Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Married men being kissed and hugged by other women

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Question:

My husband is routinely kissed on the cheek and hugged in a friendly manner by other women.

Is this act okay, as it is commonly seen here in western culture?

My husband knows that I do not like it but he cannot do anything to avoid it.

Please advise.

Am I being too strict on him?

- Zumbeela

Wael's Answer:

Dear Sister Zumbeela, As-salamu alaykum,

I don't think you are being too strict at all, and I think your husband should stop hugging and kissing women. It is not allowed in Islam, and it is disrespectful to you as his wife.

There is a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) quoted in Saheeh Muslim, in which he said,

“The zina of the eyes is looking, the zina of the ears is listening, the zina of the tongue is speaking, the zina of the hand is touching, and the zina of the foot is walking. The heart wishes and longs and the private part confirms that or denies it.”

As it happens, I just published an article on this subject on Zawaj.com. Here it is:

Hugging People of the Opposite Sex

Taking an excerpt from that article, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

"Allah has set certain clear boundaries and limits for interaction between males and females. These include prohibition of all sorts of indiscriminate mingling and mixing between them, including hugging, kissing, touching, and flirting, etc. These things are forbidden not because everyone engaging in them will be committing adultery, but because they can all become leads, means, and preliminaries of fornication. Once allowed, they can become a slippery slope. How many have become victims of such activities?"

Unfortunately your husband has a point, which is that many Western women are so used to this strange behavior of hugging every man they meet, that they just come at you with arms extended like a Venus flytrap, and it's hard to get away. What I personally do is that as soon as I am introduced to someone, I stick my hand out for a handshake, while maintaining some distance.

Technically the handshake with a non-mahrem woman is also something to be avoided, but it is the only way I have found to keep the women away, so I have adopted it on the premise that it's the lesser of two evils.

Some women will still try to get past the handshake and make a comment like, "Oh, give me a hug!" At that point I decline politely and tell them, "I'm not comfortable with hugs, sorry." To me, a woman who is not respectful of my boundaries is being just as presumptuous, rude and harassing as a man who tries to force a hug on a strange woman without permission.

So that's my take on it, and Allah knows best.

If any readers have additional advice for this questioner, I invite you to post your comments below.

(O Allah), Guide us to the straight path; The path of those whom you have favored; Not those with whom you are angry; Nor those who go astray.

Best regards,

- Wael Abdelgawad
IslamicAnswers.com Editor


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9 Responses »

  1. asalamu alaikum,

    hi how are you? you ask Is this act okay, as it is commonly seen here in western culture? i say it isnt ok.
    im married to a christian women and never have i seen any male relative or male friends from work has ever touched her. also if they tryed she would tell them not to get too close.

    so i suggest your husband should tell them not to get too close.

    ma salama

    • ASA, my dear sisters and brothers, Allah swt has said, it is He that has put love between our hearts and that we were on the brink of Hell Fire and in His Mercy saved us. I believe there is much serious work in this world to be done than boggling our time, mind, spirit, and soul with some one else's desires to live their life the way they choose. Because each of us must account for our actions before Allah swt, bare and alone.
      In peace,
      Depretha A. Haadee

  2. Venus flytrap, thats a funny thought.

    I agree with Wael, but I do think that even the hand shake can be avoided too, especially if its a social setting. Although, I attended a talk a few weeks back, where a Sheikh said it was ok to 'shake hands' when necessary, but to not take pleasure from doing it. By 'when necessary' he was referring to situations at work.

    Some non Muslims genuinely don't know what our limits are and until we make them known, they'll never know. I do think we should be sensitive about it though as hugging, kisses on the cheek etc is what they are used to it, its their culture. Last year, when I went to work after New Years Day, one of my male colleagues walked up to me and planted a big 'new years kiss' on my cheek - it was very innocent, but of course I didnt appreciate it. After returning from my rushed trip to the washrooms, feeling compelled to wash my cheek, I explained to him that Muslims are not permitted to touch those of the opposite gender unless they are mahram (I explained all the terms). He was really apologetic; but we laughed about it afterwards.

    He was a little confused though, as he said that some Muslims do hug etc. So I believe that we all need to help each other in setting a clear example.

    For Zumbeela's husband, because he has already set the standard greeting for the way he meets the women, it will take some time for him to change his way, as being abrupt may look rude. Maybe some reminders for him on the Islamic etiquettes of mixing with the opposite sex would help.

  3. Salaam Sister,

    Islamically there must be no contact between the male and the female whatsoever.

    I too would not like it if women were kissing and hugging my husband at will, with no consideration of his marital status. I know that some cultures will kiss on both cheeks (my own culture does this), but even so, it is disrespectful to touch a married man even if you are not Muslim.

    Regarding cultural expectations: shaking hands cannot be avoided in the business world, and avoiding eye contact during negotiation is perceived as suspicious, so we do have to balance ourselves a little bit according to the country and situation that we are in. Also, in the West, avoiding eye contact and looking down when a man is speaking to you is often perceived as coquettish, flirtatious behaviour and could be interpreted as an invitation to flirt. In Italy, if you make the "OK" sign (index finger and thumb together in a circle with the other fingers pointed up) you are actually swearing at someone. In Far Eastern countries, pointing at someone with your index finger is very aggressive, and in India you get a head bobble instead of a nod. So, there is a big balance to be met when we live in other cultures and customs.

    One thing remains clear throughout all cultures, and that is that full body contact between a male and female is not a necessary part of any necessity in life. Not for business, not for trade, not for anything. Therefore, there really is no case for it at all.

    Your husband doesn't want to look bad, or seem the bad guy and that is natural, however he will earn more respect for being a moral man than any other kind of man. So explain to him you are unhappy with it, and give him a choice - he can either consider you or not consider you. Both have consequences. Up to him which consequence he wants to deal with.

    Peace,
    L

  4. To Wael
    Asalamualaikum

    You stated "

    “The zina of the eyes is looking, the zina of the ears is listening, the zina of the tongue is speaking, the zina of the hand is touching, and the zina of the foot is walking. The heart wishes and longs and the private part confirms that or denies it.”

    if this is true, aren't your ads which have women uncovering their awrah impermissible

    • Muslm, wa alaykum as-salam. You have a point, and I have removed the skyscraper ad that had a young women with her hair showing. I'll have my designer create a new one Insha'Allah.

  5. M'dear, if he wanted to avoid it then he would have found a gazillion ways of doing so. He has to have the Niyat in order to work on it. I think you might have to point out to your hubby in a more serious manner of how much you dislike it and judging by the fact that you have sought advice of this- you must really hate it! Try pointing out to him you don't like it and would like it to stop. Think about it, would he like it if the men were doing that to you, and all you could say to your husband "What can I do? It's these people's culture." I seriously doubt he or any husband would accept that excuse, then why should the wives? I was in a similar position when i was introduced to a new circle of friends. The guys kept hugged me, at first i hoped that the habit would just eventually stop but it didn't. In fact it just increased more and more, to the point my discomfort with it drew to the point that I couldn't take it anymore. I adopted Wael's idea of putting the hand forward, after a while, with some comical results, eventually the idea started to sink in and the hugging stopped.

  6. Assalam,Can you please explain why we hug 3 times , I had this questioned by a christian at me , although i know the benefits etc of hugging,that question stuck me as to why 3 times.Also they started relating that to trinity .. I confirmed its nothing to do with that.However will check and get back.Please help me answer this.Jazakallah.

  7. If people with OCD and anxiety let people know they don't like being touched or hugged or kissed....simply let non-Muslims know..u don't like touchy touch kiss kiss behaviour.

    It's not as "bad" as you think....I've never had a problem setting such boundaries..and people always respect it. Communication is key,

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