Fatwa on Shaking Hands with the Opposite Sex

Fatwa, posted 4.22.2010, from Canada, in:
Religious Authority: 
Seyed Reza Hosseini
Fatwa Question or Essay Title: 
What is the ruling on shaking hands with the opposite sex, and are there any situations where it is accepted?

According to the primary rulings of Islam, a man is not allowed to touch any parts of a woman's body, whether a Muslim or a non-Muslim. But if the man or the woman wears on something to cover the hand, like a glove or a piece of texture, and the intention from shaking hand is not to have sexual pleasure, it is permissible for them to shake hands.

In Islamic jurisprudence, there are such rules like "la haraj" (no distress), and "la zarar" (no damages) which convert primary rules of Islam to secondary rules. According to these general rules, if refraining from shaking hands with a woman under certain circumstances leads to a distress or a considerable harm, or leads to disgracing of Islam or the Shi'a faith, and one cannot explain why one is refraining from shaking hands, or [its rationale] would not be understood, it is permissible to shake hands only to the extent that is necessary and without the intention to have sexual pleasure.

[Note: For other opinions on this topic search: shaking hands.]

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