Question: What is the Judgment on free Mixing between Men and Women (Ikhtilat) ?
Bismillah, Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, to Him belong the endowments and the befitting perfections and commendations. I ask Allah to raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, and to protect his nation from that which he fears for it, Thereafter:
Extremism in the religion should not be. Moderation is obligatory and so it is not permissible to make anything Allah made permissible, forbidden. Nor is it permissible to make something that Allah made forbidden, permissible.”
In this era, and in some countries, some people have exaggerated in the case of men and women meeting in one place. They made forbidden what Allah did not. They said it is haram for men and women to meet in one place, even if there were a third person, even if there was no touching, and even if the women were covered. They have no evidence for that; their evidence is their desire.
The truth is that mixing between men and women is of two (2) categories:
1. A permissible way
2. A haram way
The permissible mixing between men and women is for them to mix/be in the same area without touching and without being in privacy. So, men and women mixing in a way that they’re not in physical contact touching, nor is there privacy; there is a third person, is not haram.
Al-Bukhariyy, Imam Muslim, At-Tirmidhiyy, and An-Nasaiyy have all narrated from the route of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah accept his deeds, that a man among the people of the city of Madinah lodged the guest of the Messenger of Allah and said to his wife, “Honor the guest of the Messenger of Allah.” She said, “I don’t have anything except for my children’s food”. He said to her, “Prepare your food (for the guest), light your lantern, and put your children to sleep if they want to eat.” (This is not child abuse). She prepared her food, lit the lantern, put her children to sleep and then she acted like she was fixing the lantern and purposely put it out. The man and his wife starting acting as if they were eating. She put the lantern out so the guest wouldn’t see they didn’t have any food to eat. They spent that night without eating. In the morning, this man of Ansar went to the Messenger, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, and the Prophet said “Allah accepts what you did.”
This hadith is explicit (clearly and plainly shows) and authentic (sahih) evidence that this companion and his wife sat with their guest like the way people usually mix when they are usually together; they sat together in close vicinity, and Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, approved of that.
Imam, Hafidh and mudjthaid Ibnu Munthir, in his book “Al-AwsaT”, narrating from the route of Anas Ibn Malik:
عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ: «قَدِمْنَا مَعَ أَبِي مُوسَى الْأَشْعَرِيِّ , فَصَلَّى بِنَا الْعَصْرَ فِي الْمِرْبَدِ , ثُمَّ جَلَسْنَا إِلَى مَسْجِدِ الْجَامِعِ , فَإِذَا الْمُغِيرَةُ بْنُ شُعْبَةَ يُصَلِّي بِالنَّاسِ وَالرِّجَالُ وَالنِّسَاءُ مُخْتَلِطُونَ , فَصَلَّيْنَا مَعَهُ»
“We came with Abu Musa Al-Ash^ariyy, who lead us in the ^Asr prayer in (a place called) Al-Mirbid. Then we sat in the Jami^ Masjid, and Al-Mughirah Ibn Shu^bah was praying as the imam for the people. The men and women were mixed together and we prayed with them”.
Ibn Hibban narrated a hadith from route of Sahl Ibn Sa^d:
عَنْ سَهْلِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ، قَالَ: كُنَّ النِّسَاءُ يُؤْمَرْنَ فِي عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فِي الصَّلَاةِ أَنْ لَا يَرْفَعْنَ رؤوسهن حَتَّى يَأْخُذَ الرِّجَالُ مَقَاعِدَهُمْ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ، مِنْ ضِيقِ الثِّيَابِ
who said, “During the time of the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, the women were ordered to not lift their heads until the men have completed the sitting position in their prayer and the ground covers up the tightness of their clothing.”
These hadiths are evidence that for the men and women to meet in one place is permissible. This last hadith proves the prayer is permissible in the same area, even without a barrier between the men and the women.
The Malikiyy scholars have documented that the sin is gone by there being many people. This means two men with one woman, or two women being with one man. There is no sin in these cases.
The Prophet, ^alayhis-salam, only forbade privacy between a marriageable man and a marriageable woman. He, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, said, “The man should not be alone with a woman, or else the third will be the devil”. If those people are mixing together in a way it is not haram, and there is religious evidence that proves it is not haram, then let them be silent.
In a hadith from Imam Muslim and others, the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, said, “A man should not enter in a woman whose husband is absent unless he came in with another man or two other men.” The Prophet took a solemn promise from the women that they would not be alone with men. This includes men and women meeting for a worldly matter or a religious matter. This is if the women are covered properly.