Shaking Hands With Women
Is it forbidden for Muslims men and women to shake hands?
Shaking hands (and touching) members of the opposite sex when not related, is not permissible for Muslims according to the teachings of Islam.
First: It is not allowed for a believing man to put his hand in the hand of a woman who is not allowed for him (mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc.). Whoever does this has wronged himself (sinned).
There is a Hadith from Ma’qil ibn Yasar, saying; The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “It is better for you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is not permissible to you.”
This alone should be enough to keep away from this action and to instill obedience to Allah, as it implies touching women may lead to temptation and immorality.
Ayesha, the wife of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘When the believing women migrated (to Medina) and came to the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) they would be examined in accordance with the words of Allah (in Quran):
“O Prophet! When believing women come to you to give you the Bay’ah (pledge of allegiance), that they will not associate anything in worship with Allah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit illegal sexual intercourse, that they will not kill their children, that they will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood (i.e. by making illegal children belonging to their husbands), and that they will not disobey you in any Ma’ruf (Islamic Monotheism and all that which Islam ordains) then accept their Bay’ah (pledge of allegiance), and ask Allah to forgive them, Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. [Noble Quran 60:12]
Any of the believing women who accepted the conditions of the verse and agreed to live by them were considered to have offered themselves for giving their oaths of allegiance. When they declared their commitment to do so, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) would say to them, “You may go. I have confirmed your allegiance.”
I swear by Allah, the Prophet’s hand never touched the hand of a woman. He would receive their oath of allegiance by spoken declaration. I swear by Allah, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) never took any vow from women except what Allah had ordered him to take and his palm never touched the palm of a woman. When he had taken their pledge, he would tell them he had taken their oath from them orally. ‘ [Sahih Muslim]
The Prophet of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) did not touch women who were not permissible (shaking hands, etc.). This despite the fact the oath of allegiance was originally given by hand. So what about these other men going around shaking hands?
Umaymah bint Raqiqah said: ‘The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I do not shake hands with women (not permissible to touch).”‘
Second: It’s not permissible to shake hands even with a barrier (such as a garment) in between. There is an unacceptable narration (Da’if; not authentic) saying the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) used to shake hands with women from beneath a garment. Al Haythami said: ‘This was narrated by At-Tabarani in Al-Kabir and Al-Awsat. The chain of narrators includes ‘Atab ibn Harb, who is Da’if (weak in narrations).
Waliyyud-Din Al-Iraqi said: ‘The words of Ayesha, “He used to accept the women’s oath by words only” means he did so without taking their hands or shaking hands with them. This indicates the Bay’ah (oath) of men was accepted by shaking hands, as well as words, and this is how it was. What Ayesha mentioned was the custom.’
Some Mufassirun (type of scholar) mentioned that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) asked for a vessel of water and dipped his hand in it, then the women dipped their hands in it. And some of them said he did not shake hands with them from behind a barrier and had a cloak from Qatar over his hand. And it was said that ‘Umar, may Allah accept from him, shook hands with them on his behalf.
None of these reports are true, especially the last one.
How could ‘Umar, may Allah accept from him, have done something the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) would not do?
Sheikh Muhammad Abdul-Aziz bin Baz (Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, d. 1999), Allah’s Mercy on him, said:
‘The most correct view in this (shaking women’s hands with something in between) is not allowed at all, because of the general meaning of the Hadith, wherein the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I do not shake hands with women (who are not related)” in order to avoid the way leading to evil.
Third: The same rule applies to shaking hands with older women; it is also forbidden due to the general meaning of the texts on the issue. The reports saying it is permissible are weak (Da’if).
Al-Zayla’i said: ‘As for the report saying Abu Bakr used to shake hands with old women, it is Gharib (strange in its chain of narrators, not acceptable in this case).
Ibn Hajar said: ‘I cannot find this Hadith.”
Fourth: We now list the opinions of the four schools of jurisprudence (Madthabs):
With regard to the views of the four Imams, they are as follows:
1- Hanafi Madthab (Imam Abu Hanifah):
Ibn Nujaym said: ‘It is not permissible for a man to touch a woman’s face or hands even when there’s no risk of desire because it is Haram in principle and there is no necessity to allow it.’
2- Maliki Madthab (Imam Malik):
Muhammad ibn Ahmad (‘Ulaysh) said: ‘It’s not permissible for a man to touch the face or hand of a non-Mahram woman (not related), and it is not permissible for him to put his hand on hers without a barrier. Ayesha, may Allah be pleased with her, said: ‘The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) never accepted a woman’s oath of allegiance by shaking hands with her; instead he would accept their oath of allegiance in words alone.’
According to another report: ‘His hand never touched the hand of a woman, instead he would accept their oath of allegiance with words alone.’
3- Shafi’i Madthab (Imam Ash-Shafi’i):
Imam An-Nawawi (author of Al-Arba’in An-Nawawiyyah and Riyadus-Salahin) said, “It is not permitted to touch a woman (not properly related) in any way.
Waliyyud-Din Al-Iraqi said, ‘This indicates the hand of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) did not touch the hand of any woman except for those permissible to him, whether in the case of accepting their oath of allegiance or in other cases. If he didn’t do it in spite of the fact he was infallible and above suspicion, then it is even more essential for others to heed this prohibition. It appears from the texts he didn’t do it because it was forbidden for him to do so.
The Fuqaha’ (scholars of jurisprudence) among our companions and others say it is forbidden to touch a non-Mahram (not properly related) woman even if it is touching any part of her body that is not a part of her ‘Awrah, such as her face.
But their differences of opinion occurred regarding looking (at them) when there is no desire and no fear of Fitnah (serious calamity). The prohibition of touching is stronger even than the prohibition of looking, and it is forbidden when there is no necessity to allow it. In the case of necessity, such as medical treatment, removing a tooth or treating the eyes, if there is no woman available to provide the treatment, then it is allowed for a man to do it because of the necessity.
4- Hanbali Madthab (Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal):
Ibn Muflih said about Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, that he was asked about a man who shakes hands with a woman. His answer was, ‘No’ and it was emphatically forbidden. When he was asked about shaking hands having some cloth in between he said, ‘No’.
Sheikh Taqiyyud-Din also held the view it was prohibited and gave the reason, touching is more serious than looking.
Sheikh Yusuf Estes