Some people say that it is halâl [permitted] for women to talk to nâ-mahram men [not one of the eighteen men whom Islam has prescribed as a woman’s close relatives]. Is it not harâm [prohibited]?
It took 23 years for the rules of Islam to be introduced. It is a mistake to deal with those events that took place before the âyat commanding (women) to cover themselves was revealed and thus to consider it mubâh [permissible] for them to talk to nâ-mahram men. Similarly, drinking alcohol had not been a sin before it was forbidden. By instancing the past events that took place, can we say, “Drinking alcohol is mubâh because it was drunk during our Prophet’s time, which was termed the Asr-i-Sa’âdat [Era of Happiness]”? In the same way, by giving the cases in former prophets’ religions as examples, is it said, “See, it is permissible (for men) to talk to women”? In the religion of Hadrat Âdam (‘alaihissalâm), it was permissible to marry some people who are now harâm to marry. Afterwards, that permission was lifted. Is it proper to give then rules as examples for present events?
Jâriyas’ [non-Muslim female slaves captured in war] singing songs cannot be put forth as an example for free women. When Hadrat ‘Umar (radîy-Allahu ‘anh) recommended decreasing the amount of mahr, an old woman behind the curtain, in an act of objection, recited the 20th âyat of Sûrat-un-Nisâ’, which reads: “Don't take anything back from the wife you have divorced, even if you gave her loads (of gold as mahr).” Hadrat ‘Umar did not object to that woman.
[mahr: according to Islam, the mahr comprises things like gold, silver, banknotes, or any kind of property or any kind of benefit that is given by a man to the woman he is to marry.]
Some heretics claim, “This event shows that a woman’s voice is not harâm.” But they do not explain that the woman behind the curtain was old; an old woman’s voice is not harâm. Some rules which are permissible for old women may not be permissible for the young ones.
Heretics also utter the following:
Hadrat Âisha (radîy-Allahu ‘anhâ) narrates:
On the Day of 'Iyd [Eid], two jâriyas were singing gallantry poems by playing the tambourine. Rasûlullah (sall-Allahu alaihi wa sallam) lay down on his bed and turned his face to the other direction. Later, my father (Hadrat Abû Bakr) came in. When he scolded me by saying, “How on earth are the Devil’s whistle and sound in the presence of Rasûlullah?” Rasûllulah stated, “Do not interfere with them! Every nation has its own eid, and this is our eid.” When my father was busy with something else, I motioned the jâriyas away, and they left the house.
Adducing the mentioned event to support their claim, heretics say that it is permitted for women to sit together with men, to play musical instruments, to sing songs, and to let their voices be heard by men.
Now let us analyze the statements above:
1. Those who were singing gallantry poems were jâriyas, not free women. It is not a sin for jâriyas not to cover their hair, arms, and to let their voices be heard by nâ-mahram men. It does not befit a Muslim to say that these, by assuming jâriyas as role models, are also permissible for free women.
2. Gallantry poems and songs and mahtar marches (Ottoman military marches) are permissible. This does not mean that other kinds of songs are permissible as well. Songs and ballads can be sung by playing the tambourine, but ilâhîs [nasheeds] cannot be sung with instruments because singing ilâhîs is an act of worship. It is not permitted to mix musical instruments into acts of worship. The term “the music of Tasawwuf” has nothing to do with Islam. In a house where Rasûlullah (sall-Allahu alaihi wa sallam) entered, small Black girls (jâriyas) were playing tambourines and were singing. They stopped singing and started lauding Rasûlullah. “Do not mention my name! Eulogizing me [reciting ilâhî] is an ’ibâdat. It is not permissible to perform ’ibâdat while making merry and playing,” he declared. (Kimyâ-i Sa’âdat)
3. Hadrat Abû Bakr's saying Satan’s whistle for the tambourine shows that musical instruments are not permissible. Islamic savants state that what is permissible is only women’s playing tambourines at wedding parties and on ‘Iyds. That is, permissibility of women’s playing the tambourine includes wedding parties and ‘Iyds. It is not permissible at other times.
Some of the documents proving that women’s voices are harâm are as follows:
Because Rasûlullah’s blessed wives are the Mothers of Muslims, marrying them, that is, marrying our Mothers, is harâm. It is purported in three verses:
(O you who believe! It is not permissible for you to marry Rasûlullah’s wives.) [Sûrat-ul-Ahzâb, 53]
(Rasûlullah's wives are Mumins’ Mothers.) [Sûrat-ul-Ahzâb, 6]
(O wives of the Prophet! You are not like other women. Guard yourselves against violating Allah’s commandments! Do not be soft and charming in your speech lest he in whose heart is a disease yearns. Always speak in a serious manner.) [Sûrat-ul-Ahzâb, 32]
In that âyat, while it is not permissible for the wives of Rasûlullah (sall-Allahu alaihi wa sallam,) to speak softly, how can it be permissible for other women? Seeing that there may even be people who have a desire for our blessed Mothers, may there not be people with such a desire for other women?
As it is not permissible for women to let their voices be heard by nâ-mahram men without necessity, so it is not permissible for women to look at them.
It is purported in an âyat:
(Tell, also, the Believing women to guard their eyes [from looking at nâ-mahram men].) [Sûrat-un-Nûr, 31]
The following are purported in pertinent hadîth-i sharîfs:
(It is harâm for men to look at women and for women to look at men [with lust].) [Tabarânî]
(When you see a nâ-mahram woman, turn your face away from her.) [Abû Dâwud]
(It is harâm to listen to a singing woman and to look at her face.) [Tabarânî]
(It is the fornication of the eyes to look at nâ-mahram women.) [Bukhârî]
Umm-i Salama (radiy-Allahu ‘anhâ), our blessed Mother, narrates:
When we were with the Messenger of Allah, Ibn-i-Umm-i-Maktûm (radiy-Allahu ‘anh) asked for permission and came in. When the Messenger of Allah saw him, he said to us, “Withdraw behind the curtain!” When I said, “Is he not blind? He will not see us,” the Messenger of Allah answered, “Are you blind, too? Do you not see him?” That is, he meant, “He may be blind, but you are not.” (Tirmudhî, Abû Dâwud)
It is purported in an âyat:
(When you ask Rasûlullah’s wife for anything you want, ask them from behind a curtain.) [Sûrat-ul-Ahzâb, 53]
Just as it is sinful to look at nâ-mahram, so it is sinful to talk them. It is purported in two hadîth-i sharîfs:
(O you women! Talk to only your mahrams; don’t talk to your nâ-mahrams.) [Râmûz, Ibni Sa’îd]
(He who talks to a nâ-mahram woman lustfully will be tortured in Hell for each word.) [R.Nâsihîn]
Because it is not permissible for women to speak loudly or softly and to let their voices be heard by nâ-mahrams, it is not permissible for them to say the adhân and the iqâmat. (Radd-ul-mukhtâr)
A young woman must not greet nâ-mahram men and must not say anything to a man who has sneezed. If she is said, she does not respond. (Hamawî’s Commentary to Asbah)
It is harâm for women to let their voices be heard by nâ-mahram men. Some scholars state that when the necessity arises it is permissible for women to talk to nâ-mahram men gravely and seriously as much as necessary, but it still is not permissible for women to talk to them more than necessary. (Tazkiya-i Ahl-i Bayt)
Sounds of musical instruments and voices of women are not simâ’, but ghinâ’, and they are harâm. (Durr-ul-Ma’ârif)
[simâ’: a voice without instrumental music is called simâ’; ghinâ’: a human voice accompanied with instrumental music is called ghinâ’ (that is, music)]
Allahu ta'âlâ prohibits women from talking to nâ-mahram men softly. (Maktûbât-i Rabbânî, vol. III, p. 41)
It is gravely sinful for women to go out with bare head, hair, arms, and legs, to let their voice be heard by nâmahram men without necessity, to sing to them, to let them hear their voices by reading Qur’ân al-karîm or by reciting the mawlid or the adhân. Women are permitted to talk to nâmahram men seriously in a manner that will not cause fitna when there is necessity such as buying and selling. (Targhîb-us-salât, Hadîqa, Endless Bliss)