There’s a phenomenon that I’ve observed, especially amongst Arabs, who when they want to cross the threshold of what is normally appropriate in Arab and Islamic culture, they say, “He is like a brother to me” or “she is like a sister to me.” A friend of mine married an Arab girl who literally used to call him “brother” to cross that threshold. Not only, is this incorrect and categorically forbidden in Islam because Allah forbade that you take anyone as a relative who is not a relative, a son who isn’t a son, a daughter who isn’t a daughter, and a brother who isn’t a brother, but it is also inherently dishonest. There are several verses which speak directly to the topic:
Let your adopted children keep their family names. That is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers, then they are ˹simply˺ your fellow believers and close associates. There is no blame on you for what you do by mistake, but ˹only˺ for what you do intentionally. And Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (33:5)
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and not to display their charms [in public] beyond what may [decently] be apparent thereof; hence, let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms. And let them not display [more of] their charms to any but their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ Sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their womenfolk, or those whom they rightfully possess, or such male attendants as are beyond all sexual desire, or children that are as yet unaware of women’s nakedness; and let them not swing their legs [in walking] so as to draw attention to their hidden charms And [always], O you believers – all of you – turn unto God in repentance, so that you might attain to a happy state! (24:31)
The Qur’an is internally consistent. An adopted son isn’t to be called by the name of his adopted father, but by his own father’s name or a fellow believer because his ‘sisters’ will have to observe modest dress in front of him when they are adults even though they grew up together. If this is the extent to which Allah goes in the Quran what still about people who haven’t grown up together in one household pretending as if they are family of one another without observing any boundaries?
Rather, they lie when they say a woman is ‘like my sister’ if by that they mean they now can drop any laws of modesty and decency that must exist between strange men and women who are not blood relatives and or married to each other. Male attendants who are beyond sexual desire are either extremely old or have impediments that prevent them from lusting after women or seeing them (blind). The Qur’an here isn’t talking about a man being alone with the woman, it is only talking about which men are allowed to see her without her Khimar. What still about a strange man being alone with a woman to socialize? What still about men and women who are not relatives hugging and kissing each other? How would that fit in any of the moral ethos taught in the Qur’an? Simply it won’t. In fact, the Qur’an is so conservative regarding this matter, it even categorizes whom you can eat with and where!
There is no restriction on the blind, or the disabled, or the sick.1 Nor on yourselves if you eat from your homes,2 or the homes of your fathers, or your mothers, or your brothers, or your sisters, or your paternal uncles, or your paternal aunts, or your maternal uncles, or your maternal aunts, or from the homes in your trust, or ˹the homes of˺ your friends. There is no blame on you eating together or separately. However, when you enter houses, greet one another with a greeting ˹of peace˺ from Allah, blessed and good.3 This is how Allah makes His revelations clear to you, so perhaps you will understand.
In terms of Islam and the Qur’an, even for those modern Muslims who say they only take what the Qur’an says seriously and nothing else, the matter is clear. However, what about common sense, experience, and the reality on the ground within such relationships where proper boundaries aren’t observed? What is frequently the result thereof?
The vast majority of men befriend women because they want to sleep with them. The biological imperative in people is stronger than the instinct to survive. Meaning, almost 95% of all gender interactions can be understood in terms of the need to mate. Allah made the instinct and need to mate uppermost because if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t perpetuate the species and we would not exist now. The problem is we lie to ourselves about our motives. Unless a woman is a professor in a particular field a man is interested in, works in the same industry, and provides genuine insight into something of common interest, there is zero incentive for a man to engage with a woman outside of the need to mate with her. Even then, if a relationship forms and the man experiences a bond with the woman, or more likely than not, the woman experiences a bond with the man it is detrimental to her. Why?
I have lost count how many times I have ran into older women who are single, who have best male friends and do not understand why no one ever attempted to commit to them. The reason is very simple: A guy knows that a male friend is a backburner guy or has a lowkey interest in sleeping with his female friend but hasn’t gotten around to resolving the issues of their relationship. He also knows that the woman gets emotional candy from him, that she may feel deeply connected to him emotionally and that she enjoys the intimacy she shares with him even if non-sexual. Since women, do not typically have sex with any guy without first experiencing emotional intimacy, she has literally taken the first step towards sex with every male friend she experiences emotional intimacy with. No guy wants a woman who has that level of exposure to become his wife because he can foresee and predict endless intimacy problems and drama with her since she is in principle ‘messed up’ by having several intimate relationships with several men even though it is nonsexual. Male attention for a woman gives her a dopamine spike, it becomes a drug she is addicted to. Also, the emotional intimacy with a man isn’t ‘truly’ nonsexual. It is actually just an elaborate mating dance.
What men do to women that they make their ‘sisters’ is in effect cheat them. They are giving them the emotional attention, making them feel good, offering them their love and support without offering to marry them. What is left of that woman for marriage is only ‘sex’ and nothing else. She already gets everything else from every one of her ‘brothers.’ As a result, she will not be able to let go of her brothers because she is addicted to the dopamine hit she gets from them in the form of the attention they give, the love they show her and the feel good that comes with it. However, none of them will ever marry her or commit to her because they also know that she’s getting what they give from everyone else. None of them want to really ‘take her on.’ They’ll just keep throwing her an affectionate bone, but that’s all she’ll get while they selfishly keep her ‘single.’ She in effect is never really ‘single’ and also never ‘married.’ They keep her stuck in-between. The only kind of sexual relationship she can have is a non-committed one, because any man who is going to commit will not want her male friends around. When you see a male best friend or ‘brother’ of a woman you should know that he isn’t honorable, wonderful, helpful or kind. No! He is none of those things. He is her downfall. He has usurped the right of her would be husband with nothing but illusions of fun and feel-good hormones.
Most men who hang around their female friends are using it as a mating strategy. It is not a bad mating strategy because it often does pay dividends. What they do is have between ten and twenty female friends, whom they keep in touch with regularly. Females are so gullible, that if a man just forwards her a message everyday, she thinks in her mind that he is thinking about her and gets all warm and fuzzy inside. In reality, he sends that same message to twenty other women, all who feel the same way. Once is a while, even if once a year, he will take her out when he is free. She is now his potential mate because he has gotten her used to him and she now trusts to be alone with him. One day when something terrible happens in her life, she feels vulnerable and alone, she’ll turn to him for emotional comfort- a shoulder to cry on- and that’s when he’ll sleep with her. He does that with several women, because that’s his mating strategy. He isn’t kind and sensitive, he just doesn’t have the balls to be honest.