My question is on handshaking. I know we are not supposed to shake hands with the opposite gender but what do I do when I’m at an interview or something and I don’t have time to explain gender boundaries in Islam? What about shaking hands with old men?

Walaikum assalaam,

JazakiAllahu khair for asking such an important question. Shaking hands with the opposite gender is an issue many people come across, but do not know how to handle.

Most people already understand that Muslim women do not shake hands with men. They’ll be careful about it. Muslim men, however, get offered a handshake more often because they are not as “easily visible”. When a situation pops up where someone wants to shake hands, what I normally do is I put my right hand over my heart and give them one quick, respectful bow. It’s the universal sign of “I respect you”. Most people will accept that and won’t ask any questions. Worst comes to worst, they ask and you tell them that your religion doesn’t allow skin-to-skin contact with the opposite gender. It’s a quick explanation and if they ask more, go ahead and get your dawah on.

And here’s an interesting fact: now at interview workshops, employers are given instructions not to shake hands at interviews. This is largely because of the growing fear of germs. I kid you not — that is the reason they are given not to shake hands. So, it’s becoming more and more accepted not to shake hands at interviews.

But the bottom line is that where Allah (swt) does not give leeway, we cannot give leeway. We cannot use excuses, such as being embarrassed, to disobey our Creator. And really, it would be better for us to not get the jobs we want than get them by doing something haram. It takes away from the barakah.

I hope this helped inshaAllah. Forgive me if I have said anything wrong, and Allah Knows best.

JazakAllahu khair :)

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