It is important to realize that Islam does not forbid women from talking to men, nor men to women if the situation calls and the conversation abides by the boundaries of Islamic sharia. Allah addressed the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him): [O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty to Allah, then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire, but speak in an honorable manner.] (Al-Ahzab 33: 32)
Thus, despite the special position and laws which govern them alone and which place more restrictions upon them than any other, Islam did not prevent the wives of the Prophet from speech, but forbid them to speak in such a way which would move those with illness in their hearts with desire and lust.
However, honorable and reasonable speech falls within Islam as stated by the previous verse.
There are many Hadiths which confirm the permissibility of men greeting women and women greeting men, as well as the lawfulness of men visiting sick women and vice versa.
However, this does not imply the lifting of all boundaries so that women start speaking to all men who come and go or that men start speaking to all women, as this is rejected by logic and good taste before being rejected by Islam.
The following are the conditions that must be met when there is a contact between both sexes:
1- Both parties should adhere to lowering the gaze. No lustful look should exist. Almighty Allah says: [Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.] (An-Nur: 30-31)
2- A Muslim woman should observe the Muslim code of dressing. The Muslim dress for women, as well-known, covers the whole body save for the face and the hands. It is neither tight nor light in a way that describes the features of the body.
3- General morality should be adhered to. In other words, a woman should be serious in speech and decent in way of walking, nipping any trial of Satan to spread immorality in the bud. Also, no perfumes are to be worn while being away from home, for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Any woman who wears perfumes and then passes by a group of men and they smell it, she is an adulteress.” (Musnad Ahmad and Sunan al-Nasa’i)
4-No man and woman are allowed to be together in a place where no other males exist, for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “(Doing so) their third mate will be Satan i.e. leading them to sin.” This applies also to the relatives of the husband as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Beware of sitting with women alone!” They (the Companions) said: “What about the
relative of the husband, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “A relative of the husband is death i.e. the cause of death.” (Sunan al-TIrmidhi and Nasa’i). This is because a relative of a husband may stay for a long time and thus the danger of sin becomes greater.
5- Finally, we would like to note that all these contacts are not to be given loose rein. They are to be carried out according to need and reasonable interaction. Contacting men, no Muslim woman is allowed to forget about her nature or her role as a woman and instructor of all Muslim generations.