Q. I work at a military organization. The social evenings in our organization are forced on us to be joined, and if not attended, it is considered a disobedience to the direct orders and disciplinary actions are taken accordingly. The social evenings include welcome and farewell dinners and other dinning out parties. The seating arrangements are of basically two types:
Ladies and men sit separately (at a distance of 20-30 feet generally) in a lawn or dinning hall, but without any physical barrier in between.
Ladies and men sit mixed on the same table.
Now I want to ask following main questions related to our situation:
Is it compulsory to have a physical barrier between the ladies and men sitting arrangements?
Is there any leeway for a person who actually does not want to join parties of both the above-mentioned types of gathering but is forced to do so as in our case. Because, as known for military organizations, if one disobeys direct orders in this regard, one is subject to disciplinary actions which includes adverse posting at non family stations, and to even be court martialed.
A. It is human nature for a person to be attracted to the opposite gender. A male is attracted to the feminine qualities of a female, for example; her color, form and appearance. Likewise, a female is attracted to the masculine qualities of a male. This is natural and cannot be denied.
The very purpose of a social event is to socialize. Obviously, one would be affected with the inherent harms that are in mixed gatherings irrespective of the setting orders. As a person experiencing such situations, you can testify to this from the depth of your heart.
If there is no adequate alternate job and you do not have another source of income you may continue with your present job. When put in the situation explained in your query, limit your interactions to the best of your ability. Also, Make tauba and istighfaar.
In the meanwhile, search for an alternate employment in which your Imaan and chastity are safe.
Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
Mufti Ismaeel Bassa
This answer was collected from TheMufti.com, which is a fatwa portal managed by Mufti Ismaeel Bassa from South Africa.