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Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

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JR8
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Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby JR8 » Thu, 22 Oct 2015 8:24 pm

This issue occurred (again) just yesterday, and it really took me by surprise. I have encountered it before (several times) in Asia, but it has usually been amongst the more conservative/traditional and usually notably older generation.

For example an early encounter was when I was the best-man to a friend, who was marrying a Malay Muslim at a ceremony in KL. I was in the greeting line at the entrance to the reception hall, and so as people filed in I got to shake a the hand of a few hundred guests. I had been fore-warned that some of the older/trad 'aunties' wouldn't shake hands and not to offer my hand to such people, unless they initiated the gesture. Fair enough, that worked fine.

I think what surprised me yesterday was that I simply wasn't expecting it. The person was significantly younger (maybe late 20s), she clearly been exposed to the West long enough to speak immaculate almost accent-free English, we're not in Asia/Middle East right now, she's the wife of a colleague (who I've met several times) of my wife, plus they even live in the same condo. Yesterday was the first time I met her. So when I was introduced I by reflex action held out my hand. Then there is that painfully awkward moment when it's not reciprocated and you're standing there wondering why, and you feel embarrassed and/or stupid, and perhaps somewhat annoyed too... their beliefs trump your social comfort.

So, it took me by surprise and left me irritated. Their parting line of 'You must come to dinner soon' left me thinking what a bundle of laughs that evening pretty clearly wouldn't be. Anyway, it's not something I've thought about for years, so I wanted to look into it again to help reconcile my irritation.

I found this article pretty useful, it deals with specifically this question of why/how/who?
http://newamericamedia.org/2014/04/loca ... te-sex.php

Excerpt:
---------
'"It's a very awkward situation when you disrespect someone when they have their hand extended. I believe God is merciful, and I believe he will understand my reasons and that my intentions are not impure. I don't have that fear that God is going to judge me because I shook somebody's hand, when I only did so to not allow a person to have a negative feeling towards me," Amen added.

However, Amen notes that in the last year she has decided to enforce the rule upon herself, after performing the Hajj in 2013. Amen says she no longer wants to shake hands with community members of the opposite sex, because she expects them to already know the rules.

"Since going to Hajj, I've tried my best to avoid it and I find that people get offended. I've had to make a disclaimer where I would say handshaking has to stop. It's been interesting because the Muslim community members have been giving me a headache about it," Amen adds.

The Islamic prohibition against shaking hands with the opposite sex has been a point of debate as of late. The subject has generated discussion on Facebook and even became a point in a recent news report on a local radio station.

Some who have criticized the prohibition note that the rules don't seem to be equally enforced. Muslim women are expected to put their hands on their heart, but Muslim men always seem to get a free pass if they decide to shake hands with the opposite sex.

Others who argue against the practice also tend to point out that the Quran doesn't specifically state that members of the opposite sex shouldn't partake in a handshake.

According to local religious scholars, the first argument is completely false, while the second is technically true.

Some verses in the Quran, along with hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad, touch on the subject of opposite sex interaction from a male's perspective.

One hadith even translates as: "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."

Imam Abdul Latif Berry, leader of a religious authority in the U.S., says the only time members of the opposite sex should come in contact is when one is facing hardship and needs assistance.' [continues...]
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby gunrock » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 1:07 am

I can understand the awkwardness of the situation, but I thought that as you had already experienced the no-handshake thing before amongst older Muslim ladies, that after the initial surprise you might have just felt a tad awkward or embarrassed. Not sure where the annoyance comes from, JR8?

Still it has set you off on a quest for greater knowledge and that's a good thing. :)

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby JR8 » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 4:15 am

I come from a position of not respecting, nay disdaining ALL religion. There is no honourable religion, just varying degrees of manipulation IMHO.

Unfortunately it just bluntly set me apart, than lead to any greater understanding. I hate religion and *that* religion more because of it. Having 'long departed the village' I am of course free to think. Islam and freedom being anathema of course, it requires abandonment to personal moral slavery... but what morals? No thanks....
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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby nakatago » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 5:25 am

It's not religion; it's you. She didn't want to get your cooties.

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby x9200 » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 7:37 am

Hmmm, I was brought up the way that I hardly ever initiate a handshake with a woman. The rules I follow: always the person of "higher position" (much older etc.) initiates the handshake. With a woman it is always the woman who should initiate it unless this "high position" difference is very substantial (e.g a 85yo Nobel laureate vs young, female teacher).

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby x9200 » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 8:35 am

JR8 wrote:I come from a position of not respecting, nay disdaining ALL religion. There is no honourable religion, just varying degrees of manipulation IMHO.

Unfortunately it just bluntly set me apart, than lead to any greater understanding. I hate religion and *that* religion more because of it. Having 'long departed the village' I am of course free to think. Islam and freedom being anathema of course, it requires abandonment to personal moral slavery... but what morals? No thanks....

Well, you just made a mistake in the judgement. But in this specific situation it is actually you who tries to impose some of your customs to somebody else, or not? You may see it neutral but for a person who is pre-conditioned it may be not so. This, especially if you see the religions as a manipulative tool. I see it pretty much the same so I always keep in mind that strong preconditioning is hard to overcome.

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 9:04 am

x9200 wrote:Hmmm, I was brought up the way that I hardly ever initiate a handshake with a woman. The rules I follow: always the person of "higher position" (much older etc.) initiates the handshake. With a woman it is always the woman who should initiate it unless this "high position" difference is very substantial (e.g a 85yo Nobel laureate vs young, female teacher).


Sorry... the "higher position" smacks of I'm up/I'm down thinking. Reach out and shake. If the other refuses that's their problem, not yours. And I'll state straight up... if this woman won't shake hands because of alleged religious beliefs, then they are bullshit beliefs.

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby x9200 » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 9:20 am

We are all made up of various beliefs and if they are really true I see no reason not to respect them as long as they are not actively invading my private space or deprive me from some critical needs. Also, in our culture refusing to shake already extended hand is gross and there are not that many people who could say it's not my problem. This very thread is an evidence of it.

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby Sporkin » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 9:33 am

[edit]Actually I'm half serious about this, as much as i like to believe that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, certain practices like female genital mutilation are simply unsubstantiated by any sound reasoning.

Obviously some cultural or religious values are above others...

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby rajagainstthemachine » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 10:19 am

now now JR this is why you do the namaste thing and shake your head.
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby curiousgeorge » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 10:45 am

JR8 wrote:... Then there is that painfully awkward moment when it's not reciprocated and you're standing there wondering why, and you feel embarrassed and/or stupid, and perhaps somewhat annoyed too... their beliefs trump your social comfort.

So, it took me by surprise and left me irritated.


You said it yourself: your beliefs (social comfort) is more important to you than someone else's beliefs. In this instance, your western standard of social comfort was not appropriate.

In a similar vein, I can't stand people who want to hug and kiss every time they depart a social gathering. I don't want to be touched by you like that. I usually hold up my hand in a 'stop' sign and just say "I don't do hugs".

In both cases, your presumption is not mine to deal with just to make you feel better.

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 11:19 am

Sporkin wrote:[edit]Actually I'm half serious about this, as much as i like to believe that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, certain practices like female genital mutilation are simply unsubstantiated by any sound reasoning.

Obviously some cultural or religious values are above others...

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+1. It's a spectrum... and there is religious bullshit up and down that spectrum. I certainly do not accept the so called "religious" beliefs of Texas Christians who want to kill/deny rights/send them somewhere else when it comes to gays.

Religious intolerance in any form, and this includes nonsense like refusing to shake hands, is bullshit, and needs to be purged from modern society.

Love your god... but quit with the sanctimonious bullshit of what your religion "requires" you to do.

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby nakatago » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 11:39 am

curiousgeorge wrote:In a similar vein, I can't stand people who want to hug and kiss every time they depart a social gathering. I don't want to be touched by you like that. I usually hold up my hand in a 'stop' sign and just say "I don't do hugs".

In both cases, your presumption is not mine to deal with just to make you feel better.


In case of handshaking and I've been sick "Oh, I just sneezed/coughed/have a cold and I haven't washed my hand." Or if my hand is wet; "Sorry, my hand is wet." I don't bother doing the hurriedly wiping my hands on my pants so I could shake bit.

Incidentally, there was this time I was leaving a gathering and this Muslim woman (wears a headscarf so that's indicative of her traditional-Muslim-ness) initiated the "kiss" from cheek to cheek (I think it's the Italian way).

I don't do that even to females I'm close to but I just went along with it.

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby x9200 » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 11:45 am

A nonsense is to comparing female genital mutilation, that most often is done not at the will to reservation in shaking someone's hand.

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Re: Muslim women who won't shake your hand.

Postby Sporkin » Fri, 23 Oct 2015 11:54 am

I'm not comparing FGM to handshakes, in jest I was poking fun at comparing someone else's cultural values to your own yardstick, but then i realized that there ARE some cultural practices that based on this day and age are just difficult to justify.

x9200 wrote:A nonsense is to comparing female genital mutilation, that most often is done not at the will to reservation in shaking someone's hand.


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