Bismillahir rahmanir raheem
Can men and women just be friends? If we look at it from a scientific approach the answer is a resounding NO. If you answered yes, and you want the scientific proof, follow this link.
Now, from the perspective of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the answer, unfortunately my friends is again a no. Prior to becoming Muslim, my answer would have been a yes. Let me tell you why.
I’ve never really been a very ‘girly’ girl. I wasn’t into make up, heels, doing my nails, any of that – so naturally I gravitated to having male friends who liked to chill out and joke about. This continued until I was in university and up until that point I never had more than 3 female friends at any one time. When I went to uni, I started getting into all of that girly stuff and realised my male friends now looked at me differently.
So I began to research if a man and a woman could ever be just good friends…. and I kept getting the same response as found in the study. For the women, it was no problem or at least it didn’t appear to be, for the men, it was a very different story.
“No man is alone with a woman but the Shaytaan will be the third one present.” [Bukhari]
When I became Muslim, alhamdulillah, I tried to hold onto this societal approach that men and women could just be friends. Everyday, Muslims are going out in mixed groups, encouraging mixing of the sexes at weddings but if we really absorbed what this hadith is saying, we would fear Allah swt and stop performing this action. As Muslims, we should never invite shaytaan into our lives, even in the smallest things. By giving into your nafs, some scholars have deemed that this is a type of minor shirk because we are prioritising something above the worship of Allah swt. This is an extreme view but one that I find to be accurate, especially in this circumstance.
No, you’ll probably be thinking, but there are men/ women around at work, isn’t it hypocrytical that we mix with at work but not outside of it? And my answer to that would be no. If you’re going to to work with the intention of providing for your family because Islamically that is your obligation, or even just providing for yourself because Allah swt loves those who are self- sufficient, there should be no problem with this. The problem, initially, lies in the fact that we see no problem with this free mixing because of the social constructs and what is deemed “normal”.
It was narrated that Ma’qil ibn Yassaar said: the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than that he should touch a woman who is not permissible for him.” [Tabaraani] (P.S. please don’t stab someone in the head based on this hadith!)
When the Prophet (saw) took bayah (the pledge) from the women who wished to become Muslim, he never touched their hands, he took their oath verbally and that was acceptable.
Narrated from ‘Urwah that ‘Aa’ishah told him about the women’s oath of allegiance: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) never touched any woman with his hand. He would explain to the woman what the oath of allegiance implied, and when she accepted, he would say ‘Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.’” [Muslim]
Even for myself wallahi, I have never seen my Sheikh’s face or touched his hand, may Allah swt increase him in barakah and grant him jannatul firdous, Ameen.
Getting into relationships with the opposite sex is a dangerous minefield and I would encourag every sister and brother to stay away from such relationships. They can be damaging not only to your life in the duniya but in the akhirah.
May Allah swt protect us all and keep us away from fitna, Ameen.
Wasalaam – Peace Be Upon You