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IslamQA: Can a Muslim woman have male friends? The Islamic view of having friends of the opposite sex

Salam. I have a question over boy friends? Is it okay to have friends who are boys and you know that they won't do anything with you or take your guys friendship over the line? Or should we Muslim girls have no friends who are boys?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are no texts in the Quran and the Sunnah that apply exactly to having “friends” of the opposite sex. Technically interacting with and talking to people of the opposite sex is not forbidden, and there is nothing wrong with having professional relationships with people of the opposite sex, or having acquaintances of the opposite sex.

When befriending a person of the opposite sex, there are always two factors in play. We want to connect with them soul-to-soul, to know them as fellow humans and to enjoy their companionship. But we also have our brains’ genetic instincts that can get in our way and fight against us. It is impossible to take away the brain’s awareness that we are dealing with a person of the opposite sex, a person who can potentially become our spouse. Even if we try to keep everything professional and platonic, even if we succeed in having a good friendship for months or years, our brains can always slip up so that we start to get romantically involved with them.

Whether a friendship with the opposite sex is appropriate or not depends entirely on the level of emotional connection with them. The stronger the emotional connection, the more inappropriate the friendship becomes. The more we are emotionally involved with a person of the opposite sex, the more this will interfere with our lives. An extreme example is a husband whose “best friend” is a woman other than his wife. This friendship will no doubt interfere with his relationship with his wife, making her feel left out, and making her feel there is another woman competing with her for her husband’s attention and sympathy.

It is equally inappropriate for two unmarried people of the opposite sex to be best friends. The deeper their emotional connection, the more it will interfere with any romantic relationships they may get involved with.

For a man, it is sometimes very easy to slip up and take an interaction in an inappropriate direction. It is so easy to joke with and compliment the woman and sooner or later the man’s brain may start to go into full “courtship” mode so that he starts to treat the woman as a romantic interest. A pious and self-aware man can have good control over himself so that he always tries to treat women as if they were his sisters (and this is what we should always try to do), but always there is the fact that his own brain’s instincts are his enemy. It prompts him to treat the women as more than just friends. This is something that he will always have to battle.

Another issue with befriending women for a man is that he cannot control what is in the minds of his female friends and how they respond to his friendship. They may not have as much self-control as he does so that they may become romantically attached to him.

When dealing with people of the opposite sex, our brains are always fully aware that this person is a potential spouse. Our brains may constantly prompt us to take the interaction in a romantic direction, so that we have to use our souls to overpower our brains to keep things appropriate.

Befriending a person of the opposite sex is therefore risky. It is not forbidden in Islam, but if we engage in it then we are taking a risk. Sometimes a man meets a woman who like him has very good self-control and has zero interest in becoming romantically attached to him. They can develop a good and beneficial friendship. But the more they interact with each other, and the closer they get emotionally, the more they risk letting things develop too much between them. So both of them have to remain self-aware and hopefully make it a practice to read the Quran daily or do other things that ensure they always have God in mind.

The fatwas I have looked at either say platonic friendships are forbidden or strongly discouraged, due to the risks involved. In reality we do not have anything explicit in Islam to forbid such friendships. There are endless shades of friendship between men and women. On the one end of the spectrum there are men and women who know each other professionally and share their work and interests with each other a few times a year. On the other end there are friends of the opposite sex who chat daily and consider each other best friends. While nothing on this spectrum is strictly forbidden, the risks get greater as the relationship becomes more intimate. The two friends are doing something risky, and they should honestly and sincerely look into their hearts and decide if they are able to manage such risk. If the two friends are mature and intelligent, and if they maintain a very close relationship with God through things like daily Quran reading, then they will likely be able to handle the risk.

Note that spending time in private in the same room as a person of the opposite sex is forbidden in Islam. Above, I am assuming that the friendship is mostly maintained through things like email and social media. It’s best that friends of the opposite sex work to maintain some distance, such as by avoiding sending each other photos, and avoiding speaking on the phone or doing video chats.

Only God knows what level of risk we are able to handle. The most pious and admirable thing to do is to always work to keep friendships with people of the opposite sex under good control, such as by avoiding interacting too much, and by imagining that our father, mother or spouse is watching the interaction.

In a perfect world we would have been able to enjoy close friendships with people of the opposite sex without having to worry about anything (and perhaps it is that way in Paradise, inshaAllah). But in this imperfect world, we have to remain aware of our limitations and we have to act accordingly.

And God knows best.
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Asiyah
Asiyah
2 years ago

Jazak Allah, this was very insightful. Thanks a lot. I now realise that I only have to be more strict and put boundaries and that I don’t have to cut off everyone entirely.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Asiyah

No! What this man said was wrong and he gave you an utterly false ruling!!!
View what I commented below

cupofme
cupofme
1 year ago

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Akinyemi nosirat
Akinyemi nosirat
1 year ago

Thanks jazakumullahu khairan

Hala
Hala
1 year ago

Shukran Brother. I am a 13 year old sister. I have a guy best friend, he’s smaller than me. I really wanted to know 🙂

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Hala

Sister that is a an invalid answer. View my comment below. The one who wrote this has deceived you

Zahida
Zahida
2 months ago
Reply to  Hala

Ok

FATOUMATA
FATOUMATA
1 year ago

Can muslim girl have boy bestfriend

Anonymous 2.0
Anonymous 2.0
1 year ago
Reply to  FATOUMATA

Best to avoid being best friends as it most likely to lead to haram that way. You can be friendly but keep some distance and boundaries.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

AllahuAkbar. Where did you come from and say it is not forbidden in Islam to befriend someone of the opposite sex and say there are no texts in the Quran and the Sunnah that apply exactly to having friends of the opposite sex when it is clearly forbidden .It is not permissible for a man to propose marriage to a woman who is not his mahram through ways that are not permissible according to sharee’ah, such as getting to know her or meeting her frequently or getting in touch with her often and speaking on the phone. Now this is about marriage then how about friendships?!! It is not permissible for a person to justify his relationship with a girl by saying that she is like his sister and other silly excuses.
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has decreed for every son of Adam his share of zina, which he will inevitably commit. The zina of the eyes is looking, the zina of the tongue is speaking, one may wish and desire, and the private parts confirm that or deny it.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5889; Muslim, 2657.
How do you friend someone of the opposite gender when you aren’t even allowed to look at her!!!
Jareer ibn Abdullaah said: “I asked the Messenger of Allaah (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) about an accidental glance at a woman. He commanded me to turn my gaze away.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said: This is a saheeh hasan hadeeth. See al-Sunan, 2700).
The Messenger of Allaah (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) said: “O Ali, do not follow a glance with another, for you will be forgiven for the first, but not for the second.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2701; see Saheeh al-Jaami, 7953)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “I have not left behind me any fitnah that is more harmful to men than women.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4808; Muslim, 2704

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allaah is All‑Aware of what they do.”
[al-Noor 24:30]
It is known in the religion of Allaah that it is forbidden to follow in the footsteps of the Shaytaan. Everything that could lead a person to fall into haraam things is also haraam, even if in principle it is originally permitted. This is what the scholars call the principle of warding off harm.

Concerning this matter, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

O you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Shaitân (Satan).
[al-Noor 24:21].

It was narrated that Ma’qil ibn Yassaar said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than that he should touch a woman who is not permissible for him.”

Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 486. Shaykh al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5045, that this hadeeth is saheeh.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No man is alone with a woman but the shaytaan is the third one present.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1171); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

Al-Bukhaari (1862) and Muslim (1341) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No man should be alone with a woman unless her mahram is with her.”

Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) narrated in Sharh Muslim (14/153) that there is scholarly consensus that it is haraam for a man to be alone with a non-mahram woman. This was also mentioned by al-Haafiz in al-Fath (4/77).

Now after all the above evidences there needs not be anything else about this issue.
“It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.”
(Quran 33:36)

Anonymous 2.0
Anonymous 2.0
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Your understanding is incorrect and based on an overly literalist interpretation of ahadith. The ahadith should not be understood in the black and white way in which we view Quranic verses, but that is a topic for another time. First of all, the verses and ahadith you quoted about looking talk about looking with *desire*. It is not haram to look at woman’s face when speaking to her. Furthermore, if you are texting someone you don’t need to look at them in order to communicate, so it is possible to have a sort of friendship without looking at the other person.

“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “I have not left behind me any fitnah that is more harmful to men than women.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4808; Muslim, 2704”

This is most likely not an authentic Hadith (despite being in Bukhari and Muslim) as it conflicts with the quranic verse which says that “believing men and women are allies of each other” and even if it was really said by the prophet (saws) it is a general statement that doesn’t cover every single specific relationship.

“ It is known in the religion of Allaah that it is forbidden to follow in the footsteps of the Shaytaan. Everything that could lead a person to fall into haraam things is also haraam, even if in principle it is originally permitted. This is what the scholars call the principle of warding off harm.”

This is not true. Anything could lead to haram. Owning a smart phone could lead to haram because it allows a person to access prohibited content. Does that mean it is haram to have a smart phone? Owning a car could lead to haram because it could be used to go to bars or to seek out extra marital relationships in a distant location. Is owning a car haram? This kind of thinking is not productive and only leads to insanity. With regard to relationships between men and woman, the Quran does say not to approach zina, but whether or not a friendship between a man and woman is approaching zina is determined by the specific case. There are many cases in which the potential of zina is close to zero, and many where it may be higher.

“ It was narrated that Ma’qil ibn Yassaar said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than that he should touch a woman who is not permissible for him.”

This is a false Hadith, although it is prohibited for a man to touch a non mahram woman except in the case of necessity in which case it is sometimes obligatory (medical treatment, helping someone if they have fallen, saving someone from drowning etc.). But there is no reason for a friendship to involve touching. And understand that there are different degrees of friendship as the author has already explained.

“ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No man is alone with a woman but the shaytaan is the third one present.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1171); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. ”

Again you don’t have to be alone to be friends. Most male-female friendships occur in school/university and rarely involve a man and woman being alone together.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous 2.0

Do not speak about the religion of Allah ‘azzawajal without knowledge.
Do you follow your desires or the Quran and the Sunnah?
How do you have the audacity to clarify a hadith as false that is narrated from Bukhari and Muslim on the claims it goes against a verse from the Quran when in no way it does go against it.
Do not try to justify your desires. It is pretty clear that friendships between non-mahrams isn’t permitted at all.
I don’t see how you even thought that is contradicts the verse.

“Tell the believing men to avert their gaze and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do.

And tell the believing women to avert their gaze and guard their private parts…”

[an-Noor 24:30-31].

“This is a false Hadith, although it is prohibited for a man to touch a non mahram woman except in the case of necessity in which case it is sometimes obligatory (medical treatment, helping someone if they have fallen, saving someone from drowning etc.). But there is no reason for a friendship to involve touching. And understand that there are different degrees of friendship as the author has already explained.”

It is permissible to look at a non-mahram woman when there is a need to do so, which includes looking at her when buying and selling, giving testimony, giving or receiving medical treatment, and proposing marriage. As for looking with desire, that is forbidden according to scholarly consensus.
Again how did you have the aduacity to falsify the word of the prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam when you don’t possess knowledge?

It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When the believing women migrated to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), they would be tested in accordance with the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

‘O Prophet! When believing women come to you to give you the Bay‘ah (pledge), that they will not associate anything in worship with Allaah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit illegal sexual intercourse’

[al-Mumtahanah 60:12]

‘Aa’ishah said: Whoever among the believing women agreed to that had passed the test, and when the women agreed to that, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to them: “Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.’ No, by Allaah, the hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman, rather they would give their oath of allegiance with words only.” And ‘Aa’ishah said: “By Allaah, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) only took the oath of allegiance from the women in the manner prescribed by Allaah, and the hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman. When he had taken their oath of allegiance he would say, ‘I have accepted your oath of allegiance verbally.’”

(narrated by Muslim, 1866)

It was narrated from ‘Urwah that ‘Aa’ishah told him about the women’s oath of allegiance: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched any woman with his hand. He would explain to the woman what the oath of allegiance implied, and when she accepted, he would say ‘Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.’”

Narrated by Muslim, 1866

This infallible one, the best of mankind, the leader of the sons of Adam on the Day of Resurrection, did not touch women. This is despite the fact that the oath of allegiance was originally given by hand. So how about men other than the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?

It was narrated that Umaymah the daughter of Raqeeqah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “I do not shake hands with women.”

Narrated by al-Nasaa’i (4181) and Ibn Maajah, 2874; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2513.

” Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allâh and the Last Day, and remembers Allâh much.” (Quran 33:21)

He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also said: This world is sweet and dazzling, and Allaah has you put in charge of it to see how you will do and what you will do, so beware of this world and beware of women, for the first fitnah (temptation, trial) that befell the Children of Israel was concerning women.

(Reported by Muslim, 4925).

reported in the hadeeth of Ibn Masood (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said that a man kissed a woman [who was unlawful for him]; he came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and told him about it, [saying, I met a woman in the garden, and I embraced her, touched her and kissed her]. [Here I am, judge concerning me as you wish.] [He started asking how he could expiate for this, and (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)) did not say anything]. Then Allaah revealed the words (interpretation of the meaning): And perform al-salaah at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night. Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds [Hood 11:114]. The man asked, O Messenger of Allaah, is this just for me? He said, It is for all of my ummah
(reported by al-Bukhaari, 495; additional material in brackets is from the reports of al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Muslim and Ibn Maajah, in that order)

And with regards to you saying “First of all, the verses and ahadith you quoted about looking talk about looking with *desire*. It is not haram to look at woman’s face when speaking to her. ” Then I advise you to read the hadith that talk about accidental glance and the first glance and it is clear that looking is forbidden.

Jareer ibn Abdullaah said: “I asked the Messenger of Allaah (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) about an accidental glance at a woman. He commanded me to turn my gaze away.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said: This is a saheeh hasan hadeeth. See al-Sunan, 2700).
Commenting on this hadeeth, al-Mubaarakpoori said: ” Accidental means that his gaze fell on a non-mahram woman unintentionally. He commanded me to turn my gaze away means that he was not to look a second time, because the first glance was not by choice and would be forgiven, but any further glances would be counted as sin, and he should heed the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning): Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) [al-Noor 24:30]”

The Messenger of Allaah (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) said: “O Ali, do not follow a glance with another, for you will be forgiven for the first, but not for the second.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2701; see Saheeh al-Jaami, 7953)

I think what is quoted above clearly indicates that it is false to say you can look at a woman as long as there is no desire and I explained looking otu of necessity above and the condition for that.

So it is clear that deliberately looking at a non-mahram woman and continuing to look after a first accidental glance is haraam. It is forbidden to look at any part of her body, whether you think she is beautiful or not, whether it provokes sexual desire or not, whether it is accompanied by evil thoughts or not, and whether it leads to immoral deeds or not.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous 2.0

It is permissible for a woman to speak in the presence of non-mahram men in cases of necessity, subject to the condition that the speech is straightforward and serious and there is no softness, temptation or provocation in her voice. Her voice is not ‘awrah according to the correct scholarly view. Women used to speak to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and ask him questions, and they used to speak to the Sahaabah about their needs, and they were not denounced for doing so. Rather they were forbidden to be soft in speech as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner”

[al-Ahzaab 33:32]

al-Qurtubi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer: Allaah commanded them to make their speech serious and straightforward, and their posture and gestures should not convey and wrong ideas, as the Arab women used to do when speaking to men, by making the voice soft and gentle, like the speech of immoral women and prostitutes; He forbade them to do that. End quote.

It says in Mughni al-Muhtaaj (4/210), a book of Shaafa’i fiqh: The woman’s voice is not ‘awrah, and it is permissible to listen to it if there is no fear of fitnah, but it is recommended for her to make her voice unappealing if there is a knock at the door, so she should not answer in a gentle voice, rather she should make it harsh by putting her hand over her mouth. End quote.

It says in Kashshaaf al-Qinaa’ (5/15), a book of Hanbali fiqh: The voice (of a non-mahram woman) is not ‘awrah. It says in al-Furoo’ and elsewhere: according to the more correct opinion, it is haraam to gain pleasure from listening to it, even if she is reciting Qur’aan, for fear of fitnah. End quote.

Dhul Qarnayn
Dhul Qarnayn
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Baarakallaahu Feekum

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
1 year ago

Can you please give me some sources for fatwas which say that friendships are only strongly discouraged and not forbidden and the names of the scholars who say so? I would greatly appreciate it

Roudha
1 year ago

Roudha, I have an question so if we have an guy friend and we don’t have opposite sex, it’s haram?

minha
minha
4 months ago

thank u very much I am 12 yrs old and I have a friend which is a boy he is the same age as me and we are recently friends so I just wanted to confirm this . thank u very much