Shaking hands with a non-Mahram


Answered by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradhawi

Courtesy of IslamOnline.net

The Question:

Is it proven in the Glorious Qur’an or the Sunnah that shaking hands with women is totally prohibited within the social and family relations when there is trust and no fear of temptation?

The Answer:

There is no doubt that shaking hands between males and females who are not mahrams (illegal for marriage) has become an intricate issue. Reaching an Islamic verdict on this issue away from extremism and dispensation needs a psychological, intellectual, and scientific effort so that the Mufti gets rid of the pressure of all imported and inherited customs unless they are based on the textual proofs of the Qur’an or the Sunnah.

Before tackling the issue in point, I would like to exclude two points on which I know there is agreement among the Muslim jurists of the righteous predecessors.

Firstly, it is prohibited to shake hands with a woman if there is fear of provoking sexual desire or enjoyment on the part of either one of them or if there is fear of temptation. This is based on the general rule that blocking the means to evil is obligatory, especially if its signs are clear. This ruling is ascertained in the light of what has been mentioned by Muslim jurists that a man touching one of his mahrams or having khalwah (privacy) with her moves to the prohibited, although it is originally permissible, if there is fear of fitnah (temptation) or provocation of desire.

Secondly, there is a dispensation in shaking hands with old women concerning whom there is no fear of desire. The same applies to the young girl concerning whom there is no fear of desire or temptation. The same ruling applies if the person is an old man concerning whom there is no fear of desire. This is based on what has been narrated on the authority of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) that he used to shake hands with old women. Also, it is reported that `Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair hired an old woman to nurse him when he was sick, and she used to wink at him and pick lice from his head. This is also based on what has been mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an in respect of the old barren women, as they are given dispensation with regard to their outer garments. Almighty Allah says in this regard: “As for women past child bearing, who have no hope of marriage, it is no sin for them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show adornment. But to refrain is better for them. Allah is Hearer, Knower.” (An-Nur: 60)

Allah explains that there is no sin on the old barren women if they decide to remove their outer garments from their faces and such, so long as they do not do it in a manner in which they would be exposing their beauty wrongly.

Here the object of discussion deals with other than these two cases. There is no surprise that shaking hands with women is haram (unlawful) according to the viewpoint of those who hold that covering all of the woman’s body, including her face and the two hands, is obligatory. This is because if it becomes obligatory to cover the two hands, then it would become haram for the opposite sex to look at them. And, if looking at them is unlawful, then touching them would become haram with greater reason because touching is graver than looking, as it provokes desire more.

But it is known that the proponents of this view are the minority, while the majority of Muslim jurists, including the Companions, the Successors and those who followed them, are of the opinion that the face and the hands are excluded from the prohibition. They based their opinion on Almighty Allah’s saying, “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent …” (An-Nur: 31) So where is the evidence on prohibiting handshaking unless there is desire?

In fact, I searched for a persuasive and textual proof supporting the prohibition but I did not find it. As a matter of fact, the most powerful evidence here is blocking the means to temptation, and this is no doubt acceptable when the desire is roused or there is fear of temptation because its signs exist. But when there is no fear of temptation or desire, what is the reason for prohibition?

Some scholars based their ruling on the action of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on the day of the Conquest of Makkah. When he wanted to take the pledge of women he said to them, “Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.” But it is known that the Prophet’s leaving a matter does not necessarily indicate its prohibition, as he may leave it because it is haram (forbidden), makruh (reprehensible), or because it is not preferable. He may also leave it just because he is not inclined to it. An example of this last is the Prophet’s refraining from eating the meat of the lizard although it is permissible. Then, the Prophet’s refraining from shaking hands with women (other than his wives) is not evidence of the prohibition, and there should be other evidence to support the opinion of those who make shaking hands absolutely prohibited.

However, it is not agreed upon that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) refrained from shaking hands with women to take their oath of allegiance. Umm `Atiyyah Al-Ansariyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported another narrative that indicates that the Prophet shook hands with women to take their oath of allegiance. This is unlike the narration of the Mother of the Believers `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who denied this and swore that it had not happened.

It is narrated that `A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), said, “When the believing women migrated to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), they would be tested in accordance with the words of Allah, ‘O Prophet! If believing women come unto thee, taking oath of allegiance unto thee that they will ascribe nothing as partner unto Allah, and will neither steal nor commit adultery nor kill their children, nor produce any lie that they have devised between their hands and feet, nor disobey thee in what is right, then accept their allegiance and ask Allah to forgive them. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.’ (Al-Mumtahanah: 12)” `A’ishah said, “Whoever among the believing women agreed to that passed the test, and when the women agreed to that, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said to them, ‘Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.’ No, by Allah, the hand of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman, rather they would give their oath of allegiance with words only.” And `A’ishah said, “By Allah, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) only took the oath of allegiance from the women in the manner prescribed by Allah, and the hand of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman. When he had taken their oath of allegiance he would say, ‘I have accepted your oath of allegiance verbally.’” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

In his explanation of the saying of `A’ishah, “No, by Allah, the hand of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman …” Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar said: she swore to ascertain the news as if she (`A’ishah) wanted to refute the narration of Umm `Atiyyah. It is narrated on the authority of Ibn Hibban, Al-Bazzar, Al-Tabari, and Ibn Mardawih that Umm `Atiyyah said in respect of the story of taking the oath of allegiance of women, “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) held out his hand from outside the house and we (the immigrating women) held our hands from within the house, then he said, ‘O Allah, bear witness.’” In another narration reported by Al-Bukhari, Umm `Atiyyah said, “… thereupon a lady withdrew her hand (refrained from taking the oath of allegiance)…” This narration indicates that they (the immigrating women) took their oath of allegiance by shaking hands. Al-Hafizh said: we reply to the first saying that holding out hands from behind a veil is an indication of the acceptance of the allegiance even if there was no shaking of hands. As for the second narration, withdrawing hands indicates the postponement of accepting the pledge of allegiance or that taking the pledge of allegiance happened from behind a veil. This is supported by that narration of Abu Dawud on the authority of Al-Sha`bi that when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) wanted to take the pledge of allegiance of the immigrating women he brought a garment and put it over his hands saying, “I do not shake hands with women.” Furthermore, in his book Maghazi, Ibn Is-haq is reported to have said that when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) wanted to take the pledge of allegiance of the immigrating women, he would dip his hands in a vessel and a woman would dip her hands with him in the same vessel.

Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar said: it is possible that taking the pledge of allegiance happened on more than one occasion. Sometimes, it happened without touching hands by any means, as narrated by `A’ishah. Another time it happened that the women’s oath of allegiance was accepted by shaking their hands with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), as narrated by Al-Sha`bi. A third time it happened that they dipped their hands in the vessel as mentioned by Ibn Is-haq.

The most correct view seems to be that it occurred on more than one occasion, if we realize that `A’ishah talked about taking the pledge of allegiance from the immigrating women after the Truce of Al-Hudaibiyah, while Umm `Atiyyah talked about what seems to be the oath of allegiance of the believing women in general.

By transmitting these narrations, I mean to clarify that the evidence of those who are of the opinion that shaking hands with women is prohibited is not agreed upon, as is thought by those who do not resort to the original sources. Rather, there is some controversy concerning this evidence.

Furthermore, some contemporary Muslim scholars have based their ruling concerning the prohibition of shaking hands with women on the Hadith narrated by Al-Tabari and Al-Baihaqi on the authority of Ma`qil ibn Yassar that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “It would be better for one of you to have himself stabbed on the head with an iron needle than to touch a woman that is illegal for him.”

Here, the following should be noted:

1. The scholars and Imams of Hadith have not declared the authenticity of this Hadith. Some of them say that its narrators are trustworthy, but this is not enough to prove the authenticity of the Hadith because there is a probability that there is an interruption in the chain of narrators or there was a hidden cause behind this Hadith. That is why Muslim jurists in the periods that followed the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) have not based their ruling on the prohibition of shaking hands with women on this Hadith.

2. Some Hanafi and Maliki jurists stated that the prohibition is not proven unless there is a certain qat`i (definitive) piece of evidence such as textual proofs from the Glorious Qur’an or authentic Hadiths on which there is no suspicion regarding the chains of narrators.

3. If we suppose that the above-mentioned Hadith is authentic, it is unclear to me that the Hadith indicates that it is prohibited for males and females who are not mahrams to shake hands. That is because the phrase “touch a woman that is illegal for him” does not refer to the mere touching without desire as happens in normal handshaking. But the Arabic word “al-mass” (touching) as used in the Shar`i texts of the Qur’an and the Sunnah refers to one of two things:

1. Sexual intercourse, as reported by Ibn `Abbas in his commentary to Almighty Allah’s saying, ‘… or ye have touched women …’. He stated that “touching” in the Qur’an refers figuratively to sexual intercourse. This is clear in the following Qur’anic verses that read: “She (Mary) said: ‘My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me?’” (Al `Imran: 47) and “If ye divorce them before ye have touched them …” (Al-Baqarah: 237)

2. Actions that precede sexual intercourse such as foreplay, kissing, hugging, caressing, and the like. This is reported from our righteous predecessors in the interpretation of the word “mulamasah”.

Al-Hakim stated in his Al-Mustadrak `Ala as-Sahihain: Al-Bukhari and Muslim have narrated many Hadiths that show that the meaning of the word “lams” (touching) refers to actions that precede sexual intercourse. Among them are:

a) The Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “…The hands fornicate. Their fornication is the touch …”

b) The Hadith narrated by Ibn `Abbas that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “You might caress her.”

c) The Hadith narrated by Muslim that Ibn Mas`ud is reported to have said that a person came to Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and told him that he had kissed a woman or touched her with his hand or did something like this. He inquired of him about its expiation. It was (on this occasion) that Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, revealed this Qur’anic verse that reads “Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo! good deeds annul ill deeds …” (Hud: 114)

d) `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) is reported to have said, “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) used to visit us (his wives) and it was his habit to kiss and caress us and do actions other than sexual intercourse until he reached the one whose turn was due and he stayed there.”

e) `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud is reported to have said in his commentary to Almighty Allah’s saying, “… or ye have touched women, …” that it refers to actions that precede sexual intercourse for which ablution is obligatory.

f) `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said, “Kissing is to be considered among the touching acts, so perform ablution if you do.” (Al-Mustadrak, vol. 1, p. 135)

Hence, the opinion of Imam Malik and the substantial meaning of the legal verdict issued by Imam Ahmad in this respect are that the touching of a woman that nullifies ablution is that which is accompanied by desire. And this is the way they interpreted Almighty Allah’s saying, “… or ye have touched women, …”

That is why Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taimiyah regarded as weak the opinion of those who interpreted “mulamasah” or (touching) in the Qur’anic verse to mean mere touching without desire. In this regard, he says, “As for the nullification of ablution with mere touching, it does agree with the original rulings of the Shari`ah, the unanimous agreement of the Companions and the traceable traditions reported in this respect. Moreover, those who held this opinion have not based their ruling on a textual proof or an analogical deduction.”

So, if “touching” in Almighty Allah’s saying “… or ye have touched women, …” refers to touching with hands, kissing or the like, as said by Ibn `Umar and others, then it is known that when “touching” is mentioned in the Qur’an or the Sunnah it refers to that which is accompanied by desire. We would like to cite here the following verse that reads, “… and touch them not, while ye are in retreat in the mosques …” Here, it is not prohibited for the one who retreats to the mosque for devotion and worship to touch his wife without desire, but touching that is accompanied by desire is prohibited.

Also, this includes the Qur’anic verses that read “O ye who believe! If ye wed believing women and divorce them before ye have touched them, then there is no period that ye should reckon …” (Al-Ahzab: 49) “It is no sin for you if ye divorce women while yet ye have not touched them …” (Al-Baqarah: 236) For if he (the husband) touches his wife without desire, then the waiting period is not required and he is not required to pay her the whole dowry, according to the agreement of all Muslim scholars.

So, whoever assumes that Almighty Allah’s saying, “… or ye have touched women, …” includes general touching without desire has exceeded far beyond the language of the Qur’an and that of people. For if “touching” in which a man and a woman are included is mentioned, it is known that it refers to touching with desire. Similarly, if “sexual intercourse” in which a man and a woman are included is mentioned, it is well known that it refers to actual sexual intercourse and nothing else. (See the collection of Fatawa Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taimiyah, vol. 21, pp. 223-224)

In another context, Ibn Taimiyah stated: The Companions had debate regarding Almighty Allah’s saying, “… or ye have touched women, …”. Ibn `Abbas, supported by a group, held the opinion that touching here refers to sexual intercourse and added: Allah is modest and generous. He euphemizes with what He wills in respect of what He wills. Ibn Taimiyah added: This opinion is believed to be the most correct.

The Arabs disagreed regarding the meaning of touching: does it refer to sexual intercourse or actions that precede it? The first group said that it refers to sexual intercourse, while the second said that it refers to actions that precede it. They sought the arbitration of Ibn `Abbas, who supported the opinion of the first group and regarded that of the second as incorrect.

By transmitting all these sayings, I mean to show that when the word “al-mass” or “al-lams” (touching) is used to mean what a man does to a woman, it does not refer to mere touching but rather refers to either sexual intercourse or actions that precede it such as kissing, hugging, and any touching of the like that is accompanied by desire and enjoyment.

However, if we investigate the sahih (sound) Hadiths that are narrated from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), we will conclude that the mere touching of hands between a man and a woman without desire or fear of temptation is not prohibited. Rather, it was done by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), whose actions are originally a source of legislation. Almighty Allah says: “Verily in the Messenger of Allah ye have a good example …” (Al-Ahzab: 21). It is narrated on the authority of Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said, “Any of the female slaves of Madinah could take hold of the hand of Allah’s Messenger and take him wherever she wished.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

The above mentioned Hadith is a great sign of the modesty of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Furthermore, it is reported in the two Sahihs that Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to visit Umm Hiram bint Milhan, who would offer him meals. Umm Hiram was the wife of `Ubadah ibn As-Samit. Allah’s Messenger once visited her and she provided him with food and started looking for lice in his head. Then Allah’s Messenger slept putting his head in her lap, and afterwards woke up smiling. Umm Hiram asked, ‘What causes you to smile, O Allah’s Messenger?’ He said, ‘Some of my followers who (in a dream) were presented before me as fighters in Allah’s Cause (on board a ship) amidst this sea cause me to smile; they were as kings on thrones …’”

Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar has mentioned lessons that are deduced from this Hadith: The guest is permitted to nap in a house other than his own on condition that he is given permission and there is no fear of fitnah. According to this Hadith a woman is also permitted to serve the guest by offering him a meal, drink or the like. Furthermore, a woman is permitted to look for lice in his head, but this last was an object of controversy. Ibn `Abd Al-Barr said, “I think that Umm Hiram or her sister Umm Sulaim had breast-fed the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). So, each one of them had become his foster mother or his foster aunt. That was why he (the Prophet) used to sleep in her house and she used to deal with him as one of her mahrams.” Then he (Ibn `Abd Al-Barr) mentioned what indicates that Umm Hiram was one of the Prophet’s mahrams, as she was one of his relatives from his maternal aunts, since the mother of `Abd Al-Muttalib, his grandfather, was from Banu An-Najjar.

Others said that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was infallible and could control his sexual desires even from his wives, so what about other women who were illegal for him while he was granted infallibility from doing any wrong action or obscenity? This was one of his distinctive traits.

Al-Qadi `Iyad replied that the distinctive traits of the Prophet are not proven by personal interpretations of Hadiths. As for his infallibility, it is indisputable, but the original ruling is that it is permissible to take the Prophet’s actions as a model unless there is evidence that this action is one his distinctive traits.

Furthermore, Al-Hafizh Al-Dumyati said: It is wrong to claim that Umm Hiram was one of the maternal aunts of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) either by reason of marriage or fosterage. Those who breast-fed the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) are well known. None of them was from the Ansar except the mother of `Abd Al-Muttalib. She was Salma bint `Amr ibn Zaid ibn Lubaid ibn Khirash ibn `Amir ibn Ghunm ibn `Adyy ibn An-Najjar. While Umm Hiram is the daughter of Milhan ibn Khalid ibn Zaid ibn Judub ibn `Amir ibn Ghunm ibn `Adyy ibn An-Najjar. Umm Hiram has a common ancestor with Salma only in their grandfather `Amir ibn Ghunm. So, they are not among his mahrams because it is a metaphorical relationship. Al-Hafizh Al-Dumyati added: If this is proven, it is reported in the Sahih books of Hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used not to enter any house in Madinah except the house of Umm Sulaim besides those of his wives. When he was asked why, he said, “I take pity on her, as her brother (Hiram ibn Milhan) was killed in my company.”

If this Hadith has excluded Umm Sulaim, then Umm Hiram is granted the same exclusion as her because they are sisters and resided in the same house; each one of them had her own apartment beside their brother Hiram ibn Milhan. So, the case is mutual between them, as reported by Al-Hafizh ibn Hajar.

Moreover, Umm Sulaim is the mother of Anas ibn Malik, the servant of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and it was the habit of people that the master mixed with his servant and his family and did not deal with them as outsiders.

Then, Al-Dumyati said: There is no indication in the Hadith showing that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had khulwa (privacy) with Umm Hiram, as this might have happened in the presence of a son, a servant, or a husband.

Ibn Hajar replied: This is a strong likelihood, but it does not refute the original argument represented in looking for lice in the head and sleeping in her lap.

Ibn Hajar added: The best reply is that it is one of the distinctive traits of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) (See Fath Al-Bari, vol. 13, pp. 230-231).

What I conclude from the aforementioned narrations is that the mere touching is not haram. So, if there exists reasons for mixing as that between the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and Umm Hiram and Umm Sulaim and there is no fear of fitnah, then there is nothing wrong with shaking hands when there is a need for it, such as when returning from travel, the non-mahram male relative visiting his female relative, and vice versa, especially if this meeting happens after a long period.

Finally, I would like to ascertain two points:

Firstly, shaking hands between males and females who are not mahrams is only permissible when there is no desire or fear of fitnah. But if there is fear of fitnah, desire, or enjoyment, then handshaking is no doubt haram (unlawful). In contrast, if either of these two conditions (that there is no desire or fear of fitnah) is lacking between a male and any of his female mahrams, such as his aunt or foster sister or the like, then handshaking will be haram (although it is originally permissible).

Secondly, handshaking between males and females who are not mahrams should be restricted to necessary situations such as between relatives or those whose relationships are established by marriage. It is preferable not to expand the field of permissibility in order to block the means to evil and to be far away from doubt and to take the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as a model when there is no proof that he shook hands with a non-mahram woman. Also, it is preferable for the pious Muslim, male or female, not to stretch out his/her hand to shake the hand of anyone of the opposite sex who is not mahram. But if he/she is put in a situation that someone stretches out his/her hand to shake hands with him/her, then he/she can do that.

I have tried to clarify the detailed ruling of the issue here in order to inform those who are in the dark about it how to behave while sticking to the tenets of their religion. Also, when the detailed Islamic ruling is explained and people are fully aware of it, there will be no room for personal justifications that are not supported by legal backing.

 

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172 Comments

  1. trying to improve says:

    gimme tips hw to avoid dis shaking hand wit non-mahram anyone? i really tried to avoid but still i feel bad if i make thm humiliate if thy client sumtime clique friends.

    • yakub says:

      i used to shake hands NOW i say the truth ” sorry i cannot shake hands” if they further ask why, say “It’s a practice in Islam to RESPECT women”
      Works great for me and its DAWAH too!

      May Allaah make it easy for us! Ameen!

      Shaking hands with a non-maham woman

      I would like a detailed answer on the ruling on a man shaking hands with a woman, and the views of the four imams and the majority of scholars on that.

      Praise be to Allaah.
      Firstly:

      It is not permissible for a man who believes in Allaah and His Messenger to put his hand in the hand of a women who is not permissible for him or who is not one of his mahrams. Whoever does that has wronged himself (i.e., sinned).

      It was narrated that Ma’qil ibn Yassaar said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than that he should touch a woman who is not permissible for him.”

      Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 486. Shaykh al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5045, that this hadeeth is saheeh.

      This hadeeth alone is sufficient to deter and to instill the obedience required of us by Allaah, because it implies that touching women may lead to temptation and immorality.

      It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When the believing women migrated to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), they would be tested in accordance with the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

      ‘O Prophet! When believing women come to you to give you the Bay‘ah (pledge), that they will not associate anything in worship with Allaah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit illegal sexual intercourse’

      [al-Mumtahanah 60:12]

      ‘Aa’ishah said: Whoever among the believing women agreed to that had passed the test, and when the women agreed to that, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to them: “Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.’ No, by Allaah, the hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman, rather they would give their oath of allegiance with words only.” And ‘Aa’ishah said: “By Allaah, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) only took the oath of allegiance from the women in the manner prescribed by Allaah, and the hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman. When he had taken their oath of allegiance he would say, ‘I have accepted your oath of allegiance verbally.’”

      (narrated by Muslim, 1866)

      It was narrated from ‘Urwah that ‘Aa’ishah told him about the women’s oath of allegiance: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched any woman with his hand. He would explain to the woman what the oath of allegiance implied, and when she accepted, he would say ‘Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.’”

      Narrated by Muslim, 1866

      This infallible one, the best of mankind, the leader of the sons of Adam on the Day of Resurrection, did not touch women. This is despite the fact that the oath of allegiance was originally given by hand. So how about men other than the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?

      It was narrated that Umaymah the daughter of Raqeeqah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “I do not shake hands with women.”

      Narrated by al-Nasaa’i (4181) and Ibn Maajah, 2874; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2513.

      Secondly:

      It is not permissible to shake hands even with a barrier in between, such as shaking hands from beneath a garment and the like. The hadeeth that was narrated allowing that is da’eef (weak).

      It was narrated from Ma’qal ibn Yassaar that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to shake hands with women from beneath a garment.”

      Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Awsat, 2855.

      Al-Haythami said:

      This was narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer and al-Awsat. Its isnaad includes ‘Ataab ibn Harb, who is da’eef (weak).

      Majma’ al-Zawaa’id, 6/39.

      Wali al-Deen al-‘Iraaqi said:

      The words of ‘Aa’ishah, “He used to accept the women’s oath of allegiance by words only” mean that he did so without taking their hands or shaking hands with them. This indicates that the bay’ah of men was accepted by taking their hands and shaking hands with them, as well as by words, and this is how it was. What ‘Aa’ishah mentioned was the custom.

      Some of the mufassireen mentioned that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called for a vessel of water and dipped his hand in it, then the women dipped their hands in it. And some of them said that he did not shake hands with them from behind a barrier and had a Qatari cloak over his hand. And it was said that ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) shook hands with them on his behalf. None of these reports are sound, especially the last one, How could ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) have done something that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who was ma’soom (infallible), would not do?

      Tarh al-Tathreeb, 7/45

      Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

      The most correct view is that this (i.e., shaking hands with women from behind a barrier) is not allowed at all, because of the general meaning of the hadeeth, according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “I do not shake hands with women;” and so as to ward off the means that may lead to evil.

      (Adapted from Hashiyat Majmoo’at Rasaa’il fi’l-Hijaab wa’l-Sufoor, p. 69)

      The same ruling applies to shaking hands with old women; this is also haraam because of the general meaning of the texts on this issue. The reports that say it is permissible are da’eef (weak).

      Al-Zayla’i said:

      “As for the report that ‘Abu Bakr used to shake hands with old women, it is also ghareeb.”

      (Nasab al-Raayah, 4/240)

      Ibn Hajar said:

      I cannot find this hadeeth.

      (al-Diraayah fi Takhreej Ahaadeeth al-Hidaayah, 2/225)

      Fourthly:

      With regard to the views of the four imams, they are as follows:

      1 – The Hanafi madhhab:

      Ibn Nujaym said:

      It is not permissible for a man to touch a woman’s face or hands even if there is no risk of desire because it is haraam in principle and there is no necessity that would allow it.

      Al-Bahr al-Raa’iq, 8/219

      2 – The Maaliki madhhab:

      Muhammad ibn Ahmad (‘Ulaysh) said:

      It is not permissible for a man to touch the face or hand of a non-mahram woman, and it is not permissible for him to put his hand on hers without a barrier. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never accepted a woman’s oath of allegiance by shaking hands with her; rather he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to accept their oath of allegiance by words only.” According to another report, “His hand never touched the hand of a woman, rather he would accept their oath of allegiance by words only.”

      (Manh al-Jaleel Sharh Mukhtasar Khaleel, 1/223)

      3 – The Shaafa’i madhhab:

      Al-Nawawi said:

      It is not permissible to touch a woman in any way.

      Al-Majmoo’, 4/515.

      Wali al-Deen al-‘Iraaqi said:

      This indicates that the hand of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not touch the hand of any woman apart from his wives and concubines, whether in the case of accepting the oath of allegiance or in other cases. If he did not do that despite the fact that he was infallible and beyond suspicion, then it is even more essential that others heed this prohibition. It appears from the texts that he refrained from doing that because it was haraam for him to do so. The fuqaha’ among our companions and others said that it is haraam to touch a non-mahram woman even if that is not touching parts of her body that are not ‘awrah, such as her face. But they differed with regard to looking when there is no desire and no fear of fitnah. The prohibition on touching is stronger than the prohibition on looking, and it is haraam when there is no necessity that would allow it. If it is the case of necessity, e.g. medical treatment, removing a tooth or treating the eyes, etc., if there is no woman who can do that, then it is permissible for a non-mahram to do that because it is the case of necessity.

      Tarh al-Tathreeb, 7/45, 46

      4 – The Hanbali madhhab

      Ibn Muflih said:

      Abu ‘Abd-Allaah – i.e., Imam Ahmad – was asked about a man who shakes hands with a woman. He said, No, and was emphatic that it is haraam. I said, Should he shake hands with her from beneath his garment? He said, No.

      Shaykh Taqiy al-Deen also favoured the view that it is prohibited, and gave the reason that touching is more serious than looking.

      AlAdaab al-Shar’iyyah, 2/257

      And Allaah knows best.

      Islam Q&A

    • Ahmad Nadeem says:

      I found this, with all the evidences.

      http://islamqa.info/en/ref/21183

      • Kelly says:

        Thanks for posting. That website can be helpful in looking for hadith regarding a specific topic, but I have found that it is often absolute when it shouldn’t be (this topic is an example). In addition, I have found many times hadith referenced on that site are not in the collection/location that they state it to be.

    • She Who Must Not Be Named says:

      based on her personal experience, a sister suggested that you email your client prior to meeting them. kindly inform them that you do not shake hands with non-mahrams because it is a religious observance, no intention to offend anyone. hope that helps!

      • J says:

        What a GREAT suggestion! I would like to stop shaking hands with the opposite sex, but i didnt know how to deal with the ensuing awkwardness that would result when denying an extended hand for a handshake. This is a great tip for the workplace – Jazakallahu khairun!

    • Umniyah says:

      Salaam. I’m a female that doesn’t shake hands with non-Mahrem males. I have kept that policy for the past 10 years since I observed Hijab and have followed Islam more. Alhumdulillah.
      What I say to men is:
      “Hello, It’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry I don’t shake hands”
      or
      “Hi, I’m sorry I don’t shake hands but it’s a pleasure to meet you”

      I greet them with a professional smile and act like everything is okay. I stand with confidence and treat them in a respectful manner. This has worked for me for the past 10 years. People always get curious and I tell them more about Islam. Many respect it, the rare few get offended at first but then if working with me for a longer basis accept it and just be respectful. I think they see I wear Hijab and understand that. Also many men don’t initiate handshakes with me.

      I fold my hands in front of my properly. Maybe they can read my body language.

      *So be confident, respectful, and courteous. And don’t make the other person feel awkward.*
      Key is to be polite and engaging in the conversation if it’s a business one and have a air of comfort and acceptance around you and the group.

      I am in the medical profession and rarely have to do the explaining on this. Alhumdulillah it’s a great way for people around me to learn about Islam. I live in America so many people around me are learning and accepting diversity.

      InshAllah this helps you brothers and sisters.

      P.s. My brother is a lawyer and doesn’t shake hands with women for the past 11 years. So subhaanAllah if he can succeed in his highly social profession with this behavior so can you.
      MashAllah.

      May Allah swt guide us to the best and put the feelings of noor, knowledge, and purity into our hearts. May we live with the light and message of Islam and do what we feel comfortable Alhumdulullah. Please keep my brother and I in your duaas, MashAllah.

  2. Hazem says:

    This “fatwa” is translated from a Qatari-Egyptian website and I believe does not really fit Muslim Americans (p.s. I live in Egypt)

  3. Christine says:

    My relatives are not muslim (they’re Catholic), and I converted to Islam almost 11 years ago, alhamdulillah. I don’t see my male cousins much (I live in another city), but when I do, they go to hug me. I’m uncomfortable because I don’t want to get any sin on my part, however I don’t want them to think that I’m “weird” for backing away, since they are my cousins. Do you think it’s okay to hug back, since in their minds there’s absolutely no thought about anything wrong (ie. cousins cannot marry cousins)?

    Jazzakallah hrayr!

  4. umm zain says:

    Salaam,
    as for hugging non-Muslim cousins, I recall Imam Zaid talking about this issue. He brought up an important point that when it comes to da’wah (especially with one’s family members), you have to be very delicate and use both caution and wisdom. And if you think that telling them you can’t touch or hug them is going to turn them off from Islam (prevent them from the Big things, like believing in Allah & His Rasul, over a relatively minor fiqh issue), then just hug them. If there is desire or fitna, obviously that’s different, but if not (and for most of us, there isn’t) then we have to keep priorities in place. The other issues like touching non-Mahrams can be discussed later with them, perhaps :) Allahu a’lam.

  5. Abd Al-Baasit Khan says:

    I have a question (honest/sincere): IF we are prohibited in both the Glorious Quran & Prophetic Sunnah to even LOOK at non-Mahram women, i.e. we must lower our gaze from them, and not look at them. The 1st accidental glance is forgiven, as our beloved Nabiyy told us. But after that, we all know what he said – the 2nd glance is against you. • Here’s my sincere question to those few who claimed that shaking hands with certain conditions, etc, etc, is permissible or what have you: IF we are forbidden from even looking/gazing at non-Mahram women, HOW then can we possibly conclude that something that is even worse than that [touching her] would be allowed in Islam??? • And especially with all the evidences we have in our Clear Texts. ♠ My second, genuine contention is based on an explicit, authentic Hadith (which everyone knows in the Saheeh), that our beloved Master & Leader, Prophet Muhammad ['alayhis-Salaatu was-Salaamu wat-Tahiyyah] said: “Verily, I Do Not shake hands with women!” ~ The narrations all point to the fact that the Bay’ah/Oath of Allegiance (with women) used to be verbally. And it has not been confirmed that the Prophet shook hands with women whether during the Oath of Allegiance or at any other time. And when God’s Messenger absolutely abstained from shaking hands with women – keeping in mind the fact that he is the Ma’soom (safeguarded & protected by Allah from any and all evils & temptations) – then there is no doubt that this is only meant as a teaching for his Ummah & directing them to follow the upright path. And if the Messenger of Allah, who is the pure, most virtuous, and noble – the one whom no person could doubt his purity and his righteousness, and the cleanliness & tranquility of his heart – would not shake hands with women, and would suffice with accepting their words for the Oath of Allegiance, despite the fact that the matter of Bay‘ah (giving an oath of allegiance) is such a serious & important matter, then HOW in God’s Name can it be permissible for other men beside him to shake hands with non-Mahram women – keeping in mind the fact that the desire in them is very dominant, and that they can never be secure from Fitnah (temptation), and that the Shaytaan runs through their veins like blood?!!!

    • Brother Muslim says:

      MashaAllah brother well put.

      This is why we just don’t follow what scholar has stated and take it as is (blind following). We follow the Prophet (pbuh) and what he did. He (pbuh) did not shake hands with the women. How can one say they Love the Prophet (pbuh) more then they love themselves and NOT follow as he did?

    • husin says:

      Salam, well i think this article made it pretty clear. i believe there is a difference between prohibited and disliked.

    • Katriona says:

      Salam.

      Isn’t the prohibition of looking at non-mahrams only when you’re attracted to them? For example, the sheikh said in this article that it’s prohibited for a non-mahram man to look at anything other than the woman’s face or hands (according to the majority of scholars).

      Also, as the sheikh pointed out, just because the Prophet (saw) didn’t do something doesn’t make it prohibited. It may be makruh. Allah knows best.

    • Umer says:

      Well said Abd Al-Baasit Khan and Brother Muslim. I do not know how you can disagree with those points. It is very important not to blindly follow one sheikh and to seek further knowledge to help clarify an issue. May Allah swt guide us all to the right path.

  6. Abd Al-Baasit Khan says:

    ♦ Just for reference’s sake, so you don’t think I’m just pulling this contention out of the blue or that it’s just my own, I’ll quickly cite Imam, Muhyid-Deen, the great Shaafi’ee :) Scholar: Yahya Ibn Sharaf An-Nawawi – God rest his soul – who said as follows:

    وقد قال أصحابنا: كل من حرم النظر إليه حرم مسه, بل المس أشد, فإنه يحل النظر إلى الأجنبية إذا أراد أن يتزوجها, وفي حال البيع والشراء والأخذ والعطاء ونحو ذالك, ولا يجوز مسها في شيء من ذالك

    “Our companions have said: Everyone whom it is prohibited for us to LOOK AT – then touching him/her is prohibited likewise. Rather, touching is even more serious! For it is permissible for someone to look at a non-Mahram woman only when he intends to marry her, or during buying/selling and giving/taking and so on, yet it is not permissible to touch her in any of these cases.”

    Reference: Al-Adhkaar, p. 228.

    • Abdulkareem says:

      Assallam alaik’
      I am sincerely not opposing your position as I believe our paramount aim on this issue is and would remain to share and gain knowledge among the ummah. M position is that if there are conditions (during buying/selling and giving/taking and so on) in which you can look at non-mahrams, (as pointed out in your reference to Imam, Muhyid-Deen, the great Shaafi’ee Scholar: Yahya Ibn Sharaf An-Nawawi – God rest his soul): analogically, there “may be” situations when you can touch them with pure mind and absolutely no hidden desire. Experience has shown that such situations may not be envisaged. I am totally in support of not shaking hands with non-mahrams, but my fear is that we should not present an absolute position on it. Issues like this should be considerate of dynamics of life. If you are in a non-Islamic society where your non-Muslim female boss walks up to congratulate you on a good performance you have put up at work, with her hand stretched out to shake you right in the presence of other workers, I think accepting the hand shake at that instance will be fine. However, one can follow it up by telling such person (the boss) that one’s religious practice does not permit that- to avoid future occurrence. Wisdom surely has a place in religion and it should be the platform of knowledge. This is particularly so when we remember how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) handled his two non-Muslim uncles – Abu-llahab and Abu-Taalib (Imam Ali’s father).
      Please note that I am not a scholar and do not have a huge knowledge about this. My contribution is purely due to my being a Muslim.
      May Allah increase us in Iman and uplift Muslims and Islam all over the world. May He also calm the crisis in all Islamic countries and beyond.
      Bissallam.

      • manzer says:

        Now suppose your female boss is young and attractive and you are afraid you will get some pleasure out of it. This fatwa implies that you shouldn’t shake hand with her. What would you do then? It will be far better to let everyone know that your religion does not allow it instead of trying to figure out who is attractive and who is not and then doing selective hand shakes.

  7. Abu Abul Rahman says:

    dear brother yusuf qaradawi…as an islamic scholar and student of knowledge…isnt it enough evidence for you to clearly use the Qa’eeda of Sada Dhra’eer (Prevention of Evil) and saying shaking hands with woman (non-mahram) is Not permissible. As for your conclusion detailing the fact that when there is no fitnah or desire, it is permissible.. so i asked and hopefully you will answer me…how do we feel that desire and fitnah? maybe upon shaking hands the DEsire and Fitnah will arise? like the brother above mentioned…it is clear based on ayat to lower our gaze so Touching??? wow! BarakAllahu feek for your interpretations of set forth hadeeths…but i think this issue should be revisited by You once again. Even the great imams in the past have recanted their original opinions like Imam Ahmad May Allah have mercy on him, who had 3 different rulings on one issue Alone! that shows his Humblness in DEen and when to say wait…i need to look at more evidences…A reminder to myself before anybody…All children of Adam make mistakes..the fools among us are only those who are afraid to admit it.

  8. Brother Muslim says:

    It was narrated that Ma’qil ibn Yassaar said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than that he should touch a woman who is not permissible for him.”

    Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 486. Shaykh al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5045, that this hadeeth is saheeh.

    • Hassen says:

      Did you not read the shaykh’s detailed explanation of this hadith?

      There’s so much benefit you could take out of it if you actually read it!

  9. Just some additions says:

    We should review fatwas and not take them at just face value without really reviewing the sound evidence.

    Best Example is the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) so we should follow him and do as he did and not compromise this issue.

    From personal example anytime I mentioned that I cannot shake hands with the opposite gender. I had no problem and I was even more respected for doing such thing. Alhamdullillah.

  10. Shamim says:

    Personally reading this article was so difficult it alomst gave me a headache.It all seemed like a debate, kept drifting from one end to the other. At one point you deem it haraam and the other it seems all okay….. well Islam teaches us to follow quran and Sunnah and until this article never have i read any literature that indicated the prophet (PBUH) ever shaking hands with women. Again Allah and his messenger (PBUH) know best.

    If we take the route of shaking hands being okay provided there is no intention whatsover, how do u know what the other party intends/feels?? Borthers & sisters Lets not taste ourselves beyond that which we can handle otherwise, before you know it a simple hand shake could turn for the worst.

    May Allah forgive me if am wrong however, i would go but my little islamic knowledge and my heart strongly agrees with not shaking hands with non mahram.

    • hammad says:

      Subhan Allah, this is indeed so true. One may think he/she has no desire or temptation but do we know the intention of the other party? There are so many loop holes in this article that I don’t know where to begin.

    • Kelly says:

      Salaams – I think your frustration is the exact point that Suhaib is bringing up – that this is clearly not an issue that has absolute examples on only one side or the other – that there is lack of explicit Qur’an statement regarding this, and that there is conflicting ahadith therefore one can not say it is absolutely permitted or absolutely forbidden. The prophet (pbuh) maybe did shake hands, or maybe did not shake hands depending on which hadith you look at. So when you want to follow the example of the prophet (pbuh), it isn’t so cut-and-dry. I’m glad he provided both sides instead of just listing just one to support an opinion one way or the other.

      • rana says:

        In many non muslim cultures,shaking of hands has nothing to do with sensuality. I believe its from what background one is from,so that is why Islam has prohibitions as one can not tell what his or her intentions are.Islam is based on intentions.Even a glance for the first time can rouse desire,thats why many ulemas say the covering of the face for the women is necessary.Intentions count.May ALLAH swt guide us.

  11. Shagufta says:

    Islam makes sense. So just use Knowledge with Common sense
    Human has Five Senses:–
    Hearing/talking,Seeing,Smelling,Tasting and Touching
    Islam –Basic Rule–Stop Fitna–Focus on Things that can lead to Fitna.
    So verses are revealed about
    Lowering your gazes–Both Men and Women
    Do not talk in melodious tones,Do not walk noisy ornaments
    Do not Touch / Shaking hands–hug–kiss and so on
    Do not Smell/Perfunes to attrack attentionShower Ok,where
    Have sixth instinct at bay and use it as needed.
    I believe it is a good way of Dawah.They respect us more. It is the way we tell people that can make them respectful or think we are wiered. If I never saw something it is odd and wiered but once we knoiw it ,it becomes ok.
    It is a slippery road, Common sense tells in certain settings it could be ok but ask for forgivness.Allah is merciful

  12. German Girl says:

    Greetings,

    Here in Germany, I have always been greeted by wrist knocking by Muslim friends and colleges. I think it makes a good alternative to hand shaking, because the movement is natural, so that is lends itself well to the hand moving in your direction and instead of shaking, you knock the wrist instead. But of course Germany is a little more western than other countries.

  13. Muhsin says:

    If a woman extends his hand to another man and he tells him “Sorry I don’t want to touch because of Islam” which is really a tongue in cheek way of saying “Sorry I don’t want to touch you because I might get sexually aroused by your touch and have my wuduu broken” Then this policy doesn’t reflect the Sunnah of the Nabi, sallalahu alihi wa salam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) never said this ridiculous line so you suppose you are a better practitioner of Islam than he was?
    Ahadith are understood according to their context.
    This is an excellent article because it shows that not every situation is the same and that all fatwas can not be black and white. Lay people, rather lazy people, who don’t want to be apply their mind’s effort in understanding every situation’s context resort to this type of strict “no hand shake with female” policy. If you don’t which woman will illicit sexual desire in you before you shake her hand, then it means you don’t know your self. And if you don’t know your self, you don’t know Allah.

    Jazakallah for this excellent well researched article.

  14. Hara says:

    Salaamoe alaikoem everyone.

    I hope you all know something about ‘difference of opionion’?

    It ‘s ofcourse obliged to follow the prophet Muhammed pbuh and not Johannes or Sheikh … . This is a part of our aqieda. we can’t have any other difference of opinion on this issue.

    But to say that we are obliged to do all that what the prophet did, that is completely wrong. There are thing he pbuh did , we are not allowed to do.

    So saying I’m folllowing the prophet rather then a scholar, means : We don’t need scholars , I can take the ahkèm for myself directly to the prophets saying. If you are yourself a scholar en met the conditions, then yes, you are obliged to take you own opionion, would be strange that you would take someone else opinion, if you are a scholar yourself, not? (conditions(arabic, knowledge of qur’an, of hadith, … ) to be able to derive ahkèm from text (quran, .. ).

    A part not of aqieda, but of fiqh, is the akhèm.
    If conclusion is been made that a certain act is probited, you obey by this èhkèm, if conclusion is ‘disliked’, you obey by this ahkèm.

    We know that the choise been made will have other consequences: or you don’t give hand to any woman not halaal for you (hopely you will hug you mother, sister, as they are also not halaal for you :) ) or you do give hand in certain circumstances and try to avoid it as much as possible.

    Is there anyone who ever asked other questions than only about wether or not hand shaking, of whether or not growing a beard or … . another question maybe: How can we help the umma?

    If we stay blocked in these conversation, then there is a seriously problem for us muslims.
    Take you decision and then lets continue to the next level :)

  15. asha2012 says:

    What role does ‘urf or custom play in all of this?

    • hammad says:

      One of the conditions upon which urf or adaat are deemed acceptable is that it truly is recognised as a custom among the whole people and that it does not contradict the letter and spirit of the shari’ah.

  16. GGN says:

    This is an excellent, well-rounded, and intricately detailed article, which I feel covers all necessary vantage points. Truly a breath of fresh air to read an actual scholarly assessment, rather than a rigid fatwa that doesn’t attend to all perspectives.

    I think that one of the major problems of our Muslim peoples is that most do not understand the very essential characteristic of understanding the Quran and Hadith- that we cannot take from the English translation of the Arabic word, whatever we devise from the thesaurus. Each and every word of the Quran is defined for us. “Evil deeds” is not a broad term, it is specifically defined in our classical commentaries of the Quran. “Mischief” is not anything you consider mischief, again it is defined in commentaries for us. These commentators have undergone rigorous research and mastery of classical Arabic in order to write their compendiums on the Quran.

    Too many of our Muslims today, think “they know it all” and what little knowledge of Islam they have, “they trust that”. Reality is, they are *lazy Muslims* and for anyone to believe they “know” for sure- they have succumbed to ignorance!

    We all need to pause, acknowledge how little we will ever know, be humble bc HE does like favor those who tread arrogantly; and be broadminded in your analysis, bc narrow-mindedness is the trait of unenlightened thinkers.

    wa’Llahu a’lam (and Allah knows best).

    • hammad says:

      “broadmindedness” has become a by-word within certain strains of “progressive intellectual” discourse. If differences of opinions are truly recognised as valid, then there is no problem in accepting and respecting them and having tolerance towards them.

    • Kelly says:

      Thank you! Agree – this is clearly a complex topic and Suhaib presented it as such, instead of only picking evidence that supports one opinion. What Suhaib did is much tougher to do and represents the decisions each of us must make in the ‘grey areas’ in living our life, especially living our life respectfully surrounded by non-Muslims in a non-Muslim culture where there are many grey areas.

  17. Mubarak says:

    Salam. Is this the same Sheikh Qaradawi who gave fatwa to the muslims in the US Army that it is lawful for them to participate in the Iraq and Afghanistan crusade? The same Sheikh that said leaving the beard is not obligatory?

    • Umer Khan says:

      Unfortunately Sheikh Qaradawi has been involved in many controversies. Each one of us is going to be held accountable when we advise another person that’s why it’s important to think carefully before advising as any sin commited by a person following your advice will fall on you too. A lot of people become very happy when they are told “anything goes” because there is no longer any “hardship” in their lives but it’s very important to make sure you use the brain Allah swt has given you and search for the right path. There are many excellent scholars out there and people with a lot of knowledge, Nouman Ali Khan, Maulana Tariq Jameel, Ismail Menk, it is good to get the opinion of other scholars too.

  18. Ahmed says:

    He pulls out so many hadiths which clearly state the prophet SAW never touched a woman and Aisha RA saying the prophet never touched these women and he still went along and said it’s allowed!!! I hope he doesn’t have the same thinking today as he did when he wrote this article.

  19. Mr. Isaac says:

    Please brothers and sisters, allow Americans their customs and respect our gender neutrality and secularism in the business world. Were I- a male Muslim – not to shake the hand offered by a female superior, a female client, or a female associate, I would introduce discomfort where none need be. The same can be said for many social occasions where non-Muslims predominate. Intent is in the heart, not the hand.

  20. Shafiqah says:

    Well said Mr Isaac.

  21. Ahmed says:

    OH! Mr. Isaac put it nicely. This is the american version of Islam. You want to risk your relationship with your Creator by pleasing the kuffar. Good on you! Do you think that they will take you to Jannah or is it Allah? If it is Allah, then your actions and your intent should incline towards what pleases Allah and not what is comfortable to the kuffar.

    • Umer Khan says:

      I agree with Ahmed here. It seems like people are choosing the easy option. Brothers and sisters please remember this world is hell for the believers. You have to make many sacrifices and in doing so please Allah (swt). Many non-muslims respect men who do not shake the hands of women but you have to show that you are respectful and do not intend to cause offence and that you are doing it purely out of respect. When people start talking about “intent” it becomes very complicated. For example, if you were attracted to a woman in your workplace then shaking hands would initiate a relationship on which you can build so islamically you could choose at this point no to shake the woman’s hand as you have feelings for her. Alternatively, if you do not feel anything towards a different woman you will shake her hand as your intention is not to get close to her and have physical contact. For this reason, common sense would say it is best to not shake the hand of any woman and kindly explain why you are not shaking hands. A look is enough to trigger feeling towards someone and that is why Allah swt has ordered us to lower the gaze, then why at this point do people think it is ok to touch another woman regardless of the intention?

      • Kelly says:

        First of all, if a person is following a scholar’s opinion, they are NOT to be accused of ‘choosing the easy option’, ‘following kaffir’ (remember you are to be very very careful about who you call kaffir, and only certain people with specific knowledge of those people are allowed to call them a kaffir). On one breath we attack people who follow a more liberal position than we choose to follow, and in the next breath we say to make things easy for ourselves (It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The deen is ease. Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered, so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course, accept the good news of the reward for right action, and seek help [to reach your goal by being constant in worshipping] in the morning, evening and some of the night.” (Hadith no. 39)) Instead of spending our energy criticizing others for how they handle the grey areas (Muslims are incredibly obsessed with this for some reason), let’s focus on a way to increase our brotherhood/sisterhood, support for eachother, helping our youth navigate our culture, etc.

        • Umer Khan says:

          Sister unfortunately in this not so perfect world not all scholars are correct. I have mentioned this many times before and I will mention it again. The prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said “It is better for you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman”. A Kaafir is a disbeliever and this is also mentioned in the Quran too. Following the disbelievers or pleasing the disbelievers is wrong for a muslim. That’s the whole test. The “easy option” is to please every woman/man who puts their hand out by shaking their hand. The “not so easy option” is to refuse and explain why; this is to please Allah (swt). If the test was so easy Allah swt would not have created anyone. Unfortunately as much as some people want life to be as easy to suit them, it’s not. Thank you for quoting the hadith, the deen is ease but you have to draw the line somewhere. I think this has been made into a “grey area”, it’s pretty clear to me and to many other muslims around the world too. After reading the hadith I just quoted, what more can be questioned? We should definitely help our brothers and sisters and that is exactly why I have posted numerous messages to make this clear to the confused brothers/sisters. I’m not denying that it’s an awkward situation refusing a handshake but its becomes easier and that’s when you realise that deen is ease because your imaan increases. May Allah swt guide us all to the right path and create a place for us in Jannah, Ameen.

        • Umer Khan says:

          The end of this article is the funniest thing I have ever read, no wonder so many people are confused. The confusion will only be made worse after reading this article. Can you imageine the prophet (pbuh) walking around shaking the hands of women? He married numerous women to spread Islam amongst women so he could spread amongst the men. Many women would approach him with questions but I can never imagine him touching any of them!

          If we were all to follow the opinion of this scholar below then I would be picking and choosing which woman’s hand I would shake in my workplace. Imagine you are at a conference, 15 women approach you to introduce themselves, you took a good look at them, pick which one you are attracted to or have “desire” for and then try to avoid handshaking and the ones you do not feel anything for go and shake their hands. Do you think this is making it easier for everyone?

          “Firstly, shaking hands between males and females who are not mahrams is only permissible when there is no desire or fear of fitnah. But if there is fear of fitnah, desire, or enjoyment, then handshaking is no doubt haram (unlawful). In contrast, if either of these two conditions (that there is no desire or fear of fitnah) is lacking between a male and any of his female mahrams, such as his aunt or foster sister or the like, then handshaking will be haram (although it is originally permissible).

          Secondly, handshaking between males and females who are not mahrams should be restricted to necessary situations such as between relatives or those whose relationships are established by marriage. It is preferable not to expand the field of permissibility in order to block the means to evil and to be far away from doubt and to take the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as a model when there is no proof that he shook hands with a non-mahram woman. Also, it is preferable for the pious Muslim, male or female, not to stretch out his/her hand to shake the hand of anyone of the opposite sex who is not mahram. But if he/she is put in a situation that someone stretches out his/her hand to shake hands with him/her, then he/she can do that.

          I have tried to clarify the detailed ruling of the issue here in order to inform those who are in the dark about it how to behave while sticking to the tenets of their religion. Also, when the detailed Islamic ruling is explained and people are fully aware of it, there will be no room for personal justifications that are not supported by legal backing”.

        • Kelly says:

          Umer Khan – your main evidence is simply stating the existance of a hadith that (1) you misrepresented by inserting the word ‘hand’ into, and becauese it uses the word ‘touch’ not ‘hand’ it falls under the same interpretation needs that the 4 Imam’s differ on regarding whether ‘touching’ a woman breaks one’s wudhu. (2)the above article clearly states this hadith hasn’t had it’s authenticity proven.

          Last, kaafir is much more complicated than simply using the word “disbeliever” so please gain a deeper understanding regarding who is a kaafir, and a deeper understanding of who is permitted to accuse someone of being a kaafir. Last, the context of mocking a kaafir is clearly very, very far away from this context. If you were to shake hands with someone, I wouldn’t suddenly think you are a Catholic priest, or a worshipping Jew, etc. You would look like anyone else in America – of any religion – following the customs of this country. One not with intentions of sexuality – one of desexualized respect and business purposes that many are capable and comfortable of following. We are to respect those who choose to not shake hands with women because of the opinion they follow, and others should respect those who follow other scholars. May Allah swt guide us all to the right path and create a place for us in Jannah, Ameen.

        • Umer Khan says:

          Sister Kelly are you a recent revert or currently learning the basics of Islam? If Sheikh Qaradhawi thinks the hadith I quoted is weak and you agree, that’s fine. What do you think of the following:

          ‘Aa’ishah said: Whoever among the believing women agreed to that had passed the test, and when the women agreed to that, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to them: “Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.’ No, by Allaah, the hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman, rather they would give their oath of allegiance with words only.” And ‘Aa’ishah said: “By Allaah, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) only took the oath of allegiance from the women in the manner prescribed by Allaah, and the hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman. When he had taken their oath of allegiance he would say, ‘I have accepted your oath of allegiance verbally.’”

          (narrated by Muslim, 1866)

          AND

          It was narrated that Umaymah the daughter of Raqeeqah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “I do not shake hands with women.”

          Narrated by al-Nasaa’i (4181) and Ibn Maajah, 2874; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2513.

          The hadith’s above have been taken from islamqa.info so I cannot confirm the exact numbers to my knowledge.

          http://islamqa.info/en/21183

          Please don’t overcomplicate the issue. When I refer to Kaafir I am talking about those who are non- muslims, those who do not believe in Allah (swt) and his messenger (pbuh). I am not accusing anyone of being a kaafir here. I am talking about those who say themselves they are disbelievers, it is those people we (muslims) should not be aiming to please or imitate.

          If you do not agree with the hadith’s I quoted and believe they are not authentic then let’s just talk common sense. If we (muslims) are told to lower our gaze and not speak in a soft tone with the opposite sex then why do you think touching someone of the opposite sex would be permitted under any circumstances?

          Allah has given us a lot of guidance in the Quran on what we should and should not to do in terms of behaviour towards the opposite sex and we have to use our brains we have been blessed with in situations that are not clear cut in the Quran.

          Also please be clear, I do not disrespect any muslim who chooses to shake hands with the opposite sex. I, myself, used to shake hands with women when I was misguided. I learned and now alhumdulillah I do not and expain why in a humble manner. I have gained more respect now than I had before. However, it is our job to guide those or are sinning. If you have islamic knowledge and you know of someone sinning and choose not to do anything about it, you will be responsible too on the day of judgement. It is therefore very important to help others to the right path.

          May Allah swt guide you and the rest of us to the right path.

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  23. rasaq says:

    Mr issac,you are right when you said that it was the heart(intention) that matters just as your intention is important so also is mutabaha meaning following the prophet exactly how he did any act of ibadah except in specific where doing it may be harmful or difficult. What i know of this question is that it is forbidden and the reason that i think that the sheik answered like this is that islam is not just a shade of white and black area but also grey, laws have to be applied within the context of the environment but if it is a question of halal or haram then it is haram.One thing i will like to point out is that i read that the Sheik ruled that it is lawful for muslim soildiers in the U.S Army to take part in battles against muslims, i don’t know the Sheik but if this is true it will be difficult 4 me to trust his judgement

  24. Amr says:

    So is it allowed to hug and lay with women and kiss women without any desire? Please answer.

  25. Umer says:

    It is true that intention is very important but actions go hand in hand (excuse the pun). You make the intention and then act accordingly. As one brother said, you cannot decide who is attractive and who is not attractive and then shake hands accordingly, you either do it or you don’t. This is a widely discussed topic and it is very important to ensure all muslim brothers and sisters around the world are doing the right thing as each one of us represents Islam each time we talk and the way we behave. Although it is not clearly defined in the Quran you have to use common sense and also hadiths, such as “It is better for you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is not permissible to you” to decide on how to behave in these circumstances. You simply do not touch any woman who is not permissible to you regardless of what your intention is. What if you do not have the intention to seek pleasure but by shaking the hand of a woman you develop some sort of feelings? It is very possible to develop feelings through touching etc. and this is why it is not permitted to do so. I have worked in many American companies and have been refusing handshakes with women in meetings, introductions etc. by politely explaining that due to religious reasons I do not shake hands with the opposite gender and alhumdulilah it has never been an issue for me. Allah (swt) makes life easier for you if you move towards him, subhan’Allah.

    Allah (swt) knows best. May he guide us all to the right path. Ameen.

  26. Umer says:

    Why have my comments regarding this article been deleted. It is important to point out that this article can potentially be very misleading for many muslims out there as it does not guide you and infact encourages you to shake hands with non mahrams i.e. cousins or unattractive people. It is important for people to understand that this is wrong.

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