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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The female voice

The female voice, according to Islam, is also included in the category of Satar, i.e. it has to be ‘concealed’ and NOT ‘revealed’. Since the female voice is an entity NOT to be displayed or advertised, it is NOT permissible for males to listen to women singing or even reciting the Quran …

When necessity demands that they have to speak to males then their speech should not be attractive, gently and alluring like the deliberate ‘lure’ put in speech by ‘trained’ women of the disbelievers. Recognizing the danger of allurement in the female voice, the Quran commands women thus:

"…then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honorable manner." (Al-Ahzab 33:32)

Van de Velde in his book Ideal Marriage, states:

"The tone-color of a voice, and the intonation of single word - and it may be word of no special meaning or association in itself - may excite incredible intensity of desire. The unique and precious significance that a woman’s voice can give to ‘you’ or ‘thou’ can suffice to overwhelm man’s power of endurance and control…"

Islam has, hence, FORBIDDEN its women to speak in a soft or "sexually" sweet tone. Islam COMMANDS the concealment of the female voice and prohibits its display in public. If anyone is aware of the springs of sex-psychology he will clearly see the justification for Islam’s restriction in this matter.

Women's Voice -
In brief, what the fuqaha' (scholars of Islamic law) have said about women's voices is that they are not 'awrah in and of themselves. They say there is nothing wrong with listening to them when there is a need to do so. Therefore the fuqaha' do not forbid listening to them, but certain conditions do apply:
The woman should speak without elongating the words, making her voice soft, or raising her voice. It is haraam (unlawful) for a man to listen with enjoyment, for fear of fitnah (trials & tribulations).

The decisive factor for knowing what is haraam in the matter of women's speaking is what is included in the aayah (verse):

"O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allaah), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner." (Al-Ahzab 33:32)

What is forbidden is being too soft in speech. It is obligatory for women to speak in an honourable manner, which means, as the mufassireen (scholars of interpreting the Holy Quran) explained, that they should not make their voices soft when addressing men.

In conclusion, what is required of The Muslim Woman when she speaks to a non-mahram man is that she should adhere to what is mentioned in this aayah.

She should refrain from what is forbidden and should fulfill her duties. She should speak only when necessary, and only about matters that are permissible and honourable, not evil. Between a woman and a non-mahram man there should be no intonation, gestures, chat, joking, flirting or playful talk, so that there will be no room for provocation of desires and doubts. Women are not prevented from talking to non-mahram men when it is necessary to do so, such as dealing directly with them when buying things or conducting any other financial transaction, because in such cases it is necessary for both parties to speak.

A woman may also ask a scholar about some legal Islamic matter, or a man may ask a woman such questions, as is proven in various texts of the Quran and Sunnah.

Within the guidelines described above, there is nothing wrong with a woman speaking to a non-mahram man, but this it must be free of anything that may provoke desire in the person in whose heart is a disease, so as to be safe from fitnah and pay attention to the regulations outlined above.


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