Imagine one of your ordinary days in which you go out in the morning to go to work or the university or anywhere else. You attend some gatherings. You see men and women around you interacting and greeting on different occasions and in various manners, more frequently shaking hands.
You are a member of this community too, and you also used to greet different people with whom you had interactions every day and perhaps it was not important for you if the person you shake hands with is a man or a woman. But now, as a Muslim, you must know that shaking hands in Islam with the opposite gender is forbidden. If this has raised a question in your mind, we will be discussing the issue here.
As a scientific fact, everything we do, or we say, or any other kind of action we perform via every part of our body from legs up to the eyes, or even any thought passing into our minds has energy in itself. Once we bring something into existence, such as an utterance or an action, hence its specific kind of energy, it will never go to an end; but it is transformed and transferred to different targets, leaving its influence on them and first on ourselves.
Thus in our interactions, we are producing some kind of energy. So when people from the opposite genders confront each other and shake hands or kiss or hug each other, as a kind of greeting, what kind of energy is being interchanged between them?
God has put some kind of desire in human’s nature by which the opposite sexes are attracted to each other. When women and men who are non-Mahrams, greet each other in any way involving touching their bodies or looking at one another in such a way that arises this desire, they will be leaving a negative effect on each other; although it may feel pleasant.
Once this instinct is provoked, to satisfy their sensual needs, people may go further in their relationships and may be driven into immoral and sinful acts. The final result would be regret, distrust among people and broken families and other mental and physical consequences. Because in Islam’s viewpoint, sensual desires must only be satisfied among spouses. Due to this and some other reasons we might not know, God has set some rules regarding the quality of relationships between women and men. Following these rules will make concepts like marriage and family meaningful.
One might say that we do not have any bad intentions in our relationships with those who are considered non-Mahram for us. We can control our desires when confronting them and nothing sinful happens. But the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his family who were the purest ones of all time obeyed these rules too.
They avoided any kind of interaction with non-Mahrams that are considered to be Haram.
When people came to the prophet for Bay’ah (to swear allegiance), he shook hands with men, and for women, a container of water was brought in which the prophet put his hand and took his hand out and then women put their hands in the water to make their pledge .
A Muslim is only allowed to touch the body of those of the same gender and those of the opposite gender who are Mahram for him/her.
A man can only look at the face and hands of a non-mahram woman if they do not have decorations and on the condition that it is not for pleasure [i].
In the Quran, we read: “Say to the believers, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts… And say to the believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment, save such as is outward…” (24:30-31). Non-Mahrams must be careful with their speaking, too. In another part of Quran, we read: “…be not abject in your speech, so that he in whose heart is sickness may be lustful, but speak honorable words.” (33:32). In these verses of the Holy Quran, the danger of arousing sexual desires through speaking and looking has been warned. However, there are no limits to touching, looking, and talking between spouses.
And some exceptions may occur. For example, if a doctor of the same gender is not available, one can go to a doctor from the opposite gender and touching and looking is permitted in this case. But only in case of necessity and as much as needed.
Most probably it will be hard for you to find an excuse to refuse to shake hands with non-mahrams especially those with whom you had usual interactions before. Because in your society this may result in a misunderstanding about your attitude toward people.
When a non-mahram wants to shake a hand with you, if you politely say that due to religious matters you can't shake hands but you are pleased to meet them, in most cases, they will accept it from you without being offended. This would be better rather than falsely mentioning illness and other things. But if you explained your reason honestly and someone reacted badly, you do not need to bother yourself convincing that person.
To conclude, shaking hands, kissing, hugging, and every other kind of greeting and interaction between non-Mahrams which involves touching and also looking at each other on purpose, and talking with each other in a tempting manner are Haram in Islam.
[i] Refer to the article “The Islamic etiquette of looking” for more information.
- shakin hands in islam
- Mohammad ibn Jarir Tabari, “Tarikh-e Tabari,” vol.3, p.61-62.
Being a Muslim and living in or traveling to non-Muslim countries, always brings about the challenge of where to eat and what to eat. For Muslims who are adventurous eaters, food is not just something to provide energy for a more useful life, although that would be the desire for a real Muslim believer. But here we are not discussing such high levels of faith.
Here we are just Muslims in non-Muslim countries, facing different cultures and tastes and those giant advertised burgers, seafood, various kinds of Italian Pizza, etc., and at some point, we realize that we are not capable of going home and enjoying our toast and fried eggs. That is where we seek an inspiring call, inviting us to eat and enjoy life, and that is where that verse of the holy Quran echoes in our minds: “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32) and thus, we decide to find those “lawful provisions”; The Halal food.
Finding restaurants of all types in all different parts of the world that serve Halal food is not a difficult job these days. From the Far West to the Far East we can see restaurants with a Halal label on their signs. But have you ever happened to ask the restaurant staff if the food is Halal? And have you ever heard the firm reply “Yes, madam. Feel sure. Even our pork is Halal!” This point, my friends, is where our project of finding a real Halal restaurant begins.
In some non-Muslim countries, the population of Muslims in some specific cities or specific areas of the town is quite noticeable. Often, in these areas, the number of Halal restaurants owned and run by Muslim managers is large. We could usually trust these restaurants as the managers care about Islamic law, and therefore the food they serve.
However, in some western countries, my friends and I have come across restaurants in which their managers came from Islamic countries, and so we thought that the food would be Halal. But after some local investigations, we realized that the manager is not a practicing Muslim, and the food they serve is not Halal. Now, what do we do?
Since selling Halal food brings more customers to the burger shops or restaurants, many non-Muslim restaurant owners have decided to serve Halal meat. Therefore, apart from the Halal label on their signs, they keep a certificate in the restaurants, usually hung on the wall someplace all caring customers can see.
Now you might be thinking about how we can trust those certificates? How do we know they are not fake? From the Islamic law viewpoint, you can trust that and enjoy your meal . Do keep in mind the verse that says: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…” (2:185)
Even in some coffee shops that serve sandwiches, the managers have provided an extra sandwich-maker for Muslim customers with which they do not roast pork and other non-Halal sandwiches.
Living in a non-Muslim country, it is prevalent to socialize with non-Muslim friends or colleagues. It often happens that our group of friends or colleagues decide to dine together at a fancy restaurant that may not be Halal. It is understandable that isolating yourself from the group may have some personal or social consequences. What can we do at these times?
First of all, we can remind the rest of the group that we only eat Halal food, and they may agree to dine at a Halal restaurant. But if they did not accept, what does Islamic law say about eating vegetarian or Halal food in restaurants that serve pork or wine? According to Islamic law, if we did not have a choice, we should not be too harsh on ourselves, and we should trust the vegetarian or Halal food of non-Halal restaurants .
Thinking deeply of the verse “Then let mankind look at his food.” (80:24), one may realize the importance of the food we eat and its influence on the human soul. Apart from Islamic law, almost all Muslim jurists emphasize that we should be extra careful about what we eat. Because what we eat affects our souls.
Therefore if we intend to treat our souls and ascend the steps of spirituality, it is necessary to find food we are sure of is Halal. In such cases, it would be good to be fussy about eating in non-Halal places. And if the spirituality of the soul matters to us more than socializing with friends, then better to be isolated for a while, rather than preventing the soul from its spiritual growth.
Don’t speak when it’s not a good time to talk.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no. 10274.
Any day on which you don’t commit sins or disobey Allah is a day of celebration (Eid).
Nahj al-Balagha, Wisdom no.428.
Looking at nature brings happiness.
Nahj al-Balagha, Wisdom no.400.
There are two things whose worth you will find out only after losing them; youth and health.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, vol. 1, p.449.
Do not impose your own traditions on your children, since they are living in a different era than yours.
Ibn abi al-Hadid, Interpretation of Nahj al-Balagha, vol.20, p.286.
Consult with your wise enemy, but avoid your ignorant friend’s advice.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.2471.
The wise, knowledgeable, experienced, and prudent ones are the best to consult with.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.4990.
Consult before making decisions and think before taking action.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.5754.
If you don’t endure the difficulties of working, you are made to bear the misfortunes of poverty.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.8987.
Be kind to the less privileged ones than you, so that your superiors be kind to you.
Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, Hadith no. 6960.
Rise in respect to your father and your teacher, even if you possess a high status.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.2341.
The world is founded on justice.
Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, Hadith no. 11955.
The fairest among you is the one who observes justice between people while in power.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.3242.
The fairest manner is to treat people the way you expect them to treat you.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.3170.
Don’t worry about how fast you do a job; instead, observe the best quality in whatever you do.
Ibn abi al-Hadid, Interpretation of Nahj al-Balagha, vol.20, p.267.
The worst homeland is the one that doesn’t keep its citizens safe.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.5712.
You need to have enough knowledge of a deed before doing it.
Nahj al-Bakagha, p.171.
Do every day’s work on that specific day, since each task is due to its special day.
Nahj al-Balagha, letter no.53.
The ones who don’t keep their promise do not believe in Allah.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.9577.
It’s beneath you to make a promise to your child and not keep it.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-Amali, p.342.
If you have a child, be childlike with him/her.
Usul al-Kafi, vol.6, p.50.
Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is yet to come, while today is a precious chance for you to make the most of it.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.9840.
The heart of the teenage is like an unplanted land that is ready to receive any seed planted in it.
Nahj al-Balagha, letter no. 31.
The greatest peace is obtained by reading books.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.8126.
Find the scholars’ heaven within the pages of the books.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.991.
The perfection of religion is in seeking knowledge and making use of it.
Usul al-Kafi, vol.1, p.30.
Pay attention to what is said, not who is saying it.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.5048.
Try to ponder and understand instead of quoting.
Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, Hadith no. 3355.
You will be helped, the same way as you help others.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.7209.
The faithful who help the destitute in the hardships and misfortunes of their lives are loved most by Allah.
Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.376.
I found peace, so far as it won’t degrade Islam, more beneficial than war.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.10138.
Don’t be happy about the mistakes of others, since you are not perfect either.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.10294.
Talk respectfully to people to hear respectful responses.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.2568.
Optimism reduces despair and keeps you away from committing sins.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.4823.
What is right is not distinguished by the people; You should first know what is right to find the ones following it.
al-Fattal al-Neyshaburi, Rawḍat al-wāʿiẓīn wa baṣīrat al-muttaʿiẓīn, p.31.
Whoever avoids holding grudges, his/her heart and mind will remain at peace.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.8548.
Be thankful to Allah on your days of comfort and happiness, and be patient on the days of difficulty and hardship.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.7148.
Health is more precious than any other of Allah’s blessings.
Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, p.483.
Women are Allah’s trusts upon you, do not hurt them, and do not put pressure on them.
Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.2, p.551.
Enjoy your moments of happiness with all your heart to help you at the time of sadness.
Ibn abi al-Hadid, Interpretation of Nahj al-Balagha, vol.20, p.286.