This is via Brother Salah Sahrief (Student of Shaykh akram Nadwi)

 

"The sahaba were very professional and straight forward between opposite genders. They lived by much simpler, and more natural rules. Now, we are stuck between two unnatural and extreme circumstances: either there are no barriers whatsoever between genders, or the very acknowledgement of the existence of the opposite gender is deemed haram. Let's take a look at the conduct of the sahaba:

Once the prophet (saw) was giving an emotional khutba, to the extent that everyone was crying and some of the women could not hear. One of the female companions asked one of the male companions "may Allah bless you, what was the last thing that the prophet said?"

Notice how she spoke to him directly? That her voice wasn't awrah. That she made dua for him. Most importantly, notice how close they were sitting next to each other in the masjid, that she was able to ask him this question?

On another occasion, the female companions complained to the prophet (saw) that when the men make sujood at the back, their awrah is exposed to the women. The prophet then advised the women to wait in sujood until the men are stood up, and then to stand up themselves.

What do we take from this? See how there was no barrier between them? More importantly, see the very simple, yet effective and logical solution the prophet (saw) gave. Problem solved, no further problems created. What would our solution have been? We would've told the women to pray further behind. Actually, place a curtain in front of you so you don't see the men. Actually, pray in the room behind. Actually, pray at home; you're causing fitna.

The relationship between the sexes was professional but very simple and natural; they lived together cohesively. Omar Ibn Al khattab appointed a woman as the market supervisor, and boy she didn't hesitate from reprimanding the men.

This was also the sunnah of the prophets. Musa (AS), mid way through an excruciatingly long and exhausting journey, saw a group of men gathered by a well, and saw two women on the outskirts unable to acquire water. We would have left them be, because it's inappropriate, or even haram to speak to non-mahram. Musa (AS), Allah's chosen one, on the other hand, walked straight up to them and asked, "what is your situation?" They explained that they could not reach the water. He proceeded to get the water, give it them, and sat down by a tree. No superfluous small talk, yet no cowardly abandonment under the guise of religiosity.

Now, we've developed a culture whereby we're either too awkward and ashamed to hold a door open for a struggling sister, or too oblivious of Islamic regulations that we'd use this opportunity to small talk and giggle for 25 minutes.

The astonishing and hypocritical thing is that we're more than willing to have a detailed conversation with the opposite gender at work or university, yet when a brother or sister asks for directions in the prayer room we think it's a marriage proposal.

Islam is natural, and no islamic guideline came down to make our lives difficult or complicated. Until we fix this social misunderstanding that has developed, we will see future generations split further between these two extremes, whereas the prophets and the sahaba were in the middle.

This is in no way shape or form promoting free-mixing; Islam has strict guidelines on that. This is just bringing to light the balance that Islam promotes, so that we do not fall into the 2 extremes, as we have been doing."

 

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