Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: Assalam aleykum
As a female medical student I have to be in a room alone with a male examiner for examination.
Am I sinful? Does it mean that I can’t become a doctor?
Answer: assalamu alaykum
Being in seclusion with the opposite gender is prohibited. Scholars define “seclusion” as a man being alone with one woman who is not of unmarriageable kin (mahram) within an enclosed area in such a way that a third party is unable to see or enter upon them.
As I detailed elsewhere, the following scenarios would not be considered impermissible seclusion:
(a) a man and a woman being outside in public, such as a street or sidewalk.
(b) a man and a woman being in an enclosed area that people can and do routinely enter and exit without requiring permission, such as a mosque.
(c) a man and a woman being in an enclosed area that people cannot easily and routinely enter without permission but where they are visible to outsiders, such as a glass office whose door is closed.
(d) a man and a woman being in an enclosed area that people cannot easily and routinely enter without permission but where there is a barrier separating the two.
(e) a man and a woman being in an enclosed area that people cannot easily and routinely enter without permission but with another person present who is either (i) a mahram or spouse, (ii) an upright non-mahram man, (iii) an upright non-mahram woman, or (iv) a group of non-mahram woman.
[Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar (6:368) but interpreting category (e(iii)) as relating to very elderly woman; Nawawi, al-Majmu` (4:173-74); Mawsu`a al-Fiqhiya (19:267-68)]
As such, if you are in a room for your examination with only one other male with the door of this room being closed in a manner that people are not able to see you or enter upon, this would be considered seclusion.
However, in cases where there is a genuine need and no alternative for a non-seclusion examination setting, it would be permissible as an exception to the original rule. In your case, there is a genuine need. Therefore, there will be no blame upon you for sitting such an examination.
[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.