“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most pious of you. Indeed God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.”—(Quran 49:13)

The reason I decided to use this verse of the Qur’an at the beginning is obviously to make the foremost statement of this article and the prime stance from this subject matter, Gender Interaction in Islam, one of the most debatable and greatly controversial issues in our modern age.

The core of such controversy lies in the way people refer this matter to Islam, between those who are fearful of possible infringement of God’s limits and those who do not care the least about boundaries that should guard the man-woman relation.

From amongst the first party there are those who exaggerate being watchful of God’s limits, and tend to be extra cautious in dealing with the opposite sex, which creates some tension between the two genders and may lead to possible misunderstandings from both sides.

On the other hand, some of those who claim to uphold the “liberal” and outgoing mentality, tend to abuse the atmosphere of modernity which, while gives unconditional freedom to every individual, holds each responsible for his/her actions. Consequently, they do not save an effort in obliterating all sorts of boundaries between the two genders, transgressing all moral obligations bounding cross-gender interaction. And needless to say, this creates abound of social problems, let alone readies a social platform for a lot of sins, that’s the natural consequence of violating the law of God.

So how should a man-woman relation look like if it’s to exist at all? Or should Muslim communities be split into Men and Women poles?

Men were created with certain characteristics matching the social and human duty that befalls them. Same thing applies to women.

So with such rich blend morally and tactfully employed for what’s best for humanity, a natural and social order is in place, provided that this does not involve any transgression of God’s ordained law governing the due distance between the two genders, one which was originated to safeguard moral and social equilibrium that can neither be compromised nor ignored.

I thought of presenting a few landmark prescriptions that are principle to God’s protocol for gender interaction, to wipe out any exaggerated fear and confront any possible infringements…

1- They shouldn’t meet secretly.

2- A man and a woman shouldn’t be kept alone in a closed room that’s inaccessible to outsiders.

3- Outside marriage romance is not an option.

4- They shouldn’t engage it private talk over personal matters that would create some sort of intimacy between them.

To sum up, yes they can integrate, actually they should, and engage in social development and other kinds of activities that employ their differing and almost opposite natures for serving humanity at large. Yet they should be watchful of God’s limits.

Adding more layer of the argument pertaining to gender interaction as per Islamic law, and in light of the Aya mentioned above, men and women are equal in the sight of God, none is superior to the other, and none is in a position to act as though he/she is better.

Men and women are all Children of Adam and Eve, they share equal rights, equal privileges, equal duties, and bear the same share of responsibility, towards one another, the universe, and their religion. So each should behold his/her responsibility which his/her gender entails.They should act according to such conception; Equality.

But mind you. Men and Women are equal but not similar, meaning; what men should do is not necessarily befitting women, and vice versa. There are certain duties, certain obligation, and certain tasks and by extension certain careers that befit men more than women and the opposite, and it is not degrading to any of the genders.

Hence each should embrace his/her nature and develop it, without any attempt to change or revert such natural order that’s the design of Almighty Allah.

By and large, Islam prescribes that the origin of legislations monitoring our actions is permissibility and not prohibition; the prohibitions were placed with the aim of protection and as an assertion of ultimate belief in the wisdom of Allah, the sole Creator of this universe. Thus applying a balanced approach that doesn’t fall short of fulfilling God’s commands, nor exaggerate abiding by them constitute optimum attitude for every Muslim.

Exaggeration has always been hypocritical and groundless.

Wassalaam,

Maha Youssuf

Posted on: 5 June, 2011