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The Quranic and hadith evidence for prohibiting touching non-mahrams

Assalamualaikum I came across a hadith on Facebook which says that touching any non- mahram woman is harām. I wanted to ask if that Hadith is authentic, and if it is so, then to what extent does this rule apply in our life. I mean I have female relatives who are quite elder to me( 9 years and more) . Is it allowed to shake hands with them or hug them if in my heart I consider them to be like my mothers and sisters?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Touching people of the opposite sex whom you can potentially marry (i.e. non-mahrams) is not permitted in Islam unless there is a good reason, as in a doctor touching a person of the opposite sex during a procedure. There is also an exception for shaking hands with a person of the opposite sex in order not to humiliate them by refusing the handshake. When it comes to shaking the hands of the relatives you mentioned or hugging them, it is best to avoid it, but it is not a great issue if you accept these gestures in order to avoid upsetting them, until you find an opportunity to tell them that you wish to avoid these things in the future for religious reasons. As for elders who are at an age where they would no longer consider marriage (perhaps 60 or more), then these rules can be relaxed. But if they are 30 or 40 years old, then the rules would continue to apply even if you are much younger than them.

The most explicit hadith we have on the issue of touching the opposite sex is the following:

لأن يطعن في رأس أحدكم بمخيط من حديد خير له من أن يمس امرأة لا تحل له

It is better for one of you to pierce his head with an iron needle than to touch a woman for whom she is not halal.

Al-Tabarani

This hadith comes to us through Shaddad b. Saeed who is considered trustworthy but unreliable by many scholars, therefore this hadith is not guaranteed to be authentic and is therefore not relevant to this discussion.

The next hadith is one where the Prophet PBUH explicitly states that he does not shake women’s hands:

Muhammad bin Munkadir said that he heard Umaimah bint Ruqaiqah say:
“I came to the Prophet (ﷺ) with some other women, to offer our pledge to him. He said to us: ‘(I accept your pledge) with regard to what you are able to do. But I do not shake hands with women.’”

Sunan Ibn Majah Vol. 4, Book 24, Hadith 2874 and others.

Below is the chain diagram for this hadith:

This hadith receives an authenticity score of 38.69% according to our probabilistic hadith verification method. This score is rather high, since sahih hadiths start at 30%, meaning that this hadith is very high-quality.

The next hadith on touching non-mahrams is the following:

Aisha the wife of the Prophet, said, "Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) used to examine the believing women who migrated to him in accordance with this Verse: 'O Prophet! When believing women come to you to take the oath of allegiance to you… Verily! Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.' (60.12) `Aisha said, "And if any of the believing women accepted the condition (assigned in the above-mentioned Verse), Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) would say to her. "I have accepted your pledge of allegiance." "He would only say that, for, by Allah, his hand never touched, any lady during that pledge of allegiance. He did not receive their pledge except by saying, "I have accepted your pledge of allegiance for that."

Sahih al-Bukhari Book 65, Hadith 4891; Sahih Muslim 1866 a; other collections

Below is a chain diagram of the hadith:

This hadith receives an authenticity score of 27.57%, making it close to the authentic mark of 30%.

The above appears to be all of the explicit evidence we have on the touching of non-mahrams.

Evidence from lowering the gaze

The Quran commands us to “lower our gaze”. The context of the two verses that command this make it clear that it refers to gazing at the opposite sex idly and/or lustfully.

Tell the believing men to restrain their looks, and to guard their privates. That is purer for them. God is cognizant of what they do.

And tell the believing women to restrain their looks, and to guard their privates, and not display their beauty except what is apparent thereof, and to draw their coverings over their breasts, and not expose their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, what their right hands possess, their male attendants who have no sexual desires, or children who are not yet aware of the nakedness of women. And they should not strike their feet to draw attention to their hidden beauty. And repent to God, all of you believers, so that you may succeed. (The Quran, verses 24:30-31)

There are also hadiths that mention the same concept, as in the following:

Jarir said I asked the Apostle of Allaah(ﷺ) about an accidental glance (at a woman). He (ﷺ) said “Turn your gaze away.”

Sunan Abi Dawud 2148

Below is the chain diagram for this hadith:

This hadith receives an authenticity score of 12.14%, which is not very high. But it is easier to accept such hadiths as authentic due to their uncontroversial contents.

Naturally, if we are commanded to avoid gazing at the opposite sex idly or lustfully, then the same would apply to touching.

Evidence from the hijab

Another highly relevant area of evidence is that which applies to the rules on parts of the body that have to be covered. Naturally, if we are forbidden from looking at a certain part of a person’s body, we would also be forbidden from touching it. For the evidence on the rulings on which parts of the body should be covered see:

Conclusion

From the evidence presented above, it is clear that touching the opposite sex idly or lustfully is not permitted in Islam. The Prophet PBUH avoided shaking women’s hands despite this being a harmless form of greeting, which shows us that the highest Islamic ideal is to always work to minimize contact with the opposite sex. However, the evidence does not prohibit necessary touching, as in a doctor touching a person of the opposite sex during a medical procedure.

The exception on shaking hands

Scholars such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi permit shaking the hands of the opposite sex when meeting non-Muslims in order to prevent humiliating them by refusing the handshake, since in such cases avoiding humiliating the person takes priority over the no-touching rule. Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi mentions that while the Prophet PBUH never shook the hands of women, Umar [ra] did that, and Abu Bakr [ra] shook an old woman’s hands.

References:

IslamQA: Is life insurance permissible in Islam?

Is getting life insurance permissible?

If the insurance is provided by a for-profit company then it is prohibited, because they are making money through a procedure that amounts of gambling/betting. But if the insurance is provided by a non-profit where people’s money is pooled to support members who die, then that is permitted provided that the company’s methods have been reviewed and approved by scholars.

IslamQA: Were Atatürk’s changes in Turkey un-Islamic?

Salam brother What do you think about the changes brought by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Turkey? Was what he did unislamic?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

He did many things against Islam, such as forcing women not to wear hijab, and persecuting Islamic scholars. He also did some good things for Turkey. So each one of his actions has to be judged on its own, but on the whole he was no supporter of Islam.

IslamQA: On getting close to Allah

Assalamualaikum How can we get closer to Allah? I was am a firm believer in Allah and I follow almost all Islamic duties except praying all five times (due to laziness) . I know it's very important to pray but whenever I resolve to pray regularly I do so just for a few days and then I again stop praying regularly. This happens every time 🙁 Another sin that I commit is watching pornographic and semi-pornographic videos and photos. I really want to get rid of these two bad habits and get closer to Allah

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The only way to always be close to Allah is to make an effort every day to connect with Him, and the best way to do that is to read the Quran daily for a certain amount of time, such as an hour every day. There is no way to remain close to Allah without working for it daily. My following essay might be a good place to start for rebuilding your relationship with Allah inshaAllah:

God has not abandoned you: Regaining your sense of purpose when life feels spiritually empty, lonely and meaningless

Regarding pornography, perhaps understanding why it is morally wrong to view it would help encourage you to avoid it. Please see my essay: The Philosophy of Pornography and Masturbation

IslamQA: On masturbating due to the unavailability of one’s spouse

i am a married man with children, but are some circumstances that push me into this act. some times my wife does not surrender herself or make herself available when i really need her for sex. secondly, i engage in this act during the breastfeeding period because my wife can never allow to come near her during this period.

It appears that your question is about masturbation. I do not believe that masturbation is strictly prohibited in Islam (as discussed here: Masturbation is not clearly forbidden or allowed in Islam), therefore what you are doing is not a big issue in my opinion, even though I believe that a great man would always avoid masturbation regardless of the temptations and unsatisfied needs.

If you feel guilty about masturbating, you can do an act of worship to make up for it, such as reading the Quran for an hour, or giving away a certain amount of money, after each time you do it.

If you masturbate, it is best to avoid using pornography for that purpose, as that is a far more questionable thing to engage in. For more on pornography please see: The Philosophy of Pornography and Masturbation

IslamQA: On Muhammad Shahrur

Do you have opinion on Muhammmad Shahrur and his work, who just recently passed.

Unfortunately I have yet to study Shahrur’s works, therefore I cannot give any detailed opinion on him. Some of his views, such as that on the Quran having to be interpreted according to changing social realities, sound sensible. But I do not know how far he goes in this view. And as far as I am aware he did not offer a reliable framework for making sense of the relationship between the Quran and hadith, and for judging hadiths using better methods. I believe that my method of hadith criticism solves most of the problems that have troubled modernist Islamic intellectuals about traditional Islamic scholarship. For more on this method please see: Probablistic Hadith Verification: Combining the Science of Hadith with Legal Theory

IslamQA: How to stay hopeful when Muslims are so weak and subjugated

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله I have been reading through this website a lot recently and they helped me better understand my religion and integrate it into my scientific of thinking . I might not agree with you on everything but you have my thanks and respect Now as for my question : how do you keep faith in these current times where it seems we can’t go a year without some new genocide of Muslims popping up somewhere : be it in China with Ughyur , mynnmar and of course Israel . I try telling myself that there will be some way out for them but it just looks hopeless to me. How does one remain faithful when fellow Muslims are freely subjected to so many horrors and Islam as a whole just seems doomed to be eradicated in many places?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

I’m glad that you have found this website useful. Regarding your question, please see my essay What happened to Islamic civilization? Why did Muslims fall behind in science and technology? where I deal with your question in detail.

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Are children and teens permitted to dye their hair?

Assalamualaikum, please can a small child and a teen dye his or her hair.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is no difference in the ruling on dyeing hair between children and adults, therefore it is permitted according to the conditions that apply to adults. For more on dyeing hair please see: The Islamic ruling on dyeing hair (for men and women)

IslamQA: Is there any support in the Quran or Sunna for prohibiting women from delivering Friday sermons?

Peace be upon you, I was wondering if there is any Quranic/Sunnah support for the view that women aren't permitted to deliver the Jummah Khutbah to a mixed audience, irrespective of whether they lead the prayer. Thank you!

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

As far as I’m aware there is no explicit evidence to prohibit women from giving Friday sermons. It is simply that it has always been the practice of Muslims for men to deliver the sermon. I believe the issue of whether women should be permitted to deliver it or not is a cultural matter and different cultures may reach different conclusions on it.

IslamQA: He hurt his close female friend by breaking off their friendship

Assalamo alaikum. There was this really good and decent person i fell in love with. We talked about work stuff, spiritualism, books and joked. She never found out that i was falling for her. Then i realized that this was wrong. My religion has strict rules about na mehrams so i stopped talking to her. She almost begged to tell her the reason behind this. Because i knew she would find some loophole to resume our friendship, i never told her. I don't talk to her anymore. I hurt her, i know. But i had to choose between Allah and her and to me the answer was clear. Is the way i hurt her worthy of punishment?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Sorry to read about your experience. It would have been better to explain to her why you felt the relationship was inappropriate. And if you considered her a good potential wife, you could have proposed to her and made your relationship with her public. Then with the permission of both your families you could have continued your relationship (if she agreed to get engaged to you).

It is a good thing to try to avoid getting romantically involved with people you are not engaged to. But it is much better if you sincerely express your feelings and give her the chance to decide to get engaged to you or not.

IslamQA: Commentary on verse 49:11 of the Quran (Surat al-Hujurat)

As-salaamu 'alaykum, wa rahmatullaah. Would you be willing to provide a commentary on Surat al-Hujuraat, aayah #11: "O, you who believe: let not some men among you laugh at others …". May Allaah reward you.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

Unfortunately I do not have anything original to contribute to the explanation of this verse. Below is the commentary by Abul A’laa al-Maududi which you may find helpful inshaAllah.

Text of the verse:

O you[1] who have believed, neither should men mock other men, it may be that these are better than they; nor should women mock other women, it may be that these are better than they.[2] Do not taunt one another among yourselves,[3] nor call one another by nicknames.[4] It is an evil thing to be called by a bad name after faith.[5] Those who fail to avoid this are wrongdoers.

Commentary:

[1] In the preceding two verses after giving necessary instructions about the Muslim people’s mutual fighting, the believers were made to realize that by virtue of the most sacred relationship of the faith they were brothers one to another, and they should fear God and try to keep their mutual relations right. Now, in the following two verses, they are being enjoined to avoid and shun those major evils which generally spoil the mutual relationships of the people in a society. Slandering and taunting the people and harboring suspicions and spying on others are, in fact, the evils that cause mutual enmities and then lead to grave mischief. In this connection, from the commandments that are being given in the following verses and the explanations of these found in the Hadith a detailed law of libel can be compiled. The western law pertaining to libel in this regard is so defective that a person who sues another under this law may well cause some loss to his own honor. The Islamic law, on the contrary,, recognizes a basic honor for every person and gives nobody the right to attack it, no matter whether the attack is based on reality or not, and whether the person who has been attacked has a `reputation” of his own or not. Only the fact that a person has debased and humiliated the other person is enough to declare him a criminal unless, of course, it is proved. that the humiliation caused had a legal ground for it.

[2] Mocking does not only imply mocking with the tongue but it also includes mimicking somebody, making pointed references to him, laughing at his words, or his works, or his appearance, or his dress, or calling the people’s attention to some defect or blemish in him so that others also may laugh at him. All this is included in mocking. What is actually forbidden is that one should make fun of and ridicule another, for under such ridiculing there always lie feelings of one’s own superiority and the other’s abasement and contempt, which are morally unworthy of a gentleman. Moreover, it hurts the other person, which causes mischief to spread in society. That is why it has been forbidden,

To make mention of the men and the women separately does not mean that it is lawful for the men to mock the women or the women to mock the men. The actual reason for making a separate mention of the two sexes is that Islam does not at all believe in mixed society. Ridiculing each other generally takes place in mixed gatherings and Islam does not permit that non-mahram males and females should meet in such gatherings and make fun of each other. Therefore, in a Muslim society it is inconceivable that the men would mock a woman, or the women would mock a man in an assembly.

[3] The word lamz as used in the original is very comprehensive and applies to ridiculing, reviling, deriding, jeering, charging somebody or finding fault with him, and making him the target of reproach and blame by open or tacit references. As all such things also spoil mutual relationships and create bad blood in society, they have been forbidden. Instead of saying, “Do not taunt one another”, it has been said “Do not taunt yourselves”, which by itself shows that the one who uses taunting words for others, in fact, taunts his own self. Obviously, a person does not use invectives against others unless he himself is filled with evil feelings and is almost in a state of bursting like a volcano. Thus, tire one who nourishes such feelings has made his own self a nest of evils before he makes others a target, Then, when he taunts others, it means that he is inviting others to taunt him. It is a different matter that the other person may evade his attacks because of a gentle nature, but he himself has opened the door to mischief so that the other may treat him likewise.

[4] This Command requires that a person should not be called by a name or a title which may cause him humiliation, e.g. calling somebody a sinner or a hypocrite, or calling someone a lame or blind one, or one-eyed, or giving him a nickname containing a reference to some defect or blemish in him, or in his parents, or in his family, or calling a person a Jew or a Christian even after his conversion to Islam, or giving such a nickname to a person, or a family, or a community, or a group, which may bring condemnation or disgrace on it. Only those nicknames have been made an exception from this Command, which though apparently offensive, are not intended to condemn the persons concerned, but they rather serve as a mark of recognition for them. That is why the traditionists have allowed as permissible names like Suleman al-Amash (the weak-eyed Suleman) and Wasil’ al-Ahdab (the hunch-backed Wasil) among the reporters of the Hadith. If there are several men of the same name and a particular man among them may be recognized only by a particular title or nickname of his, the title or nickname can be used, even though the title by itself may be offensive. For instance, if there are several men called Abdullah, and one of them is blind, he may be called Abdullah the blind, for his recognition. Likewise, those titles also are excluded from this Command, which though apparently offensive, are in fact, given out of love and the people who are called by those titles themselves approve them, like Abu Hurairah (father of the kitten) and Abu Turab (father of the dust).

[5] That is, “It is very shameful for a believer that in spite of being a believer he should earn a name for using abusive language and for immodest behavior. If a disbeliever earns reputation for himself for mocking the people, or taunting them, or for proposing evil and offensive titles for others, it may not be a good reputation from the point of view of humanity, but it at least goes well with his disbelief. But if a person after affirming the Faith in Allah and His Messenger and the Hereafter earns reputation on account of these base qualities, it is simply regrettable.

IslamQA: Are Ahmadis/Ahmadiyyas Muslims?

Assalamualaikum Are Ahmadis Muslims or not?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The Ahmadiyya rely on the weak hadiths on the Mahdi to claim their religion supersedes traditional Islam (see this previous answer on why I do not believe in the Mahdi). Since they follow the Quran and Sunna they can technically be said to be Muslims, even if their beliefs and practices are not mainstream. I don’t think there is anything to be gained by arguing about whether they are Muslims or not.

IslamQA: On medical practices mentioned in hadith and foods mentioned in the Quran

What is your views on the medical practices mentioned in the hadith such as cupping? As well as foods mentioned in the Quran such as figs and olives.

Cupping seems to be truly beneficial, for example studies have shown that it improves blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. I believe medical practices mentioned in hadith are beneficial provided the evidence for them is strong and there is also medical evidence in their favor.

As for foods that receive positive mentions in the Quran, I believe them to be healthy and beneficial.

IslamQA: Is facing the qibla necessary for ghusl and wudu?

Is it mandatory to face qibla for ghsul and wudu?

Facing the qibla when performing wudu is a Sunna, but it is not obligatory.

As for facing the qibla when performing ghusl, there is no evidence for this being a Sunna, therefore it is neither obligatory nor recommended.

References:

IslamQA: Are failed relationships due to qadar or predestination?

My qs is regarding qadr. A woman has 4 broken relationships 2 engagement and now her 2nd marriage which is in doldrums. Everytime she desperately wanted it to work out but some mistakes she made n some were misunderstandings. She tried to hold on to the dying relation but it slipped outta hand eventually. For instance her current marriage is with a man who lives in a war torn cntry. For 2yrs they tried to meet but due to his financial circumstances he couldnt leave his countryn kids. He has 3 kids frm previous marriage. This time he told her that if she dint giv him money he will not be able to meet her for long time. She dint refuse but dint outrightly commit saying u can try for a loan frm ur cousin etc thinking they d discuss more n eventually she d agree to give him altho she had been telling him she d help cos he was in dire need. He accepted a job in his country n says now he will never leave it bcs he has gone thru v bad financial situation now he wont loose this chance of job. She begs him that she ll give him the money but he doesnt trust her n doesnt wana leave the chance of a job. She dint realize that just after telling her that he wont be able to com he wud go ahead n take a job. She dint kno wat he meant by saying he wont b abl to come for long time.This kind of situation happened one time previously too wen he dint get money frm her due to misunderstandings n went back to his country for a yr. She's a genuinely goodhearted person but due to these failures she lives a life of guilt. She regrets not understanding the situation n making mistakes again n again n now thinks she wont get any more chance. Some ppl told her if it was in ur qadr the relation d hav been successful n these small misunderstandings wud hav been corrected by God if it was meant to be. Pls pls reply as shes living in depression

As discussed in other answers on the Islam and Predestination page, God does not force our choices on us. God decrees the future for us based on our present choices, and as we move into the future and make more choices, God continuously updates His decrees regarding us. Nothing can happen without God’s knowledge and approval. But the more pious we are, the more He will make sure that things go favorably for us.

I believe your friend should put her trust in God, knowing that He has the power to completely change her life for the better. Her past failures have been lessons and can help her become a better person. By rededicating herself to God and always relying on Him, and by avoiding sins, she can inshaAllah have exactly the kind of life she desires.

IslamQA: Is it permitted for a woman to go on umra without a mahram?

Mahram for umrah In ur mahram achives u have mostly given references of hadith regarding hajj which is fard and has to be performed but what abt voluntary umrah. If a woman wants to perform umrah frequently with any female friend or relative will it be halal? Secondly in ur mahram hadith research u quoted a distance of 3 days and nights. If done on camel it wont exceed 100 km which is much less than distance frm many countries. Lastly assuming umrah w/o mhrm isnt permitted will dua made at such umrah with ikhlaas also be not considered for acceptance??

The general scholarly opinion, as discussed in the previous answer, is that if a woman’s safety is ensured, then there is no restriction on how distant or for how long she can travel without a mahram. Therefore if she is in the company of good and trustworthy people then there is no issue with her going on umra without a mahram.

IslamQA: Is it wrong to judge a friend for their behavior?

I found out my best friend (for quite some time) had an affair. It was VERY physical and Also used to consume alcohol. My friend lied to me. I got really hurt. I know if i confront, my best friend would justify it by saying that it is not my issue it's their life. Apart from all that my friend is a narcissistic personality. My friend has been through a lot. Parent's death, depression, family issues… Alot. Am i a bad person for mistrusting and judging a friend? I heard a story about a king. His most beloved horse fell terminally ill, so his servants had to give him alcohol as cure to save his life. After the horse got better, the king never rode that horse again. All this makes me wonder if i should sever ties with my friend?

There is no issue with having an accurate view of your friend’s behavior and dealing with them accordingly. If they prove to you that they are untrustworthy then there is nothing wrong with dealing with them with more caution.

As for severing ties with them, it’s best to remain on good terms with them and do what you can to improve them. Be a good influence in their life without preaching to them. For more on this please see: What is there to do if you suffer because someone you love is far away from God?

Best wishes.

IslamQA: Dealing with someone who doesn’t pray because he thinks he has enough good deeds already

Al salam alikom i have a problem with my brother he doesnt pray and im trying to tell him to pray but he told me that i already did alot of good deeds so im sure im gonna go to jannah and i responded and told him he will get punished on every thing he did wrong knowingly such as not praying but he told me that in the judgment day if i have 50 good deeds and 49 bad deeds i would enter jannah without punishment which i know is false but i couldnt respond because i didnt have 100% proof that is correct so brothers and sisters if anyone knows how to respond to my bros argument

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Performing the prayer (salah) is one of God’s rights on us. Ignoring this right is an act of rebellion and a major sin that as far as I’m aware cannot be erased through other good deeds. Nothing will make up for not praying. So a person who doesn’t pray risks receiving God’s wrath, and even if they give away the whole world’s wealth in charity that may not be able to make up for a single intentionally missed prayer.

You may also find this answer helpful: What is there to do if you suffer because someone you love is far away from God?