Other clerics made similar remarks about the use of WhatsApp.
Kuwaiti cleric Sheikh Othman Al-Khamis said mixed WhatsApp university class groups are not permissible in Islam, Kuwaiti media reported on Monday.
“It is not permissible to have a mixed university WhatsApp group of men and women, young men and women…shaytan [the devil] is present,” said Al-Khamis, noting that the group’s purpose should be limited to class updates rather than daily conversations.
However, the controversial fatwa, or Muslim ruling, sparked an online conversation among the people of the Gulf region.
“Whether you agree with him [Al-Khamis] or disagree, this is something that is up to you, but to pretend to be shocked, then you are being illogical,” said one Twitter user.
Another social media user said:”If the WhatsApp group is for studying or work purposes, there is nothing wrong with each one representing himself and his education, whether students studying in Kuwait or abroad.”
She added that mixing does exist in universities and workplaces yet there is still a need for WhatsApp groups for colleagues in both settings to communicate easily.
Meanwhile, others responded to the fatwa with mockery, with one Twitter user saying: “Alhamdulillah [Praise be to God] I graduated before the fatwa was out.”
Another said:”I just found out that the devil has WhatsApp.”
Some people have also questioned the fatwa, given that both genders mix freely in public settings, such as work, restaurants, and shopping malls.
However, traditionally, segregation is encouraged according to some interpretations of Islamic narrations.
Al-Khamis is not the first Muslim cleric to issue such ruling, as other clerics made similar remarks about the mere use of WhatsApp.
Previously, Sheikh Suleiman Al-Rahili ruled that anything that distracts a believer from their basic duties is considered haram, or forbidden.
Al-Rahili pointed to government employees who are distracted by such platforms during work hours instead of serving those who come to them.
He also said the same ruling applies to distraction from their Muslim duties, such as reading the holy Quran or praying.