Mixed Schools and Talking to Other Students
Sheikh Abdurragman Khan answers the question of how to deal with the need to sit next to a person of the opposite sex in a mixed school.
Assalam alaikum Wa rakhmat Allah Wa barakatul.
I go to a mixed school, and in one of my classes I sit next to a boy. I do my best to avoid him, but is it okay if I talk to him from time to time, obviously staying in the limits?
Wa Alaikum Assalam Warahmat Allah Wa Barakatul.
I pray you’re well insha Allah. Jazakum Allah Khairan for your question, and may Allah reward you for taking care of your religious practice.
Unfortunately, mixed gender schools are currently part of most people's lives, and for some there are no alternatives. Therefore, religious people and groups must learn to deftly maneuver in the reality of their environment; to balance the often difficult task of maintaining firmness on clear principles of social behaviour, while at the same time trying not to isolate and repel others.
We often have to remind ourselves that the traditional gender barriers that religion places are no longer understood and not respected by most people, especially in the West. Of course, we must support these barriers, since they serve a necessary purpose, but we must also show sympathy for people to whom such formal interaction may seem strange or extreme. Recognizing this, at least, allows us to see and interact with other people mercifully and respectfully. Over time, they may even admire and appreciate the wisdom of our customs.
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In these situations one can only do everything possible, observing proper etiquette and modesty, while remaining sincere and good-natured. The Prophet, (SAW), said: "Do not be an extremist, but try to be on the verge of perfection and receive the good news that you will be rewarded." (Bukhari, Muslim)
Suggestions on Mixed Schools
You can ask the teacher if you can sit next to the female student.
If you must to sit next to a boy, just make sure you are properly covered and avoid physical contact. Talking from time to time to greet him or when it is necessary is good. Be natural and do not be harsh. It is also not his fault that he is sitting next to you!
You can also refer to this post: How to cope with free mixing in public schools,