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Re: Seclusion

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Sidi Omar Mahmood

  If one is praying in a room alone and during the prayer and a non-mahram enters the room, should we continue to pray?

2. Is being in an elevator with a non-mahram permissible? More generally, what are the rules regarding seclusion with non-mahram?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

as salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim

just to add a few comments about “khulwa” or seclusion… this issue is a big concern in my field of clinical psychology, where sometimes you may be faced with the situation of seeing a client of the opposite gender that could possibly lead to committing the haram act of being in seclusion. What follows may help those of us who are trying to negotiate these situations in accordance with the Shari`ah:

Let’s start then with the proper ta`rif, or definition for khulwa… as it is known to the fuqahaa. The main definition: the presence of a man and woman in a place that no one other than them can have access to them/can come upon them/can behold them (yattala`u `alayhim). this definition is taken from the mu`jam lugat al fuqahaa. as you know, al-iTTilaa` is a word that implies visual contact…that’s why I wrote like 3 ways of translating it, because the meaning is wider than simply saying “having access,” as it also includes “beholding with one’s vision.” Thus, according to the shari`ah, the defition of khulwa does not include sound…meaning that if a man & woman were alone in an office with a window where other co-workers could see them — then it would not be considered khulwa, even if no one else could hear what they were saying. Likewise, a man & woman talking on the phone or “e-chatting” on the internet are not instances of khulwa. It is being visually isolated that is the issue… not being auditorily isolated.

An alternate definition of Khulwah is a man being with a marriageable woman without the presence of a mahram (a male member of her family). I believe there is difference of opinion as to whether other women can take the place of a male relative. But in our madhab, other women can take the place of a male relative. So a man can be alone with two women, but not the other way around.

as for whether khulwa is considered haram, Ibn Hajar alasqalani discusses this topic in fath al Bari and says that there is legal consensus that khulwah with a woman (marriageable, non relative) is haram.

Everything just mentioned holds up as long as two assumptions are met:
1) there is no shahwa
2) there is no dire need (Darurah)

if there is shahwa (desirous feelings)… then of course the restrictions are greater. if there is a fear of shahwa then it is forbidden for the man & woman to even look at each other.

if there is dire need then everything mentioned above is permissible, even with shahwa.

perhaps we should make sure we understand just what Darurah in this case means. Basically the dire need is to avoid any affliction that would allow for tayammum if, for example, making wudu would be dangerous for you. there are five of these afflictions:
1. Fear of dying
2. fear of losing a limb
3. fear of increasing an existing illness
4. fear of delaying the cure of an illness
5. fear of developing harmful symptoms or defects (`iyaab).

I don’t know what the answer is to the Question of praying in a room and a non-mahram member of the opposite gender enters the (windowless) room and closes the door.. Although khulwa is a haram act, …it is not one of the mubTilaat (or nullifiers) of prayer. of course, I would hope we would all be in a state of khushu` and presence of heart & mind in our prayers that we wouldn’t even notice who walked in & out of the room.

Wa Allahu a`lam

forgive me,
-Omar Mahmood

This answer was indexed from Qibla.com, which used to have a repository of Islamic Q&A answered by various scholars. The website is no longer in existence. It has now been transformed into a learning portal with paid Islamic course offering under the brand of Kiflayn.

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