Ruling On Shaking Hands With The
Opposite Sex: Is It Allowable For A Muslim Woman To
Greet A Muslim Man By Shaking Hands And Vis-à-vis?
Islamic Rulings -
Living Shariah Verdicts
Islamic Questions & Answers
Is it allowable for a muslim woman to greet a
muslim man by shaking hands and vis-à-vis? What is the
ruling on shaking hands with Tthe opposite Ssex?
Praise be to Allaah.
For a man to shake hands with a non-mahram woman (one
to whom he is not related) is haraam and is not
permitted at all. Among the evidence for this is the
hadeeth of Ma'qal ibn Yassaar (may Allaah be pleased
with him) who said:
"The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said: ‘If one of you were to be
struck in the head with an iron needle, it would be
better for him than if he were to touch a woman he is
not allowed to." (Reported by al-Tabaraani; classed as
saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami', 5045).
There is no doubt that for a man to touch a non-mahram
woman is one of the causes of fitnah (turmoil,
temptation), provocation of desire and committing
haraam deeds. No one should say that their intention
is sound or their heart is clean, because the one who
was the purest of heart and the most chaste of all,
the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) never touched a non-mahram woman, even
when accepting bay'ah (oath of allegiance) from women.
He did not hold their hands when accepting their
bay'ah, as he did with men; their bay'ah was by words
only, as was reported by his wife ‘Aa'ishah (may
Allaah be pleased with her). She said that the
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) would test the believing women who emigrated
to him with the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
"O Prophet! When believeing 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, that they will not kill their
children, that they will not utter slander,
intentionally forging falsehood (i.e., by making
illegal children belong to their husbands), and that
thye will not disobey you in any ma'ruf (Islamic
monotheism and all that which Islam ordains), then
accept their bay'ah and ask Allaah to forgive them.
Verily Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [al-Mumtahinah
‘Aa'ishah said: "So whoever of the believing women
agreed to these conditions, the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would say
to her: ‘I have accepted your bay'ah by words.' By
Allaah, his hand never touched the hand of any woman
when accepting their bay'ah; he accepted their bay'ah
by saying ‘I have accepted your bay'ah on this
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4512; according to
another report: he accepted their bay'ah by words… the
hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings
of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any
woman except a woman he owned . Reported by al-Bukhaari,
Some Muslims feel too embarrassed to refuse when a
woman offers her hand to them. In addition to mixing
with women, some of them claim that they are forced to
shake hands with fellow-students and teachers in
schools and universities, or with colleagues in the
workplace, or in business meetings and so on, but this
is not an acceptable excuse. The Muslim should
overcome his own feelings and the promptings of the
Shaytaan, and be strong in his faith, because Allaah
is not ashamed of the truth.
The Muslim could apologize politely and explain
that the reason he does not want to shake hands is not
to offend or hurt anybody's feelings, but it is
because he is following the teachings of his religion.
In most cases this will earn him respect from others.
There is no harm done if they find it strange at
first, and it may even be a practical opportunity for
da'wah. And Allaah knows best.