Sunday, 8 February 2015

Is it alright to handshake with a woman in Saudi Arabia?

In Islam handshaking is strictly prohibited with non-Mahrams. Keeping this rule in view, KSA has adopted a norm to keep distance between genders. Despite of this fact, there are so many occasions in witnessed while residing in KSA that men shook hands with women. It is not evident that those women were Mahrams or not. The most surprising event for me was to see Male Ministers of Saudi Arabia shaking hand with First Lady of United States, Michele Obama. Normally officials of KSA and other south Asian countries avoid such practice due to restrictive norms of such states. They wait for foreign women; as if they forward hands to shake they take them as formality.

In some situation they also avoid shaking hands with men unless parallel himself intends to do so. Media and social circles in such countries criticize such practice due to prohibition of such acts in Islam.  KSA is based on norms of Khilafat that was prevalent during era of Holy Prophet (PBUH). Normally foreign women placed on public positions do this practice, as this is common in their culture. But shaking hand with Ministers of most sacred Islamic state seems somewhat surprising. In picture published by newspapers, she was not even wearing abaya, which is must for all women in KSA in presence of a non Mahram. The media has not given due coverage to this matter perhaps due to some political issues.

When Sheikh Haseena (Prime Minister of Bangladesh) came to Saudi Arabia, she also shook hands with Ministers of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A woman having high position in an Islamic country should be careful regarding this practice. As such officials are not only accountable for such acts, but they represent whole nation in front of others. She might have countered criticism by Mullah Community of Bangladesh due to controversial act of handshaking with such high profile personalities despite of prohibition by Sharia. According to hadith and Quran, Muslims are strictly prohibited to give their hands, in the hands of non Mahram.

It is considered non-islamic act and Allah has announced strict punishment for such acts. The superior ministers of Islamic countries ought to follow practices adopted by Holy Prophet (PBUH). He never touched hand of a non-Mahram woman, so Islamic rulers should be careful regarding this act. No every person on public positions try to shake hand with women, despite of foreign tours and welcoming of foreign delegations, men in Saudi Arabia avoid any opportunity to make this happen. Some leaders have also refused shaking hands with women, despite of forwarded hands towards them.

KSA and other Islamic countries should adopt this practice to make it a norm so that other countries can easily understand the dignity of women in Islam and to keep distance between two genders.

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