by laypeople for laypeople.
A few weeks ago, I was in a medical office and several of the staff members working there happened to be Muslim women. None of them covered and most of them were dressed in medical scrubs. They said salaam to me and I returned their salaams. Then as I sat in the waiting room, one of the Muslim staff came and sat down next to me. She asked me if we as Muslims celebrate Mother’s Day because she had been told that we were not supposed to celebrate the holiday.
I said, that I do not celebrate the holiday myself but that there is a difference of opinion. I follow the opinion that we have two eids and that is sufficient for me and I leave off all other holidays. Then the sister mentioned that some people say it is ok because they do not consider it a religious holiday and others believe that it has religious connotations. I agreed and said that there is no real significance attached to that day in our religion and that we should honor and be good to our mothers everyday. She agreed and went back to work.
Shaking Hands with Opposite Gender:
One of my co-workers came to work with her out-of-work former pastor and introduced him to us. He went around greeting everyone and shaking their hands. I kind of just hung out in the background working and keeping busy. Then he came up to me and asked me my name. I told him and then he offered his hand and I told him that I do not shake hands with men.
My colleague that came with her former pastor then came up to us and said, “You don’t shake hands because of your religion?” and I said yes. Then the pastor asked, which verse in the Quran mentions that? And I said, it’s not in the Quran, it’s a hadeeth. The pastor replied, oh a hadeeth and as he walked away said under his breath no rather I think it’s your husband. And I offered that I was not married.
Afterward, I thought to myself the former pastor displayed rather poor adab (manners) with me. And of course, I could have mentioned the many verses in the Quran that mention following the example of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and the hadeeth relevant to issue of shaking hands with the opposite gender but our interaction only lasted for a few seconds.
Last week, while standing in a townhouse parking lot visiting someone that was about to travel overseas to Nigeria, a woman sitting in her car asked me if I remembered her and I said that I did not. She then proceeded to tell me that 5 years ago we worked together one weekend and she tried to convince me to leave Islam and I explained to her about Islam and the reasons I became Muslim. Five years ago, I was a new convert and had only been in Islam for a couple of months and didn’t know any Muslims.
I don’t really remember anything of our conversation but the woman said it left a lasting impression on her and had we kept talking she might have become Muslim. I was amazed and humbled that a few words offered in the moment without much reflection in my new Muslim days had affected her so much so that she would remember me without having seen me in between and our conversation almost 5 years later. It made me think of the potential power and importance of our words and re-enforced to me the lie of people that say they do not know enough to perform dawah to others.
I’ve taken a lot of seminars and workshops and classes and listened to lectures and attended conferences and read books about Islamic issues and how to live Islam and convey it to others in the best manner but really I had enough information right after my shahadah to call others to Islam.
Allah is our Creator and Sustainer. He is One, All-Merciful, All-Knowledgeable, All-Powerful, and not in need of any assistants or intermediaries. He sent prophets and messengers from among mankind like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon all of them) to guide us and instruct us how to live upright and moral lives and to worship Him alone. He sent scriptures like the Torah, Gospel, Psalms of David, and the Quran through the angel Gabriel to some of these prophets. All of the prophets submitted to Allah and this submission is called Islam and those that submit themselves to Allah are called Muslims. What are you waiting for?
I know its not meant to be funny, but I chuckled at his muttered comment….
Masha’Allah and subhan’Allah I really appreciated this post
There are many people in my life who say the same thing “I do not have sufficient knowldge” It really hurts me when they do say that cause truly deep inside I know these people know far more than I do.I could talk about Islam forever and they rather sit back and be quite ???? I really can’t comprhend why?
I have to admit, that I was a bit confused when I read the part about not shaking Hands with the opposite gender.
Allthough I can very well accept your point of view, I still would have felt neglected If I had been that former Pastor. Maybe thats the reason for his comment (which was inapropriate) – In Germany for example, refusing a handshake isn’t even considdered as an option unless you really hate the person in front of you – regardless of status and gender…
Just adding another perspective
Best regards from germany
I have to add : Offering a handshake also isnt allways appropriate
Bill: I smiled too, only slightly afterward did I think his comment was a little un-pastorly.
Bint Abdullah: I think a lot of people feel awkward, shy, and uncomfortable giving dawah and that leads them to be silent and inactive.
NamelessGuy: In West African culture as well as here in America, a handshake, pat on the arm or shoulder, or an embrace is almost expected but I think most mature people can handle someone not wanting to shake hands due to religious reasons or for hygienic reasons. I know many cashiers try to avoid touching hands as much as possible and some people with obsessive compulsive disorder also decline to shake hands.
Asalaamu Alaikum Muslim Apple,
I think that was a very rude and cowardly thing the pastor did! I mean really to mumble under his breath. I have had a random guy get very upset with me for not shaking his hand and he told me I was being rude and un-American. I was thinking hmm lets see you are verbally assaulting me for graciously demurring your handshake and I’m being rude? Right!
Once I was being introduced to all the workers at where I interned and there was this man whose first name was my last name (lol weird) and he put out his hand and i just kinda looked at him…then his hand…then back at him and he was like, OH right you don’t shake hands! and he laughed to himself. Alhamdulillah he wasn’t really offended, it was actually my supervisor who was like, “WHAT?! You don’t shake hands with men?!” I just said no and changed the subject.
Well, let’s just say after my meeting with him and two other men….most of them stayed away from me. *smile* alhamdulillah. I’d be waking down one side of the hall and they would go to the other side and not even look at me, just say hi and keep walking, and totally respect my beliefs. Hijab/Modesty=respect.
It’s quite odd (and somewhat funny) how sometimes women get more offended than the men with some issues…(read: hijab) wa Allahul Musta’aan.
a little education can go a long way. unfortunately, it’s also totally lost on some. insha Allah, your former co-worker will be guided to Islam.
What an idiot that pastor was. So much for him being a pastor. Where in the world is his respect? May Allaah allow him to see the beauty of the deen, aameen!
I remember when I was living in California. We had just moved to a different city (my family & I) and one day the real estate agent who sold us that house came over to check some maintenance issues that had to be fixed. My mom drove me insane, told me to be respectful by shaking his hand. We basically fought for a long time before his arrival. He arrived and I tried to hide, but eventually came out. The guy offers me his hand and mine is on my side. My mom pushes me towards him and I told him ‘I don’t shake hands with males who aren’t my family…’ and he said ‘okay..’. But there sat my mom all angry lol. Sigh. May Allaah guide our families, aameen!
Yes – that Pastor was quite rude!
I always get completely flustered when the hand-shaking thing comes up. Long before, I imagine and practise my sincere apology in not shaking the man’s hand and of course in my imagination he is naught but graceful in accepting my reasons but then in reality when I’m standing there, I just lose all of that and end up OFFERING MY HAND instead!
Hijabi Apprentice: It’s pretty rare that someone expresses a negative reaction when I say that I don’t shake hands. I usually just say “I don’t shake hands” but once I was at a doctor’s office and a male med student came in before the female doctor. He offered his hand and I said my usual statement and then when the doctor came in and offered her hand I shook it and he looked at me but just smiled. I thought I probably should have said that “I don’t shake hands with men” but he appeared good-natured and seemed to understand.
Amatullah: I know what you mean, I wasn’t too offended by the pastor’s words but it just occurred to me that his remark was rather rude.
Muslimahlocs: In sha Allah, ameen and by the way welcome to the blog.
Umm Layth: Ameen. I have so many stories that are similar to that one with my family trying to push me to do this or that especially the common refrain trying to educate me, “See she’s Muslim too and she doesn’t cover her body or hair and she wears whatever she wants so why don’t you dress like her?”
Tasmiya: I sometimes say “Sorry, I don’t shake hands” but usually just say “I don’t shake hands” and try to keep it short and sweet. But I know in the past sometimes, someone just catches you off guard with a sudden outstretched hand and without thinking I would just shake it almost like a reflex.
As Salaamu Alaikum,
Ok, I really needed to read the part about not shaking hands with men. I just always think how am suppose to get a job or meed the CEO if I don’t shake hands. You know that is a good opportunity for dawah. I need the level of Iman that you have sister and insha’Allah I will get there.
That reminds me of a story (what doesn’t?). When I use to work a the Detention Center, Jessie Jackson came to talk to the inmates. I was required to attend. They sttod up and prayed at the end and I just kinda stood there looking up and stepped out of the prayer, holding, hands circle. At the end the good Reverend approached me to shake hands and ?I just smiled and kept them to my side. The Superindent of the detention Center was there and looked like he wanted to pimp slap me!