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Last Updated: 2012/01/19
Summary of question
Does mixing genders in universities have any logic behind it?
question
Does mixing genders in universities have any logic behind it? Why are we exposing our youth to sin with our own hands?
Concise answer

Thorough analysis of these complications or the benefits of mixed gender universities calls for vast sociological research and statistical surveys, etc., which is beyond the scope of this article, thus we will briefly address some of the most important points in this regard. The responsibilities and methods for countering these problems can be categorized into two groups:

1- Individual responsibilities and methods: The first step is for the university student to precisely be aware of Islamic values, teachings and rulings and instill them in himself.

2- Collective responsibilities and methods: If it is the concern of the students to protect themselves, they cannot be indifferent about their surroundings, because the effect of the environment cannot be overlooked and denied. Therefore, it is upon the students to refine the environment they are in and aspire to spread divine values in the university environment specifically, and in society in general, and to uphold the obligation of enjoining good and forbidding evil using the nicest and most suitable methods they can.

Detailed Answer

In the beginning, we would like to thank you for your letter, which we think can be the start of a fruitful dialogue and prepare the grounds for aiding you truth seeking students pursuing purity and righteousness. We hope that the points mentioned will be of benefit and convincing for you.

In our humble opinion, and given the existing realities in a number of universities, where values and Islamic etiquette aren't completely observed, and also considering the problems and complications that stem from such, all of which aren’t befitting of the holy environment of the university which is a place of knowledge, the mixing of boys and girls in universities entails certain drawbacks and disadvantages, although the mixing of genders in a class isn't haram per se if the two sides observe religious boundaries.

Thorough analysis of these complications or the benefits of mixed gender universities calls for vast sociological research and statistical surveys, etc., which is beyond the scope of this article, thus we will briefly address some of the most important points in this regard:

a) Analysis and diagnosis of problems and deficiencies: Before delving into this section, it is important to note that the problems that will be listed below are based on certain presumptions such as the inability of establishing these Islamic values, lack of proper supervision and control by school officials, etc.

The most important ramifications of mixed gender universities are:

1- Sexual, social and moral perversion as a result of not observing Islamic boundaries such as proper hijab, etc.

2- Academic and learning deficiency due to distraction of the student’s mind and attention, resulting in him not being able to listen to the professor or stay focused when studying.

3- Anxiety and worry because of not being able to satisfy sexual needs when aroused.

b) The pros: This section is also based on some presumptions, namely, in the case where the cons for mixed gender universities that we listed above don’t exist or are at a minimal and insignificant level. If this presumption is not met, then these pros will no longer hold and cannot balance out those cons. The pros will no longer have any priority compared to those cons and resolving the problems stemming from them. In any event, the most important pros some may present for mixed gender universities are:

1- Financial benefits such as: cutting costs and saving on budgets, time of the professor, classrooms and other facilities of the university.

2- Practicing self restraint and piety, chastity and modesty and doing serious struggle with the self in the ‘battlefield’.

3- Getting familiar with the opposite gender and gaining theoretical and practical experience.

4- Finding a good life partner and one’s match in status for marriage.

Of course, as was mentioned, it is clear that if the problems mentioned earlier also exist in such an environment (which is most probably the case), then these pros are in no way defendable. It might be correct to say that the only place these pros truly might exist is in some levels of education, and in married students.

c) Analysis of the responsibilities and methods to use for countering problems coming from mixing genders in universities: In a nutshell, the responsibilities and methods for countering these problems can be categorized into two groups:

1- Individual responsibilities and methods: University students must first be aware of Islamic values, teachings and rulings and instill them in themselves. The supreme leader says in this regard: “What is important for university students is the development of religious faith and Islamic thought in their hearts and minds and the strengthening of the spirit of submission in them. Submission is in no way in conflict with logical argumentation and inclination towards reasonable issues, or believing in science and scientific and university activity. It is truly an honor for the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation that in the days of beedh of the month of Rajab, the masjid of Tehran University is host to students participating in the rite of I’tikaf. This is very important.”[1] The mission of the Muslim student is to act upon the guidance of the supreme leader and to secondly, be committed to practicing divine values and rulings. One of the other things that can be effective in this regard is for students to link with religious centers and especially religious scholars.

2- Social and collective responsibilities and methods: If it is the concern of the students to protect themselves, they cannot be indifferent about their surroundings, because the effect of the environment cannot be overlooked and denied. Therefore, it is upon the students to refine the environment they are in and aspire to spread divine values in the university environment specifically, and in society in general, and to uphold the obligation of enjoining good and forbidding evil using the nicest and most suitable methods they can. By holding cultural and recreational events that are healthy and constructive through the centers in universities, and by encouraging the students to observe religious limits and boundaries when it comes to the opposite gender, and also by explaining the reasoning behind certain Islamic rulings, they can instill these Islamic values in the university, and if God forbid, inappropriate actions are seen, they can refer to university officials or sign petitions and ask for change to take place.

As for the fatwas of the grand maraji’ regarding interaction between non-mahram girls and boys[2]:

All of the maraji’ (except Ayatullahs Bahjat and Safi): If sinful gazing doesn’t take place and there is no fear of falling into sin, it is permissible. Nonetheless, it is befitting that the officials of Islamic states make plans to segregate between the two genders in educational centers.[3]

Ayatullahs Bahjat and Safi: Since the mixing of boys and girls puts them on the verge of sinning, it is not permissible.[4]



[1] Adopted from the Porseman software, with some adjustment and additions.

[2] Porseman software

[3] Ayatullah Khamenei, istifta’s 638 and 646; Ayatullah Tabrizi, Istifta’at, questions 1592 and 1623; Ayatullah Makarim, Istifta’at, vol. 1, question 812; Imam Khomeini, Istifta’at, vol. 3, the social responsibilities of women, question 19; The offices of Ayatullahs Nuri Hamedani, Wahid, Fazel and Sistani.

[4] Ayatullah Safi, Jame’ al-Ahkam, vol. 2, questions 1656, 1657 and 1658 and the office of Ayatullah Bahjat.

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