Shaking hands with women

September 30, 2008 at 8:00 am 5 comments

This post is a result of a comment from a previous posting of mine. Here’s the comment:

“i refer to point no. 3 you wrote about the shaking of hands between non-mahrams.

while it is accepted that the unneccessary shaking of hands between a marriable male and female is prohibited, it should also be noted that during the time of the Prophet saw, the female companions treated the war wounds of the males, out of necessity, and in other instances they kissed the Prophet’s hands/feet and took his hands, and this of course is for barakah.

i cant imagine if i were a woman during the Prophet’s time and i am not allowed to kiss his hand.

for this, i refer to the Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine, Book 7, The Forgotten Aspects of Islamic Worship Part II, by Shaykh Hisyam Kabbani, pages 47-48 and 188-189.

Truth comes from God and He knows Best”

Here is a fatwa by Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Its bound to raise some eyebrows in our community I think. But I think its better to know of what scholars have said about this issue instead of just sticking to customs and the like.

Please please read his full response on the issue. You NEED to read the whole response so you get a clearer picture of what he’s saying. I am only going to post excerpts of it here:

As a matter of fact, the most powerful evidence here is blocking the means to temptation, and this is no doubt acceptable when the desire is roused or there is fear of temptation because its signs exist. But when there is no fear of temptation or desire, what is the reason for prohibition?


The Arabs disagreed regarding the meaning of touching: does it refer to sexual intercourse or actions that precede it? The first group said that it refers to sexual intercourse, while the second said that it refers to actions that precede it. They sought the arbitration of Ibn `Abbas, who supported the opinion of the first group and regarded that of the second as incorrect.

By transmitting all these sayings, I mean to show that when the word “al-mass” or “al-lams” (touching) is used to mean what a man does to a woman, it does not refer to mere touching but rather refers to either sexual intercourse or actions that precede it such as kissing, hugging, and any touching of the like that is accompanied by desire and enjoyment.

However, if we investigate the sahih (sound) Hadiths that are narrated from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), we will conclude that the mere touching of hands between a man and a woman without desire or fear of temptation is not prohibited. Rather, it was done by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), whose actions are originally a source of legislation. Almighty Allah says: “Verily in the Messenger of Allah ye have a good example …” (Al-Ahzab: 21). It is narrated on the authority of Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said, “Any of the female slaves of Madinah could take hold of the hand of Allah’s Messenger and take him wherever she wished.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)”


Having said all that, personally I am uncomfortable with shaking the hand of another man. However, when Habaib like Habib Umar and Habib Salim comes to Singapore and after their talks, men queue up to kiss their hand, I get really really jealous! And countless times I’ve wondered what if it was the Prophet SAW himself, would I just stand there and watch? Surely not! I’d be running and wanting to kiss his hand too.

On another note, I would definitely not touch the hand of another man if my husband is not going to be happy with it. So, that solves it. If my husband is okay with it, and I’m comfortable with it, I would. But as it is, I am not comfortable with it, (just that I get jealous when these men are able to be so close to great ulama’ like them) so I won’t do it. But I’m just posting this fatwa here so that people are aware and would not judge the next time you see a scholar allowing a female to kiss his hand.


Entry filed under: fatwa, Links, men, Posts, Prophet SAW, women, Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

A Seeker’s Prayer Eid Mubarak!

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. siswand  |  September 30, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    well said!

    the thing is, it is stil best to abstain from shaking hands, in order to prevent wild accusations from flying all over, especially when we talk about the interaction in the public sphere, such as the corporate world; because most of the time, the shaking of hands is done out of “trend” or as i would call it, the “cool factor”, and definitely not for barakah.

  • 2. siswand  |  September 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    the mention of the word “touch” in the quran has been commented upon by many scholars of quranic exegesis, in particular referring to the verse where sayyidatina Maryam exclaimed about her innocence as such “when no man has touched me”, the same root word al-mass was used.

    if i recall correctly, a point was raised to show that touching here meant more than mere skin contact. it said that if it really meant mere contact, then that would be absolute which implies that even men from her family never touched her in the literal sense of the word…

    wallahu a’lam

  • 3. Redwan Ahmed  |  September 30, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    put this post in my website.

  • 4. Sufyan  |  September 30, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Block this spammer.

    There’s no more Ramadhan and Sheykh Ahmad and Aziz =(

  • 5. Shaking hands with women - Response « amee al-faqeer  |  April 1, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    […] I received an email recently with regards to my previous post. One was about gender interaction in Islam and the other was about Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi’s fatwa on the permissibility of shaking hands with non-mahram women. […]

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