Sorry more another dumb question, but this one has me puzzled, and I'd really like to understand it better. Some background:
I'm an atheist/agnostic, but always go out of my way to respect other people's beliefs. I live and work in a predominantly Buddhist nation, though the company I work for is owned by a Saudi Sheik (sorry if i spelled that wrong, I've seen it spelled numerous ways). As such, about 60% of employees at the company are Muslim, many of whom are expats from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
I get on quite well with most of them. They are generally polite to me, and I've given them no reason I'm aware of to dislike me on a personal level.
Yet, I've noticed that not a single one of them (by "them", I mean expatriate Muslims working in the company) will shake my hand. I've seen them shaking each other's hands, but whenever I extend the greeting, they mostly just walk away. There is one guy who always puts his wrist in my hand so I end up shaking his arm, though I'm not sure if that's better or worse than just walking away. There's another guy who clenches his and and puts it in mine, so I end up shaking his fist.
I've done numerous searches on the internet, but haven't been able to pin down a reason for this. Is there some rule that Muslims aren't supposed to shake hands with non Muslims? If so, why does it only seem to be the expats that work at this company? I've shaken hands with many people of many religious faiths before, and this is the first time I've noticed the issue. I'd also like to know if it's an intentional sign of disrespect, or whether I should just put it down to cultural differences and move on.
I'd be grateful for any insight anyone here could give me into the matter.