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Why *Some* Muslim Men Won’t Shake A Woman’s Hand

June 19, 2008

Update:  Welcome to everyone finding their way to this post while investigating the Indonesian government minister claiming to have tried to avoid shaking hands with Michelle Obama.  Might I suggest that all women reading this make the extra effort today to greet Muslim men with a friendly handshake?  Let’s be neighborly!

Because the mere touch of a marriageable woman can tempt the muslim man to desire the woman sexually and will result in adultery or rape.  This, of course, does not apply to old women who are post-menopausal – he can go ahead and shake her hand because he won’t be tempted to jump her baggy old bones.  Isn’t that special?

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.  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.

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. Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

53 Comments leave one →
  1. missingpendant permalink
    June 20, 2008 12:02 am

    Call me wack, but I actually find something incredibly tender in the act of holding someone’s hand, whether it is a guy’s hand or a girl’s hand. It adds a very personal dimension to a relationship. It helps me determine all sorts of things about the person I might be dealing with without verbalization – holding hands grants the ability to decode body signals even more personally. It’s like a connection… As a woman, I’ll also admit that I love larger hands than mines, and solid ones. At the back of my mind there may be attraction, while at the forefront, either friendship or business.
    After being able to touch a person’s palm – and decoding the very elemental signals from their terminal – I could choose to keep certain ideas in my mind for the long term. I could choose to let my guard down with them. Things happen, nothing is impossible.
    And frankly speaking, men are easily excited. Yeah, you could go and laugh at that 😛 In many senses they are weaker than women. So I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I wouldn’t blame men if they don’t want to go around touching women’s hands. If they want to only experience only the tenderness of one woman’s hands, and it grants them some stability in their life, which I’m assuming their religion is saying it facilitates, why can’t they just go ahead and do that?

    • Jimbus permalink
      September 8, 2011 7:54 pm

      I’m not even Muslim and I realize that! It’s like saying that if you’re christian and you want to go kill someone because it’ll make you happy, you should do it. It’s wrong, and should not be done purposely.
      Oh, and way to day that men are weak. Feminist. Try looking at facts next time. Besides, I believe men and women are equal.

  2. Michele permalink*
    June 20, 2008 8:39 am

    Handshakes are important in our culture. “Shake on it” is a symbol of trust. The fact that someone will shake hands with one gender but not the other, immediately places the genders into two tiers where one is less than the other. Refusing to shake hands with someone is a sign of disrespect.

    • Amy permalink
      January 8, 2012 5:36 pm

      Amen. As a woman I felt shamed when an Arab man refused to shake my hand at a meeting. I have never had this experience before and thought he must think of me as “dirty” for being female and would probably have to cleanse himself if we shook hands. We are importing a lot more conservative patriarchy into this country with these cultural beliefs. How will they vote when they become citizens and how in turn will that reshape our country into ultra, ultra conservatism against women?

  3. June 20, 2008 2:36 pm

    The legal rationale behind men and women not shaking hands is to prevent what ‘may’ follow. Men and women are different and God is best to know His creation. The legal proof that is used is referred to in English as “Cutting off the pre-text”, or to remove the means to that which is unlawful (i.e. pre-marital sex/adultery).

    Michele – I disagree with your conclusion that it by necessity puts males/females in two seperate groups. Based on your logic one could also conclude that women can take the upper tier by shaking hands with other women.

    At any rate, what I find disappointing is that people enjoy looking down on this as if it is a backwards notion. My question is, compared to what? Islamic law is not implemented in the US and Canada and there is no dirth of men and women interacting. So why pick this out as an “issue”? Furthermore, since this is an “issue” then what we could say is that the opposite of men and women not shaking hands is the culture that we live in in the West? Would you agree? Men and women date, hug, kiss and worse in public. Don’t they?

    But what is the result and cost of this interaction?

    According to the RAINN website:

    Almost 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.

    73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.

    38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.

    28% are an intimate.

    7% are a relative.

    So is it really that awful that God has ordained that men and women keep a fair distance? The other assumption that seems to be made is that this is just a “guy/man” thing. No, it is a means or tool to help us humans to keep ourselves out of trouble.

    Though this is not the most authoritative source”

    Conservative infidelity statistics estimate that “60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an extramarital affair.”

    So even amongst married people you find that dealing and interacting with the opposite sex is still problematic. Prior to converting to Islam as a young man it was considered “bad” to intermingle with girls too much. Muchless touch and kiss on them. That was amongst Catholics – but when it comes to Islam. Ooooohhh No! It’s an outrage.

    Know that God intends for you good. The numbers show how well humans do of their own accord.

  4. June 20, 2008 2:45 pm

    Looking at this issue from another perspective when it comes to kids and teeniboppers. You find that many Conservatives are proponents of sexually segregated schools. There are numbers to support the improved overall performance of youths when they are seperated. Again, what we see in lieu of this sort of ethic is what I chronicle in the following article.

    Aside from teen pregnancies there has been a huge increase in STD’s amongst even middle schoolers. You don’t find that suprising? What ideas, strategies, and rules might you put in place to curb these social ills? It seems that the issues are not merely adult issues.

  5. June 20, 2008 3:14 pm

    @ missingpendant

    You might find it interesting that it is customary amongst Arabs males to hold hands publicly. In their culture it is considered something cultured and refined. Us Westerner males are taken by suprise when we visit the Arab lands :).

  6. crazybengal permalink*
    June 20, 2008 3:49 pm

    Michele – do we need to keep our professional Dawa expert around? I wonder how much ICNA pays him?

  7. Michele permalink*
    June 20, 2008 5:05 pm

    This blog is hereby declared a Dawa-free zone.

  8. crazybengal permalink*
    June 20, 2008 5:11 pm


  9. crazybengal permalink*
    June 22, 2008 3:42 pm

    Dawa and spam will be deleted.

  10. TheOtherOne permalink
    June 26, 2008 1:11 pm

    “Know that God intends for you good. The numbers show how well humans do of their own accord.”

    No, “the numbers” don’t show anything unless you can give accurate comparison numbers. Assuming that the numbers you listed are accurate, what are the comparable numbers for Islamic societies? (And the number of rapes per capita in each kind of society need to be added for comparison.)

    If “the numbers” show that Islamic societies have just as much (or more) rape, then your numbers prove nothing about whether not shaking hands prevents rape.

    (And the fact that the majority of rapes are committed by someone who knows the victim is irrelevant to the question of whether shaking hands at the beginning of a business meeting leads to rape.)

    • Mike permalink
      November 4, 2012 9:28 pm

      Does the “non-touching” law also refer to siblings and other relatives?

    • Mike permalink
      November 4, 2012 9:32 pm

      I mean i can somewhat see the point of doing what ya gotta do to not be tempted, but not hugging your aunt or mom or sis or cuz? That i cannot do my friends.

    • Mohamed permalink
      January 22, 2013 5:09 am

      To Mike I would search the word “Mahram” these are the group of people that men and women can touch. Quickly answering your question though, yes you are allowed to kiss, hug, touch your mother, aunt, sister, niece, grandmother, but not cousins.

  11. Maczenny permalink
    June 15, 2013 4:46 am

    Muslim men and women are not allowed to shake hands, hug, kiss with strangers. That is their religion practise.

  12. Buddhababy permalink
    September 19, 2013 12:56 pm

    Abuhunain – you can be as rational as you like in your defense, but the bottom line is this… When you strip off the mental excuses and reasonings behind this cultural belief system, what you find is a behavior, whether conscious or subconscious, that supports and reinforces – separation between human beings – judgment (of self or another) – and FEAR (of either God’s wrath, or the power of sexual energy). Whatever way you look at it – it is a fear-based act which does nothing but promote and sustain a culture filled with religious and sexual violence, and severe gender discrimination. Perhaps it’s time for men to embrace and allow the power of female sexuality and to face whatever powerless feelings this brings up in them, rather than blaming the women for evoking such chaos and punishing them for doing so by hiding them from society. And more importantly, WOMEN must also embrace the power of their sexual nature if this separation is to be healed. Men and women are not different in spite of what YOUR God may believe. It is very this belief of difference which pushes the sexes apart and renders one more superior than the other. The truth is we are all made of love and ultimately thrive on love. The simple matter is that not shaking hands with another – doesn’t matter whether it’s a woman, a poor man or a child, is an act of judgment and exclusivity, and is not coming from an expanded place of LOVE.

    • Amy permalink
      March 13, 2014 7:30 pm


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    Just a thought about being in the 21st Century guys. 🙂

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  1. Muslims should learn from Jews on Handshakes with the Opposite Sex « Islamic Archives

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