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Greeting strangers of the opposite gender

Question

I heard it is sunnah not to greet strangers of the opposite sex. And if greeted not to respond.

Kindly advise on its authenticity as I have come across a Hadith in which Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) greeted women.

 

Answer

The issue of interacting with women is closely linked to fitnah (mischief). Therefore one would observe the Hadith commentators always adding the following cautionary note to Hadiths like the one you have cited.

‘This applies as long as there is no fear of fitnah.’

Notes like this are found in abundance in the Hadith commentaries.

Hafiz ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) – the celebrated commentator of Sahih Bukhari- writes the following note on Hadiths which apparently allow males to greet females or vice versa:

‘The permissibility is only when one is safe from fitnah (mischief).’

(Fathul Bari, Hadith: 628)

 

This note is imperative especially in our age, since Nabi (sallallahu ’alayhi wasallam) has warned that the greatest fitnah for men in my Ummah is women.’

(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 5096)

 

The Fuqaha (Jurists) have ruled that due to fitnah, one should avoid greeting or returning the greeting of a young strange (non Mahram) woman.

(Shami, vol.6 pg.369 and others)

 

The rulings of the Fuqaha are indeed deduced from the Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu ’alayhi wasallam) whether it be a specific Hadith or a holistic understanding from many Hadiths.

 

The ruling stated above does not change by you stumbling upon one Hadith which states that Nabi (sallalahu’alayhi wasalam) did greet women, as there could be several explanations for this personal practice of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam).

In fact Imam Halimi (rahimahullah) said:

‘Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was saved from fitnah.’

(Fathul Bari, Hadith: 628)

 

It is absolutely incorrect for one to merely see a Hadith or two on a particular issue, and then deduce one’s own rulings therefrom.

 

Submit to the Jurists

We as general people are always encouraged to stick to and abide by the rulings of the highly qualified Fuqaha and avoid trying to deduce rulings directly from the Quran or Hadith. The Fuqaha (rahimahumullah) themselves have done us a great favour by already deducing the rulings of Shari’ah from these sources. All we need to do is submit to their conclusions. Unfortunately, many contemporaries fail to understand this rule!

 

Statements of the Scholars encouraging submission

Imam Malik (rahimahullah) said:

سلموا للأئمة ولا تجادلوهم، فلو كنا كلما جاءنا رجل أجدل من رجل اتبعناه: لخفنا أن نقع في رد ما جاء به جبريل عليه السلام

“Submit to the Imams and don’t argue with them, for if we were to follow every convincing debater, I fear we may end up refuting what Angel Jibrail brought from the skies”

(Atharul Hadith, pg.117)

 

Imam Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (rahimahullah) said:

التسليم للفقهاء سلامة في الدين

“In conceding to the Fuqaha (Jurists) is the security for our din”

(Atharul Hadith, pg.117)

 

Imam Sufyan Thawri (rahimahullah) said:

نسلم ما سمعنا، ونكل ما لا نعلم إلى عالمه، ونتهم رأينا لرأيهم

“We follow what we know, and hand over what we do not know to those who do know. We will even question our understanding in favour of theirs”

(Al-Intiqa, pg.265, 266)

These quotations are so glaring in the current conditions. You may read more on this subject here.

 

 

And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,

 

Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar

 

Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar