friends" Halal?

Salaam Alaykom my sisters! Jum'ua mubarak to you. Today's topic is going to be friendships/relations between Muslim women and non-maharam men. One of the questions I recently got paged with, was, "is it halaal for me to hug my male friends?" This question disheartened me because I could not in good conscience, just say, no, it is not halal for you to touch non-maharam male for a social or even Islamic purpose (the only purpose being, accidental touch from crowds, or a medical reason for contact such one or the other of you is tending to the wounds or condition of the other) because that still would leave this sister in a state she is obviously trying to avoid, but I will answer her question first:

Question: Is it halal for me to hug [/touch] a male friend? as a Muslim woman?
Answer: Even with the best intentions, and the purest hearts, the answer is no. The Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam said: "It is better for one of you to be pierced by a steel pin in his head than to touch the hand of a non-maharam woman." [Al-Mundhiri mentions that all the narrators of this hadith are trustworthy. Al-Albani classifies it as a good hadith in Ghayah al-Maram (no. 403).] The same goes for women touching non-maharam men, other than tending fatal wounds or in conditions in cases of emergancy, which other ahadith allow, such as in the battles of Jihad against the Quraysh. Even for Islamic instructions and occasions, men and women did not touch. The Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam never shook hands with an unrelated woman. Umaymah b. Raqiqah said: "I came to the Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam with a group of the women of Madinah to swear fealty for Islam. The women informed Allah's Messenger sallalahu alahi wa salaam that they wished to swear fealty to him. The Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam said: 'I do not shake hands with women. The way I accept the pledge from one woman is the same as with one hundred women [which was documented to be verbally]." [al-Muwatta', Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Sunan al-Nasa'i and Sunan Ibn Majah]. It is known that when men wanted to enter into Islam, they used to do bay'ah with the Prophet where they agree to abide by his commands and avoid anything he prohibits. Then they used to seal this by shaking hands with the Prophet. However, with women, the Prophet used to never shake their hand and simply complete the bay'ah with words. And who can have a more pure heart than Prophet Mohammad sallalahu alahi wa salaam , who said "I do not shake hands with women"? The Prophet's wife Aisha also said: "No, by Allah, Prophet Mohammad's hand never touched a women at all, and he used to take bay'ah from them by words". May Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala make the answer apparent to one who seeks it, and easy to obey, ameen.

The person asking the question mentioned male friends. A Muslim woman does not share her personal life with non-maharam men, as mixing of men in women in Islam is in most cases haraam (sinful/harmful to mankind), and the rest makruh (disliked). The Holy Qu'ran describes the role of men and women like this, "The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another" [Holy Qu'ran 9:71]. It also states that women and men were created to be spouses of one another, but I'll admit, I am too lazy too look that ayah up cuz I'd have to make wudu to get my Qu'ran out, lol. I'll try and add it later, inshaAllah or someone else can try and beat me and add it in the comments section:D It does not say anywhere in ahadith or Qu'ran that men and women's role towards eachother should be anything more than as protectors, or if married or related, caregivers and providers. Friendship between spouses was cherished in the forms of being playful with one another, confiding in one another, pleasing eachother, and physically taking care of one another. Unmarried men and women who played the role of protectors in society, were discouraged from entering on the private places of one another:

Narrated by 'Uqba bin 'Amir: Allah's Apostle said, "Beware of entering homes or rooms in which non-maharam ladies are." A man from the Ansar said, "Allah's Apostle! What about (Al-Hamu) the in-laws of the wife (the brothers of her husband or his nephews etc.)?" The Prophet replied: The in-laws of the wife are death itself.” In this hadith we see that men were told not to purposefully go to the same places as non-maharam women. This also applies to women, as explained after the next hadith.
Narrated by Abu Huraira: A group of women came to Allah’s Prophet and said to him: “We cannot attend your majlis (gathering) of men, so, appoint us a day to come to you (alone).” He said: “We will meet at the house of so and so.” He went to them on the specified date and place. Among what he said at that day to the present women was “any woman who rises up three children for the sake of Allah will enter paradise.” One woman said: “And two?” “And two,” the Prophet said. This hadith illuustrates that is was known to the women of the Sahaba (may Allah be pleased with them) that they also should not purposefully enter into the company of non-maharam men. They also knew not to speak uneccessarily in the presence of non-maharam men. Narrated by Abu Huraira : The Prophet said, "The saying 'Sub Han Allah' is for men and clapping is for women i.e." (If something happens during the prayer talking is not allowed, except the men can invite the attention of the Imam by saying "Sub Han Allah (i.e. Glorified be Allah )", and women, by clapping their hands). But saying that exchange of asalaam alaykom may be given between men and women when there is not fear of temptation, and conversation may occur with good intention. Narrated by Asmaa: Allah’s Apostle passed by a group of women near the mosque. He waved his hand to them in salutation and said: "Beware of being ungrateful to your husbands, beware of being ungrateful to your husbands.” And, Narrated by Anas bin Malik: The Prophet passed by a woman who was sitting and weeping beside a grave and said to her, "Fear Allah and be patient." So we may socially inform, question, and Islamically greet and advice our non-maharam brothers and sisters in Islam, but this is the extent of the mixing between men and women in Islam. It certainly was NOTHING like a "platonic" relationship between a man and a woman popular outside of Islam.

When scholars warn against the free mixing of men and women, they are not talking about the mere presence of men and women together in the same place. This is something that is definitely not prohibited by Islamic Law. Men and women gathered in the same place at the time of the Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam in the mosque and in the marketplace. They walked down the same roads and public thoroughfares. The mere presence of men and women in the same area is not a great cause for temptation. It would be wrong to treat this as unlawful mixing, since the reason for prohibiting free mixing does not exist in such circumstances. If someone were to prohibit men and women from frequenting the same public places under the pretext of preventing temptation, this would be taking matters to an extreme and imposing a restriction that is unduly severe. Such a policy is, moreover, unnatural and would impose great hardships on people's lives.

We cannot compare situations like these to the general presence of men and women at shops and other open public places, especially when women are accompanied by their family. In such cases, there is no intimacy, no crowding, and no reason for suspicion. Preventing women from public places frequented by men in order to prevent temptation would be taking things to an extreme. A woman is commanded in Islam not to come too close to men. She is not, however, prohibited from going to places where men are present as long as she does not approach them or place herself in a position where she is alone with them. There can be no doubt that preventative legislation is an important part of Islamic Law. There are numerous rulings in Islam that are preventative in nature. However, this does not mean that we can legislate against every remote possibility of wrongdoing that we can think of. Doing so would be a violation of Islam's tolerance and magnanimity and its ease of application. It would place too great a burden upon the believers.

People might differ as to the degree of mixing that is prohibited. We can, nonetheless, get a good approximation of proper limits by reviewing the laws of Islam that govern the relationship between men and women. The sacred texts provides ample evidence about how and when men and women can meet, how women should dress and conduct themselves when they go outside, and many other pertinent matters. It is impossible for free mixing between men and women to occur if Islamic Law is properly observed. (the last bit was taken word for word from here As I felt it was a good explaination, and contains more evidences than I have provided. Just think about it (I know it can be hard, being a non-muslim with male friends in the past myself) but in the Holy Qu'ran Allah subhanu wa ta'ala says "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them." and says: "And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty." [Surah al-Nur: 30-31]. This shows us how men and women are to conduct themselves. So how I am going to bestest best platonic budies, with a man I am not supposed to be looking at, and who I am speaking to only in a modest manner (speech not soft and informal on the basis of subject---I am not speaking to him unecessarily, only to inform, teach, help/do a job I must/ give dawah, greet, ect)? I am not. I am going to be his protector in the public sphere. Only if I am married to him, or his sister of daughter or neice, ect... am I going to by pleasing and easing and playful. He, the same to me.

Here are some great posts on the subject I enjoyed reading by others sister:
LET'S GET REAL ABOUT FORNICATION -what counts as fornication and adultery in Islam
LET'S CHAT -adab between brothers and sisters online and outside


Sarah Plain And Short said...

salam aleikom

For girls they can see it has a friendship

for guys they always will want something more

simple as that...won't ever change.

there is a hadith that shaytaan is the 3rd when a man and a woman (nonmahram)are alone together. Have you heard the story of a very religious man who was led step by step by shaytaan to commit zina? Its a very good reminder to not even come close to zina, even if we think what we are doing is with good intentions.

Almallena said...

Asalaam walikum

Awww its my posts! hehe, but seriously sometimes I have to read my own stuff to remind myself. SubhanAllah, Im glad you made an article about the hugging, because I didnt know it was sinful until the end of my first year of college. SubhanAllah. Yeah and guy friends, ah can be tough to stay clear from at times, May Allah give us the strength to stay on the right path. Ameen

UniMuslimah said...

Salaam alaikum,
this is something that I still struggle with. I wasn't raised a Muslim and I always mixed with men, so it's hard to remember that how I interact with men cannot be the same way I interact with women. I find with hijab (and even more so with niqab) that I remember that it can't be the same more easily though.

Very good post; it's always nice to be reminded about these things to strengthen ones' resolve. JazakAllah kheir.


Samira said...

Can anyone help me with this...

Recently I was invited to attend a sister's gathering in a coffee shop in town, it was for an organisation that's been set up to provide support and da'wah for new muslims and those not-yet muslims who're interested. They have socials every now and then so people can meet other muslims and give da'wah and encouragment to new and non-muslims who may be there. I asked my husband if I could go and he refused, saying the setting was haram because, being a public place, there'd be men in there and non-believers mixing together. I disagreed with him - the coffee shop doesn't sell any alcohol and the fact that it's a public place shouldn't make it haram. I should've remained patient with him, his intention was good, but we ended up arguing about it because I was so fed up with my social life being so lacking at the time. I'm not about to start the discussion with him again LOL but would you say it was a correct thing for him to prevent me? Obviously a mosque or somewhere like it would be a better meeting place, but would sisters meeting in a coffee shop in a non-Islamic country be haram?

Also - is it haram for a woman to give an Islamic lecture to men and women (providing the men can't see her at all and there is no recitation involved, only speaking)? I'm divided on this and I'd like to hear what others think, or what the official line is if anyone knows.

I'd love an answer to these questions!

Thanks, Samira.