Why Is It Forbidden to Muslims?
Shake Hands With Women?
What's the Problem?
Question: Can men and women shake hands together?
NOTE : Respect of women and their rights to their own body and whether or not they allow men to touch them is at the very core of this answer. Keep in mind, Allah is the one who knows best what he has created and what the needs and limits are for each of us.
Shaking hands (and touching) members of the opposite sex when closely related, is not permissable for Muslims according to the teachings of Islam.
This is to discourage physical contact which could lead to familiarity that is unwarranted or undesired by the lady. It could also be the initial cause for desire within the man.
Is it only Islam that has a problem?
Actually, men shaking hands with women was not totally accepted by society even in the United States less than one hundred years ago.
Unless it was through proper introduction and the woman had first extended her hand toward the gentleman it was considered improper for a man to extend his hand if the lady had not offered hers.
Also, it was only expected the man would hold only the tips of her fingers, and to lower his gaze.
Check it out for yourself and see how much society has deviated away from some of the very basic principles in social interaction between males and females.
Answer - First: It is not permitted for a believing man to touch a woman who is not allowed for him (allowed includeds: mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc.). Whoever does this has wronged himself (sinned).
There is a hadeeth (narration of an event) from Ma'qil ibn Yassar, saying; The prophet, peace be upon him said,
"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."
[At-Tabarani in "Al Kabir, #486. Shaikh Albani said in Sahih al-Jaami' it is sahih #5045]
This alone should be enough to keep away from this action and to instill obedience to Allah, as it implies touching women may lead to temptation and immorality.
Ayesha, the wife of the prophet, peace be upon him, said:
'When the believing women migrated (to Medina) and came to the prophet, peace be upon him, they would be examined in accordance with the words of Allah (in Quran):
"O Prophet! When believing women come to you to give you the bai'a (pledge of allegience), that they will not associate anything in worship with Allah, 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 belonging to their husbands), and that they will not disobey you in any Ma'ruf (Islamic Monotheism and all that which Islam ordains) then accept their bai'a (pledge of allegience), and ask Allah to forgive them, Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful".
[Quran: Surah Al Mumtahinah 60:12]
Any of the believing women who accepted the conditions of the verse and agreed to live by them were considered to have offered themselves for giving their oaths of allegiance.
When they declared their committment to do so, the prophet, peace be upon him, would say to them,
"You may go. I have confirmed your allegiance."
I swear by Allah, the prophet's hand never touched the hand of a woman. He would receive their oath of allegiance by spoken declaration.
I swear by Allah, the prophet, peace be upon him, never took any vow from women except what Allah had ordered him to take and his palm never touched the palm of a woman.
When he had taken their pledge, he would tell them he had taken their oath from them orally.
(Sahih Al Muslim Book on Government, Hadtih #4602)
'Any of the believing women who agreed to that had passed the test, and when the women agreed, the prophet, peace be upon him, said to them: 'Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.'
"No. (I swear) by Allah, the hand of the prophet, peace be upon him, never touched the hand of any woman; instead they would give their oath of allegiance with words only."
And Ayesha said: 'By Allah, the prophet, peace be upon him, only took the oath of allegiance from the women in the manner prescribed by Allah, and the hand of the prophet, peace be upon him, never touched the hand of any woman. When he had received their oath of loyalty and allegiance he would say, 'I have accepted your oath of allegiance verbally."
[Sahih Muslim, #1866]
(The prophet of Allah, peace be upon him) did not touch women who were not permissible (shaking hands, etc.). This despite the fact the oath of allegiance was orginally given by hand.
So what about these other men (going around shaking hands)?
Umaymah bint Raqeeqah said:
'The prophet, peace be upon him, said, "I do not shake hands with women (not permissible to touch)."
[An-Nasaai, #4181 and Ibn Majah, #2874; Albani declared it sahih; Al Jami, #2513]
It's not permissable to shake hands even with a barrier (such as a garment) in between. There is an unacceptable narration (da'eef; not authentic) saying the prophet, peace be upon him, used to shake hands with women from beneath a garment.
(see: At-Tabarani in Al-Awsat, #2855). Al Haythami said: 'This was narrated by At-Tabarani in Al Kabir and Al Awsat. The chain of narrators includes 'Atab ibn Harb, who is da'eef (weak in narrations). [Majam' al-Zawad'id, 6/39]
Wali Ad-Din Al Iraqi said: 'The words of Ayesha, "He used to accept the women's oath by words only" means he did so without taking their hands or shaking hands with them. This indicates the bay'ah (oath) of men was accepted by shaking hands, as well as words, and this is how it was. What Ayesha mentioned was the custom.'
Some mufassireen (type of scholar) mentioned the prophet, peace be upon him, asked for a vessel of water and dipped his hand in it, then the women dipped their hands in it. And some of them said he did not shake hands with them from behind a barrier and had a cloak from Qatar over his hand. And it was said 'Umar, may Allah accept from him, shook hands with them on his behalf.
None of these reports are true, especially the last one. How could 'Umar, may Allah accept from him, have done something the prophet, peace be upon him, would not do?
[Tarh Al-Tathreeb, 7/45]
Sheikh Abdulaziz ibn Baz (Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabi, d. May, 1999), Allah's Mercy on him), said:
'The most correct view is this (shaking women's hands with something in between) is not allowed at all, because of the general meaning of the hadith, wherein the prohet, peace be upon him, said, "I do not shake hands with women (who are not related)" in order to avoid the way leading to evil.
[Adapted from Hashiyat Majmoo'at Rasal'il fil Hijab wa Sufor, p. 69]
The same rule applies to shaking hands with older women; it is also forbidden due to the general meaning of the texts on the issue. The reports saying it is permissible - are weak (da'eef).
'As for the report saying Abu Bakr used to shake hands with old women, it is ghareeb (strange in its chain of narrators, not acceptable in this case).
[Nasab Al-Rayah, 4/240]
Ibn Hajar said: 'I cannot find this hadeeth."
[Al-Dirayah fil Takhreej Al Hadith al-Hidayah, 2/225]
[We now list the opinions of the four schools of jurisprudence (mathabs)]:
With regard to the views of the four imams, they are as follows:
1 - Hanafiya (Abu Hanifa) The Hanafi madhhab:
Ibn Nujaym said: 'It is not permissible for a man to touch a woman's face or hands even when there's no risk of desire because it is haraam in principle and there is no necessity to allow it.'
[Al-Bahr al-Raa'iq, 8/219]
2 - Maliki (Imam Malik) The Maaliki madhhab:
Muhammad ibn Ahmad ('Ulaysh) said: 'It's not permissible for a man to touch the face or hand of a non-mahram woman (not related), and it is not permissilbe for him to his hand on hers without a barrier. Ayesha, may Allah be pleased with her, said: 'The prophet, peace be upon him, never accepted a woman's oath of allegiance by shaking hands with her; instead he would accept their oath of alleginace in words alone.'
According to another report: 'His hand never touched the hand of a woman, instead he would accept their oath of allegiance with words alone.'
[Manh Al-Jaleel Sharh Mukhtasar Khaleel, 1/223]
3 - Shafiy (Imam Muhammad ibn Idris Ash-Shafi) Shafi Mathab:
Imam Al-Nawawi (author of Al-Arba'een and Riyadus Salahin) said, "It is not permitted to touch a woman (not properly related) in any way.
[Al Majmoo' 4/515]
Wali A-Din Al-Iraqi said,
'This indicates the hand of the prophet, peace be upon him, did not touch the hand of any woman except for those permissible to him, whether in the case of accepting their oath of allegiance or in other cases. If he didn't do it in spite of the fact he was far above suspicion, then it is even more essential for others to heed this prohibition. It appears from the texts he didn't do it because it was forbidden for him to do so.
The fuqaha (scholars of jurisprudence) among our companions and others say it is forbidden to touch a non-mahram (not properly related) woman even if it is touching any part of her body that is not a part of her 'awrah (private area between the navel and the knees), such as her face.
But their differences of opinon occured regarding looking (at them) when there is no desire and no fear of fitnah (serious calamity).
The prohibition of touching is stronger even than the prohibition of looking, and it is forbidden when there is no necessity to allow it.
In the case of necessity, such as medical treatment, removing a tooth or treating the eyes, if there is no woman available to do provide the treatment, then it is allowed for a man to do it because of the necessity.
[Tarh At-Tathreeb 7/45 #46]
4 - Hanbali (Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal) Hanbali Mathab
Ibn Muflih said about Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, that he was asked about a man who shakes hands with a woman. His answer was, 'No' and it was emphatically forbidden. When he was asked about shaking hands having some cloth in between he said, 'No'.
Shaikh Taqiy ul-Din also held the view it was prohibited and gave the reason, touching is more serious than looking.
Al-Adaab al-Shari'ah, 2/257
And Allahu 'Alim (Allah is the All-Knower)
Salam alaykum - Yusuf Estes
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