Shaking Hands with Women
The majority of scholars view that it is not permissible for Muslim men and women to shake hands if they are not related to each other. The other view permits shaking hands with elderly women if there is no temptation.
Shaking Hands with Women
- Offering one’s hand to shake hands with a woman;
- Shaking hands with women who are not-relatives.
A woman who is not a relative may offer to shake hands with a Muslim, or in a similar situation a Muslim woman may be required to shake hands with a man unrelated to her, which is very frequent in non-Muslim countries. What is the ruling concerning shaking hands with the opposite sex, particularly if refusal causes embarrassment?
Scholars have two different views on this question.
The first view states that it is not permissible for a Muslim man to shake hands with a woman who is unrelated to him, or for a Muslim woman to shake hands with a man who is unrelated to her. This is the view of the majority of scholars, and included in Decision 23 (11-3) of the International Fiqh Academy. It is also upheld by Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz. A Muslim who feels embarrassed for not shaking hands should offer a courteous apology, explaining that this is required by his faith.
'A’ishah reported: ‘By God, the Prophet never touched a woman’s hand, and he accepted women’s pledges only verbally.’ (Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 2,713) and
the Prophet said:
‘I do not shake hands with women. What I say to one woman is the same as though I am saying it to one hundred women.’
(Related by al-Nassa’i, hadith No. 4,181; al-Tirmidhi, hadith No. 1,597; Ibn Majah, hadith No. 2,874; Ahmad, hadith No. 27,006)
Al-Tirmidhi grades it as ‘Good’. Since the Prophet refrained from shaking hands with women when it was called for, i.e. when accepting pledges, this indicates that it is not permissible at all. The Prophet is the role model and the one who legislates for his community through his words, actions and approvals.
Ma'qil ibn Yasar reported that
the Prophet said:
‘Should any of you be hit on his head with an iron needle is better for him that touching a woman who is unlawful for him.’
(Related by al-Tabarani, hadith No. 486. Al-Mundhiri said of this hadith that it is also related by al-Bayhaqi, and al-Tabarani’s chain of transmission includes only reliable reporters.)
Shaking hands with a woman arouses temptation and stirs desire.
‘Do not come near adultery. It is indeed an abomination and an evil way.’
This is an order not to behave in such a way that approachs adultery or do anything that may lead to it. Shaking hands with the opposite sex is one such thing, indeed it presents more temptation than gazing at an unrelated woman, which is also forbidden by God as He says:
‘Tell believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity. This is most conducive to their purity. God is certainly aware of all that they do.’
The second view, which is the view of some early scholars, considers that it is permissible to shake hands with an elderly woman if it is certain that neither one will feel temptation.
This is based on analogy with looking at an elderly woman who may lay aside her garments, as
‘Such elderly women as are past the prospect of marriage incur no sin if they lay aside their [outer] garments, provided they do not make a showy display of their charms. But it is better for them to be modest. God hears all and knows all.’
Scholars upholding the majority view respond by saying that the analogy between shaking hands with a woman and looking at her is insupportable because touching is more serious. There is no evidence to suggest that shaking hands with the opposite sex is permissible.
- Uthman al-Zayla'i, Tabyin al-Haqa’iq Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq.
- Mansur al-Bahuti, Kashf al-Qina' 'an Matn al-Iqna'.
- Decisions by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy.
- Fatawa al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah, by a group of scholars.
- Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz, Majmu' Fatawa Ibn Baz, edited by Muhammad al-Shuway’ir.
- Salih al-Fawzan, (ed.), Fatawa al-Tibb wal-Marda.
- Mut’ib al-Qahtani (ed.), Is'af al-Mughtaribin bi Fatawa al-'Ulama’ al-Rabbaniyyin.
- Khalid Abd al-Qadir, Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah.
- A. Ibn Baz, Majmu' Fatawa Ibn Baz, vol. 4, p. 247; S. al-Fawzan (ed.), Fatawa al-Tibb wal-Marda, vol. 1, p. 223.