Dealing with handshakes from non-mahram

Assalam alaikoum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh!

Sweeten thy soul!

I had an impromptu job interview with Telethon institute today for the position as an Accounts officer. My application was sent through last night and this morning I received a phone call from them to come in the same day. How efficient really by Aussie standards! lol. Honestly, I would love to get this job because of its amazing learning opportunities. And good pay too hehe! Bismillahi tawakkaltu ala Allah. I trust that He everything planned out and apart from that, reserved the best for me too 🙂

By the way, sisters out there – what do you when a (non-mahram of course) man comes up to shake your hand? I’m sure that not everyone lives in a Muslim country and time to time again we have to face this issue whether at job interview or at work or even meeting your next door neighbour. I’ve asked several sisters to share their experiences dealing with this situation so I’m sharing with you. Firstly, there are ahadeeth that specifically mention about shaking hands with non-mahrams and the severity of it:

Umaymah bint Raqeeqah said: ‘The prophet, peace be upon him, said, “I do not shake hands with women (not permissible to touch).”

[An-Nasaai, #4181 and Ibn Majah, #2874; Albani declared it sahih; Al Jami, #2513]

There is a hadeeth (narration of an event) from Ma’qil ibn Yassar, saying; The prophet, peace 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 to permissible to you.”
[At-Tabarani in “Al Kabir, #486. Shaikh Albani said in Sahih al-Jaami’ it is sahih #5045]

Some tips insha Allah:

~ Personally, I would clasped my hands together, place them on my chest and give an apologetic smile. I’ve done this a couple of times and al-hamdulillah it worked! There was once, however, when a non-Muslim friend introduced her male friend to me, he wanted to shake my hand and I did as mentioned but he didn’t get the message. For that 10 awkward seconds, he kept gesturing a handshake and everyone looked on like he was plain silly. Or maybe I was the silly one. Nonetheless, I can’t help but pity the poor chap who was slightly red with embarrassment.

~ Another sister handles it slightly differently. She would lean forward a little and say “Sorry I can’t shake your hand“. And of course, a nice smile neutralizes the whole situation. This same sister did this at a job interview at one of the Big 4 Accounting firms and now secures a job there.

~ One other way according to another sister is to say “Sorry but my people don’t shake hands“. I believe this was the answer given by a Sheikh when a sister asked what to do in this situation. This same sister told that to her employer when he tried to shake her hand. Well, she still has her job.

Why I decided to write this post is because, I realised today that since I’m entering the workforce soon insha Allah, I’ll be constantly faced with this. I’m certain that other sisters are in my shoes too.  Some sisters had said to me before, “It’s ok to just shake non-mahram mens’ hands.. no evil intention anyway” or  “we don’t have to be extreme.. Allah knows our intention” or that “I don’t want to embarrass him

As much as we know that He knows our intentions, we should ask ourselves whether Allah would still be pleased with us. I’m sure if we  dig deep into our hearts, the answer would be a no. Maybe you won’t get the job just because they feel that you won’t fit in well for being too conservative. Maybe friends might abandon you for being ‘backwards’. Maybe you might be insulted. Whatever the outcome it may be, what’s worse than incurring His wrath?

We shouldn’t be embarrassed to explain why our religion forbids even something as simple as shaking hands between men and women who are not related to each other. To others, it is just a handshake. To us, our Deen matters more.

Just to lighten the mood up a little (in case this post is starting to get depressing), a sister told me that she read that Sis Yvonne Ridley declined a handshake from the President of United States once and her mom who saw this on television, immediately called to scold her. Lol! Sis Yvonne stood her ground that she wouldn’t shake hands even with the President.. subhan Allah!

Insha Allah all of us remain steadfast in this! Remember that the ultimate goal is for His pleasure solely and not to please His creations 🙂

p/s/ Sisters, you are welcome to share your experiences or ways to deal with this 🙂


8 thoughts on “Dealing with handshakes from non-mahram

  1. I’ve always wondered, can we shake if we wear gloves?

    Sigh, this is something I need to work on coz I usually end up shaking hands with the few men I come across. I get awkward, especially if people I know are with me and they give me weird “why are u being an extremist?” looks if I hesitate! 😦

    This is a very good reminder sis. A reminder for me that I live to seek Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala’s pleasure, and not to be accepted among the people of this dunya. Jazakiallah Khair 🙂

    • Allahu Alam sis.. when I was trying to find the hadeeth that I posted, I came across two websites that had different opinions about it. One of the opinions is that you can shake hands but with a cloth as a barrier because in a hadith, it was stated that Prophet sallallahu alayhi salam used a cloth when women wanted to shake his hands to give bai’ah. However, the other opinion is that the hadith mentioned is not sahih because Prophet sallallahu alayhi salam will never touch a woman since it was said that:

      “Wali Ad-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.'”

      Anyway, I think it’s safer to take the second opinion since the hadith has stated clearly about coming in contact with non-mahram. Apart from that, all the four Imaams opine against it too. Allahu alam. Btw, you can check out this website for comprehensive answer:

      Aameen.. It’s a reminder for me first actually so al-hamdulillah if it benefits you too 😀 Wa iyyaki ya ukhti!

  2. Assalamualaikom Sister, Thank you for following my blog. Yours is great too. I do come across such a situation, especially here in Malaysia, anything also can (Malaysian way of speaking English). I normally refused a handshake simply by saying sorry and clasp my hands together like you did. Jazakallah kheir.

    • Wa alaik salam wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh Sis Salbiyyah 🙂

      Al-hamdulillah your blog is fabulous masha Allah! And I understand the part when you said “anything also can”.. semua boleh eh! hehe.. I think its everywhere, not only in Malaysia, we see Muslims shaking hands with their non-mahrams. Wa iyyaki! 🙂

  3. masha Allah, the post that I have been wanting for!!!
    I happen to forget scrolling down your page and click ‘older post’! I thought I have read all of your March posts.. hehe 😀 a very interesting and beneficial post indeed.

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