Is it Permissible To Shake Hand With Stranger Women (Non-Mahram)? Javed Ahmad Ghamidi’s Misleading Ideology

NOTE: It should be noted that the below answer is the English translation of the Fatwa issued by Jamia Uloom Islamia Allama Yusuf Banuri Town, Karachi, Pakistan.

Question

I saw a video clip of Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, in which he is saying that a Muslim woman can shake hands with a stranger, some of his words are: “Etiquette of social interaction between men and women  are  stated in the Quran. It is not written in Quran that men cannot shake hands with a stranger women. It is also not mentioned in any Hadith, but the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said only about himself that  He does not shake hands with women, so it is not haram or illegitimate in our religion but it is related to cultural influence and norms of the society. So if situation comes men can shake hands with women  as it does not matter”.

In fact Muslim women living in Western countries have to shake hands with male strangers who sometimes visit their offices or schools. Similarly, there are occasions when Muslim men get into no-go situation when they have to shake hands with female strangers. In the event of a refusal to do so, the likelihood of harm coming from them is not that remote. Does the Shari’ah of Islam permit a handshake in this situation?

Answer

This opinion of Javed Ahmed Ghamidi is a proof of his total ignorance of the rules of Shariah. His misguided thoughts and ideas should be strictly avoided, and  ulema who are experts with solid knowledge of Qur’an and Sunnah should be consulted.

It should be noted that shaking hands with stranger women (non-mahram) is forbidden unanimously  by all jurists, and the evidence for this is found in the texts. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also gave a strong warning against touching stranger women (non-mahram). That includes touching, and holding the hand of a non-mahram stranger (as narrated in Tabarani from Hazrat Maqil bin Yasar, may Allah bless him and grant him peace):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “لأن يُطعن في رأس أحدكم بمخيط من حديد خير له من أن يمسّ امرأة لاتحلّ له.” رواه الطبراني صحيح الجامع 5045

“It is better to injure one’s head with an iron bracelet than to touch a non-mahram woman.”

In the narration of Bukhari Sharif, it is narrated from Hazrat Ayesha (RA) that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to test  the women who migrated to Madinah according to the verse of Surah Al-Mumtahinah that  have they migrated only for the sake of Allah and the Holy Prophet (PBUH)? Not for any other purpose? When they passed the test, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would say to them, “I have sworn allegiance to you orally.” Hazrat Ayesha said, “By Allaah, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also swore allegiance. He did not touch any woman.

It should be noted here that Allah Almighty Himself in Surah Al-Mumtahina has commanded you to swear allegiance to such women and swearing allegiance in Arabia meant to give a firm pledge of allegiance by handing over to an elder, such as peace. The allegiance on the occasion of Hudaybiyyah is mentioned in Surah Al-Fath, and the allegiance on the blessed hand is definitely proved by the continuity of the signs and traditions of the Holy Qur’an. Nevertheless, when swearing allegiance to women, make it clear that I swore allegiance to you orally and swear by Hazrat Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) that the blessed hand of the Prophet (PBUH) never touched a woman’s hand. All these things are not only for the sake of stating the blessed habit of the Prophet (PBUH) with such care, otherwise the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) would have acted on it once in obedience to the command of Allaah, or at least to justify it.

The words of Sahih Bukhari’s narration are also noteworthy that the blessed hand of the Prophet (ﷺ) did not even touch the hand of a woman, except for the woman whom the Prophet (ﷺ) owned.

وفي رواية عنها رضي الله عنها قالت: مَا مَسَّتْ يَدُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَدَ امْرَأَةٍ إِلا امْرَأَةً يَمْلِكُهَا”. رواه البخاري 6674

It is narrated in Sahih Muslim that the palm of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) did not touch the palm of any woman (non-mahram).

وفي رواية : أَنَّهُ يُبَايِعُهُنَّ بِالْكَلامِ .. وَمَا مَسَّتْ كَفُّ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَفَّ امْرَأَةٍ قَطُّ. صحيح مسلم 3470

In addition, many books with authentic chain of transmission have narrated the hadiths that “even the hands commit adultery and their adultery is to be caught”.

سنن ابی داؤد، جلد 3 ص:484 حدیث: 2153۔ ط: دار الرسالۃ العالمیۃ، صحیح مسلم: 2657۔ مسند احمد: 8526 و 10920

In these hadiths, touching and holding hands is also called zina, holding hands with non-mahrams is also found. The hadith mentioned at the beginning of the answer and such strong promises in this hadith can only be made on an illegitimate and haraam act, not even on an undesirable act. It turned out that shaking hands with a non-mahram is sinful and unlawful. And he (ﷺ) did not make such strong promises just for breaking his habit.

Also, it is haraam to look at non-mahram women intentionally because it is a place of fitnah according to the Shari’ah texts (Surat al-Noor) and all the jurists agree on this, and this haraam is proved by Dalalat al-Nus, while non-mahram Touching a woman, or shaking hands with her, has been proven by these texts as a prerequisite. Because shaking hands or shaking hands is more fitnah than seeing, so denying its sanctity requires the denial of the Shari’ah texts, and the argument of less knowledge and less rationality.

Some Muslims feel too embarrassed to refuse when a woman offers her hand to them. In addition to mixing with women, some of them claim that they are forced to shake hands with fellow-students and teachers in schools and universities, or with colleagues in the workplace, or in business meetings and so on, but this is not an acceptable excuse. The Muslim should overcome his own feelings and the promptings of the Satan, and be strong in his faith, because Allaah is not ashamed of the truth. The Muslim could apologize politely and explain that the reason he does not want to shake hands is not to offend or hurt anybody’s feelings, but it is because he is following the teachings of his religion. In most cases this will earn him respect from others. There is no harm done if they find it strange at first, and it may even be a practical opportunity for da’wah.

So Women shaking hands with male strangers and men shaking hands with female strangers is not permissible under any circumstances. This position is fully supported by clear statements in the noble Ahadith and all jurists concur on this being impermissible.

Allah knows the best

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