Can women go to gym where there are Muslim women and non Muslim women?
In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.
Firstly, it is impermissible for women to go to a mixed gym where the rules of hijab and concealing oneself are not taken into consideration and where there is free intermingling of the sexes.
To go to a gym where there are Muslim and non Muslim women leads us to the issue of Hijab or pardah in front of the aforementioned women.
Hijab in front of Muslim women
The area below the navel and above the knees cannot be exposed in front of Muslim women. (Hidayah p.461 v.4)
Hijab in front of non Muslim women
There are two opinions with regards to awrah of Muslim women in front of non Muslim women. The first being that the situation is similar to that of a ghair-mahram man hence only the Muslim woman’s hands, feet and face can be exposed.
The second opinion it that it is similar to being in front of other Muslim women. Therefore, the area above the navel and below the knees can be exposed in front of the non Muslim women. (Hidayah p.461 v.4)
Imam Razi (RA) chose the second opinion (See Tafsir Kabir p.365 v.8), However, many Hanafi scholars took the first opinion. (Raddul Muhtar p.534 v.9)
The conclusion we can come to is that wherever possible, the first option should be taken and one should cover the entire body besides the hands, feet and face. Where there is a need or necessity then the second option may be taken.
With regards to your question, physical exercise for both men and women is very important hence, it will be permissible for Muslim women to go women only gyms. However, care should be taken that wherever possible they should try and cover their whole body.
Only Allah Knows Best
Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham