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Thread: Shaking hands with Muslims

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    Default Shaking hands with Muslims

    Hi All,

    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.


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    Senior Member mubakr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shaking hands with Muslims

    Quote Originally Posted by justwanttolearn View Post
    Hi All,

    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.
    They should shake your hand. They are acting quite strange not shaking your hand and being polite to you at the same time. Do you have some dermatological ailment? The only criteria or reason I would probably not shake someones hand is overt disrespect for Islam. I have numerous Malaysian non-Muslim associates. They are particularly scrupulous and cautious like yourself in understanding what Islam means for Muslims. They would never make mockery of religion or speak ill of the prophet, the Quran or our beliefs. I dont mind criticism but once one notes recurrent sarcasm, displeasure, mockery of Islamic values and practices especially if it has been explained to him in a correct manner that displeases and frustrates any potential dialogue, interaction and association with him.


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    Default Re: Shaking hands with Muslims

    Quote Originally Posted by mubakr View Post
    They should shake your hand. They are acting quite strange not shaking your hand and being polite to you at the same time. Do you have some dermatological ailment? The only criteria or reason I would probably not shake someones hand is overt disrespect for Islam. I have numerous Malaysian non-Muslim associates. They are particularly scrupulous and cautious like yourself in understanding what Islam means for Muslims. They would never make mockery of religion or speak ill of the prophet, the Quran or our beliefs. I dont mind criticism but once one notes recurrent sarcasm, displeasure, mockery of Islamic values and practices especially if it has been explained to him in a correct manner that displeases and frustrates any potential dialogue, interaction and association with him.
    Thanks for the reply. I don't have any dermatological ailments - I look (and am) normal and healthy. I've always gone out of my way to be respectful of their religion, and have even been very proactive in trying to learn about it, partly so as not to offend them, and also partly out of personal curiosity. They have always reacted in very positive ways when I've asked about their religion (in the context of wanting to learn), and no one has ever seemed offended by any questions I've had.

    I should have noted, they also do the same thing to the other 2 non Muslim executives at the company, and the other 2 share my concern (though one is a woman, so at least the reason is clear in her case).

    I know I shouldn't take it personally, but I can't help but think that if the roles were reversed, and I was the one refusing to shake their hands due to their religion, that I would (very rightly) be accused of racial discrimination. I was brought up to treat everyone equally, and I find the whole situation quite sad.


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    Default Re: Shaking hands with Muslims

    Quote Originally Posted by justwanttolearn View Post
    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.
    The offering of the wrist instead, I have seen this done when the person feels his own hand is not clean due to the circumstance. An example would be a car mechanic, not wanting to offend when you offer to shake hands, he will offer his wrist due to his hands being oily.

    Could this be a factor?


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    Senior Member ahamed_sharif's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shaking hands with Muslims

    Quote Originally Posted by adnanc View Post
    The offering of the wrist instead, I have seen this done when the person feels his own hand is not clean due to the circumstance. An example would be a car mechanic, not wanting to offend when you offer to shake hands, he will offer his wrist due to his hands being oily.

    Could this be a factor?
    Assalamu alaykum

    1. there is no prohibition or even discouragement for shaking hands with any one. No handshake between males and females.

    2. It happens to me sometimes I have just finished my meals and I am walking towards the wash basin, if someone meets me I shall offer my left hand or the wrist.

    3. As told earlier, if the person is a mechanic, or if someone is returning from toilet and the hands are wet after washing, they may not offer for a handshake.

    4. No one shall break relations with someone who is from different religion and sects.

    اکلتہ الحشیش انتم لھِٰھنا
    وامتہ محمد صل.... فی الفتن

    You live a isolated life.
    And the Ummah of Rasulullah SAS is living in fitan.

    quoted by Moulana Manzoor Nomani RA.


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