My husband and I wanted to know if it were permissable to take Arabic classes at a college where the classes are mixed (men-women). We understand that there is no mixing between the sexes, but confused about the definition of “mixing”. Please tell us what is permissable, what is not and give proof
Praise be to Allaah.
The meeting together, mixing, and intermingling of men and women in one place, the crowding of them together, and the revealing and exposure of women to men are prohibited by the Law of Islam (Shari’ah). These acts are prohibited because they are among the causes for fitnah (temptation or trial which implies evil consequences), the arousing of desires, and the committing of indecency and wrongdoing.
Among the many proofs of prohibition of the meeting and mixing of men and women in the Qur’aan and Sunnah are:
Verse No. 53 of Surat al-Ahzab, or the Confederates (Interpretation of the meaning); “…for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs…”
In explaining this Verse, Ibn Kathir (May Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Meaning, as I forbade you to enter their rooms, I forbid you to look at them at all. If one wants to take something from a woman, one should do so without looking at her. If one wants to ask a woman for something, the same has to be done from behind a screen.”
The Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) enforced separation of men and women even at Allaah’s most revered and preferred place, the mosque. This was accomplished via the separation of the women’s rows from the men’s; men were asked to stay in the mosque after completion of the obligatory prayer so that women will have enough time to leave the mosque; and, a special door was assigned to women. Evidence of the foregoing are:
Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) said that: “After Allah’s Messenger (May peace and blessings be upon him) said “as-Salamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullah’ twice announcing the end of prayer, women would stand up and leave. He would stay for a while before leaving. Ibn Shihab said that he thought that the staying of the Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) was in order for the women to be able to leave before the men who wanted to depart.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari under No. 793]
Abu Dawood under No. 876 narrates the same hadith in Kitab al-Salaat under the title “Insiraaf an-Nisaa’ Qabl al-Rijaal min al-Salaah” (Departure of Women before Men after the Prayer). Ibn ‘Umar said that Allah’s Messenger (May peace and blessings be upon him) said: “We should leave this door (of the mosque) for women.” Naafi’ said: “Ibn ‘Umar never again entered through that door until he died.” [Narrated by Abu Dawood under No. 484 in “Kitab as-Salah” under the Chapter entitled: “at-Tashdid fi Thalik”]