Blogger, Maryam (24) described her friendships with Muslim male peers as she was growing up. “It was the same as when I was with my female friends. I wouldn’t mind going out with them. We would go to eat dinner or text regularly, but we mostly hung out in groups.” She expressed that she did not have non-Muslim male friends.
“I grew up being told I couldn’t have male friends, but I was in school classrooms with boys. So, my parents were telling me one thing, but I’m around all of these boys, and there nothing weird about it.”
Her parents did not approve of her relationships with young men, and there were some tensions. “My mother would tell me the hadith that if you are alone with someone, the third person was Shaytaan. I got that, but I didn’t see why I couldn’t be friends with [a boy] if we weren’t alone. The problem comes when they are alone.”
Maryam’s friendships with Muslim men shifted when she married. “All of my male friends are mutual [ones with my husband] or married and we are friends with the couple. I don’t have as many one-on-one male friends that I am close to anymore.”
The young women interviewed expressed the need for solid boundaries when it comes to inter-gender friendships.
When asked how she kept friendships with young men platonic, Maryam explained the limits she would set. “After I was told, ‘I like you’ or ‘I’m interested in you,’ I made it clear that I was only interested in a friendship.”
“You should also feel as if your boundaries are being well respected,” said Amal. “If the conversations that you are having with someone of the opposite gender are not conversations that you would be willing to have with your parents, then your friendship might not be very safe for you.”
“Personally, I do appreciate having boundaries set from the get-go because it protects me from a lot of other problems that other teenage girls struggle with: boys not respecting their boundaries, relationship issues, intercourse before marriage, etc.
“I can focus on what I want to do in my life without worrying about all the things some other girls might worry about if they choose to have romantic relationships with people of the opposite gender. It helps me stay more centered and dedicated to my personal goals not only as a high school student but also as a good Muslimah.”
Muslim Mothers Give Cautionary Advice
Author and educator Umm Juwayriyah and her daughter have varying opinions about a Muslim woman’s ability to have platonic friendships with men.
“She believes that platonic relationships can be had. I err on the more cautious side in my own life simply because I have lived as a Muslima through all of the stages that she hasn’t yet.”
She added, “I attended public school (my daughter was homeschooled) and college. I know how easy intentions and actions, when not mindful, can go on separate paths – especially if the guy is nice and has similar interests.”
“As much as we say that men and women can be friends, proximity and closeness can at some point present some situations you don’t want to be in,” explains Dilshad.
“I tell her to be careful how she speaks to boys and girls especially with texting, as nothing is private, and anyone can screenshot and share anything.”
“We all have to work with, study with, and learn with non-Mahram males – even in the Muslim world,” said Umm Juwayriyah.
“As long as you remember Allah and remain mindful of the limits set by Allah for males and females – not being alone, not touching, not getting too personal (making dates to meet up outside at places by yourselves) – you can have a platonic or professional friendship with people of the opposite gender. And Allah knows best.”
This article is from our archive, originally published on November 2019, and highlighted now for its importancePages: 1 2