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Befriending Persons From the Opposite Sex: Permissible?

10 November, 2018
Q Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. I would like to know if it is haram for a married Muslim man to have female friends who are not co-workers or partners in business. Is friendship with persons from the opposite sex for the sake of mere friendship haram? Jazakum Allahu Khayran.

Answer

Wa `alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- Interaction with persons from the opposite sex who are not forbidden in marriage is not haram, as long as the intention is pure and all dealings are in line with the teachings of Islam.

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2- However, close friendship with a person from the opposite sex should be avoided, as it can lead to haram acts.


Responding to your question, Zeinab  Al-`Alawani, Instructor in Fiqh and Islamic Studies at the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Ashburn, Virginia, the US, said:

The man-woman relationship is regulated in Islam in a way that secures piety and sincerity of faith. There are certain conditions when it comes to dealing with a person from the opposite sex, such as avoiding khulwah (seclusion of a woman with a non-mahram ), observing the Islamic dress code, speaking properly, restricting the friendship to the frame of work, study, family, etc.

As long as a man and a woman are publicly dealing with each other according to the teachings of Islam, this kind of friendship is pure.

However, a married man might feel attracted to a woman other than his wife in a way that urges him to develop a closer relation with her. Such a situation should be avoided, as it can lead to an act that is haram.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.

About Zeinab Al-`Alawani
Dr. Zainab Alwani is the Founding Director of the Islamic Studies program at Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD). She is the Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and the chair of the Religious Studies Master of Arts program at HUSD. She is an Islamic scholar, researcher and community activist. Dr. Alwani is also the first female jurist to serve on the board of the Fiqh Council of North America and currently serves as the Council’s Vice-Chair. She is a member and a board member of various national organizations including, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights KARAMAH, and the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Alwani is currently serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Islamic Faith and Practice. Her research focuses on Quranic studies, Islamic jurisprudence, the relationship between civil and religious law in the area of family, women and gender, and inter-religious relations.