Shaking Hands

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.


4 thoughts on “Shaking Hands

  1. Assalamu Alaikum,

    Well, dear sis, I must say that I’m proud of you as a Muslimah trying to cling to her Deen and may Allah (swt) help you in achieving the reaching the pinnacle. That said, concerning the issue of “casual” handshaking like the one you did, I think Islamic scholars have a room for it particularly through the Fiqh al-Aqaliyat (Jurispredence of minorities) meant to guide the affairs of Muslims in non-Muslim majority societies across the globe. I’m not encouraging it, but refusing to take a hand that was extended with good intention while the one who is extending it is a non-Muslim who doesn’t know your faith will cause disappointment and will break a dialogue that may have been initiated. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used to refuse to take the hands of women, but things got complicated knowing the hostile environment he was facing, so certain Muslim scholars, plus some pragmatic politicians advised him to take it. He was asked why he started taking the hands of women whole he used to refuse to do that before, he answered: “To initiate dialogue and not to disappoint”

    For a comprehensive analysis of this issue, I have given a link (below) answered by Dr. Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi. I hope it will help you.

  2. To add what the Turkish PM said, he also said he takes their hands but always asks for God’s forgiveness if it involves sin. Something of the sort plus the explanations offered by top notch Muslim scholar Al-Qaradhawi gives room to your situation. I used to be like you, refusing to take the hands of non-Muslim women, (I don’t take that of Muslim women even if they extend, they should know more than that), but after reading Qaradhawi’s explanation, trying to understand it again the whole thing, reading the answers provided by the Fiqh Council of Europe, I was like I may be causing more damage than doing good. So, I don’t extend my hand, but if a non-Muslim woman were to do, I take and God knows my pure intentions, after all, He reads our minds.

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