I'm supposed to be attending a wedding somewhere in the really near future of a friend who may as well be family. The wedding is what my close friends and some family have given the coined name "mixed gathering" meaning men and women, including the bride and the groom, will be celebrating the wedding festivities together in the same ballroom. Seems fair enough to me, but there are people that I know that are planning on boycotting the festivities because in their minds eye being in the same vicinity of a man (regardless of whether you're covered or not or with your husband or other mehram family member) is just much too haraam. I suppose each individual is entitled to their own opinion. But my question is what is the true ruling regarding this matter? Brother Quest asked a similar question early this week, so seriously, what's the answer?
I mean, I have attended some masajid where men and women pray in the same prayer hall (unless there is no room in which case the women pray in a hall which is usually located upstairs). I have also attended Islamic functions, fundraisers, lectures, etc. where men and women are in the same area perhaps sitting at different tables, standing in different buffet lines, entering from different entrances, women in the back and men in the front, but nonetheless in the same area. On the flip side, I have attended gatherings where the "fitnah police's" security is at the red level and if you're a sister there won't be a brother in sight and the opposite goes for the brothers. As you can see, I am a bit confused.
I must admit, there are times where I actually want strict security. For example when certain masajid hold late night qiyaams and the majority of attendees are youngsters who are at the masjid for the purpose of scoping out other youngsters of the opposite gender (where is the fitnah police then?). So I agree that there are times that the partitions should be drawn and times when there should never be a member of the opposite gender in sight, but most of the time I don't get it. It doesn't logically make sense (ok, it does in a way, but in other ways I don't understand). I'll explain...
A attend a public university, I have boys in my classes and my professors are males, I cannot build a partition around me every time I attend a class where there's a male in the room (every class). And what am I to do if that non-Muslim boy decides to sit next to me because the chair next to me is the only chair available? What about the cashier at the super market? I could go on, but I'm sure the reader gets what I am saying. Despite the impossibility of not being in the presence on a non-mehram man, its lacks logic. How is one to find someone to marry?
Ok, I know people do find spouses even though they are the no "mixed gathering" type of people. But in all honesty, I know a lot of young people who complain "How am I supposed to find a wife if every even I go to people are hiding the sisters?" I can't say that I don't agree. My father and brother are Jummuah only masjid attendees, my brother is not into the "Muslim scene" (MSA) as he calls it and the only males of marriagable age that my father knows are my cousins, who might I add, are not husband material as far as I am concerned. So what is a girl like me to do? My only options are word of mouth, being active in the Masjid/MSA, or randomly being seen by an interested brother at one of these Muslim events. Of course there is always the arranged marriage route that I am not too fond of as my mother would likely hook me up with some kind of Bollywood movie star who is also a Jummuah only masjid attendee. Do I sound stupid?
Let me clarify, my views do not only relate to marriage issues, it relates to them all...student organizations also. In the past I have played a major role in my MSA and have even carried a leadership role, only to be ridiculed by certain "draw a curtain in front of the sister so we can't see her" brothers who are okay with a woman holding a leadership position in order to have her do all the work and planning, but God forbid she decides to open her mouth and speak her mind! This sister must be a loose sister, surely shes got her morals are all mixed up after all her voice is her awrah. I can accept that my voice is my awrah, but I have news for you brother...I'M NOT SINGING! and I am dressed conservatively, I'm not wearing make-up and since when did and abaya become provocative clothing. And I'm no sheikah, I am far from it (see the previous post) but if my memory and education serves me correctly the physical curtain to be drawn between a woman and the man she is speaking to rule applies only to the Ummahaat ul Mumineen (correct me if I am wrong).
I am of the belief that there should be no "free mixing" as we see in western societies and some more "chill" masajid, I am completely against it. Nonetheless, I feel like in order to have a healthy society there should be SOME mixing. Of course I am totally against a brother and a sister sitting in chairs that are right next to each other or even at the same table, but why can't men and women be at the same wedding in the same ballroom? Surely families can sit at the same table or if you want to make it a little stricter why can't one side of the room be reserved for the male guests and the other side for female guests?
What if at this wedding people start dancing? I'll tell you, I'd be the first person to leave the ballroom at that point! But if I can sit in a restaurant with my family and eat dinner or sit in a lecture hall where I am absolutely okay with the non-Muslim boy sitting right next to me or almost accidentally touching the cashiers hand at the super market as he hands me my change, then surely having a nice dinner with my family and other families at my friends wedding should not be a problem as long as I have done everything necessary to protect myself from committing sin.
If you think I am completely wrong, by all means feel free to correct me and it would be great if you could do so with examples from the Quran and Sunnah.