FAQs & Fatwas

Shaking hands with a non-Mahram

Answered by Sh. Abdullah Bin Bayyah

Originally published on www.altranslators.com

*Note: this is a repost of an older blog entry which, for some reason, got deleted:

The Question:

“Is it allowable for me and women [who are eligible to marry] to shake hands sometimes?”

The Answer:

“The origin [of this ruling] is that a man is not allowed to shake hands with a woman [who he is eligible to marry and vice versa]. However, if she is an elderly woman then the school of Abi Hanifa [may Allah have mercy upon him] considered shaking hands with her permissible. Perhaps, the questioner will state that, “By not shaking a woman’s hand it could lead to hardship or shared ill feelings and so forth?” If not shaking hands will lead to the actuality of those fears, then it is allowable to shake hands as long as there is no evil feelings or affection for the woman [and vice versa]. And if the opposite holds true, then it is not allowed to do so.

Dr. Abdullah bin Bayyah

* Note, there was some abridgment done to this answer to make it clearer to the English audience. However, the meaning and answer of Dr. Bin Bayyah was not changed.


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  • I disagree strongly with this answer. From what I know, the ulema had agreed (ijma’) that shaking the hand of a woman was never a necessity. There is an exception mentioned above (old women). The rest (i.e. this fatwa) is just bad fiqh. I can’t believe how you could do this, Suhaib, when there are brothers out there who have a really hard time sticking to their Deen without you making things much harder on them. This is exactly what ‘minority fiqh’ is about- changing the Deen of Allah. You’re a good brother, why are you making things harder for us? Now every time we don’t shake hands, non-Muslim colleagues will tell us ‘oh, but this guy says it isn’t from Islam’.

    • I think what is even more difficult for brothers to stick to the deen is when you have laymen such as yourself pretending that they know more than scholars. Having a disagreement is one thing, but condemning them and saying they are ignorant (ie. bad fiqh) is arrogance, and showing no proof for your own opinion is stupidity.

      Let those who know speak! And let those who don’t know stay silent!

      • One more thing. If a brother is having a tough time sticking to the deen because he’s shaking hands with a woman, then I think he has other issues. Seriously…think about it.

        • AS salaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu. Once you seek ilm from a scholarly source and receive it..kalas! You have the choice to implement the advice or reject it; at the end of the day, the final decision is yours anyway. Now if a scholar conveys erroneous information that you have humbly implemented YOU WILL NOT BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE by Allah subhana wa Taala. The mistake will be forgiven on both sides by Allah’s mercy. The key though is humility and respect for the scholars as Allah subhana wa Taala has prescribed. If a brother has issues with the opposite sex as he becoming weakened by temptation then he should refrain from touching..it’s that simple! However, there are some brothers who deliberately put themselves in certain situations knowing good and well that they are too weak to handle it and eventually fall flat on their faces (morally). It’s pure common sense in effect here. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly to protect yourself from the fire. We don’t have to argue back and forth with any scholar or anyone whatsoever, but we are obligated to perpetually demonstrate good manners. May Allah pardon us for our misgivings and wrong doing amin. Allah SWT is solely in charge here, don’t ever forget that!

  • AS


    This outburst is uncalled for. We demand of you “dalil” for this “ijma” you invoke particularly because Shaikh Bin Bayyah (h) is a senior scholar, meaning he sits on the Ummah’s fiqh councils, and this implies he violated an ijma. Be careful in your approach and what you say bro, with love I say this. Follow other opinions, no problem, but relax, are you qualified in fatwa? You can express a discomfort but to claim you are qualified to judge good and bad fiqh demands a show of merit on your part.

    Let us end this right here until credentials come to the table, humble the egoistical .

    Look you mention yourself more than you do evidence or proof and you do it with such authority:

    1.) I disagree

    2.) I know

    3.) I can’t believe

    Fear Allah (swt) with knowledge and scholarship. If you do not agree, fine, but honestly we can say so what it is your opinion, until it is justified with evidence and a scholarship, it remains that it is without backing therefore it has little consequence. Enough with arguing about what the scholars say.

    My advice to the Western brothers is to relax a bit, intellect is not a source of law, it is a tool in law.

  • Sincerely I say to you As-salamu alaikum WM,

    Hold up! If you knew what this man has put into this deen you wouldn’t attack him like that. Minorty Fiqh is established. This is a fatwa bro take it or leave it. Many people attacked Shaikhul-Islam in his time and many still do for many of his fiqh/aqeedah rulings. That doesn’t take away from him being Shaikhul-Islam!

  • Assalamo’alaikom wa rahmatoALLAHi ta’ala wa barakatoh.

    I start in the name of ALLAH. All praise is due to ALLAH, the most high, the most merciful. I ask Allah to bless us, to guide us, to cleanse our harts from any evil, and to put Iman in it, to put ta9wa in it, to put fear in it, to put patience in it, I ask Allah to remove any love that we have for this Dunia, and replace it with love for Akhira, to replace it with love for Allah Sobhanaho wa ta’ala the Most High and for our Beloved Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him. I ask Allah to forgive our sins, big ones and small ones, and to grant us Jannato’lFirdaws. Allah’omma AMIN.

    ALLAH the most high says in the Holy Quran ‘Wala ta9olona ma lam ta3lamon’ ‘Do not say what you do not know’

    It is therefore very important for the sake of ALLAH azzawajall that before we (we as in none-scholars) make any statements such as ‘I know’ or ‘I don’t agree’ etc we need to some sort of dalil (evidence) to back up the statements that we make.

    We all know who Sheikh Bin Bayyah is, may ALLAH grant him success in this life and in akhirah – before we make statements against senior scholars as such or people of knowledge and scholarship in general, before we utter anything – let’s think twise and thereby first and foremost fear the ONE that created us – ALLAH azzawajall the most HIGH, the most MERCIFUL.

    If i’ve said anything to offend anyone, please forgive me. May ALLAH show us and lead us to the right path, to HIS path. May HE grant us jannah, may we see the beautiful face of our beloved Prophet (may ALLAH’s peace and blessings be upon him). May we forgive eachother for the sake of ALLAH, and may we love eachother for the sake of ALLAH. For as our Imam and our brother Suhaib (may ALLAH grant him success in this life and the next) said – on the day of judgement ALLAH azzawajall will say ‘Where are those who loved eachother for my sake’ So let everything that we do be for the sake of our Creator ALLAH.

    And always remember, ALLAH ALONE grants tawfi9 (success)

    Wa ALLAHu lmosta’an.

    Wassalamo’alaikom wa rahmatoALLAHi taala wa barakatoh.

  • Salam alaikum

    This issue has been discussed in more detail by Dr. Qaradawi with full references to adilla used, so I suggest someone refers to that first before making bold statements about the illegitimacy of this opinion.

    Dr. Qaradawi goes much further than bin Bayyah, whose opinion is restricted above to the issue of duroori, which to be honest can anyone really ever see happening except for in truly exceptional circumstances?

    Also refer to the discussion in fath-al-bari specifically around the hadith of women giving bay’a.

    In the end this is an issue of ikhtilaf, even though the ikhtilaf on the issue is perhaps not well known.

    I think it is also not good to mix this issue up with completely invalid opinions that are beginning to be aired that truly do make things more difficult for Muslims in the West, we need to be careful and identify those critical issues (eg. hijab for the sisters etc.) and not paint these true ikhtilafi issues with the same brush


  • sorry to be clear there is not a reference to duroori but rather haaja , as in the statement
    “By not shaking a woman’s hand it could lead to hardship or shared ill feelings and so forth?”
    which would still be an unlikely circumstance in all honesty, though perhaps not exceptional

  • As,


    What is your scholalrly backround? You may disagree with an opinion but do not mock a scholar like that. Proviode your evidence of ijma akhi!

  • To be fair, I do wish that the fatwa had clarified the following –

    “Perhaps, the questioner will state that, “By not shaking a woman’s hand it could lead to hardship or shared ill feelings and so forth?” If not shaking hands will lead to the actuality of those fears, then it is allowable to shake hands as long as there is no evil feelings or affection for the woman”

    But that does not take away from the fact that this is an issue of ikhtilaf as explained well by Dr. Qaradawi, even if someone may wish for clarification of the thinking behind the reasoning mentioned above


  • Just to clarify, if Sh Bin Bayyah ever visited my house I would kiss his hands. I just don’t agree with his fatwa.

  • WM no issue, shukran, this is the environment we want to cultivate respect for the scholars and respectfully differing.

  • salaam

    I personally accept the discussion being put for by sh QArdarwi on this subject . But the contention I have to sh bin bayyah’s explanation seems to justify commuting an impermissible act for the sake of not causing offense. We could justify a lot of impermissble acts by this justification .

    Also is there any shara justification to permit abandoning a hukm for
    The sake of not causig offense ? Similarly the haaja isn’t a justification of commuting a haram sh bin bayyah wrote a detailed discussion on the diference between haaja and dharoora and some use principles of dharoora on matters which are haaja.

    Finally I also believe it’s an inacurate understanding of he reality particularly living in the west.

  • Salam,

    In addition to the logical comments of brother Laith, I ask, is there any scholar from the past and who was an authority of some nature at least, say that its allowed to touch a non-Mahram of the opposite gender?
    If not, then we have a new opinion of Sheikh Qaradawi and it means that everyone else in the past was wrong. How is that possible, especially since the situation of touching the opposite gender is not new? Wouldn’t that mean that the Salaf didn’t allow the touching of women too(all the classical positions of the madhabs I found don’t allow it)? Isn’t the opinion of allowing it a bid’a(a bad one for those who believe in differentiation)?
    Aren’t there Hadiths about Allah protecting the Ummah from agreeing upon error?

    Of course thats assuming no scholar held the opinion in the past(Sheikh Ramadan Buti said he heard of no difference of opinion in the past over this) and to date I haven’t seen a single quote from the past scholars.

  • I strongly agree with this guy. Not talking about shaking hands with the older women but for a man to shake a womans hand or vice versa because “could lead to hardship or shared ill feelings and so forth?” That is absurd. That is saying suck up to the people and make sure everyone is happy even if it means to disobey Allah and become a pp (people pleaser)….

  • I hope Allah (SWT) cures us from this state. This is a fatwa from one of the most senior scholars of the modern ulema’, not just some guy. If you agree with it, then take it and ask Allah to accept our actions and forgive us if we are wrong, and if you take the stricter opinion, ask Allah to accept our actions and forgive those who may be in the wrong in this situation.

    And I would just like to add that I think that what Sh. Bin Bayyah says about the hardship makes sense. There are fragile situations in which it is more wise to shake the opposite genders hand. We need to also understand that it will most likely be someone who is not Muslims and does not know of the rules of Islam who initiates the shaking of the hand. What I believe is that if there is no realistic possibility of fully explaining why one did not shake their hand, they should simply shake it. For example, when one wins an award, they often shake hands with the sponsors of the award who could very possibly be non-Mahram non-Muslims. You probably never have talked to them before and probably will have minimal if any talk after, certainly not enough to explain why you couldn’t shake their hand (not shaking someones hand could be seen as you degrading them in the US and other countries). We have to look at the logic behind rules in Islam. The principal object is to prevent desire, and a handshake hardly furnishes desire.

    • Brothers and sisters let us look at the following ayats from our Sacred Book, the Quran:

      “He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

      “Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah , and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience. This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

      “Say, “I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden to one who would eat it unless it be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine – for indeed, it is impure – or it be [that slaughtered in] disobedience, dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.””

      “He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit] – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

      Now let’s apply this principle to the handshaking of non-mahram women. Pork is FORBIDDEN yet Allah swt out of His mercy for His slaves has established the above sanction. Now all of us in this forum should now understand that handshaking with non-mahram women(Muslim or non-Muslim) according to the tradition of our illustrious predecessors is considered haram. BUT a concession is given in the event that the issue of necessity is established. Really, Is there need for any further discussion regarding this issue??

  • There was an awards ceremony where the officiating female dignitary was giving big bear hugs and kisses on cheeks to both male and female recipients of the awards. It was televised on C-Span and a very dignified occasion. In the case where it would have looked bad or insulting to have refused this gesture, is this fatwa permitting the Muslim male to receive the hugs and kisses as well? Also, for the reverse gender case (i.e. the man giving the hugs and kisses to the female Muslim – should she accept so he doesn’t feel bad)?

    On a tangential note, usually I find americans really accommodating of different cultures and beliefs, especially if they are told up front, but discretely, about it. We have in religions alone orthodox jews, amish, sikh, mormons, buddhists — you name it. And communities who live around them learn their ways and in general respect them.

    I guess in the above situation, to sort of explain to the organizers and let the person know your preference about not shaking hands or touching the opposite gender. Americans are pretty cool and would accommodate that.

    I’ve actually found Americans get embarrassed and insulted when they discover these things later and say “Why didn’t you tell me!” They feel like they were not trusted enough, and that you intentionally let them make a faux pas. This embarrasses them even more. On the flip side, we all know american non-muslims who are genuinely so pleased when they go around saying “assalaamu alaikum” to their muslim colleagues and neighbors. Americans are an open people, and I think they like to be given the benefit of the doubt.

  • Honestly…Find me one sahaaba, tabi’ee, or tabi’ tabi’ee who says that shaking hands with the opposite gender (except with old women as mentioned above) for fear of ‘hardship or ill-feelings’ is permissible. Let me see the fatwa by Imam Ghazzali (RA) that shaking hands with women is permissible. Let me see the fatwa by Imam Nawawi (RA) saying that shaking hands with women is permissible. Or give me any of the great luminous ‘ulemaa of the past who say that shaking hands with women is permissible. (Again i’m not talking about old women.)

    I don’t know, I’m not convinced..

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