Can Men and Women Shake Hands?

27 December, 2018
Q Can men and women who are not related shake hands in a business or professional setting?

Answer

Short Answer: The simple answer is, yes. In general, we know that one of the principles in recognizing hadith which are not genuine is that if the hadith prescribes either a supremely great reward for a minor good deed, or a supremely great punishment for a minor misdeed. And then that probably is not a genuine hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him). For a job interview, this is a matter of circumstance and it is my understanding and my expectation that God will overlook that. Because it’s not your purpose to seek sexual pleasure by touching the other person in this case.


Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Dr. Shabir Ally from Let The Quran Speak addresses this question in the video below.


Transcript:

Aisha Khaja: The question for today is someone is asking: are we allowed to shake hands with a non-maharam in a job interview.

Dr. Shabir Ally: The simple answer is, yes.

If you maintain a very strict stance towards distances and say no, that stance may be based on the hadith which says that if a man touches a woman to whom he’s not related, it’s better for him to have an iron rod driven into his head.

You can see this very severe punishment mentioned for this which obviously is a very small action compared to some major things.

You might wonder, if that’s the punishment for just shaking hands, well what would be the punishment for actually committing adultery?

So, in general, we know that one of the principles in recognizing hadith which are not genuine is that if the hadith prescribes either a supremely great reward for a minor good deed, or a supremely great punishment for a minor misdeed.

And then that probably is not a genuine hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

So, aside from that, generally we, men and women, do not touch each other in the Islamic context unless we are related to each other.

But for a job interview, this is a matter of circumstance and it is my understanding and my expectation that God will overlook that.

Because it’s not your purpose to seek sexual pleasure by touching the other person in this case.

And it is just a matter of convenience for the sake of the job interview to proceed to a discussion of one’s qualifications rather than to put an X against the person right away as somebody who is weird or unsuitable for the office environment.


I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

*Disclaimer: Issues like this are not black and white. This is the opinion of Dr. Ally and is only meant for Western audiences where having an income and proving for a family often depends on shaking an interviewer’s hand.


(From Ask About Islam archives)

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