Living in a modern environment where one goes to college and must interact with other genders, what are some guidelines for these interactions? Specifically, is it allowed for one to directly look at the face (or eyes) of a non-mahram woman while talking to that person? Especially this problem can occur if one has a college professor who is a female and it is seen as bad if one does not make eye contact while talking. If that is not allowed, does one have to look down while a non-mahram is talking to that person?


Also, is it allowed for one to email or text (etc) their female professor if it relates only to work? Please provide some guidance.




In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

It is common knowledge how difficult it is for one to protect his Īmān in the college and university environment. With the co-ed system, it is very difficult for one to abide by the laws of Shari’ah and there is great fear of one falling into fitnah. A Muslim’s Īmān demands that he should not put himself in a situation where committing sins is highly probable, just as the intellect demands that a person should put himself in a situation where physical harm is highly probable.


Shari’ah knows our vulnerability while being in an environment saturated with such fitnah. Let alone interacting with the opposite gender, the mere presence of a Muslim in such an environment may be detrimental to his Īmān. That is why Shari’ah has taken a harsh stance with regards to interacting and dealing with the opposite gender. It aims to tackle the problem from the root.


Although acquiring education is important for Muslims, it should not be done at the expense of the teachings of Islam. Whilst one’s intentions of acquiring knowledge may be noble, it should always be remembered that the commandments of Shari’ah hold precedence over everything else. One may be studying with the intention of serving the Muslim community, hence gaining huge rewards. However, if in doing so, if he is compromising the dictates of Shari’ah, then there is no good in studying in such a manner.



Due to the evident fact that no co-ed institutions are free from open violation of Shari’ah and they are breeding grounds of fitnah, there is high chance that one would fall into some kind of fitnah or violation of Shari’ah. Therefore, it would be advisable for one to study in a boys only college/university. If such an option is not available, then you should try to undertake your studies through correspondence.


If one has no alternative but to study in a coeducation institute, he is certain that he has the firmness and resolve to stay away from harām in such a place, he fully understands the teachings of Islam regarding interacting with the opposite gender and is also aware of the dangers of studying at such a place, then only will it be permissible for him to study at such a place. He should, however, at all times be firm and particular about the teachings of Islam and he should be constantly aware and vigilant lest Shaytaān tricks and misleads him.


Allah, the Almighty, commands the Believers to lower their gaze. He says:

قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ (30)


“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts. That is purer for them. Verily, Allāh is All-Aware of what they do.” (Quran 24:30)


“And do not go close to adultery; surely it is an indecency and an evil way.” (Quran 17:32).


Usāmah ibn Zaid Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu narrates that the Rasulullāh Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam said, “I have not left behind any trial more harmful to men than women."[1]


Jarīr Ibn Abdillāh Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu said:  I asked Rasulullāh Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam about unintentional glance (at non-related women). Rasulullāh Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam commanded me to turn away my eyes.[2]


Buraidah Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu says that Rasulullāh Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam said to Alī Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu: ‘O Alī! Do not cast a successive glance after the first (unintentional) glance. Because for you is (forgiven the sin of) the first glance and not the second.’[3]


Abu Umamah Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu narrates that Rasulullāh Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam said: ‘No Muslim (unintentionally) sees the beauty of a woman the first time then lowers his gaze except that Allāh will bless him with such worship that he will find its sweetness.’[4]


Abū Hurairah Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu narrates that the Rasulullāh Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam said, “Allāh has written for each limb its share of adultery (zinā). The eye commits adultery and its adultery is by looking (at harām). The tongue commits adultery and its adultery is by speaking (harām). The hands commit adultery and its adultery is by touching (what is harām). The foot commits adultery and its adultery if by walking (towards harām). The ear commits adultery and its adultery is by listening (to harām). The private part either accepts it or rejects it.”[5] (Mushkil-ul-Āthār, hadith: 2283)


The abovementioned verses and Ahādīth suggest that lowering the gaze helps one to protect his/her chastity and that not controlling ones gaze becomes the means of one falling into adultery and fornication. This is also aggravated by the way women dress nowadays and the unrestrained, preying eyes of men that fall on them.


In light of this, the fuqahaa state that it is not permissible to look at any part of a ghair mahram female, whether she is a Muslim or a disbeliever.[6]


One is also not allowed to speak to females except in dire necessity. Therefore, should confine his interaction with female professors to necessity only. You should keep your gaze away from her. If there is a need for conversation, keep the conversation formal, restrained, restricted to the topic and limited to the extent of need.


Similarly, it is forbidden for a man and a woman to interact with each other in an informal way, by talking freely and casually, joking around, being flirtatious in the conversation etc. In Surah al-Ahzab (v: 32), Allah Most High commands the wives of the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) in particular, and all Muslim women in general, to abstain from conversing with non-Mahram men in a soft and sweet tone. As such, when the need arises to talk, both the content and manner of conversation must be appropriate and free of anything enticing.


The dialogue must be in a modest and restrained manner, and limited to the extent of need.


And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Nabeel Valli


Student Darul Iftaa
Lusaka, Zambia

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.


[2]  Mishkaat pg. 268 (Qadeemi)

[3]  Mishkaat pg. 269 (Qadeemi)

[4]  Mishkaat pg. 270 (Qadeemi)


[6]   الدر المختار (6/ 370)

(فَإِنْ خَافَ الشَّهْوَةَ) أَوْ شَكَّ (امْتَنَعَ نَظَرُهُ إلَى وَجْهِهَا) فَحِلُّ النَّظَرِ مُقَيَّدٌ بِعَدَمِ الشَّهْوَةِ وَإِلَّا فَحَرَامٌ وَهَذَا فِي زَمَانِهِمْ، وَأَمَّا فِي زَمَانِنَا فَمَنَعَ مِنْ الشَّابَّةِ قُهُسْتَانِيٌّ وَغَيْرُهُ


وفي حاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار)

(قَوْلُهُ مُقَيَّدٌ بِعَدَمِ الشَّهْوَةِ) قَالَ فِي التَّتَارْخَانِيَّة، وَفِي شَرْحِ الْكَرْخِيِّ النَّظَرُ إلَى وَجْهِ الْأَجْنَبِيَّةِ الْحُرَّةِ لَيْسَ بِحَرَامٍ، وَلَكِنَّهُ يُكْرَهُ لِغَيْرِ حَاجَةٍ اهـ وَظَاهِرُهُ الْكَرَاهَةُ وَلَوْ بِلَا شَهْوَةٍ (قَوْلُهُ وَإِلَّا فَحَرَامٌ) أَيْ إنْ كَانَ عَنْ شَهْوَةٍ حَرُمَ (قَوْلُهُ وَأَمَّا فِي زَمَانِنَا فَمُنِعَ مِنْ الشَّابَّةِ) لَا لِأَنَّهُ عَوْرَةٌ بَلْ لِخَوْفِ الْفِتْنَةِ كَمَا قَدَّمَهُ فِي شُرُوطِ الصَّلَاةِ


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