Shaking hands with women – Response

April 1, 2009 at 7:05 pm 2 comments

Salaam everyone!

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.

I am very grateful for the person who emailed me to share this article. If I’ve never mentioned this before, I am just a wayfarer trying to gain ilm and whatever I post on my blog are merely my sharing. They should never be used as references for anything, unless of course I included the reference for something that I did not write.

Anyhow, this was the article that was shared. May Allah bless the brother who emailed me and may He make it easy for us to learn and understand our deen.

\All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

It is indeed a time of trials and hardship that Muslims live nowadays. This suffering led some to go astray and others to stick fast to religion while others were overwhelmed by Allah’s Mercy to let such hardship be a reason for their guidance.

It is very important to look into the reasons behind our suffering since hardships happen either because of the love of Allah or out of his wrath and punishment. Look around you and you will immediately come to the conclusion that this Hardship is a punishment rather than a reward although it is a reward for some but they are few, and with Allah we seek his guidance and assistance. This punishment was after several warnings and after people detached from the right path by following ways other than what Allah and his messenger prescribed for us.

I must remind myself and my brothers and sisters of a Hadith to keep in mind whenever they come across a strange or odd opinion that is presented nowadays; The Hadith is:

Abu Huraira narrated the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) said: “ In the end of the time there will be liars and fabricators who will report tales and stories that neither you or your fathers have ever heard . Be cautious of those so that they do not misguide you or tempt you” [Saheeh Ibn Habban: 6766]

I begin, seeking Allah’s assistance, guidance and blessings:

The phenomenon of odd verdicts is something that this Ummah started to be suffering from nowadays. However, the problem is not the existence of such verdicts as the problem lies now on the fact that these odd verdicts started to find a place in hearts and ears of some Muslims. There are many factors that facilitated this problem to exist, such like: spreading ignorance, twisted fitra due to external influence and weakness.

The verdict of the permissibility of shaking hands between males and women who are lawful to each other for marriage is the latest but not the last!! It reached our ears that such verdict came out of a known sheikh, who we excuse him and ask Allah to forgive him since no one is infallible except the prophet ( صلى الله عليه و سلم ) in addition to the fact that the prophet ( صلى الله عليه و سلم ) excused him as well when he said in the authentic Hadith:

Narrated By ‘Amr bin Al-‘As: That he heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “If a judge gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is correct (i.e. agrees with Allah and His Apostle’s verdict) he will receive a double reward, and if he gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is wrong, (i.e. against that of Allah and His Apostle) even then he will get a reward.” [Sahih Bukhari: 6919]

The Shaikh – May Allah forgives him – seems to base his verdict on various points, which to some point are contradictory to each other. So, we will tackle each point inshallah separately:

The Sheikh – May Allah forgive him – argues that scholars who gave the verdict of impermissibility belong to the school who adopt the opinion of impermissibility for women to show her hands and face in presence of non-Mahrams males. He also added, for some reason that I do not understand that this opinion is a minority opinion which is something I would have defamed but since we do not wish to distract the topic, I will postpone that topic.

I must admit that the sheikh seems to forget that even scholars who did not see covering the face and hands as obligatory on women did not allow shaking hands. This misunderstanding happens because the Shaikh, may Allah have his mercy on him, did not distinguish between the permissibility to show and the impermissibility of touching. If we to follow this weak argument would the Shaikh allow touching women faces as well or women touching men faces?!!! I believe not. However, let me put before your hands what scholars said and how they distinguished between showing and touching in their verdicts because scholars allowed women to show their faces and hands but forbade the face and the hands to be touched by non-Mahram males..
Hanafi Madhab:

“It is not allowed for a man to touch the face or the hands of a woman who is not mahram for him even if there is no fear of desire [ Al-Libab Fi Sharh Al-Kitab: section of allowed and prohibited: 4:23]

It is not allowed to touch the face or the hand of female who is not Mahram even if he feared no desire to happen because with the fear of desire the prohibition is stronger. [Ad-Dur Al-Mukhtar: 5/685] and [Rad Al-Muhta]

Maliki Madhab:

You aught to know that allowing looking does not mean it is allowed to touch. Therefore, it is allowed for woman to look at a man’s (who is not mahram to her) face and his parts and the same applied on men who are not allowed to touch the woman face if he is not a Mahram to her. [Hasheyet Al-sawi A’la Al-Sharh Al-Sagheer:1/458]

Shafi’e Madhab:

1.looking at women’s face and hands while there is no Fitna or desire then it has a difference of opinion but the correct opinion is “ it is prohibited” as Alstakheri, Altabari, sheikh Abu Muhammad, Abu ishaq alsherazi, and alrewyani as well as the Imam who said that it is agreed amongst Muslims to prevent women from going out uncovered since looking is the source of Fitna and the drive force of desires so it is suitable and proper of this Shari’a to block the means and neglect the details of different circumstances because of that. [ Kifayet Al-Akhyaar: 1/460]

The Shaikh, May Allah forgive him, argues n another point that scholars based their opinion of impermissibility on the rule “blocking the means to evil is obligatory”. So he argues, then in situation where no desires is feared to happen then the ruling would be different therefore to be permissible!!

This is very awkward analysis and something that does not make sense because the Shaikh apposes a fact about human being nature in such statements. It is normal and a nature of human beings desires to be provoked with opposite sex touches and only someone with twisted nature who would not feel so as it is nature of straight men and straight women to feel so. The Shaikh assumption of no temptation or evil to rouse ins such incidents is like someone who asks what he needs to do if sun rises from the west, does he still need to pray Fajir or not?!!!!

It is a fact that should not even been explained but it is good to remind people with anyway. Furthermore, does this absence of desire happen rarely or to everyone in general? I am sure the Shaikh would agree that if it ever happens to a straight person, which is something I doubt to happen though, it will be in very rare occasion and it is known that verdicts are designed for general not rare ones. If the Shaikh holds his argument to be correct then would he allow touching the face as well if someone said they do not feel any desires? Would he allow touching lips or cheeks? I believe not again so the base of this argument that the Shaikh adopts is too fragile and weak. In addition, we already read the statements of scholars who prohibited touching even if there is no desire feared.

The Shaikh, may Allah guide him, not only argues that there are no clear evidences of such prohibition but also question the Hadiths of the prophet at the time of the pledge of A’qaba incident. Thus, I shall present for you the evidences and refute his argument about each evidence:

  • “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent …” (An-Nur: 31)

The Shaikh sees no evidence of prohibition in this verse for women and men to shake their hands if they are not mahram to each other. Yet, again the reason behind his misunderstanding that he still assumes that touching is similar to showing which is not true as we as noted previously from scholars’ statements. In addition, if looking is not allowed then it is more proper that touching is not allowed as well!!! The Shaikh, may Allah forgive him, seems to say do not look but you can touch!!! This is something that even laypeople do not say!!!

  • on the authority of Ma`qil ibn Yassar that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “It would be better for one of you to have himself stabbed on the head with an iron needle than to touch a woman that is illegal for him.” [Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabeer:486]

The Shaikh, May Allah preserve him, argue the Hadith’s authenticity by declaring that stating that scholars classification was as “ authentic chain of narrators” and the Shaikh argues that this is not enough because it is possible that this Hadith may have an interruption in its chain of narration or have I’lla ( hidden cause behind the Hadith). This argument of the Shaikh is strange as he did not even anticipated the Hadith to reach a conclusion about its authenticity and depended on his assumption that it could be not authentic!! Thus, his questioning was not based on any evidence at all. Anyway, we ask the Shaikh investigation about this Hadith classification although it is not the only evidence that scholar rely on. Anyway, the Hadith is been classified as authentic by Shaikh Al-Albani (رحمه الله ).

The Shaikh then argue that , if he to assume the Hadith is authentic, and it is, the meaning of the Arabic word ( مس) used in the Hadith only had been used to describe touching because of sexual desire, when it comes to man and woman, and he used many examples. This argument is defamed by the authentic Hadith in Sunan Al-Nasai’e: On the authority of Aisha she said: “I used to sleep in front of Allah’s Apostle while he is praying and when he wanted to offer Witr prayer he would touch (مس) my legs” [ Sunan Al-Nasai’e: 166]. This Hadith clearly shows that the word has been used between man and woman means touching in its normal meaning without any desire unless the Shaikh thinks otherwise!!!

It seems that the Shaikh, alhamdullah, agree and acknowledge the fact that the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) never shock hands with women as he explained in the end of his verdict. However, the Shaikh still used the Hadiths of the aunt of Anas Bin Malik and the slave girl Hadith. To this we reply: firstly the incident of the aunt of Anas (رضي الله عنه) many scholars stated that it is the aunt of the prophet although some did not agree. In addition, Alhafith Ibn Hajar clearly said that this is one of the distinctive traits of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) which lead us not to use the Hadith as an evidence to derive ruling from because if the Shaikh says otherwise then that means he allows a man to put his hands in woman lap which is something that no one ever say even if he has no knowledge!!!

In the end let me put before you some of the evidences that is based on to derive the verdict of impermissibility of shaking hands:

  • Allah says: {And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent” (An-Nur: 31)
  • And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way. [ Sura al-Isra: 32]
  • O you who believe! do not follow the footsteps of the Shaitan, and whoever follows the footsteps of the Shaitan, then surely he bids the doing of indecency and evil; and were it not for Allah’s grace upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have ever been pure, but Allah purifies whom He pleases; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. [ Sura AL-Nur: 21]

The above verses clearly tell us to lower the gaze as well as to have modesty which leads me to ask: in which religion touching a woman who is not lawful for you to look at from the first place is an act of modesty!!

It is clear that such act plants in hearts of men and women the sense of shamelessness and let them lose their nature jealousy and why would not they be when they seem to be fine seeing his wife, his daughter, his mother or his sister touching another man!!! May Allah save us from his wrath!.

It is obvious that this is the footstep of Shaitan which we are commanded to avoid as the verse clearly shows. So let those who are weak and have illness in their heart to be warned about the danger of following people’s mistakes in this matter.

  • Jarir b. ‘Abdullah reported: I asked Allah’s Messenger (May peace be upon him) about the sudden glance (that is cast) on a non-Mahram. He commanded me that to turn away my eyes.

3. Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying. Allah fixed the very portion of adultery which a man will indulge in. There would be no escape from it. The adultery of the eye is the look and the adultery of the ears is listening to voluptuous (song or talk) and the adultery of the tongue is licentious speech and the adultery of the hand is the grip (embrace) and the adultery of the feet is to walk (to the place) where he intends to commit adultery and the heart yearns and desires which he may or may not put into effect.

The Hadiths are too obvious to be talked about and it is enough to have them as they are and yet again I ask would it make sense to forbade looking and allow touching?!!!!!How is it possible to say it is not allowed to look while it is ok to touch!!! It is obvious that forbidding looking in general so it is more sense that touching to be prohibited even if there is no desire.

My final word:

I believe the Shaikh, May Allah forgive him, contradicted himself in many places and put himself in embarrassment in other situations because the verdict he derived opened a gate of evil on people. The so called evidences he used to show that it is permissible left him stuck on the fact that if the part that concerned him is general then that lead to accept all the evidences as general. So, that would mean to allow physical contact between non mahram like to lie down on women laps, walking hand to hand with women and sort of odd unacceptable verdicts that he, himself, appose.

Sum up:

  • The Shaikh did not differentiate between permissibility to show hands and face and touching them.
  • The Shaikh did not differentiate between having desire before shaking hands and having desires as a result of shaking hands or touching in general, which cannot be predicted and controlled and normal to happen due to the nature of human being toward opposite sex.
  • The Shaikh used evidences that are used against him so he had to take part of it only as the rest of them will contradict his odd verdict
  • The Shaikh did not consider the fact that the stand of the Four Madhabs is to forbade touching non mahrams.

Wallahu A’l-Musta’an”


The above article was written by Shaykh Ayman bin Khalid.

Responses appreciated. :)


Entry filed under: hadith, interaction between sexes.

Peace & felicity Studying without a teacher

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Omar  |  June 2, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Salaams brother,
    This information was exactly what I was looking for. After reading both Yusuf al Qaradawi, and your arguments, especially the evidence that has been presented (as I consider the Hadiths more important than your text as I am sure you understand), I have concluded that the evidence against the prohibition of shaking hands is far superior.

    You did not (nor is it possible for you) to address the Hadiths where the prophet did take the hands of non-mahram women. These hadiths alone blow massive holes in the idea that shaking hands is impermissible. In addition, you have misrepresented the Hanafi position. Imam Abu Hanifa is related as having the same opinion as al-Qaradawi.

    But nevertheless, this post did lead me to a deeper understanding of the issue, so I hope you get more good deeds than bad for the post.

  • 2. Malikha Abdullahwali  |  November 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Rahim
    As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu

    After reading the above article. I would like to comment upon a recent world event involving the handshaking between Muslim men and non-mahram women. President Barack Obama and his wife visited Jarkarta, Indonesia this past week and one of the Ministers is currently under fire for shaking the hand of Michele Obama, President Obama’s wife. Now I have not heard anything other than a negative outcry of a mistake that anyone of us could have made. As a Muslim, I don’t believe for one iota of a moment that that brother had any ulterior motives other than just extending his hand to the people in the line that was passing before him. Let us stop the hypocrisy and ask Allah subhana wa Taala to forgive and pardon us for all the gheeba that is spreading about this incident and to ask Him to forgive our dear brother for his mistake. I don’t hear anyone speaking about the gross incidence of homosexuality that is destroying the moral fabric of the Middle East regions. I don’t hear anyone talking about the nakedness of the so called Muslimah’s of today ). So what is this???!!! Are we ready to tar and feather this brother for a mistake that anyone of us could have made? Have we conveniently forgotten the prostitute that saved the thirsty dog from death by Allah??? Her reputation was the lowest in the eyes of the people but her heart was filled with the Rahma of Allah subhana wa Taala. This is a nasty reminder of how the people were ready to accuse Aisha, Mother of the Believers, of an act that they interpreted as immoral when she was escorted by a non-mahram brother after looking for a piece of jewelry that fell from her. Shame on us!!! Muslims, some of us, are too quick to judge…be careful!!! We must fear the wrath of Allah and forgive our brother for his error. Everything that you have stated above is as near to the truth as the evidence allows. Now it is our obligation to show mercy to our brother and make duaa for his pardon from our Rabb.

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