Australian former politician Bronwyn Bishop was recently quoted as saying:

When I hear the Department of Education saying it’s OK for a boy to put his hand on his heart instead of taking a woman’s hand, it’s totally unacceptable because the belief behind that is that a woman is unclean because she menstruates. -- Bronwyn Bishop fires up over Islamic ‘insult’ to women, Starts at 60

I'm shocked to hear this, and I doubt it's true. But perhaps there's a grain of truth to this that I'm unaware of.

Question: Is there any truth to the claim that a man may not shake hands with a woman because she menstruates and is therefore unclean?

I try to avoid shaking hands with men, as part of avoiding all physical contact with men. I have, on occasion, outright refused (especially when they're Muslim and they should know better). I just assumed it was an aspect of hijab.

  • 1
    You are right, it's an aspect of hijab by avoiding any physical contact to the opposite gender. That is the only reason.
    – Noor
    Mar 15, 2017 at 13:19

1 Answer 1


Menses entails ritual impurity similar to defecation, urination and ejaculation. It does not however make a woman inherently unclean or untouchable, similar to how urination does not make someone inherently unclean or untouchable. Ablution and Bath(Ghusl) removes ritual impurity.

Men and women don't shake hands because its disliked to touch someone from the opposite sex unless it be the spouse or a mahrim (close relative whom one can not marry by law).(Hidayah, right p598) A man may touch his wife anywhere and may touch a mahrim at any place where he may look at (such as the face, hands, feet, shoulder etc.)(Hidayah, p600)

Furthermore, a man may kiss or perform foreplay with his wife while she is in menses (intercourse is not allowed), this wouldn't be so if she was "un-touchable".

Narrated Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Aswad: (on the authority of his father) Aisha said: "Whenever Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) wanted to fondle anyone of us during her periods (menses), he used to order her to put on an Izar and start fondling her." `Aisha added, "None of you could control his sexual desires as the Prophet (ﷺ) could." Saheeh Bukhari 6/7

Narrated `Aisha: While in menses, I used to comb the hair of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) . Saheeh Bukhari 6/2

Narrated Aisha: The Prophet (ﷺ) used to lean on my lap and recite Qur'an while I was in menses. Saheeh Bukhari 6/4

Narrated Um Salama: While I was lying with the Prophet (ﷺ) under a woolen sheet, I got my menses. I slipped away and put on the clothes for menses. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Have you got your menses?" I replied, "Yes." He called me and I slept with him under the woolen sheet. Saheeh Bukhari 6/28

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