As modern Muslims we need to understand that throughout work, day to day chores, and other personal activities, we are bound to interact with people of the opposite gender. They may be our immediate family or may be complete strangers. But if they are not our immediate family then one question may arise in your mind, is it haram to talk to the opposite gender?
In short the answer is no. However, matters of gender interaction are not completely black and white in our religion. Let us take a step back, understand what haram actually means in this case, and address what can make talking to the opposite gender haram.
Is It Haram to Talk to the Opposite Gender?
In Islam haram is defined as a deed that is sinful, and against our laws and principles.
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Hence for the most part communicating with a person of the opposite gender is not haram. Most interactions between your immediate family members and your spouse is allowed. If you’re married you need to talk to your husband or wife. In the course of your daily life you need to talk to your father or brother or mother or sister.
However, if it does not follow modesty and leads to acts or thoughts that are sinful, then the action is indeed haram. Conversations which are not respectful and may hurt someone is haram. We have to be aware of how these conversations run along our faith.
We quote from Surah Al-Tauba:
“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil”
One of the main takeaways here is that men and women need to protect the modesty of each other. One of ways it is done is through respectful conversations with each other.
Mufti Menk does an incredible job in this video of talking about that same principle when interacting with the opposite gender if they are not related to you. He goes on to say and we quote:
“How should you interact with them? There is one word, very respectfully”
Besides family members, as a modern Muslim man or woman we need to interact with people of the opposite gender constantly. When riding the bus, at work, when ordering food at a restaurant, etc. The list is endless. When you just talk, it is not haram. You are obviously talking to that person because you need something, or there is a valid goal to the conversation. When you start to go beyond that however, it may become murky and lead to something regretful.
The broad principle is that the communication that takes place is morally clean in thought and action. Lowering your gaze, avoiding lies, not using vulgar language, not talking about anything that is of an intimate nature if you are not married to the person, etc. Further proof that it is not haram can be found in many hadiths. Even our Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W) interacted with girls and women beyond just his wives, daughters, and immediate family members. Women from all parts of the world and various religions came to him to seek his advice, and he conducted such conversations respectfully and ethically.
There is an exceptional example in Bukhari no.1238 where Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) saw a woman crying beside a grave and he himself went to console her and he said, “Fear Allah and Show Patience”. There was even an interaction afterwards where she went to his home to talk to him.
Surely, his mannerisms and practices are the best guides for us to maneuver any interactions with the opposite gender.
Is It Haram to Talk to the Opposite Gender Online?
As long as the conversation is modest, it is not haram. Remember to be careful though, about how much you share and the things you share as well, such as pictures of yourself. Use matrimonial apps that are designed for halal dating like Noble Marriage.
Is It Haram to Talk to the Opposite Gender in a Relationship?
If you are married to the other person, as long as you are respectful then it is not haram. However if you are unmarried, you need to be careful about the point to which you take a conversation to.
So, is it haram to talk to the opposite gender in Islam? If you do it the way it has been instructed for us, it is not at all haram. As Muslims we have to remember that we have to be morally right in our conversations, and we should not be tempted to go beyond what is necessary. Surely, Allah will be there to guide us whenever we interact with the opposite gender.