Muslims, men and women, should always try to observe the qualities of decency whenever they meet. The question is what should they do when some of these qualities are ignored in a particular situation?
The answer is that social corruption creeps in whenever these qualities are absent. In such a situation a Muslim feels uneasy. Therefore, he must weigh up the expected benefits against the likely loss. He should take part when the benefit is likely to be greater, and choose to have no part when loss is more likely. Every case should be considered on its own merits. However, the following points should be considered:
1. If avoiding mixing with the other sex in such circumstances might cause a Muslim some difficulty, either in relation to their work or the fulfilment of their interests or indeed in their overall affairs, then they must accept what is unavoidable, within the limits of what is necessary to remove such difficulty. God says in the Qur’an: “It is He Who has chosen you, and has laid no hardship on you in [anything that pertains to] religion.” (22: 78)
2. Sometimes the participation of a Muslim in a function where Islamic requirements are absent will help to advance something good or prevent some evil. A Muslim may, for example, be able to enjoin what is good or prevent some evil action, or may impart useful knowledge to people who are unaware of it, or their mere presence may lead others to refrain from some actions that are unacceptable to Islam. In any such situation, the person concerned, man or woman, should participate. He or she should seek God’s help and resolve to try to use such participation in order to achieve some good result. Their participation becomes even more required when violating Islamic moral standards is commonplace in society and such participation provides a good chance to point out the proper way to them.
3. By contrast, a Muslim must refrain from such participation if he or she fears that they may be tempted to do something forbidden. Likewise, if their absence causes the participants to review their conduct and refrain from what is sinful, then they must abstain from such functions.
4. Some Muslims may violate some aspects of Islamic values that should be observed when meeting with the opposite sex. This could be out of ignorance, or necessity or an unforeseen emergency, and the violation could take the form of a one-to-one meeting in an enclosed place. In such a case, Muslims must not suspect their brothers or sisters of any wrongdoing. They should be careful not to criticise or accuse them, without evidence, in front of others. They should take warning from what happened in the event that God describes as ‘the falsehood’: “You took it up with your tongues and uttered with your mouths something of which you have no knowledge, thinking it a light matter whereas in God’s sight it is grave indeed. If only when you heard it you said: ‘It is not right for us to speak of this! All glory belongs to You. This is a monstrous slander.’” (24: 15-16) The Prophet says: “Sufficient it is of a sin that one should repeat to others all that one has heard.”
5. A common practice that is akin to false accusation is to drop innuendoes about other people’s motives and to accuse them on the basis of false reports, simply because some Muslims fall short of observing all Islamic manners. We are always required to take matters at face value, and to advise our fellow
Muslims to observe the values God wants us all to observe. We must never judge others. Such judgement belongs to God alone.
Having said that, we must always remind ourselves and our brothers
and sisters to always avoid putting ourselves in positions that invite
gossip and evil thoughts.
This Excerpt is from The Muslim Woman's Participation in Social Life