Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Instant messaging with the opposite sex

INSTANT MESSAGING WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX

Question:
I'm in high school and I am trying my best to avoid temptations of this western world. Like many high schoolers, I too go on msn and my question was that are we allowed to talk to the opposite sex through msn? Could you expand on the guidelines when talking to the opposite sex.

Answer:
In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate.

In our days and time, the traditional face-to-face interaction between men and women is no longer the only method of interaction. The Shari`ah rulings that apply to gender interaction, such as lowering the gaze, covering one's nakedness and avoiding khalwa with the opposite sex are not a concern for people whose interaction takes place on the internet.

However, as situations change, new rulings apply to accommodate them. MSN, or instant messaging is one of these new situations, and although this didn't exist in the time of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, this does not give people a license to behave however they wish.

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, "The adultery of the tongue is speech." And the ruling of intermixing in the Shafi'I school is, as stated in the Reliance of the Traveller (r32.6): It is offensive for a male to speak without need to a young woman who is not a member of his unmarriageable kin (mahram).

Now, although instant messaging is not direct speech with the tongue, it is nevertheless a clear form of expression and interaction. As you know, this type of interaction is so quick and easy that long-distance relationships and marriages have even been formed through it.

My advice to you is that you MSN with the opposite sex only when it is necessary. An example of this would be when working with someone on aproject for school, or trying to ask a scholar of the opposite sex a fiqh question. You may also find that it is necessary to send a kind e-mail to someone that you feel you may have wronged or offended.

Although it may seem impossible to convey real emotion through the net, it is, as you know, very possible. With the aid of smiley faces, exclamation marks and popular expressions, the other side can get the wrong idea, so be cautious in how you use them.

Having said this, don't think that you have to be cold to the opposite sex, for Muslims that hold contempt for one another does not make for a unified ummah. You should always be cordial and make other Muslims feel comfortable, but still set limits so you don't leave any room for fitna, attraction, or long and unnecessary chats.

Finally, have a good intention and in sha Allah, Allah will help to steer you clear of the impermissible. Take a look at the answers in the SunniPath QA to help you learn more about gender interaction.

And Allah alone knows best.
by Shazia Ahmad (Source: http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=7&ID=7940&CATE=3600)


Also see my post on A Bad Death over at poem blog.