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I have to ask whether a female can laugh in presence of non mehram men. I used to think that it's not correct as females must use stern or strict voice with men as is mentioned in Quran 33:32. In this verse, laughing is not mentioned but it seemed obvious to me that laughing is going against being having stern voice.

But recently while discussing this with someone, I realised that I may be wrong. He said that talking in loving manner is wrong but laughing is not wrong and it's not non-stern thing according to him, specially when the conversation is related to work only [casualness pops up even in work related talks].

So what's correct and how is it derived?

And what is its level of importance like farz, wajib, recommended or optional?

Jazakallah.

4 Answers 4

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The prohibition in the verse

فلا تخضعن بالقول فيطمع الذي في قلبه مرض وقلن قولا معروفا

Do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech.

Quran 33:32

Does include laughing in the presence of non-mahrams. As said by the fatwa on islamweb: 51874 and 45624 and 53890 etc. There is also an English fatwa on the site which gives a similar ruling, see 156067.

Below is a quote from one of these, 93537:

وأما ضحك ومزاح الأجنبي مع المرأة الشابة فهو من الأمور المحرمة لما فيه من إحداث الفتنة والخضوع بالقول، وقد قال الله سبحانه وتعالى: فَلا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلاً مَعْرُوفا {الأحزاب:32}، قال القرطبي في تفسيره: أي لا تلن القول، أمرهن الله تعالى أن يكون قولهن جزلا وكلامهن فصلا، ولا يكون على وجه يظهر في القلب علاقة بما يظهر عليه من اللين، كما كانت الحال عليه في نساء العرب من مكالمة الرجال. انتهى.

وقد نص بعض أهل العلم على أن تضاحك الأجنبية مع الأجنبي حرام يوجب تعزيرا،كما نص عليه صاحب مواهب الجليل بقوله: ومن تغامز مع أجنبية أو تضاحك معها ضربا عشرين. انتهى.

This essentially says that laughing and joking between a stranger and a young woman is forbidden, for it causes Fitnah and is softness of speech which is forbidden in verse 33:32. And that this verse teaches women to be stern and 'to the point' in their conversation with non-mahrams. And that some of the scholars, such as the author of Mawaahib al-Jaleel, have explicitly noted that laughing with non-mahrams is a forbidden matter on which a Ta'zeer can be carried out.

Similarly islamqa.info lists the etiquette of talking between non-mahram men and women, and it lists at number 2:

Avoiding joking and laughing; that is not part of etiquette and dignity.

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Women in general have been instructed to be in the homes unless there is a dire need to support the family financially with conditions.

“And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance.” [33:33]

How can laughing in presence of non mehram men permissible when intermingling of opposite sex itself is haraam? Islam doesn't permit women to work or study in schools or offices where intermingling of opposite sex happens.

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Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim. Alhamdulillahi rabbil-'alamin. Was-Salatu was-Salam 'ala Sayyidina wa Azimina, Wa Habibi Qulubina wa Shafii Nufusina, Abul Qasim Muhammad. Wa 'ala Ahli Bayti tayyibina tahireen.


In general laughter is something that is disliked (frowned upon) in manners of believers. It has negative affects to Iman of believers. Imams (asws) of Ahlul-bayt have set limits to it. Certain forms of laughter, like guffaw (loud bursts of laughter), is from Satan.

Imam Jafar As-Sadiq (AS) said following regarding the limits of laughter for believers

(It has been narrated) from Abu Abdullah (asws) having said: ‘The laughter of the Momin is a smile’

Al Kafi V 2 – The Book Of Social Relationships CH 23 H 5

So maximum believers should let themselves is a smile. It is best for them not to cross out this limit.

Following Hadith narration warns that abundant laughing negatively affects one's Iman.

(It has been narrated) from Abu Abdullah (asws) having said: ‘Abundant laughter deadens the heart’.

And he (asws) said: ‘Abundant laughter dissolves the Religion just as the water dissolves the salt’.

Al Kafi V 2 – The Book Of Social Relationships CH 23 H 6

Following Hadith narration states that guffaw (loud bursts of laughter) comes from Satan (la).

(It has been narrated) from Abu Abdullah asws having said: ‘The guffaw (loud bursts of laughter) is from the Satan (la)

Al Kafi V 2 – The Book Of Social Relationships CH 23 H 10

As guffaw (loud bursts of laughter) is from Satan, believers are instructed to seek protection in Allah from it

(It has been narrated) from Abu Ja’far (asws) having said: ‘When you guffaw (loud bursts of laughter), so say when you are free (from it), ‘O Allah (azwj)! Do not Detest me’’.

Al Kafi V 2 – The Book Of Social Relationships CH 23 H 13

So the conclusion is, it is not befitting for a woman to laugh in front of non mehram men.

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33:33 refers explicitlz to the wives of the prophet.

Women can be in mixed public in company of a maharam. This rule has been decreed for their protection.

Under this protection, a woman may do whatever is halal. Laughing is halal.

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