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To what extent should Ahmadi men and women interact with one another?

Islam has taught that men and women should not inter-mingle socially. Separation of the genders was established during the time of the Holy Prophetsas as an Islamic practice. Men and women had separate sections for prayers. However, this segregation was not only for the prayers itself but for after the prayer as well. Hadrat Umme Salamahra, a wife of the Holy Prophetsas, narrates:

Whenever Allah’s Messengersas finished his prayers with taslim,1 the women would get up, and he would stay on for a while in his place before getting up.

Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 10, Hadith 230

After the prayers, men would socialize with one another. If men and women were permitted to intermingle socially, then the women would have socialized with the men after prayer in the same way that the men socialized with one another after the prayers. There was no reason for the companions of the Holy Prophetsas to change their behavior once they left the presence of the HolyProphetsas or once they left the mosque, as the hypocrites would do. Hadrat Umm Salamahra, a wife of the Holy Prophetsas, also said:

When the Messenger of Allah gave the salutation, he stayed for a while. By this people thought that women should return earlier than men.

Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 2, Hadith 1035

Respect for separation of the genders was established under the direct supervision of the Holy Prophetsas. In fact, not only did the Holy Prophetsas establish this teaching in social gatherings, but Hesas taught separation of the genders in non-social situations wherever it was possible. Concerning one of the entrances to his mosque, Hadrat Ibn ‘Umar narrated that the Holy Prophet sas said:

“If we reserve this door for women (it would be better).” Nafi’ said that Ibn ‘Umar did not enter through it (the door) till he died.

Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 2, Hadith 571

Also, once when the Holy Prophet sas was coming out of the mosque and men and women were mingled in the road, he sas said to the women:

“Draw back, for you must not walk in the middle of the road; keep to the sides of the road.” Then women were keeping so close to the wall that their garments were rubbing against it.

Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 42, Hadith 5252

Some people object to Islam’s teaching on separation of genders in social gatherings, saying that it is oppressive to segregate women and men. However, western society itself imposes segregation of genders in various places based on morality. For example, we segregate locker rooms by gender. If the possibility of sexual harassment is a concern, then those who identify as lesbian or gay would have to be banned from the bathrooms of their gender and required to use the bathroom of the opposite gender, and we would have to give those who are bisexual private stalls. There is no logical reason why we separate locker rooms by gender other than the principle of modesty. A man who believes in uni-sex locker rooms could demand the right to use women’s locker rooms on the principle that segregation of the genders is oppressive. What response could those who object to the Islamic ideal of separation of the genders give to this man that does not contradict their own principles? Both western society and Islam encourage separation of genders out of respect for modesty. There is only a difference in degree, in that Islam promotes more modesty.

The purpose of having a separation of genders in Islam is to prevent social interaction between genders and its harms. Explaining how this applies equally to both men and women, Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih V aba said:

Unrestricted freedom of sexes and forming relationships is causing many of the perversions in society, and we have to strive in safeguarding ourselves from this. It is also evident from this that if women are not permitted to swim with men, then men are also not allowed to swim with women. Therefore, the restrictions do not only apply to women but also to men.

Friday Sermon, January 13th, 2017

The idea of being “just friends” with someone of the opposite gender is what leads many people in society to promiscuity without their even realizing it. In an ideal Islamic society, in places where interaction between the genders is primarily professional, like the market, segregation of the genders is not required. However, in places where interaction between genders would generally be social, the genders have separate sections. If we start socializing between genders, whether at Jama‘at events or elsewhere, it would defeat the very purpose of why we go through the trouble of making separate men’s and women’s sections.

These principles apply to social media as well; Hudur aba said we should not “chat with non-relatives on Facebook or through any other means.”(Friday Sermon, January 13th, 2017)

Hudur aba has addressed the issue of male and female interaction many times. To summarize his answer, he has stated that professional interaction is permissible when necessary, but social interaction is not. Hudur aba said that in our professional interactions with someone of the opposite gender, they being an Ahmadi or non-Ahmadi is irrelevant. Our interaction is to be concerning our work and should not extend to socialization. Huduraba also said that we should think of students as students, and not as anything beyond that (USA Lajna Students Meeting, May 6th, 2013).

Although sometimes people do find matches based on professional contact, the guiding principle is that in each interaction with the opposite gender, our intention should have a professional purpose, not social. When the Holy Prophetsas and Hadrat Khadijahra met, they met with professional purposes. If an Ahmadi professionally or academically interacts with an Ahmadi of the opposite gender with the ulterior motive of courtship, it would be unprofessional and unethical by even secular standards. “Deeds are judged by their motives.”

This same principle applies in tabligh to the opposite gender. Addressing Lajna, Hudur said:

Speaking of tabligh, I want to mention that women and girls should only do tablighto other women and girls. Tabligh should be to one’s own gender. Girls should do tabligh to girls and boys to other boys

Jalsa Germany, June 2nd, 2017

This same principle applies to social media. Hudur aba said:

Girls should make tabligh contacts only with girls. Some people have tabligh contacts through the internet. Tabligh contacts through the internet should also only be with women, let the work of doing tabligh to men remain the responsibility of men.

Jalsa Salana Australia 2006, Address to Ladies

This guidance applies, as Hudur aba  said, to both men and women.

One way to define appropriate interaction in tabligh is with the example of the Media department. The purpose of the Media department is to introduce Ahmadiyyat to as many people as possible. When someone takes an interest, then they direct them to the tabligh department because the job of the Media department is only to introduce the message of Islam. It is fine for us to introduce Islam to people of the opposite gender. However, when someone takes deeper interest in Islam, they should be referred to the gender appropriate auxiliary.

If we keep these principles in mind and are honest with ourselves, we can find the answer to many of these questions in our hearts. Remember, the purpose of these directives is for our good and the good of our children, and to avoid even taking one wrong step towards the promiscuity this society has fallen into.


  1. Taslim is the concluding portion of the Muslim prayer where one recites Assalamo ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe once while facing to the right, and once while facing to the left [Publisher].
Updated on February 23, 2019

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