Is it permitted to attend gatherings where members of the opposite gender are present?
The Sharia establishes principles regulating relations between human beings in order to allow for societal interactions that are in accordance with Islamic values. Many scholars accept that mixed gatherings are not essentially prohibited. However, they accept that interactions between opposite genders can sometimes be a prelude to a prohibited act (muqaddimat al-ḥarām), such as adultery. They also justify this position using a juristic principle known as sadd al-dharāʾ. According to this principle, it is necessary to block the means of a prohibited act in order to prevent the act itself.
However, others have argued that Sharia has laid down rules for interaction between genders implying that such interactions are allowed, since had it been absolutely prohibited, there would have been no prescribed conditions and guidance in the Qur’an. Qur’anic injunctions order both men and women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts (24:30). It also instructs women to wear garments that cover their bodies (33:33) and speak in a manner that does not incite lust (33:32). Adherence to these regulations minimises the risk of unlawful relations. Accordingly, attending mixed gatherings, for example, weddings and birthdays is permitted provided that the Sharia stipulated boundaries are not transgressed. Nonetheless, on should refrain from attending mixed gatherings in instances when individuals fear that they may commit an immoral act.