Ask A Question About Islam And Muslims

23 Questions

Bismihi ta'ala 

It is indeed a dilemma many of us face. Some Muslims have resorted to showing too much leniency in this area, and saying we need to get with times and shake hands with those of the opposite gender who are non-mahram. One of the misunderstandings is that it is a matter of cleanliness, where the female is seen as "unclean", and hence the male should not shake her hand. Another is that it is a matter of sexualising the shaking of hands. 

As Muslims we know our boundaries when it comes to non-mahrams, and it is natural for us as well. We just need to have a sense of pride and respect our Islamic culture and religious laws. We also know that if we are in such a predicament and wont be able to explain or might result in distress, or have time to decline, then it is permissible for us to shake hands. 

 I have a video tutorial on this issue which might be useful, where I give alternative ideas when dealing with this. 

With prayers for your success.

This may come across as a non-answer, but I wanted to point out that there is a difference between "male" and "husband" and "female" and "wife". I am pointing this out because in most popular Islamic discourse about gender (at least up until recently), any discussion of "woman" was basically equivalent to a discussion of "wife" and the two terms were used interchangeably. 

Whereas, in reality, a woman's existence is more than being a wife (there are times in her life when she won't be a wife, and times when she may be), and so one can't entirely reduce the question of gender in Islam to shariah laws regarding marriage. 

Regarding the Quran, the only place where it actually discusses men and women differently is with respect to a few details about marriage (such as the 'iddah after divorce), pregnancy, or related issues (I would categorize the verse about khimar as relating to marital issues). By and large, the Qur'an doesn't have a lot to say about the nature or "role" of women in society or everyday life and seems to leave it open to people to choose how they want to live.

Regarding laws of shariah which might seem to be unbalanced, there are two views. One is that they are all correct and reflect the will of God in a perfect system. The other is that many of them are correct but some of them might have been misunderstood over the ages and are worth another look. For instance some people question the view why a husband should be allowed to prohibit his wife from leaving the home, since marriage is not supposed to be imprisonment, and in extreme cases this can disadvantage a woman severely. (Even though most people do not live this way and actually keep their wives imprisoned at home, but it does happen and is justified in the name of religion.) This is not the dominant "mainstream" view and is more of a reformist view but may become more mainstream in the future. God knows best. 

Bismihi ta'ala

Islam does not discriminate people based on gender. Islam allocates roles and responsibilities and duties for us as individuals and as a collective society. We function not alone, but also within a family and a community. We have certain roles and responsibilities, based on our position and where we fit as far as our involvement and authority as well. 

A husband has a certain status, as far as his managerial role, or being the "director" of the family within the capacity he has, and a wive also has certain managerial roles, within the area that she is good at and within the capacity she has.

For the sake of keeping this answer brief, I would like to direct you to reading important books on the topic of Islam and gender roles, and you will become familiar with how our religion deals with this issue. 

With prayers for your success.

as salam alaikum

from a psychological perspective, even the mere presence of a person of the opposite gender have a particular influence that mold behavioral tendencies and attitudes that not necessarily relate to lust. That is also why many Islamic places, and traditional societies in general, always had a specific code to limit promiscuity and social contact between genders. 

There is no problem in dealing with the opposite gender in the prescribed shar'i way and in case of necessity as long as all Islamic etiquettes are observed but one should try as much as possible to move forward what Allah has commanded in all circumstances.

With prayer for your success.