Q.) What is the Shar'ee ruling on the intermingling of sexes, especially in these times? Please quote relevant verse and Ahaadeeth.
A.) It is rather unfortunate that sin and evil has become so rife nowadays that people don't even regard sin as sin anymore and how true are the words of our beloved Rasul Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, 'A time will dawn upon man that Zina (adultery) will become so widespread that the most pious man in this world will be that person who witnesses two people doing evil on the street pavement. This person would go up to them and tell them to do it behind a tree. He will not stop them from the evil rather he would tell them that instead of doing it in front of everybody, they should go and do their actions behind a tree. The person who tells them this will be the most pious person. Today, we are presently experiencing the above adultery is being done openly, everywhere without any prohibition or obstruction.' (Islahi Khutubaat, Mufti Taqi Usmani vol.7 pg.32)
In an verse of the noble Qur'an, Allah Ta'ala commands the believers, 'Say (O' Muhammad) unto the believers, lower your gazes and protect your private parts. That is more pure for you. Verily, Allah is all informed of what you are doing.' (Surah Nur). Evil glances is to look at any Ghayr Mahram (not permanently ineligible for marriage) especially with desire or to attain pleasure whether the person is alive or it is a picture. Both situations are totally haram. The greatest hindrance for the reformation and purification of the inner self is the sin of evil glances. Nabi Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam explained in a Hadith, 'Evil glance is a poisonous arrow from the arrows of Iblees.' (Majmauz Zawaaid vol.8 pg.63)
In another Hadith, Nabi Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam mentioned, '… The Zina of the eyes is in evil glances and Zina of the ears is by listening (to evil) and Zina of the tongue speaking (about evil) and Zina of the hands is in touching (forbidden) and Zina of feet is in walking (towards evil) and the heart desires and hopes (in evil) and thereafter the private parts accepts that (acts upon it) or rejects it.' (Mishkaat Hadith # 86)
Therefore, according to Shari'ah, to look, speak, listen, etc. to any Ghayr Mahram except at the time of extreme necessity is haram and impermissible. In an verse of the noble Qur'an, Allah Ta'ala says, 'And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts.' Although the reason for revelation is a specific incident and the wives of Nabi Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam are specifically mentioned but this is general for the entire Ummah, i.e. if a woman wants to get something from the men, e.g. utensils, clothing, etc., she should not come in front of him, rather she should ask for it from behind a veil. (Ma'aariful Qur'an vol.7 pg.200; Idaaratul Ma'aarif)
In another verse, Allah Ta'ala says, 'And stay in your homes and do not display yourselves, like that at the time of ignorance…' (Surah Ahzaab 33 vol.33). Therefore, the command unto women is to stay at home and only come out at the time of a necessity which is sanctioned by the Shari'ah, should a need arise. In other words total Shar'ee Hijaab should be adhered to.
By a person fighting his Nafs and saving himself from sinning, he will attain the sweetness of Iman. Nabi Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, 'A thought comes into a person to cast evil glances and who is that person who doesn't get these thoughts and his heart is also encouraging him to just take a look! But he fears Allah and saves himself by not casting an evil glance. This will cause a great burden but Allah Ta'ala will grant such sweetness of Iman that he won't even consider looking in future.' (Ahmad vol.5 pg.264)
It is, therefore, imperative that awareness should be created amongst the Muslim students, both male and female, regarding the importance and laws of Shari'ah especially with regards to Hijab and intermingling of the sexes. The administration of MSA should be encouraged to adhere to the laws of Shari'ah, contextually, the laws of Hijaab.
By Mufti Ebrahim Desai