The ultimate method of avoiding handshakes

(Image credit)

Ever since I’ve posted the guide on avoiding handshakes (and tried each and every single method), I seem to have been caught in more awkward situations. Once I did the hand-over-heart gesture, and the lady still extends her hand. There must be better way to avoid something I don’t want to do.

Then recently, a memo was sent announcing a new female colleague. She will be doing her rounds getting introduced to everyone. Definitely some handshaking is going to take place. And I’ve got to figure out the ultimate way to get out of it.

I was still seated at my desk reading the memo when I saw the company rep walking towards my office. And with him, a lady who looks to be all chirpy.

A chirpy, jovial, and excited new employee. There’s definitely going to be some handshaking going on.

They were headed towards my office, nodding and smiling to whoever is in their line of sight. To those who stand close enough, a handshake is a inexcusable.

They walked, paused every now and then, and chatted to other employees. Once the customary introduction’s done, they continued their march in my direction.

Each step they took was a countdown.

I have to come up with something. Fast.

But what?

I can’t play dumb, they saw me. And they knew I saw them. Furthermore I’ll be all alone and cornered at my desk. I still haven’t perfected the hand-over-heart gesture; which usually – in my experience – leaves people walking away with an awkward look. And I actually prefer a more sanguine first impression.

I can hear their footsteps, meaning they’re just outside my door. Should I fake hand injury?

They knocked.

Without waiting for a reply, the office door immediately swung open.

It’s now or never. My eyes scanned the office. I see my stationery spread across the desk… My sight landed on my trusty ball-point pen.

Ah, the mighty pen. The mighty pen… Which unfortunately is rather useless at the moment. Unless if I use it to jab the lady’s hand. Yes, of course! That’ll spare me from an awkward situation. No, a voice whipered inside me. What are you crazy? Jabbing someone with a pen! Why, there’s a pair of scissors right beside it!

Wonderful sense of humor, my panicky brain.

“Hi,” a male voice broke the silence.

“Err, hi,” I said. I stood up and smiled at the two characters who just stepped into my office.

Good, I thought. Not yet an arm’s length.

My eyes stole a glance at my desk. Monitor… Hole puncher… Namecards… Paperclips…

They took another step forward. One more step to enter the “handshake zone”.

“This here is our new colleague, Miss X. She’ll be assigned to blah blah…” I looked at her and smiled, while my brain is racing to come up with some kind of evasive maneuver.

Namecards… My mind was on to something.

They took another step forward. An arm’s length.


She smiled, and I can see she was about to extend her arm. I quickly took one of my namecards and said,

“Oh so you’ll be working with them doing blah blah. I am xxx. And here’s my card. I’m a blah blah doing blah blah…”

Her extended hand naturally took my card.

The ultimate fool-proof tool to avoid handshakes at any cost. No acting, and best of all no explanations. (Image credit)

“So which project exactly will you be working on? Where were you at before this?” I continued with (honest) questions and pointed out my contact details on the card for – probably – future collaborations.

We talked, and a few minutes later they left. Sans the handshake.

So that’s the best tool to avoid any handshaking for whatever reason it may be. A namecard and perfect timing. And then talk.

Take some with you wherever you go. Whatever the situation, just make sure your hands are holding on to something. Like at a dinner party where a namecard is seemingly out of place, a plate of food on your left hand and a fork or your right would save you from the awkward handshake-avoiding moments.

And save the elaborate explanations when you know that person better.



Non-Muslims against betting

A comment from Malaysia Kini on the legalization of sports betting in Malaysia:

Vincent Tan (the tycoon who obtained the sports betting license) was reported as asking why these Muslims groups are unhappy when the government has made it clear that Muslims are not allowed to bet.

No, Vincent Tan. It is not only the Muslims who are unhappy – most non-Muslims are unhappy, too. No sane non-Muslim will support your argument. We non-Muslims are with the Muslim groups asking the government to withdraw the betting licence.

A bit late here in Singapore as the sports betting is common, and the two casinos are already in operation, but relevant nonetheless.


Salam to Non-Muslims

I was talking with some acquaintances and the question went into greeting the particular phrase of السلام عليكم (as-Salaam ‘alai-kum) to non-Muslims. Is it a devotional expression to be specifically directed at Muslims only, or a general greeting which can be mentioned to anyone?

Short answer: Yes, you can convey Salam to non-Muslims.

Long answer, excerpted from the fatwa by Sheikh Faisal al-Mawlawi:

  • It is permissible to greet to non-Muslims with the Salaam; this opinion was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn Mas’ud, Abi Umamah, Ibn Muhairiiz, ‘Umar ibn Abd al-‘Aziz, Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah, al-Sha’bi, al-Auza’ii, and al-Thabarii. This opinion was also selected by Rashid Ridha in Tafsir al-Manaar, and Sheikh Shinqiti in Ad-waa’ al-Bayaan.
  • The permissibility is also supported by the generality (شكل مطلق) of the following Qur’anic verses which do not state the exclusivity of Salam to Muslims only. In fact, it is the opposite; especially when one is faced with rejection.

Verse #1:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتًا غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ حَتَّى تَسْتَأْنِسُوا وَتُسَلِّمُوا عَلَى أَهْلِهَا ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

“O You who believe! enter not houses other than Your own, until You have asked permission and greeted (tusallimuu) those in them, that is better for you, in order that You may remember.” (Al-Nuur:27)

Verse #2:

وَإِذَا سَمِعُوا اللَّغْوَ أَعْرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَقَالُوا لَنَا أَعْمَالُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَالُكُمْ سَلامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ لا نَبْتَغِي الْجَاهِلِينَ

“And when They hear vain talk, They turn away therefrom and say: To us Our deeds, and to you yours; peace be to you (salaamun ‘alaikum), we seek not the ignorant.” (al-Qasas:55)

Verse #3:

وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الأرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلامًا

“And the servants of Allah Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorants address them, They say, “Peace” (salaamaa).” (al-Furqaan:63)

Verse #4:

وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ مَنْ خَلَقَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ فَأَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ

وَقِيلِهِ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ هَؤُلاءِ قَوْمٌ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ

فَاصْفَحْ عَنْهُمْ وَقُلْ سَلامٌ فَسَوْفَ يَعْلَمُونَ

“If Thou ask them, who created them, They will certainly say, Allah. How then are They deluded away (from the truth)?

(Allah has knowledge) of the (Prophet’s) cry, “O My Lord! Truly these are people who will not believe!”

But turn away from them, and say “Peace” (salaamun)! But soon shall They know!” (al-Zukhruf:87-89)

Verse #5:

قَالَ أَرَاغِبٌ أَنْتَ عَنْ آلِهَتِي يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ لَئِنْ لَمْ تَنْتَهِ لأرْجُمَنَّكَ وَاهْجُرْنِي مَلِيًّا

قَالَ سَلامٌ عَلَيْكَ سَأَسْتَغْفِرُ لَكَ رَبِّي إِنَّهُ كَانَ بِي حَفِيًّا

“He (Ibrahim’s father) said: Do You reject My gods, O Ibrahim (Abraham)? If You stop not (this), I will indeed stone you. So get away from Me safely before I punish You.

Ibrahim (Abraham) said: Peace be on You (salaamun ‘alaika)! I will ask Forgiveness of My Lord for you. Verily! He is unto Me, ever Most Gracious.” (Mariam:46-47)

  • Also the following sahih hadiths which indicate the permissibility  of giving the Salam towards everyone.

Hadith #1:

Narrated by عبد الله بن عمرو RA:

أن رجلا سأل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أي الإسلام خير قال تطعم الطعام وتقرأ السلام على من عرفت ومن لم تعرف

“A man asked the Messenger of Allah: Which Islam is the best? He (the Prophet) said: To give food and convey Salam to those who know you, and those you do not know.”

– Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others

Hadith #2:

أفشوا السلام بينكم

“Convey Salam between all of you.”

– Muslim, Al-Tirmidzi, Ibn Habbaan

  • Meanwhile those who are of the opinion that giving Salam is not permissible to non-Muslims based it on the sahih hadith narrated by Muslim:

لا تبدأوا اليهود ولا النصارى بالسلام

“Do not greet (lit. start) the Jews and Christians with Salam.”

However according to the same fatwa, the hadith above is specifically related to situation of the ongoing war at that time, as is explained in other sahih narrations by Imam Ahmad, al-Tabrani, and al-Bukhari:

إني راكب غدا إلى يهود، فمن انطلق منكم معي فلا تبدأوهم بالسلام فإن سلموا عليكم فقولوا: وعليكم

“I am going to ride to the Jews tomorrow. Who goes out with me, do not greet them with Salam. But if they greet you with Salam, then say: And upon you.”

Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751AH/1350CE) commented that this was applied only during the battle which resulted when Banu Quraizah broke their treaty with the Muslims at the time:

هذا كان في قضية خاصة لما ساروا إلى بني قريظة بعد أن نقضوا العهد ووقفوا إلى جانب الكفار للقضاء على المسلمين قال: “لا تبدأوهم بالسلام” فهل هذا حكم عام لأهل الذمة “أهل الكتاب” أم يختص بمن كانت حاله بمثل حال أولئك “بنو قريظة”؟ هذا موضع نظر.

“This was a special case when they marched towards Bani Quraizah after they (Banu Quraizah) broke the pact and stood with the non-Muslims to eliminate the Muslims. He (The Prophet PBUH) said: “Do not greet them with Salam.” Is this rule applied broadly to the citizens (loose translation of ahl al-zimmah) and People of the Book, or is only specifically for the likes of Banu Quraizah? This is the point of deliberation.”

  • And al-Mawlawi also viewed that if a Muslim is greeted with Salam from a non-Muslim, it becomes obligatory for the Muslim to answer the Salam, following the Qur’anic verse:

وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُمْ بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا أَوْ رُدُّوهَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَسِيبًا

“When You are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally. Certainly Allah is ever a Careful account Taker of All things.” (an-Nisaa’:86)

More details of the khilaf can be read from Min al-Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat al-Muslimah.

Other fatwas on the issue can be read here.


Related post:

Peace be to all