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Is It Permissible For Muslim Men To Greet Strange Women

This video tries to shed some light on the controversy surrounding the permissibility of Muslim men greeting women who are not Mahrams and vice versa. We see different eminent scholars expressing varying views and justifications from the Sunnah, and felt it would be beneficial to compile all of that information. Today, the world over we …

Is It Permissible For Muslim Men To Greet Strange Women

This video tries to shed some light on the controversy surrounding the permissibility of Muslim men greeting women who are not Mahrams and vice versa. We see different eminent scholars expressing varying views and justifications from the Sunnah, and felt it would be beneficial to compile all of that information.

Today, the world over we see many scholars for dollars, with their self created Modern version of Islam, down-playing the importance of the Sunnah and the weight of Bid’ah. This is a sure path to destruction. It is vital that the fiqh with regards to everyday life is spread among the believers and the rulings clarified.

 

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The Video transcript is below:
 
As Muslims, we are commanded to spread the greeting of Salaam, and return the greeting to all Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has advised us that it is one of the things that spreads love among the believers, but is the advice and command of giving Salaam applicable to all situations.

One of the points of contention is whether a Muslim man is allowed to greet a non-mahram woman with Salaams. The scholars of Islam, including Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad, and Imam Nawawi, have advised us that in general, non-mahrams should not be greeting each other, but in cases where there is no fear of temptation, it is permissible.

These scholars have allowed Muslim men to give Salaams to older non-mahram women, since the man is unlikely to be physically attracted and interested in old women, and warned against Muslim men giving Salaams to younger women, as it may lead to fitnah.

Imam Bukhari had a similar, but slightly different prohibition. He ruled that non-mahram men and women are not allowed to greet each other if there is any fear of temptation, but if the person is confident there will be no temptation, then it is allowed.

In regards to the permissibility, there are some factors that all of these scholars have overlooked or downplayed. Malik, Ahmad, and Nawawi’s ruling does not take into account that some young men are deeply attracted to older women, and that the older women may be attracted to the young men. Just because they are old, it does not mean that their desires have completely vanished.

Bukhari has allowed people to give Salaams when there is no temptation, but what if the temptation has not revealed itself yet. For example, a man may give salaams to a non-mahram woman, such as a niqabi, who he cannot see if she is attractive or not, but she may respond in a beautiful sweet voice which immediately paralyses him with love. In fact, this situation was specifically mentioned by Imam Malik, as he feared the fitnah upon hearing a woman’s voice.

The scholars have also covered cases of group meetings, and ruled that a man can greet a group of women, a group of men can greet a woman, and a group of women can greet a man, but a single woman should not greet a group of men. These of course are all bound by the condition that they are free from desires.

Now in response to the modern Muslims trying to change Islam to a new Americanised version of Islam, we do know that there are several narrations about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) greeting women, but the rulings for the Prophet are not applicable to us. After all, he was required to communicate with them, as he was a Prophet who Allah revealed the Quran to. We also know that he was not bound by the same rules as the general public, for example as with his number of wives. But most importantly, he was safe from the temptations that Shaitan can plague us with.

So while the scholars have ruled that it is permissible for non-mahrams to greet each other only in the aforementioned situations, before you go rushing out to take advantage of this ruling, please consider a few more vital points that are not often, or ever mentioned.
Let’s take the case of a man giving salaams to an old woman he is not attracted to. This is 100% permissible according to the scholars, but there are at least 3 problems which can arise from this:

A. What is the woman is attracted to the man? She hears him greet her and Shaitan says “hey, maybe he is interested in you”, or other desires or thoughts race through her mind. So while there is no fitnah for the man, he has just created a lot of fitnah for the woman.

B. What if the woman does not know the ruling on how she should respond to a non-mahram man greeting her? She might think it is haraam, but she starts thinking that she doesn’t want to be rude, and eventually returns the greeting, but is immediately distressed and walks around the rest of the day thinking she has sinned. This is another trial, when people are forced into making a life decision related to Islam when they don’t have the knowledge to make the correct decision. By the way, the ruling on responses is the same as the initiating salaams, although is it only considered Makrooh by Imam Nawawi since you must also factor in the obligation of responding to salaam, and this ruling on responding is also the same in the case where a non-mahram who is attracted to you gives you salaams.

C. You also need to consider the feelings and self-esteem of the old woman. She has likely gone her whole life never getting any salaams from non-mahram men, due to it being prohibited, and then all of a sudden she starts getting salaams. It’s like telling her “Oh, you’re old now; you don’t matter anymore.” To suddenly be thrown into that predicament where she perceives herself as old, worthless, and unattractive, can be quite upsetting.

Now these 3 considerations should not just be applied to a man greeting an old woman, but to any woman he finds unattractive. What if the woman has a scarred or deformed face, or is missing limbs from an accident or otherwise. The man may not find her attractive, but like the old woman example, she may also find him attractive, she may also not know the rulings on responding, and she also has feelings which can be hurt when she knows the only reason you are giving her salaams is because you find her ugly.

And a special message to any woman who falls into those categories. While many Muslim men chase beauty, there are many who do not, and instead follow the advice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when choosing a wife, and look for beauty in religion and character, instead of the physical appearance. So raise your levels of beauty in religion and character, and you will be among the successful.

In summary, it is generally impermissible for a non-mahram man and woman to greet each other with Salaams, although the scholars have given a few exceptions to this rule. However, using these exceptions can cause distress to the other party, and for this reason, it may be best to avoid giving salaams to non-mahrams at all times.
Assalamu alaikum

Aisha Sabeer

Aisha Sabeer

Aisha Sabeer is a budding writer from Canada. She has a keen interest in science and comparative religion, and loves travelling the world and meeting other Muslims.
Aisha Sabeer
Aisha Sabeer
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