Last weekend we had a soccer match between different community groups and the Police. We had a team of young Muslim girls. Our organisation was involved in the planning of the day together with other stakeholders. At the end of the day I went over to this guy to thank him and say goodbye. He put out his hand and I shook it without even a thought. He extended his hand to my friend M who also shook his hand but the other girl with us didnt take his hand and just said, “sorry i dont shake hands unless you were a man in my family”
I admired that she stood up for what she believed in and I’ve been thinking about it. When I was in high school our principle told us that when we met men we should stand with our hands behind our backs so that they wouldnt extend their hands and that would avoid things getting complicated.
I know that according to my religion I should not touch a man that basically I could marry. At the same time I have never enforced the no- shaking hands policy unless it was work related. Now the reason I enforced it for work and not in my personal life is that through my behaviour I teach other people what is religiously and culturally appropriate. There is one man who we are working on in a new project. He is part of a liason team for the Muslim Community and the Police and everytime we meet he extends his hand and everytime we decline to take it.He has only now cottoned on that it’d inappropriate. It’s taken him practically a year to get it.
In my personal life I have always thought it should be judged on my intention. I have felt like it’s OK, cos thats just the way people greet and I have deemed it acceptable. I’m now re-evaluating that. I should be that example at all times and I shouldn’t be so carefree about touching non mahram men ( Basically men that are not in my family and I could marry) Cos through this, I’ve realised Im very casual about those boundaries. I have been under the delusion that because my intention is pure in that Im not looking at the guy in “that” way it’s ok and in reality it’s not.
I’m going to try and be more conscious of it.