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I hang around with Muslims more nowadays; sometimes we go out for meals or get coffee or something, and I offer to pay. There's a range of reasons for doing so, partly just to be nice, partly to do a good deed, partly because I'm kind of Chinese now and it's a Chinese custom, and partly because of feminist beliefs. Sometimes it's because I've invited people out.

However, every time I've offered to buy a Muslim man a coffee or pay for a meal, he's awkwardly refused. Each time I've been given a strange look as if I've broken some kind of boundary. Basically, my question is is this a Muslim thing? Or, more formally:

Question: Is there an Islamic reason non-mahram Muslim men refuse to let me buy them e.g. coffee or a meal?

This has happened three times now. It's possible I'm reading too much into this, and this may be unproblematic in Islam, and just happened in those particular cases. It's possible it's impermissible and I'm unaware. Or maybe it's something along the lines of hayaa (shyness).

  • I think for similar reasons as you want to pay beside an exaggerated understanding of men being in charge of women. So maybe its a mix of cultural and quasi islamic views. What is the nationality or background of these guys?
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 14:56
  • 1
    2x Iran; 1x Pakistan. Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 15:06

3 Answers 3


Islam dictates both genders to be careful and not get a certain degree of friendly comfort with a non-Maharam. And buying or receiving food could to some be perceived as that.

It is subjective and a Muslim is obligated to refrain/be safe from things (e.g. talking) which they think could lead them to transgress the boundaries set by Islam. Hence the Islamic reason. Which could vary from one to another.

A bit of an extension, Allah definitely rewards good intentions irrespective of whether it could be rendered or not.


In addition to the general Hayaa thing which is vital and I think you know of it.

It's dishonorable for a man to have a lady pay. It's just that all women are to be treated in a ladily—queenly way. If you ever wanted to show kindness (while you are within the boundaries of Islam) you can do it in different ways, but paying for a man is a no no 😉.

A father may tell his son to go and put the trashes out, wash the car, move these heavy boxes but he would be dishonoring himself if he tells his daughter to do such. Even if he is sick he would rather do it himself. Different things are expected from different genders. Who's better? ان اکرمکم عند الله اتقاکم

Having that said, while there is nothing wrong with socialization, it's almost always difficult to have easy casual halal communication with a non-mahram. It's best to have it limited. But then you're a convert and studying the process of how Prophet Muhammad brought Islam ( to people who weren't Muslims before he came) you can see that he did things in steps. He wanted change but knew it couldn't be accomplished in days. It took decades.


No It isn't related to Islam. I know at least this is an old culture in Iran and It had been before Islamic revolution in Iran.these kind of behaviors are based on patriarchal society which says men are responsible for providing economic supports for their family. so there is a view in society that usually boys and men pay restaurant bill. but it doesn't mean that you shouldn't give him back your share.(it isn't good if you forget to pay your share) In our friend group still there are these behaviors when there are boys in our group, usually they pay the cafe bill and after that we pay back them our shares.

  • Same behavior and culture exists in Pakistan in this regard..
    – mmushtaq
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 9:25
  • "these kind of behaviors are based on patriarchal society which says men are responsible for providing economic supports for their family." That's what Islam says.
    – G. Bach
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 12:03
  • @G.Bach Islam doesn't say men must pay restaurant bill. we should consider that Islam emerged in a society that women didn't have even small rights. so it emerged in a patriarchal society. Islam should refine when time pass. I think patriarchal society causes these cultures formed Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 12:57

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