We sure can! In addition to my lengthy previous rant about the apparent “ban” on cross-gender interactions of friendships that has not actual basis in the Quran or Hadith because at the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him) both genders interacted all the time, I wanted to add some science to the mix that I only looked at after posting my rants. I never implied that all interactions with the opposite sex will be easy, much like same-sex relationships, some will fail and some will flourish. But science does say that they are beneficial for both people despite some challenges!
Across the internet you’ll find plenty of posts saying that men and women can’t be “just friends” yet they provide no actual scientific proof to back up these claims. Well, I have some for you. This is from Psychology Today, click on the link below to access the web article. I find it hard to argue with science! 🙂
The vast majority, 83% in fact, of people do believe that a friendship can be purely platonic. And like I’ve said before, it’s helpful to tell the person right off the bat that you want nothing more than a platonic friendship. If you or the other person cannot respect this, then it’s time to move on. Also like I’ve said before, maintain the bounds of modesty and if you fear sin then abstain. That in no way means that all interactions between the opposite sex are forbidden. You must use your judgement and wisdom and decide for yourself if you can be humane with the opposite gender or if you can only be an animal. Nobody can tell you that except you. If you don’t like cross-gender friendships stay out of them, but don’t come and break down mine.
It’s not true that everyone will automatically fall for their platonic friend at some point It’s equally not true that men are nothing but uncontrollable sex machines and that women are apparently to blame for that. The cold hard truth is that women are forced into closets not to “sinfully entice” men who on the other hand rarely ever do much to control themselves. All of this comes down to erroneous, legalistic, patriarchal and outdated rules that the two genders can’t cross paths with each other in even the most innocent and beneficial of ways when scientifically cross-gender friendships have plenty of benefits (and the key here is moderation and balance: you should have both same-sex and opposite-sex friends, not just one or the other) and in the Quran men and women are allies of each other who were never prohibited from interacting.
“And when he went towards (the land of) Madyan, he said: “It may be that my Lord guides me to the Right Way.” And when he arrived at the water of Madyan he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: “What is the matter with you?” They said: “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man.” So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: “My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.” (Qur’an, 28:22-25)
- It was modest
- It wasn’t sinful
- People lowered their gaze
- There was no flirting
- There is no mention of them automatically turning into animals around each other
In Islam, contrary to other religions doesn’t teach that sex or attraction is evil. In fact Muhammad was very open about sex and both men and women could come to him for knowledge and advice. Read the article below:
One thing that jumped out at me was this passage from the article:
For us as Muslims, sexual desire in and of itself is never associated with evil; it is only the misuse and abuse of such desire that is evil.
Shouldn’t confining women to closets and denying their own desires or banning them completely from everyday dealings with men be considered misuse and abuse? Right now Muslim scholars backwardly think like this:
- If I’m attracted to the man it’s my fault
- If a man is attracted to me it’s my fault
- If I sin out of temptation it’s my fault
- If a man sins out of temptation it’s my fault
Instead of fostering (whether silently or explicitly) a culture of coldness, the mentality of “the other” and a lack of accountability or control, how about we begin working together to stop the idea that one gender is an animal and the other is their toy and to put an end to gender-based violence, discrimination, inequality and stigma as allies. This isn’t a “man’s problem” or a “woman’s problem” it’s a humanity problem. I can bet that God looks down on us with sadness at what we’ve turned religion and sexuality into when God made men and women complimentary to each other, not enemies of each other.