Attraction between genders is normal and acceptable, as this is the general nature of human beings and other species. It may also be considered a necessary part of species survival and propagation. There are, however, limits with what we can do when we experience attraction.

First, it is important to remember that the concept of boyfriends and girlfriends and, by default, dating are forbidden as is mentioned in the Quran: Chapter 5, Verse 5 and Chapter 4, Verse 25. This will also include online dating or dating through social media.

Second, we need to take steps to avoid tempting ourselves to engage in lawless behaviour associated with our attraction. Allah tells both men and women to lower their gaze and to protect their chastity so they avoid getting involved in harmful actions. The Prophet (pbuh) echoed this sentiment when he said, “Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between their two jaw-bones and what is between their two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for them.” (Sahih al-Bukhari) This means we should not be involved in looking at pornography or be involved in sexting or taking and sharing nude or inappropriate selfies.

This doesn’t mean we walk around staring at the ground, nor does it mean we cannot look at the opposite gender. Rather, we need to keep our relationships focussed, professional, and academic to prevent crossing the boundary between halal and haram. It is important to hold onto our faith-based identity to govern how we function in society, as we are not always cognizant of the long term impact and consequences of engaging in forbidden acts.