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Women and Swimming

Answered by Shaykh Mufti Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf

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QUESTION: Is it permissible under any circumstances for a group of Muslim women to organise women-only swimming lessons at a public swimming pool. If so, how does one reconcile the ahadith referring to women not visiting ''public baths''? This is bearing in mind that, if it is impermissible, it would be practically impossible for those women to learn how to swim.


Assalamu alaykum

In the name of Allah the Inspirer of truth.

Yes, technically it would be permissible to host a private all-women's swimming class. However, this is only permissible if done with extreme caution and certain conditions are met.

It has been observed that even in many women's gyms and health clubs the maintenance people and janitors are males who come in and out at their discretion. In some cases the security people who watch the cameras in the swimming area are also males or the front doors are left open where passers by can look inside. Due to security and insurance reasons these cameras are on all the time and can be accessed by males. These are some of the issues that need to be dealt with.

Furthermore, the parts of the body which are considered nakedness in front of other Muslim women should not be exposed in front of them, and as per the Hanafi school, even the hair cannot be uncovered in front of non-Muslim women, which means it would most probably have to be an all Muslim women activity. [See previous posts for complete rulings on awra]. Suitable loose clothing will have to be worn that does not compromise the limits of the awra [hence regular swimming costumes are out].

Another problem is women bringing cameras and camcorders to such sessions to snap the first stroke of their children or otherwise. The pictures of others are sometimes caught in these and then these recordings find there way to the homes where other members of the family can gain access to them.

Therefore, if complete privacy can be maintained and the above-mentioned concerns can be worked out, then it would be permissible to hold such sessions.

As regards the hadith prohibiting women from entering in hammams, 'Allama Haskaf explains that the prohibition is when there is nakedness in such places. However, if the awra is not exposed then it is permissible (see al-Durr al-Mukhtar ma'a Radd al-Muhtar 5:32).

And Allah knows best.


Abdurrahman Mangera, www.whitethreadpress.com

[Source: SunniPath]


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