In our society, interaction between genders is commonplace – whether it is at school, at the grocery store, at the mall, at the workplace and even in our extended families and family friends. This question often arises: can I share a platonic friendship with a member of the opposite gender and, if so, how close is too close? The basic mission of all human beings, through the lens of Islam, is to get back to our eternal home in Paradise. The only real hindrance in this mission is the multitude of wayward plots laid out by Satan. Among these plots is to entice human beings to engage in unlawful actions, one of which is termed ‘zinna.’ Zinna is the act of inappropriate intimacy or physical interaction between members of the opposite gender who are not married and who are not mahram (related by blood). In order to protect ourselves from this sin, the Prophet (SAW) taught us to never be alone in a potentially intimate situation with a non-mahram person (reported in the Sunan of Imam Tirmidhi). What does this mean? It means that, yes, you can be classmates, peers, team members, colleagues, family friends, or street friends with members of the opposite gender. But it also means that you cannot get so close to the point where you are sharing each other’s personal space and personal feelings.
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