Avoiding the Forbidden Handshake
by Hazrat Maulana Yunus Patel Saheb (rahmatullah ‘alayh)
In business, men and women often offer their hands for a handshake. It is a formality and is considered part of good business dealings and interactions. Many brothers enquire as to how to deal with such situations.
As Muslims, we keep before us the Command of Allah Ta’ala: That it is Haraam (forbidden) for us to touch, let alone shake the hand of a strange woman (or vice versa).
Rasulullah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“It is better for an iron rod (nail) to be driven into the head of a man, than for him to touch a woman who is not permissible for him.”
Moreover, Allah Ta’ala’s Pleasure comes before any form of social etiquette – when it contradicts Shari’ah.
In such a circumstance, where a woman extends her hands, then averting the gaze, politely tell her: “It should not be taken as an insult that I do not shake your hand. It is from my religious teachings that Muslim men are not allowed to shake the hands of those females who are not related to them. It is also out of respect for you, and it is out of loyalty to my wife, that I do not touch a strange woman.”
Simple! There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, nor is there a need to be apologetic. There is also no need for a lengthy speech. It is evident that such a teaching is full of wisdom and protection, and it directs towards modest conduct and respect for others.
Similarly, we should lower our gazes and avoid looking at strange women. These are commandments, which if practised, will truly impress and attract those who are non-Muslims. Many have accepted Islam, observing such high levels of respect, modesty, purity and noble character.
 Al Mu’jamul Kabir