Is there any situation in which physical contact between unmarried males and females is allowed? For example, handshakes, medical examinations or dangerous situations. I am of course talking about non-family members.

  • I think (although I may be terribly wrong) handshakes are allowed, but it breaks the woman's wadu (wash for prayer).
    – Dynamic
    Jun 21, 2012 at 23:18
  • @Flimzy yes, unmarried unrelated people.
    – Badger Cat
    Jun 21, 2012 at 23:23
  • Only according to the Hanafi madhab. The majority of scholars do not agree, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to kiss his wife and then go and pray immediately.
    – ashes999
    Jun 22, 2012 at 0:38
  • 2
    @ashes999 Shafi'i, not Hanafi :)
    – Ansari
    Jun 22, 2012 at 2:10
  • 1
    @ashes999 Yes I'm sure :) seekingilm.com/archives/140
    – Ansari
    Jun 22, 2012 at 22:08

4 Answers 4


Quite simply, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

It is better for you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is not permissible to you. [Collected in Tabarani and Bayhaqi; it is saheeh.]

What this means is that, generally, it is not allowed for men and women to shake hands. Why not? As Allah almighty says in the Qur'an:

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way. Surah Al-Israa, verse 32

In any case, there are many caveats to this generalization. As mentioned in the hadith, it applies to a woman who is not permissible (to marry) to you. This includes your mother, daughters, sisters (half and full), etc. as outlined in Surah An-Nisaa and elsewhere in Islam.

Also, Islam is a practical religion; it recognizes daroorah, or dire necessity caused by situations that may lead to death. In this case, the ruling is lightened (as are so many rulings) for that situation. For example, if you must touch a woman's hand to save her life (if she's drowning, perhaps) you can do so until she is safe.

As for medical situations, this is where things get tricky. Again, necessity can come into play -- if there's only one doctor on call, and he's a man, and it becomes a situation of childbirth, there's nothing you can do. But again, you need a very dire situation.

As for medical examinations, the best thing to do is find a same-gender doctor and then you have nothing to worry about :)

  • 1
    May I ask you how you know all of these Hadith, and Dua'a? Are these of the top of your head, or do you do research?
    – Dynamic
    Jun 22, 2012 at 2:27
  • 2
    @Dynamic I took Islamic classes for a few years. I pay attention in the jumuah khuthbah. When you hear the same things over and over, it starts to stick. Plus I have a vague idea of what to google for :)
    – ashes999
    Jun 22, 2012 at 3:40
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    Shi'as don't have such a Hadish and that ayah has no reason in it as far as I can see. That ".ect" is what you need to mention here about "maharem". Please edit your answer accordingly otherwise I'm afraid it's misleading as it stands.
    – user8749
    Jun 22, 2012 at 4:30
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    For the second quote, sex != shaking hands. Not sure why you included that bit... Jun 24, 2012 at 7:26
  • 1
    @ashes999, In a formal situation, a handshake doesn't mean or feels (even a little bit) like leading towards sex. I don't think it is prohibited always. It is situational...
    – Inshan
    Jun 27, 2012 at 4:07

Some Ahadeeth that prohibit shaking hands between men and women:

From Umaymah bint Ruqayqah who said: ‘I came to the Messenger of Allaah -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- along with the women, so that we could pledge an allegiance upon Islam.

So we said: O Messenger of Allah we pledge allegiance to you that we will not associate anything with Allah, nor will we steal, nor commit Zina, nor kill our offspring, nor will we utter slander intentionally forging falsehood, nor will we disobey you in a good action.

So the Messenger of Allaah -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- added: ‘In that which you have capability and energy to do.’

Umaymah said: ‘Allah and His Messenger are more merciful to us than us being merciful to our own selves. Now then, we want to give you, O Messenger of Allah the oath of allegiance.’

So the Messenger of Allah -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- said: ‘Indeed I do not shake hands with women, as for what I say for a hundred women is like what I say for one woman.’

Collected by Malik (2/982/8), by an-Nisa’ee in ‘Ashaarat an-Nisa’ from his book ‘Sunnan al-Kubra’ (2/93/2), Ibn Hibban (14) and Ahmad (6/357). Narrated from Muhammad bin al-Munkadir from Umaymah bint Ruqayqah

‘Aeysha said concerning when the Messenger -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- would take the allegiance from women and she mentions that: ‘And no, I swear by Allah the hand of the Messenger -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- never ever touched a woman when they would give him allegiance, except that he would say: ‘I have taken your allegiance upon that.’

Collected by al-Bukhari

From Abdullah bin Amr’: ‘that the Messenger of Allah -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallamnever used to shake hands with women in taking allegiance.’

Collected by Ahmad, Albaani said its Isnaad is Hasan.

Ma’aqal bin Yassar from the Messenger -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- : ‘That it is better for a person to be struck on his head with an iron rod than touch a woman whom he is not allowed to touch.’

Collected by ar-Rooyaani in his ‘Musnad’ Albani said the Isnaad is good.

Shaykh Albaanee said this hadeeth is a severe warning for people who touch women whom they are not allowed to.

And of course, this is relaxed when there is a utmost necessity like ashes999 said. I merely tried to consolidate his answer.

  • 1
    +1 for talking about proofs directly related to hand-shaking, that's a more direct proof than mine.
    – ashes999
    Jun 22, 2012 at 13:22
  • Physical contact between them is not allowed except for emergency situations, such as dangerous situations. (E.g. saving from drowning, burning and such)
    • Handshakes are not allowed except when the hand is covered by a cloth (glove and such)
    • And it's allowed only for emergency medical situations. If there are same gender available to do the job, it is not allowed.

Source: The source of this answer is "aql" (intellect), the third priority of deducing law in Shi'a Islam.

  • @ashes999: My real sources are phone calls and attending classes, like you said once. This is not something you can find somewhere online, go find and post an answer if you can.
    – user8749
    Jun 22, 2012 at 0:40
  • okay, I'll do that. But don't quote your source as "fiqh." Look up those lectures and phone calls and get more details. Writing fiqh makes it look like you have a source, when you don't.
    – ashes999
    Jun 22, 2012 at 1:51
  • @ashes999: I recommend to do a research on what is figh and how it can be source to many things then comment.
    – user8749
    Jun 22, 2012 at 4:31
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    this is good answer and is same as Jafari Fiqh. but are you sure its source is Aql? and you mean your own Aql? using Aql for deriving Islamic laws has some terms and only qualified scholars can use it. because Aql has error. in such cases better to use website of scholars as ref. like english.makarem.ir also here has live chat and reply quickly. and there is an archive of past questions. Jun 22, 2012 at 5:16
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    @Gigili agree with Ahmadi -- saying "the source is aql" doesn't help anyone. You need to cite a more specific source such as a fatwa or other link. It looks like you're trying to hide a lack of authoritative reference, which I'm sure is not what you're intending.
    – ashes999
    Jun 22, 2012 at 9:04

As far as I understand, no physical contact is allowed between a male and a female in Islam, weather it be a handshake, touching of shoulders and even touching by mistake. Islam is very strict and clear about it.

It might be strange that why some one is asking this question today. But even in United States, men would not handshake with women about 100 years ago. The concept was about the same.

While I do not have exact hadith that is related to it, the teaching of Islam is very clear. Muslims are believed to stay pious and stay away from anything that can be interference between him and God (Allah). So not only that, even looking at another women is no OK in Islam, let alone touching.

In medical emergency, it can be a lot of embarrassment for a muslim man or women to touch the other. But if our intentions are clear and we know we are on the right path, it is ok to touch if it can save someone life and even help them in any way. Provided you did not intended for anything else.

  • 1
    How can you avoid 'touching by mistake'? it is a mistake! Islam never account for mistakes..
    – user37
    Jun 21, 2012 at 23:38
  • Bro, check this page it has a lot of hadiths regarding this.. add any to the answer to make it perfect.
    – user37
    Jun 21, 2012 at 23:40
  • @HaLaBi, some people pretend a mistake in order to touch someone. That is strictly forbidden.
    – muslim1
    Jun 22, 2012 at 0:28
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    pretending to touch by mistake is not a mistake.. it is a sin with intention!
    – user37
    Jun 22, 2012 at 0:32
  • 3
    I did downvote, because as it currently stands, answer mentions no source, and looks like a personal opinion, however right it might be.
    – user44
    Jun 22, 2012 at 0:42

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