Can I Attend a Mixed Gym?
Question: Salam Sheikh .. Is going to the gym here haram … It is mixed gender and there is music … But what if you don’t look at the women with lust and you don’t listen to the music?
Answer: Although exercise is heavily encouraged in Islam, the place and type of exercise must be halal. Hence, taking mixed dancing classes as a form of exercise would not be permissible.
But, the question is about going to a mixed gym. The two potential problems are addressed in the question: prohibited looking and music. The following article will address these two potential problems.
Since there are members of both genders present in the gym, the rules for dealing with the opposite sex will apply. Remember, merely looking at a member of the opposite sex is not prohibited in and of itself, rather there are conditions.
Sayyid Khamenei states that one cannot look at the hair and body of a non-mahram Muslim woman (excluding the face and hands and regardless of whether or not she wears hijab or not). But, there is no problem with looking at the parts of the body of a non-Muslim woman which are normally left uncovered in the society, conditioned upon the absence of lustful intentions and fear of falling into sin. Sayyid Sistani has a similar ruling, but he states that the ruling of looking at Muslim women who do not wear hijab is the same as what Sayyid Khamenei states regarding non-Muslim women. For further clarification refer to the following article: Can I look at the body of a non-hijabi woman?
If one’s eyes wander when he goes to the gym and finds himself falling into sin he should not attend. If one can control himself there would be no problem in this regard. But, he should not trick himself, for he is definitely not deceiving Allah.
The second issue is music. Certain types of music is haram to listen to. The music that would be haram would be music associated with haram gatherings – that is music that one feels moves them away from Allah, puts one in a mood where he thinks of sins, or puts one in a mood where he is more vulnerable to sin. It is important to note that this ruling is not subjective in the sense that if it is associated with haram gatherings and one does not feel it has these qualities for them personally it will still be prohibited.
Sayyid Khamenei states: Any music which is lahwi and mutrib in the common view — i.e., suitable for gatherings of merry making — is haram whether it is classic or not. To distinguish the subject of a ruling depends on the view of the mukallaf as a part of common people. There is no objection to other kinds of music in itself.
Sayyid Sistani states: Forbidden music is the music that is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings, even if it does not arouse sexual temptations. Permissible music is the music that is not suitable for such gatherings, even if it does not soothe the nerves like the martial music and that played at funerals.
That being said, there is a difference between listening and hearing haram music. Therefore, if one is in a place, such as a mall, gym, or even elevator where haram music is being played it does not mean he is committing a sin. One must not listen attentively to the music, but merely hearing it is not problematic. And again, don’t deceive yourself because you are not deceiving Allah.
Therefore, apparently, according to Sayyid Khamenei, if one does not engage in prohibited looks or listen to haram music than attending a mixed gym would be permissible. But, it is much better to find a gym that is not mixed where one can be comfortable and protect his religion, such as the Hardcore Gym in Sydney.
But, Sayyid Sistani prohibits it when answering this question: Is it haram for me to go to to a gym ( a training center for body builders) where women and men both can sign up for training there? It is nearly impoossible to find a gym that is only restricted for men, here in Scandinavia (Denmark). How should I act? He responded: It is not allowed. (source)
And Allah knows best.