I am working in an organisation. Where ladies (Muslims) also works, while interacting with them should we say Asalaamu alaykum or no? When they say Asalaamu alaykum should we reply to them with wa alaykum salaam or any other word or keep quiet?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
Sharī῾ah has unrivalled attributes. Not only does the Sharī῾ah prohibit a certain act, it takes all the measures to prevent someone from committing a prohibited act. The Sharī῾ah has clearly demarcated permissible from impermissible.
Allah Ta῾ālā states in the Qur῾ān:
وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَا إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا (الإسراء: 32)
And do not (even) come close to fornication. Verily, it is a shameful deed and an evil path (Qur’ān 17:32)
Not only are we commanded to not commit fornication, but, rather, to stay away from all that which leads to it. Hence, it is impermissible to engage and interact with the opposite gender without a need. One should refrain from all unnecessary interactions with females to whom he is not a mahram.
Allah Ta’ālā has mentioned in the Qur’ān,
قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ(النور: 30)
Say (O Prophet) to the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their chastity. That is purer for them. Verily, Allāh is All-Aware of what they do (Qur’ān 24:30)
Casual interaction with females to whom one is not a mahram may start innocently; however, it leads to greater misdeeds as is evident in society.
We acknowledge the fact that extending salām is a virtuous deed, it is the name of Allah and it is a sunnah. However, we have to bear in mind that whatever leads us to the disobedience of Allah will be prohibited. Informality and casualness commence with the exchanging of salām. Any familiarity and ease between the opposite gender can lead to grave consequences.
Rightly or wrongly, it is a fact that there is intermingling of the sexes at the work places. Nonetheless, Sharī῾ah seeks to protect the integrity of a person in this world and the hereafter.
If there is a need for one to communicate with the opposite gender, then it should be straight forward and confined to the need. It is not permissible to be ‘sweet’ and communicate beyond the need. Being straightforward and confined to the need should not be interpreted as being rude. This is a clear injunction of Allah in the Qur῾ān:
فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَعْرُوفًا (الأحزاب 32)
Do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech.
Hence, refrain from falling prey to any act which can lead one to compromise his integrity and loyalty to Allah, even though it may be the exchanging of salām.[i]
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mawlana Faraz Ibn Adam,
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
[i] فتاوى رحيمية ج 10 ص 126 دار الإشاعت
وفي رد المحتار
وَإِذَا سَلَّمَتْ الْمَرْأَةُ الْأَجْنَبِيَّةُ عَلَى رَجُلٍ إنْ كَانَتْ عَجُوزًا رَدَّ الرَّجُلُ – عَلَيْهَا السَّلَامُ – بِلِسَانِهِ بِصَوْتٍ تَسْمَعُ، وَإِنْ كَانَتْ شَابَّةً رَدَّ عَلَيْهَا فِي نَفْسِهِ، وَكَذَا الرَّجُلُ إذَا سَلَّمَ عَلَى امْرَأَةٍ أَجْنَبِيَّةٍ فَالْجَوَابُ فِيهِ عَلَى الْعَكْسِ اهـ.(ج 6 ص 369 أيج أيم سعيد)