Let’s Talk About Male / Female Interaction

19 Dec

Asalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu People 🙂

Let me be deep and quick… if possible.

As of late I have observed certain behaviours which have led me to the conclusion that we REALLY REALLY need to teach the young Muslim children how to interact with those of the opposite sex in a respectful manner.  This is particularly important for the young Muslims who live in the West as it is INEVITABLE that they will find themselves in a situation in which they will have to see / speak to / work with those of the opposite sex, and they need to know how to behave appropriately.

It seems to me that when it comes to gender interactions, most Muslims fall into either two categories.  The first category of Muslims, are those who view Male / Female interaction as something horrible and lewd.  The problem with looking at it like this is that we then attach these negative thoughts and perceptions TO the opposite sex.  Have you seen those brothers who scowl when they hear a woman’s voice? Lol how unnecessary.  Furthermore, we begin to doubt each other’s character and intentions, so much so that we cannot even send the Islamic greeting of peace to someone of the opposite sex without them thinking that we are trying to do something bad or that we have a motive.  I’ve seen many brothers simply Salaam a sister because she’s a Muslim only to be admonished by her as she got the wrong idea.

The second category, are those who view Male/Female interaction as something completely harmless thus they do not adhere to any sort of boundaries when they are engaging in it.  Consequently, this often leads to them acting in a way that is not modest, so a sister might change the tone of her voice to sound more alluring or a brother might be unnecessarily complementing a sister in her presence.

These two categories are too extreme and our children will not be able to do what they need to do in society if that is how they will act when they come across the opposite sex.  Usually we just label any form of male / female interaction as “Free Mixing” when this is just not the case sometimes.  Can I just say that the term “Free Mixing” is used way too much these days and incorrectly more times than not.  There are certain conditions that need to be met for a situation to be classified as free mixing, one being a man and a woman alone in a room together:

The Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi Wasalam) said: “No man should ever be alone with a non-mahram woman because the Shaytaan will be the third one present.”

[Sahih Bukhari/Muslim]

And another being men and women communicating with one another when there is no NEED for it.

So tell me, how is an Ustadh (male teacher) teaching a group of sisters Free Mixing?  How is a woman responding to a query made by a brother Free Mixing? People please; we have to increase ourselves in knowledge before we go around accusing people of doing something that they are in actual fact not doing.

But back to the young Muslims, our children need to know that it is fine to interact with the opposite gender and it WILL happen, they just have to ensure that their behaviour is in line with Islamic conduct i.e. lowering of the gaze if necessary, keeping a respectful distance between each other, keeping their hands to themselves, speaking in a respectful manner, not being alone with them etc.  They also need to be able to know when they themselves have overstepped the line and how to keep the conversation to the point. But how will they be able to learn these behaviours if we don’t talk to them about it?  We need to stop making topics such as this a taboo and just speak the truth because it affects us every single day.  We have examples in the Quran and the Sunnah of men and women interacting and it could be strongly argued that were it not for men and women working together, this Deen would not have spread the way it did by the grace of Allah (swt).

My final point is to my brothers in Islam that it applies to.

Brothers, women are your twin halves ok.  Despite what you may think, not all of us are trying to lead you into the pits of the hell fire.  It’s very offensive that some of you treat your sisters in Islam like lepers.  This type of behaviour just reaffirms the view that some people hold of the Muslim Man as someone who views the woman as inherently bad and it makes us, the sisters, feel like we’ve done something wrong when the only thing we are guilty of is walking into a room, or having a laugh with other sisters which you just happened to hear.

Granted the woman is the biggest trial for the man and you have to protect yourselves but why does protecting yourself have to mean that you treat us with bad manners?  Remember:

The believers, men and women, are Auliya (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another, they enjoin Al-Ma’ruf, and forbid Al-Munkar; they perform As-Salat and give the Zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

[Surah At-Taubah v.71]

We are you sisters in Islam before anything else so unless we have given you reason to believe that we want bad for you, we deserve to be treated with respect Insha’Allah.

I’ll leave you with some videos that touch on this subject –

Sisters! Interaction With Non- Mahram – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=031Gk58fhck

Islam and Dating – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6PgzblQECU

(A Funny One) Why Men and Women Can’t Be Friends – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_lh5fR4DMA

~ Sheila N.

Click here to read more about Sheila.N

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