In his response to the issue in point, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, states the following:
“The issue of friendship here has nothing to do with being Muslim or non-Muslim. Muslims should not have taken Muslim or non-Muslim males as their friends. The Qur’an and the Sunnah have given us rules about relations between men and women.
There are two types of people: Mahram and non-Mahram. Mahram are those relatives between whom marriage is not allowed. Non-Mahram are those among whom marriage is permissible. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says: “ Forbidden unto you are your mothers, and your daughters, and your sisters, and your father’s sisters, and your mother’s sisters, and your brother’s daughters and your sister’s daughters, and your foster mothers, and your foster sisters, and your mothers-in-law, and your stepdaughters who are under your protection (born) of your women unto whom ye have gone in but if ye have not gone in unto them, then it is no sin for you (to marry their daughters) and the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins. And (it is forbidden unto you) that ye should have two sisters together, except what hath already happened (of that nature) in the past. Lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (An-Nisaa’: 23)
Muslim men and women can socialize among the Mahrams, but not among the non-Mahrams. When men and women are in the presence of non-Mahrams then they must lower their gaze. Allah Almighty says: “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 vigor, 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. And marry such of you as are solitary and the pious of your slaves and maid servants. If they be poor; Allah will enrich them of His bounty. Allah is of ample means, Aware.” (An-Nur: 30-31)
He Almighty also says: “O ye wives of the Prophet! Ye are not like any other women. If ye keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft of speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease aspire (to you), but utter customary speech.” (Al-Ahzab: 32)
Hence it is clear that Islam does not allow Muslims to have friends from the opposite gender. Males should not have female friends and females should not have male friends. Non-Mahram males and females may talk to each other, but should not socialize or go out in parties.
A single male and female should never be together in a place where they are all alone, isolated without the access of any one else. Islam has given these rules to save men and women from committing sin or getting involved in situations where they might commit sin.
As far as the interfaith marriages are concerned, Islam does not encourage them. The general rule of Islam is that Muslims should marry Muslims. A Muslim male or female should not marry a non-Muslim male or female. Allah Almighty says: “ Wed not idolatresses till they believe; for lo! a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress though she please you; and give not your daughters in marriage to idolaters till they believe, for lo! a believing slave is better than an idolater though he please you. These invite unto the Fire, and Allah inviteth unto the Garden, and unto forgiveness by His grace, and expoundeth thus His revelations to mankind that haply they may remember.” (Al-Baqarah: 221)
The only exception is given to Muslim men who are allowed to marry the girls from among the People of the Book. Allah Almighty says: “This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when ye give them their marriage portions and live with them in honor, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denieth the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter.” (Al-Ma’dah: 5)
To explain furthermore, let me explain why Muslim men are allowed to marry women from among the People of the Book and why Muslim women are not allowed to do so.
First of all, it is not an honor or a privilege to marry a non-Muslim. It is a burden and a big responsibility. It is better to abstain from such marriages. Muslim men who are living in non-Muslim countries in particular should not marry non-Muslim women. However, man being the head of his household is more capable to handle the needs and problems of his non-Muslim (Christian or Jewish) wife. Muslims believe that Moses and Jesus, peace and blessings be upon them all, were Prophets of Allah and so they give them full honor and respect.
Jews and Christians do not consider Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, as the Prophet of Allah. Thus they are unable to give the same respect and honor to him and to his followers. A Jewish or Christian woman with a Muslim husband will be in a much better position than a Muslim woman with a Jewish or a Christian husband. Even then, there are many non-Muslim women who married outside their faith say that they wish their religion too had forbidden them, because they know how difficult and hard it is to be the wife of a husband who has a different faith.
A Muslim woman should know that Allah has really honored her and made it easy for her by not allowing her to marry a non-Muslim man.
According to the Qur’an, the husband is the head of the household and his wife should obey him. Allah does not put the Muslim woman in a position that a non-Muslim becomes her head in her own private life. Allah has spared her to suffer from being under the authority of a non-Muslim husband.
To my Muslim sisters, please abandon the idea of marrying a non-Muslim, unless he truly accepts Islam. If you marry a non-Muslim, this will be a major sin. You will be living in sin and your relationship with that non-Muslim will be illegitimate in the eyes of Allah. May Allah protect you from all sins, Amen.”
If you have any further comments, please don’t hesitate to write back!