Physical contacts has always been a sensitive issue in Islam. Between non mahrams, it is not allowed to touch each other. When a man and a woman who is not mahrams touch, it’s worried that sexual desire will arise.
How far can a man and woman allowed to touch each other? How is the prohibition of shaking hands with non mahrams in Islam?
It’s an interesting topic to talk about. In everyday life, it’s hard for us to avoid shaking hands with opposite sex who is not out mahrams. Especially when we work in an environment and related to many people.
At least we have to shake their hands as a form of politeness. We’re going to give some explanations for Muslims who are still hesitating about the law.
- No Explicit Law Regarding the Matter
Firstly, Quran and hadith never explicitly mention that handshaking between non mahrams is prohibited. When something is not prohibited in Islam, then it’s safe to say that it’s halal. However, if there’s no negative intention behind it, it’s halal. Also read Law of Doing Prayer with Non-Mahram
- The Prophet Never Did Such Things
Even when there’s no explicit prohibition, our role model, the Prophet, never do such things.
‘Aishah (RA) said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) never accepted the oath of allegiance (bay‘ah) of a woman by holding her hand; he would accept oaths of allegiance from women verbally. According to another report: His hand never touched the hand of a woman; rather he would accept their oath of allegiance verbally.
- It’s Haram When There’s Pleasure in It
Shaking hand with non mahrams becomes prohibited and haram if there’s fear that it might provoke sexual desire or there’s fear of temptation. Especially when the signs are clear, never do it. Also read How to Control Sexuality in Islam
- Shaking Hands with Young and Old Persons are Okay
There are also an arguably exception in regards of a Muslim shaking hands with non mahrams. If the person is a young child or elderly, there will be no fear of sexual temptation or desire.
One of the shahabah, Abu Bakr As Siddiq, used to shake hand with elder woman. In other words, it’s save as long as there is no sexual will that involved.
- It’s Permissible Under Certain Conditions
Other story from Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair, he used to hire an old woman to nurse him when he was ill. However, if it’s still possible you better hire same sex employee. Also read Rules of Dressing in Islam
“As for women past child bearing, who have no hope of marriage, it is no sin for them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show adornment. But to refrain is better for them. Allah is Hearer, Knower.” (24:60)
- Hands are Areas That are Covered in Women’s Body
Islam commanded women to cover most areas of their body except for face and hands. As hands are also part where it should be covered, then non mahrams should never touch it. Touching might arise lust and sexual desire.
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent …”(24: 31)
- It Becomes Haram When It Causes Fitnah
Shaking hands between non mahrams man and woman is alright (according to some schools) under certain conditions. As explained above, shaking hands with young people and elders is alright because there is no sexual desire that may arise from it.
But shaking hands can be haram when it potentially causing fitnah. Moreover, when enjoyment and sexual desire is appear, then it may causes fitnah. If this is the case, shaking hands is haram for sure. Also read How to Deal With Desires in Islam
Sexual desire can make things that halal becomes haram. Such as when you are originally permitted to shake hands and touch your aunt or foster sister, but if you feel sexual desire when getting in touch with them, it’s not halal anymore.
- Physical Contacts Should be Restricted
Even though there is no explicit prohibition either in the Holy Quran or Hadith, a good Muslim should make his own restriction. Shaking hands should only be done between relatives who becomes related through marriage.
Also when someone is in a difficult situation where he was offered to shake hands and the person stretch their hands already, he/she can accept the handshake.
- Following the Prophet is Best
“Verily in the Messenger of Allah ye have a good example …”(33: 21)
Upon reading this, a Muslim should be smart in deciding which to be believed. However, following the Prophet’s Sunnah is the best. As said on the Quran verse above, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is the best of example. Importance of Sunnah in Muslim Life
How to Avoid Shaking Hands with Non Mahrams at Work
For Muslims who want to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and not shaking hands even at work, here are some ways to do it:
- Explain to Them It’s Not Permissible. Give understanding to your co-workers that it’s not permissible for you to handshake with them. use good words so that they won’t be offended.
- Greet Them Verbally. Instead of handshake, you can give them warm greeting verbally.
- Keep Your Words Warm and Pleasant to be Heard. And upon giving verbal greeting, keep your words warm and pleasant to hear.
So those are the explanation about prohibition of shaking hands with non mahram in Islam. For things which law has not been set clear, a Muslim should look up as many information as possible. Be it from Hadith, Quranic verses, or scholarly articles. A Muslim should be wise in seeing every problems.