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Intergender Friendships: Muslim Mothers & Daughters Weigh in

As Muslim children become older, they develop their own worldviews and ways of navigating their faith.

Parents of teens, young and new adults must find ways to negotiate a transition in relationships as kids increasingly embrace their autonomy and take more responsibility for their personal and social lives.

Outside of gender-divided Muslim spaces, young Muslims will often need to navigate through less restrictive social spheres that may involve interacting and developing relationships with people from an array of backgrounds and regardless of gender.

Some relationships may burgeon into friendships with members of the opposite gender, making it necessary for Muslim youth to determine how to engage with them and parents to offer support and advice.

“I advise her to stay within Islamic boundaries when dealing with men,” dentist, Khadijah told AboutIslam.

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She encourages her thirteen-year-old daughter to refrain from touching male classmates and to restrict interactions to “as needed” and “for the purpose of learning.

“No, she cannot go to hang out for leisure with boys or go and catch a movie.”

“My advice to my daughter is that I don’t expect her to completely avoid boys or that she will never talk to boys,” editor, Dilshad Ali told AboutIslam.

“She goes to a public co-ed high school and has almost always been in public school. I do advise her to not become close friends with boys, as too many times close friendships can lead elsewhere.”
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Young Muslim Women and Male Friends

Some Muslim teens and new adults share similar views about inter-gender friendships while others do not. The young Muslim women we interviewed shared thoughts and processes they use when it comes to developing platonic relationships with young men.

“I think that it is totally okay for a Muslim woman to have male friends so long as she keeps the relationship safe, public, and within her own boundaries,” said student Amal (16).

“The friendship should not make her feel unsafe or as if she is betraying her religious/family values – if she is, then it is not a good friendship. It should be a public friendship. If she feels as if she needs to keep it private, then it is clear that it is not a friendship that should be happening.”

“A friendship between [people of] opposite genders would be something platonic and genuinely supportive but distanced,” writer and student, Juwayriyah (18) told AboutIslam.

“I have people I go to class with, people I’m friendly with and I joke around with, but outside of school, I don’t really communicate with any of them so I wouldn’t call them friends.”

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