The following question was asked of a marja`:
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Master Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.
We have buildings in our midst named youth centres and bathhouses. This expression refers to large bathhouses and steam rooms that have designated times for women and men to attend separately.
There is much exposure of nakedness without reason especially among the women who disrobe in front of one another. This is in spite of the fact that the bathhouse owner has left out free garments that could be used by them to cover themselves during these times.
The question has to do with the fact that I am an owner of such a bathhouse and I fear that my sustenance might be impermissible due to this issue. Also keep in mind that I am Maliki in madhhab.
What is the ruling in this matter and what is the boundary of what is permitted and what is not in this regard? Please benefit us with what will give us a good end that Allah might seal you and I in the same way that His Purified and Saints were sealed. Amin.
Peace and blessings of Allah be upon our master Muhammad, his family and Companions.
The marja,` Imam `Abdur-Rahman Ash-Shami, may Allah preserve him, answered with what follows:
Women specifically don’t need to go to bathhouses and saunas in this current age of ours as it is easy enough for them to use steaming and bathhouse functions in their homes. In this age women’s going out to bathhouses and saunas is a source of manifest corruption.
Take the bathhouse that you own and convert it into a bathhouse exclusively for men and move on from that point.
It is necessary that you warn these men to uphold the standard of the Revealed Law in all their actions while on the premises with regard to covering nakedness.
If you are in a land where the houses have no place where ghusl and the like can be done – and this is very rare indeed – and the women desire to go and make ghusl or bathe, then there is no harm in them doing this insofar as they adhere to the principles of the Revealed Law; namely, there should be a partition or separation between the women’s and men’s quarters.
These bathhouses/saunas should have employees on hand in the women’s areas, assisting and enjoining them to maintain proper decorum and cover their nakedness in the presence of one another.