First of all, we would like to point out that women are the counterparts of men. Islam gives ample attention to this. In more than one verse of the Qur’an, women are granted the same privileges and have to share responsibilities with men. Allah Almighty says: (And their Lord hath accepted their prayer (and He saith): Lo! I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. Ye proceed one from another.) (Aal-`Imran 3: 195). There is nothing wrong in men and women attending such Islamic gatherings as long as they stick to the teachings of Islam and Islamic decorum. The attending men and women should adhere to the Islamic dress codes, and they should lower their gaze and be on their guard not to commit something haram.
In this regard, we would like to cite for you the following fatwa issued by the European Council for Fatwa and Research, which is headed by the prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi: Meeting, co-operating and integrating between men and women is an instinctive and natural matter, which cannot be averted in reality.
Indeed, Islam conveyed nothing which prevented such meetings from taking place, but rather set the following conditions and restrictions:
- It is forbidden for a man and a woman to meet in private, i.e. the meeting of a man and a non-mahram woman in a situation or position invisible to others. This is based upon the Hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “ever are a man and woman in solitary, but with Satan present with them.”
- They must avoid physical contact so as not to lead to sexual arousal.
- They must avoid tabarruj, which is revealing parts of the body which Allah Almighty and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered to be covered.
according to the majority of scholars, a woman meeting with a non-mahram man must cover all her body apart from her face and hands.
- The woman must observe proper conduct in her speech and movement in the presence of non-mahram men. Thus, she must not speak or act in a manner that attracts and arouses men. Allah Almighty stated: (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 33: 32).
Allah Almighty also says: (And they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.) (An-Nur 24: 31).
- As long as men and women abide by these conditions in any meeting or activity, there is nothing to prevent them from doing so. It is worth noting that these conditions remain valid even if the women involved are non-Muslims, as the possibility of arousal does subsist.
- It is also important to note that it is preferable for men and women’s seating areas to be separate, particularly if no reason calls for any other arrangement.
Based on the above, we conclude that there is nothing wrong with Muslim men and women attending Islamic gatherings such as weddings or Islamic lectures as long as the guidelines mentioned in the above fatwa are observed.