Interacting with non-mahrams respectfully

Question

What do the scholars of Islam say about this scenario: A friend of a woman’s son comes regularly to eat in their house. The woman is kind to him and treats him like her son as he is friendly with her, always joking. He calls her auntie they talk freely even in her son and husband’s presence.  He walks into the house without knocking the door, barging in without giving time for her to cover herself. Sometimes, this young man hugs his uncle’s wife. He also texts and calls her on WhatsApp. Her husband is not happy with this relationship and has told him off. Has her husband done the right thing?

Answer:

Great importance and emphasis has been given in maintaining appropriate boundaries between non-mahram (those who one can marry) men and women. The scenario described goes against the Islamic principles of modesty and interaction between genders.

Men and women must maintain modesty and appropriate boundaries with non-mahram. This includes interactions in person and online. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ emphasised the importance of modesty. It is not permissible for a non-mahram man to enter a house without permission. Rather the Qur’an tells us that a guest must ensure the people of the house are well-aware of their arrival by making themselves known prior to entering.

“Believers, don’t enter any houses other than your own homes until you have made yourselves known and greeted the occupants; that’s best for you, so you may pay heed” (Quran 24:27).

” And if you ask his wives for something, do so from behind a curtain; that is purer for your hearts and theirs.” (Quran 33:53).

The verses addressed the male companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, instructing them on how to interact with his wives. This instruction serves as a broader guideline for the interaction of non-mahram men and women. The term “curtain”, hijab in this context refers to a physical barrier or screen. It signifies a means of maintaining privacy and modesty. This instruction emphasises that any interaction should occur in a manner that preserves the dignity and modesty of both parties. The concept extends to ensuring that interactions do not lead to situations where inappropriate behaviour or thoughts might arise. Both men and women are instructed to lower their gaze and guard their modesty:

” Tell believing men to lower their gaze and be modest;  that is best for them. Allah is aware of what they do.” (Quran 24:30).

The verse from Surah An-Nur provides essential guidance for believing men on maintaining modesty and purity in their behaviour. By instructing them to lower their gaze and guard their modesty, it promotes a culture of respect and self-discipline. The emphasis on Allah’s awareness of all actions serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of adhering to these principles.

“And tell believing women to lower their gaze and be modest; they shouldn’t expose their beauty in public, except what is normally showing; and cover their bosoms with headscarves;c they should only display beauty to their husbands, ” (Quran 24:31).

A husband has a responsibility to ensure the Islamic guidelines of modesty are upheld in his household. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

“There is a kind of jealousy that Allah allows and a kind that Allah dislikes, He allows jealousy regarding matters of doubt” (Sunan Ibn Majah 2016). Therefore, if the husband feels that boundary has been crossed, it is his duty to address that. Based on these principles, the husband’s concerns in the scenario described are valid. The husband’s actions in expressing his discomfort and addressing the situation align with the Islamic obligation to maintain modesty and proper decorum in interactions between non-mahram individuals. The lady should also ensure that her interactions with her son’s friend adhere to Islamic guidelines to maintain respect and propriety within the household.

Allah ﷻ knows the best

This Fatwa is written by Dr.Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari

Share this fatwa:

Support Us

British Fatwa Council is maintained by Karimia Institute. Please support us by donating.

Popular Fatawa