Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
Firstly, if one eats in a place where the seating area has both men and women, is it impermissible to be in such a place (free mixing) and eat there (at one’s table)
Secondly, if one walks into such places and if there are women who aren’t covering their hair, should one leave if they are in peripheral vision
Thirdly, if walking on the street and one is looking down, and a woman walks past who isn’t covering her legs, should one close eye for that period (one knows the direction)
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide us to that which pleases Him, Amin.
In Sacred Law, interactions between the sexes are permissible within certain limits specified by the Quran and the Sunna, although scholars have different understandings of these limits.
To some, these limits might appear to be very strict. However, there is a pearl of divine wisdom underpinning the limits set down by Sacred Law. By adhering to the boundaries of Sacred Law, we can uphold the Quranic command that the believing men and women are awliya (guardians, protectors, and confidants) of one another.
We should maintain a level of modesty and purity of heart that comes from obeying Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) without making our lives unbearably hard, especially when we live in Muslim minorities.
In brief, when interacting with a woman who is not a member of your unmarriageable kin or your wife, you must avoid seclusion (khalwa), lustful gazes, and physical contact, and Allah knows best.
The questions you posed were answered on the Seekers Guidance Answers platform, and you may view those answers here:
Basic Fiqh of looking at the opposite sex
Guidelines for Interacting With the Opposite Sex
Mixed Schools and Looking at the Opposite Sex
I pray this is of benefit.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.
Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.
He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.
Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.