Men and women participating in forums for the purpose of Da‘wah
Fatwa No: 79549

  • Fatwa Date:8-3-2012 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 15, 1433
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Question

Is a woman permitted to register in forums and to reply to and discuss the postings of men with full respect and in a fraternal atmosphere free of foul language, given that the objective of joining these forums is Islamic, like the posting of Islamic articles and beneficial moral stories?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

There is no blame on a woman if she participates in a decent forum for the purpose of calling others to Allaah The Almighty, to disseminate truth and to guide people. In this context, she should use straight words with men, avoid getting into any sort of relationship with them, secure herself from temptation and dedicate her will and efforts solely to calling to Allaah The Almighty. These forums are means through which people can convey the truth and voice their opinions and proofs. In fact, the means share the same rulings of the aims. In other words, any means that leads to an evil deed is considered evil in itself and must be avoided. Similarly, means that support Islam, proclaim the truth and respond to falsehood, provided that it does not involve any violations of the Sharee’ah (Islamic law), will be correct and worthy of being followed.

If the chat in these forums is between Mahrams (persons not permitted to marry each other) and revolves around lawful topics, there is no harm on them under the Sharee‘ah, as long as no religious obligation is neglected because of the time spent online. However if the chat is between non-Mahrams (marriageable persons), then only what is needed is permissible, provided that Sharee’ah rulings are observed, soft speech is avoided and chat is limited to necessary topics.

Joining forums will be prohibited if it leads to the exchange of soft or prohibited speech, dubious conversations between men and women or looking at prohibited images. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, stated that the eyes commit adultery by looking at prohibited things and the ears by listening to prohibited things, and that giving free rein to the eyes and ears to commit acts of disobedience ends in committing adultery in the real sense of the word. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] So, as we stated, the means take the same ruling as their aims, as stated by scholars, adding that they will be obligatory if used to fulfil obligatory acts and prohibited if used for prohibited behaviours.

Therefore, there is no harm in men's discussion with women or vice versa if this is meant for calling to Allaah The Almighty and education, while observing the Sharee’ah criteria mentioned above. The Quran, Sunnah and the biographies of eminent Companions attest to the permissibility of this.

From the Quran, we find the story of Khawlah bint Tha‘labah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her who argued with the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Certainly has Allaah heard the speech of the one who argues with you, [O Muhammad], concerning her husband and directs her complaint to Allaah. And Allaah hears your dialogue; indeed, Allaah is Hearing and Seeing.} [Quran 58:1]

From the Sunnah: In a Hadeeth on the authority of Sahl ibn Sa‘d  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him a woman came to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, telling him that she had offered herself to Allaah The Almighty and His Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

From the biographies of the Companions: In a Hadeeth on the authority of Umm Salamah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her the wife of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, a woman called Subay‘ah from the tribe of Aslam became a widow while she was pregnant. Abu As-Sanaabil ibn Ba‘kak proposed to her but she refused. He informed her that she could not marry until her post-marriage waiting period expired. She waited for about ten nights and went to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who permitted her to marry. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Participants in forums should always be conscious of Allaah The Almighty and women must avoid softening their speech in a way that tempts men. Commenting on the Saying of Allaah the Almighty (which means): {If you fear Allaah, then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet.} [Quran 33:32]

 Ibn Al-‘Arabi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that Allaah the Almighty commanded them [wives of the Prophet] to speak in a clear, direct manner that did not affect the heart of the hearer with its softness nor make it possible for him to covet her.

Both sexes must be sure that they do not find pleasure in the other's dialogue, for this is prohibited among non-Mahrams, as stated by the Hanbali scholar Ibn Muflih  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. In addition, there must be no risk of temptation. Indeed, if the person fears temptation then they are prohibited from listening or talking. That is because blocking the means that might lead to prohibited acts is one of the main objectives of the Sharee‘ah.

Moreover, scholars of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) state that young women are prohibited from talking to men, without necessarily the fear of temptation, as stated by the eminent Hanafi scholar Al-Khaadimi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. The Hanbali scholar Al-Hijjaawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him stated that if a man extends greetings to a young woman, she should not reply so as to avoid any possible corruption. The Shaafi‘i scholars of Fiqh stressed that a young woman is prohibited from taking the initiative to greet males or to reply to their greetings. They also disliked men greeting her, arguing that a woman's response to the man or extension of greetings to him might make him covetous of her.

Allaah Knows best.

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