Answered by Sidi Salman Younas
Question: I recently came across a hadith in English that says, “[t]he man must not be alone with a woman except in the presence of her mahram.” Would you happen to know the book of hadith in which this saying is found. I have not been able to locate it. Also, does “khalwa”, which I’m assuming the hadith pertains to, include a man and woman together in a public place?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
I pray you are well.
Ibn `Abbas said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) give a sermon. He said, ‘A man should not seclude himself with a woman except that there be with her someone who is of unmarriageable kin (mahram).'” [Bukhari, Muslim]
As for the situation you described, it would not be considered “seclusion” (khalwa). Seclusion is defined as a man and a woman, who are not unmarriageable kin (mahram), being alone in an enclosed area in such a way that a third party cannot easily enter upon them.
As such, a public place will not be considered a place of isolation, though one should take caution in their interaction with the opposite sex in such a setting, doing so only when there is benefit or need, while maintaining proper etiquette.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani