Non-Sexual, Non-Threatening Hugs

Note: This is a reflection by Mrs. HijabMan on part 1 of “How I Met My Wife (And Daughter)”

Ask me a couple of years ago for a hug and if you were a guy I’d have said sorry, I don’t hug guys. I’m Muslim. I don’t touch persons of the opposite gender (heck, I really shouldn’t even be looking at you). It breaks your wudu (ablutions). And hugging… HUGGING?!! That would be one step down the slippery slidey slope to zina (fornication). I mean, how can I hug a guy without feelings of lust arising in me (and him), driving us to distraction (and more). (!!!!!)

Oh, the awkward situations that have played out when I tried to get out of a hug-in-progress… There was the time when my big professor heard I was getting married (the 1st time) and promptly came at me with arms wide open. I didn’t want to offend him so stayed rigid as a tree while he gave me a congratulatory squeeze. I have no idea if he realized how uncomfortable I was about that hug. Once I came out of the elevator in my graduate dorm and was greeted by a good friend who I hadn’t seen in a loooong time. As his arms opened wide and he came towards me, I did a kind of un-graceful pirouette under and around his outstretched arms, stumbling over myself to get out of his way. It was so awkward – he didn’t know what was going on, and I apologized profusely, explaining that while I was very happy, really very happy, really I was, to see him, it’s inappropriate for me to hug guys. Then there was my long-time labmate who helped me through Matlab coding issues and presentations and experiments; marriage and baby and divorce and graduation. When I graduated, we just gave each other shrugs and shook hands, though I’d just gone round hugging everyone else in the lab (it just so happened that only the girls were there that day).

Then one day, Hijabman offered me a hug just before he left Singapore for a 24hr trip back to Philly.

We had spent the previous 3 days talking on a couch, discussing all manner of topics including life lessons, religious thoughts, personality traits, strengths and weaknesses, future goals and dreams, quirks and silliness. His replies were strikingly earnest and never failed to be thought-provoking and it felt comfortable and easy talking to him. I did not even hesitate in receiving and returning the hug. And I was surprised by how easy and non-sexual and non-threatening it felt! Contrary to how I expected hugging a guy to feel, it did not feel uncomfortable at all. For all that we had shared in words those 3 days, hugging was a nice closing touch before potentially never seeing this man again.

In all honesty, I still wasn’t necessarily all that comfortable with the general idea of hugging a guy, and I expressed this to Hijabman as: “When I think of doing it again, or of others doing it, I think ewww! That’s so wrong! How can unmarried people be so touchy-feely?”

Hijabman explained it to me this way:

“Well, people have needs, and I believe one of those needs is to be touched/hugged/cuddled… and not in a sexual way. My thoughts veer to psychology experiments where a baby monkey was given either a ‘comfy furry’ mother-substitute, or a mother substitute made of wires/cold metal. The monkey with the furry comfy mom was much more well-adjusted. And the monkey with the wire-mom… had problems.

‘uhh, but Hijabman, there are certain people we can do that with… you can’t just go up to strangers and …. there are rules.’

“Sure. There are rules. The only thing the Qur’an says about the matter as far as I know is that we should ‘not approach zina’ or illicit sexual intercourse. That is pretty open for interpretation. And you ask great questions like, ‘Yeah but Hijabman, what are the boundaries? What is fixed, and what is fluid? And different people’s inner peace is different, so how can everyone arrive at the same inner peace?’

I know that the fixed is that fornication is wrong. Everything else is open to your own gut feeling (in my humble opinion). I didn’t feel an ounce of regret giving you the hug and expressing my caring for you through touch. Because for me that wasn’t approaching illicit sex. In fact, those touches, for me, were not sexual at all. They were warm. They were a mutually understood expression of …. good vibes, for lack of a better description. And yes, everyone’s boundaries are different. That is why I was sure to ask you if ‘this was okay’. Because if it wasn’t okay, I would have sat on a different couch. :) That is why communication is so important, because different people have different boundaries, emotions, preferences, approaches, etc. To be self-aware is a hard, steep path.

And this explanation made, and still does make sense to me, though theoretical acceptance is not the same as practical acceptance, since baggage from previous ideas has traction. When Hijabman described his ‘Free Hugs’ banner to be put up at the Islamic Society Of North America convention, I cringed. But I took baby steps. I hugged Hijabman’s dad, and his brother, and his brother-in-law, and my co-worker, and my boss, and about 20 guys in a self-discovery workshop I went to, and… Every hug has been an affirmation of the validity of hugging as a way to express non-sexual affection.

When I met my long-time labmate again in Philly, we gave each other a big long hug. I think I even saw tears in his eyes as he said to me:

“that was a long time coming…”

— Mrs. HijabMan

49 comments

  1. Organica says:

    Generally speaking people gross me out. If I can get out of a handshake, I have no problems at all.

    I would say, coming from an Arab culture, I wouldn’t hug random people as a greeting. It means something else (often sexual) in that culture.

    But when I saw former students who are NOW taller than I am, you can bet they got a big bear hug from their teacher :)

  2. Sahar says:

    Sorry to disagree but i totally against with your post. I guess muslims nowadays would do anything to make haram to halal. No offence :) you can keep hugging if you like.

  3. HijabMan says:

    I’d also like to mention that in various places I’ve traveled, Muslim greetings have taken on a variety of forms. For example, while traveling in Argentina, I found mosques where men and women gave each other kisses on both cheeks (the way Argentines greet each other)…. even the Egyptian Imam partook in some cheek kisses with the opposite sex…. it was awesome. It was refreshing to see !

  4. Baraka says:

    A wonderful story! :)

    I come from a Pakistani background & man, are we crazily anti-touch. Maybe, like Organica said, it is because handshaking, cheek kissing, or hugging between the sexes is overtly sexual in that culture, but I wonder how much of it is *because* so much emphasis is laid upon touching that every touch then becomes potentially sexual and therefore threatening.

    One image that sticks out is the late Benazir Bhutto who, while in office as PM, would not shake men’s hands, and was held to a different standard than male politicians (her husband Asif Ali Zardari mauling Sarah Palin comes to mind).

    I have to say it is so subjective for me. There are people I will never be comfortable hugging, and others I can’t stop hugging in that same non-sexual, loving way.

    I see hugging, cheek kissing, or handshaking as part of my freedom of choice. If I want you (male or female) to be part of my personal space, I’ll initiate contact. Sometimes though, I just want to maintain my space.

    Very thought-provoking – thanks!

  5. Amatullah says:

    Thanks for the read.

    While the theoretical explanation of HijabMan may be logical, logic alone is not a sufficient, adjudicating factor in truly identifying what is defined as permissible/impermissible in Islam. For instance, some say shaking hands with a strange (non-mahram) man/woman is permissible depending on the intention. For an act to be permissible in Islam, it has to take into consideration 2 things: niyah (intention)AND that it is in accordance with Shar’iah (Islamic Law). Negation of either illegalizes the act – Islamically.

    Yes, I understand and agree to our human needs of love – one of them being through the sense of touch. And yes, Islam advocatesthe expression of love (in ‘different’ ways for ‘different’ people). However, it lays out rules. And rules – I’m sure you’d agree – are necessary for control and measurement. (That’s why games even have rules!) Rules (whether you prefer to read that as shackling restrictions) are laid out by Allah to test our obedience to and love for Him.

    Then again, I found the “explanation” even more surprising in light of the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) never touched a ‘strange’ woman. Here’s a short hadith indicative of that:

    “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched any woman with his hand. He would explain to the woman what the oath of allegiance implied, and when she accepted, he would say ‘Go, for you have given your oath of allegiance.'”[Narrated by Muslim, 1866]

    and the detailed explanation: http://hurairah.net/?p=1020.

    You may classify the above as wahhabi thought (or me as wahhabi too!) and toss this aside. I can only but let out a deep sigh in response and hope and pray for our guidance (myself included!), for I am only a seeker of [unadulterated] truth, like yourselves.

    May Allah put barakah in your union/bonding and grant us all true guidance. Ameen!

  6. Humaira says:

    I’m on the fence about this. I have no problems shaking hands with a man if he initiates contact, but hugging beyond my father and brother is kinda dependant on the situation. I’ve hugged male co-workers and male friends before and it has always been a non-sexual type of hug.

    And you’re right, its an assurance of warmth and says, I care about you enough to let you into my personal space.

  7. HijabMan says:

    Amatullah, thanks for posting! And thank you for the well-wishes

    You said:
    ” For an act to be permissible in Islam, it has to take into consideration 2 things: niyah (intention) AND that it is in accordance with Shar’iah (Islamic Law). Negation of either illegalizes the act – Islamically.”

    1. I find the phrase “in Islam” and the word “Islamically” to be problematic. Whose Islam are you speaking about? Does a Fiver Shi’a Muslim consider your Islam valid? What about a Chinese Sufi following some obscure tariqa? Point is, what you say is Islam is merely one interpretation.

    2. While I don’t follow more traditional schools of thought– and I’m not a jurist. I’d like to point out just a little error in your comment above. One of the most basic legal maxims when it comes to islamic law is that everything is permissible until proven forbidden (with some exceptions like worship). God did not forbid shaking hands. People did.

    3. Furthermore, deriving law from a hadith is inadvisable. Please see our approach to islam here:
    http://hijabman.com/category/mosque/islam-way-of-life/

    particularly the section on hadith, by khaled abou el fadl

    ““Hurlers of Prophetic traditions, because of their ignorance of jurisprudential theory and methodology, treat law in a whimsical and opportunistic fashion. They search through the thousands of statements and sayings attributed to the Prophet in order to find anything that they could use to support their already preconceived and predtermined positions. In effect, they utilize the inherited traditions about the Prophet in an arbitrary and whimsical personalized fashion in order to affirm whatever positions they feel like supporting. As a result, traditionists (or hadith hurlers) often end up confusing their cultural habits and preferences and Islamic law. They selectively pick evidence that supports their cultural biases and claim that these cultural practices are the Islamic mandated law. Al-Ghazali asserted that because such people do not abide by any disciplined methodology or principled way in thinking about the Divine Will, they end up corrupting Islamic law.”

    To prove my point further —incidentally, Shaykh Abdullah Adhami (from what I understand, one of the few qualified to narrate hadith), and I were both interviewed for Zarqa Nawaz’s documentary, The Mosque & Me. During the interview, he quoted a tradition where Muhammad (pbuh) pulled an unrelated adolescent girl up on his horse, and rode with her. Which would contradict your hadith…cause they touched!

    With love and respect,
    HM

  8. hijabman says:

    Amatullah,

    Sorry, I just visited the link you mentioned. Your web site quotes ‘shaykh’ bin baaz, the former grand mufti of saudi arabia, died in 1999. His most famous fatwa is that the WORLD IS FLAT. He also issued a fatwa saying it is forbidden for women to wear bras. :-) Sorry, I don’t trust a web site that quotes people like bin baz.

  9. Nadia says:

    very good read.. iv learnt alot through these blogs for the past few days thn i have reading books.. nt tht i read alot :)
    btw i love the last comment, about fatwas on flat world and women bras… is it really true…

  10. atiya says:

    mrs. hijabman – i can see that your husband is an absolute gem of a man mashallah. cannot WAIT to meet him some day. bring him to an msa reunion. (and you, mrs. hijabman – prepare yourself ahead of time for a long girly i’ve-missed-you squeeze accompanied by squealing.)

  11. kak munirah says:

    i’ve been in those situations you mentioned Aida dear! & although i dont think I would ever voluntarily initiate a hug to a non mahram, I never squirm away unless I know the guy is clearly attracted to me. If you ask me how I will hukum it, it’s simply ‘darurat’ and adapting to other people’s social graces. like shaking hands… if one wishes to be strict abt it then of course one has to study seerah and find out if prophet M s.a.w. ever gave one of these non-sexual hugs to his non mahram women..Allah knows best

  12. Hussain says:

    comment removed. sorry. That kinda stuff isn’t tolerated in our virtual mosque/community center. Disagreements are cool, but you can do it in a respectful manner. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Debora says:

    I come from a Catholic Christian background; my best friend was Baptist; I am married to a Muslim. I decline to label myself with a particular religion at this time, because it is too difficult for people to work around preconceptions. I have never doubted there is God, and God is One. I personally have never been comfortable with hugs, not since I was very small. Perhaps someone I don’t remember warned me of the possible sexual connotations; perhaps I just sensed them. Perhaps I found aunties to be horribly annoying.

    I find one tenet of Islam to overrule everything else: Allah does not want your religion to be a hardship for you. Also, no matter which religion I am studying, it is clear that Allah, God, G-d, Yahweh understands our Intent in all things, no matter what we speak to others or to ourselves. To me, nothing else matters.

    I am learning to hug, in appropriate occasions, because it is a special, nonsexual gift to others and I feel they deserve to be happy. Sometimes, it’s not so bad :) I agree with Mrs. Hijabman! Good Job!

  14. T Hoss says:

    I have Muslim and non Muslim friends of the opposite gender and I never see it needed to show our friendship through physical touch. Being a teenager, this leads to awkward situations but I have had the advantage of learning from a few of my friends who are older than me’s mistakes. The thing is, when you become used to doing something, the next thing along doesn’t seem as bad. I am not saying just because you hug people, you suddenly are going to become an adulterer. As a matter of fact, hugging someone is probably not going to a be a reason for being attracted to someone. You don’t go “wow, that was a great hug. I think I love this person.”I am just saying that not doing this sort of thing often protects people, including me, from getting too attached to certain people. If there was someone I kind of liked, and then they hugged me for the first time, I would kind of be affected by that emotionally. Personally, I think it is sort of BS about this whole thing that when men come within 5 feet of another woman suddenly they become sex hungry animals. But I definitely would be “is there something between us?” and we all know where that leads. I have seen it too many times. And this is not limited to Muslims at all, it happens just as much if not more among non Muslims. Especially being at an age where I am definitely not looking to, or even would be allowed to get married legally, I think I am protected by the fact my relationship with my opposite gender friends is not physical. I don’t think the hugs are so much to do with the sexual part of it as the emotional part of it.

  15. bb_aisha says:

    When I first started wearing hijab, I wouldn’t shake hands with non-mahrams. This slowly changed, but I was anti-hugging. 8 years later my mindset has evolved. I’m now ok with hugging male friends, depending on the context.

    Great points made by HijabMan

  16. MrsHijabman says:

    Thanks all for wonderful & varying shades of comments. Love the diversity. I haven’t become a hugging machine quite just yet 😉 Still am selective and it’s situation dependent.

    Atiya: Look fwd to the squeezing & squealing =)

  17. Amatullah says:

    Thanks for your response HijabMan! It has caused me to reflect and do more research (no, not for the purpose of rebuttal, but for englightening myself on the process of deriving an Islamic Law and for really looking into your view with an unbiased mind).

    1. Yes, while writing my first post, the thought of the author’s approach to Islam did occur to me. For me, when I use “Islamically permissible,” I mean what Allah has allowed, which not only includes the Quran (His word), but also the actions of an embodiment of the Quran (the Prophet (SAW)).

    2. Re deriving Islamic Law, I have learned that there is an agreement on using the following sources for deriving Islamic Law: Quran, Sunnah, Ijma, and Qiyas. (You may read more here: http://www.kalamullah.com/Books/Understanding%20Usool%20Al-Fiqh.pdf)

    3. I know we’re talking about hugging here, but I think it’s better to tackle something presumably ‘lighter’ before getting into that: i.e., shaking hands. The four imams all agree that shaking hands with a non-mahram is not permissible. Khaled Abou El-Fadl refers to those using Prophetic traditions as being ignorant of jurisprudential theory and methodology (as you quote above). Is he saying the 4 imams (aka the Companions and Companions of Companions of the Prophet (SAW)) were ignorant in that aspect?

    4. The ahadith utilized to explain the rulings are mainly those that are Sahih (which hold very strong grounds and are the product of gruelling, rigorous processes to ascertain their authenticity). I think they should be given some credibility and not tossed aside. The following is a Sahih hadith of the Prophet (SAW):
    “For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than that he should touch a woman who is not permissible for him.”

    Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 486. Shaykh al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5045, that this hadeeth is saheeh.

    5. In retrospect, the aspect of shaking hands with non-mahrams has recently become a debatable issue, while it was formerly agreed (by those closer to the time of the Prophet (SAW) and more learned in terms of jurisprudential theory and methodology) that it is not allowed. It really makes me wonder how/why the issue surfaces as arguable now.

    6. Apologies for diverting the topic to shaking hands, but if one adopts the approach you explain in the blog for “permissible hugs,” then I’m assuming the same can be applied to kissing (on the cheek!)as well? For we certainly do kiss children and seniors (parents, elderly) with non-sexual intentions. And in certain cultures, the greeting is done with exchanging kisses on the cheeks as well (again, non-sexual intentions can be the argument). My question: Where do we draw the line?!

    7. We (Muslim women) have been told by Allah to dress modestly, cover our bodies in a way that is not revealing (body shape and parts), adopt hijaab, etc. When 2 people hug, (I’m sorry to word this *cringes*), but the bodies touch and ‘feel’ each other. Forget ‘seeing it,’ we’re ‘feeling it’ here! I don’t know, but I see that as breaking past the bounds of hijaab.

    8. I understand the hadith you mention was quoted by Shaykh Adhami and not yourself, so you may not have the reference at hand, but I’d appreciate it if you could find it for me. Also, about Shaykh bin Baz, wow, I didn’t know that. Would it be possible for you to share references on that too? (Not doubting what you learned, but I’d like to read.)

    Sorry for the long post. I tried to keep it as succinct as I could.

    Thanks again!

  18. I think everyone who knows Hijabman has had the conversation about hugs at least once. I understand the concept of the non-threatening hug, but I still think it implies a level of trust that isn’t always there. If I find someone attractive, I will def not hug them because I need to keep my own hormones in check. If I know I feel that way sometimes, how can I assume the other party doesn’t? I don’t know anyone’s intentions absolutely, so I’m gonna go on the side of caution with this one (and that goes for shaking hands too).

    That is not to say that my feelings are automatically transferable to every Muslim who exists in this world . I’m just giving my 2 cents.

    PS I think the way you 2 met is a sign that Allah is always helping us to find the people we need to lead better lives and to come closer to Him. That hug may have been divinely inspired 😉 I’m always praying for your continued happiness together, inshallah!

  19. Purvis says:

    You are awesome, Mrs. Hijabman! Great article–I’ve struggled with this issue also, and have become comfortable with the fact that one can hug in a non-sexual, non-threatening way. People do hug me with benign intentions, and I don’t think any good can come from me physically pushing them away when no harm was intended.

  20. Salaam Alaikum,

    Purvis – So good to see you’re still around, I’ve missed your blog and hope that you are well.

    As for hugging, I think it has a lot to do with personal and cultural boundaries.

    In Welsh, they have a special word for an especially warm and loving hug given by a loved one, it’s called a cwtch (sounds like cuch), I love cwtching!

    Mr and Mrs Hijabman – May Allah shower you both with joy and happiness.

  21. muslima wife says:

    I’m glad my husband and I are on the same page on this one, because if I see him hug another girl, I’ll probably feel jealous! It’s not the physical act itself, but the implied intimacy, that they’re comfortable enough with each other to share that personal space. I’m sounding like an irrationally jealous wife haha.. but really, I’m absolutely okay with my husband having close girlfriends, just not *that* close. I guess it goes back to the earlier comment on personal and cultural boundaries, which differ in different communities. I know I wouldn’t be comfortable hugging even a girl I don’t know well enough. And I agree on the earlier comment about ‘being protected’.

  22. INHABITANT_ENOCH says:

    Just my two cents, I dont understand why Hijabman is trying to use (shaking hands) as an excuse to justify the arguement about HUGGING? What ever reference you gave was somewhat incomplete with the arguments placed about hugging, kissing on the cheeks that too with the OPPOSITE SEX … OPPOSITE NON MAHRAM SEX, its okay to hug your brother, your mother, your sister, your Mahram female relatives but making sure that her husband, brother is not offended by such:(if you are a guy) in such cases you will be able to do it without any Lusty intentions coz lets face it … YOU AS A HUMAN WILL AT ONE POINT OR THE OTHER WILL THINK OF SOMEONE ELSE’s WIFE being attractive or some girl you saw in the street to be pretty, to have such EMOTIONS is HUMAN, but to CONTROL THEM AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FALLING INTO the traps and seeking refuge in ALLAH is MUSLIM, you will THINK of someone else’s wife in a perverted sense but you will NEVER view your mother, your sister, your daughter or their friends in that way, aint it so?

    Secondly:
    Are you a saint? are you a companion of the Prophet? Are you one of those CHOSEN by ALLAH(SWT) to enter JANNAH? then how can you CONFIRM that your PIETY and your IMAN is of the same caliber as them?
    There is a certain issue where we are TOLD not to give dawah to a woman because whenever you are alone with a woman the third person is SHAITAAN, so even though you might think that I was completely polite and islamic in my dawah to her, how can you gurantee shaitan did not plant any seeds in the whole scenario, what gurantee can you give such meetings will not be frequent and one way or the other lead to you two meeting and ending up doing acts which are prohibited and IF you CLAIM that you have done such and been successful in not committing Zinah HOW CAN U GURANTEE others wont go astray and perversify the whole approach ??? THEREFORE we are warned not to do such, but critics are like the PROPHET used to do it and we should EMULATE the prophet … fact is HE IS A PROPHET … you are NOT ..emulate the THINGS that are approved by ALLAH … Rasool is the BEST EXAMPLE OF HUMAN BEINGS and his FIRM affirmation in ALLAH is compared to NONE … he was under the care of ALLAH *swt* where he could do no wrong, because AH DUH he was meant to followed by the future generation, if he (nauzubillah) messed up and we followed .. we would blame him, wont we…. likewise Rasool used to follow certain acts which ONLY HIM AND THE PREVIOUS PROPHETS USED TO DO and has TOLD US not to do so .. because we are NOT like HIM …and if u are in doubt search coz judging by your post you do seem very knowledgable masha’Allah…

    IF the companions at one point came under such adversity so as to have touched another of the opposite sex i am sure they were HONEST in their INTENTION (if whether preventing harm falling upon them, or aiding them or anything of that calibre) … and who knows maybe they did regret about it and repented to ALLAH before they died because only one aspect was documented and the other wasn’t. Our lives should emulate the teachings of the QURAN and the SUNNAH of the Prophet and it is not only limited to the Hadeeth.And nowhere have i read anything ANYWHERE where a MAN AND A WOMAN that too NON MAHRAMS would greet each other in that sense … heck what about the fact that back then members of the opposite sex who were non mahrams would talk behind a veil … no wait maybe you gonna say they first shook hands and hugged to greet each other and went behind the veil. OFCOURSE nowadays it would be CLEAR out strange to have someone talking behind a veil because of the free mixing of society but there are still ways we can be modest in our approach towards it.

    And if despite all such you claim you have no sexual feelings when you hug a fellow non mahram lady … HOW THE HELL can you gurantee other men feel the same? Just by puting yourself as an EXAMPLE you are actually giving an OPPURTUNITY TO PERVERTS to USE THIS AS AN EXCUSE TO TOUCH WOMEN WHOM THEY WANT TO TOUCH UNDER THE CLOAK THAT THEY ARE JUST THEIR FRIENDLY NEIGHBOURHOOD BROTHER MAN !!! jeez …

    there is a degree of difference. Shaking hands with the opposite sex can be subjected to the situation at that moment of time but HUGGING someone that too a NON MAHRAM is just INSANE …. ONE SCENARIO you have touching someone’s hand… how much of it will strike a desire in you?? BUT HUGGING !! where you have full body contact ..pardon my words that are about to follow… but my BODY TOUCHING HERS… MY CHEST TOUCHING HER CHEST, my arms wrapped around HERS… OMG.. if on day one i intened that it was a brotherly act, how the hell can you gurantee the next time i will have the same intention 😉 and maybe make sure I hug her MORE to get the most outof my perverted intention…
    maybe if u have trust in me and i am true to my intentions how can you again GURANTEE another MALE FRIEND of hers has the same intention, maybe he is taking advantage and getting the most out of it.
    INTIMACY STARTS WITH A TOUCH …then it leads to somethings deeper. I A MAN SAYS THAT HE TOUCHED ANOTHER WOMAN WHO IS NOT RELATED to him and claims he has not felt anything HE IS A LIAR … do this experiment, hug your mother, your sister and in the end HUG a COMPLETE RANDOM NON MAHRAM girl. Your heart will find MORE desire to hug that complete stranger .. because thats WHAT WE ARE … WE ARE SEXUAL ANIMALS … I am one to admit it, and I KNOW that the best way to stop myself is to pluck out ANY ROOTS that will lead to awaking my animal instincts. and in case I do want them to be brought up, I have my wife to share that with and I am sure she will find it appealing that i only have it it with her, my touch is for her, my kiss even on the cheek is for her. NOW think of my poor wife and how she feels if i am hugging every freaking female friend I have.

    In the end judging by your claim … if i come up to your wife hijabman and HUG her you have no issues ? Though I might claim that I have no dirty intentions .. what GUARANTEE can you give me that I might get dirty thoughts afterwards… or I might not feel good about the way her body felt when my body touched against her … and the FACT that she is not BLOOD RELATED TO ME or not a mahram makes things even more SPECTACULAR …dont you reckon … put all theories and analogies aside … email me your contact details … and I will personally HUG your wife on a daily basis and see your reaction and IF YOUR wife has a problem i would suggest her to fix you first and if you have no problem with me hugging your wife …then there there brother I will give reference to what ever you have given reference about and get away with MURDER …

    likewise I want to hug your MOTHER, your SISTER, your cousins and any female member of your family.

    AND AFTER ALL THIS if i have managed to make your blood boil …alhamdulillah you still have some sense left in you ..
    CIAO MEOW

    ENOCH

  23. MrsHijabman says:

    Enoch: Very nice & coherent comment there – thanks =)
    Consider also that we are eating/hungry animals. We need food to sustain ourselves and can’t go a day without food before we complain of hunger, yet God trusts us to abstain from food from sunrise to sunset for ~30 days each year, and we do it – we manage to exert self control. There’s no guarantee that fasting Muslims walking down the street won’t be tempted to break his/her fast when the scent of food wafts by, but we don’t go around forbidding the sale of yummy, tempting food during Ramadhan. Why are Muslims trusted to exert self control when it’s related to an essential of life (food) but Muslims are not trusted when it’s related to a peripheral of life (physical touch)…?

  24. ummzak says:

    And now for something completely different.
    Humans need to touch and be touched. I wish we didn’t have such touch-unfriendly cultures, but we do. We also have cultures so structured where we spend so much time away from spouses, parents and siblings, something I also lament. And we can either counter that by offering non-sexual touch to one another, re-structure society so that family beds and working from home becomes the norm, or live with the consequences of poor emotional health on a large scale.

  25. V says:

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    I’m expecting this post to be heavily moderated because you’re clearly just deleting posts that are either too difficult to counter argue or too ‘fundi’ for you. You also seem to use the label ‘wahabi’ for anyone that doesn’t share your laxed views of islam. Even your own blog conditions ‘wahabi’ posts will be deleted – rather discriminatory ‘selective hearing’ if you ask me.

    You also cant deny that its not true. I’ve witnessed, first hand, comments being delete in their entirety from this forum or edit so much that it makes the poster sound like an irrational raving lunatic. 

    As your sister in Islam, I appeal to your common sense and ask that you at least consider my right to freedom of speech by refraining from deleting this comment or portions of this comment. 

    My intention is to discuss an alternative point of view, my point of view. I do not intend to cause you or your wife offense and may Allah (swt) forgive me if I do.

    Being a revert to Islam I’ve seen both sides of the coin. I’ve been privy to not only having close guy friends but the whole hugging touching thing etc. 

    I’m also a rape victim and prior to being raped (which happened before I was Muslim), I thought all men had good intentions and I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. Why not? My trust had never been broken before. 

    That trust was broken the day I was raped. My life was changed forever and I will never be the same again. One of the contributing factors to my conversion the sense that I knew women were protected in Islam. By wearing my hijab I felt protected, like it was my shield. No longer would I be wolf whistled at when walking down the street. When I wore hijab I was taken for my intellect not the size of my breasts. Islam protected me by placing boundaries between myself and the opposite gender. My role as a woman was elevated and only my close loved ones could share more intimate parts of me.

    I wholeheartedly agree that humans need touch to function, it’s a necessity to life. However, is it necessary to have this intimacy with the opposite gender of which you have no family or marital ties? I argue that it’s not. As Muslims we are encouraged to get married. Why? Because it’s the intimacy that’s key. If I hug my husband, there’s an emotional connection there and a feeling of comfort. I believe that touch is paramount to our lives as human beings but is it an absolute necessity to share that intimacy with a strange man? 

    I also get what you mean about the intention behind an act like this but you might have the purest intentions, how do you know it’s reciprocated?

    The moments before I was raped, I felt safe, comfortable. I had no inkling that this man (who I knew) had the intention of raping me. Obviously had I’d know, I would’ve got the hell outta there.

    You may have read about the epidemic of Muslim women being sexually assaulted by Muslim men during hajj. HAJJ?! One of the most purest acts in a muslims life, you would be under an illusion to think that every single person is pure of heart and always has good intentions, it’s a nice thought but unfortunately it’s just not reality. 

    There is now a rule in place which instructs women to complete hajj with a mahram to protect them from harm.

    I know we can’t live our lives in fear, but at the same time we also can’t live with the illusion that everyone has a pure heart and pure intentions because It’s simply not the reality. 

    The reality? Life is a test and while we might view some rules of our religion an obstruction, there is barakah for every piece of hardship and in the end, if you observe the laws of Islam in this life? You will able to hug as many people you want in the hereafter iA.

    I guess the reason I’m writing this is not to lecture you or to change your mind but to realise the impact you’re making on others. You’re entitled to have your own opinions but sharing you views on the Internet is a massive undertaking. Not just in this life but the hereafter. If you’re influencing potentially hundreds of other people (including new reverts) and I would hate to think of you or your wife being accountable for hundreds of other people that may be misguided by your comments.

    May Allah (swt) guide both you are  your wife to the straight path so you can be closer to Him (swt), ameen.

    Your sister in Islam :)

  26. hijabman says:

    Walaikum salaam,

    V, first, I’m sorry that you were raped. I cannot begin to imagine what you went through.

    We’ve deleted one comment from here, and listed it as deleted. Why? Because they attacked me personally. Calling someone a fasiq isn’t adding to discussion. There are plenty of people here who disagree with me, they just do it respectfully (and even then, just read the comments below, dude). You can hold any view you choose, you can even voice that view (as inhabitant enoch has done), but calling people names isn’t appropriate. As far editing comments, I deleted a bit from Inhabitant_enoch’s comment that attacked me personally, and I made sure I made a note of it, but left the rest, his ideas included, intact. There have been absolutely no other edits.

    You said, “You also seem to use the label ‘wahabi’ for anyone that doesn’t share your laxed views of islam.”

    Who did I call a wahhabi? Specifically?

    Your comment won’t be deleted or altered because you aren’t calling people a kafir,fasiq,etc. Sorry, that stuff isn’t tolerated here. Disagree all you want, but as soon as you step over the line into, “you are an xyz” then you’re gone. We don’t tolerate takfir here. Raving lunatics, however, are welcome. Inhabitant_Enoch does that all on his own, God bless him.

    You said,
    “By wearing my hijab I felt protected, like it was my shield.”

    Verity, we Muslims hear this a lot. We even hear (often), from Muslims, that it protects women from rape. See http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=283232137894&topic=16588 (Search for the word rape on this FB page, for example)

    All of which is absolutely false. And while I won’t tell you that you are misguiding people, I think a huge problem among young women who wear hijab from an early age do not develop defense mechanisms beyond the piece of cloth on their head, and as a result, are exploited. By reinforcing this idea that hijab protects women, I believe Muslims do a great disservice to our community.

    To make my point crystal clear, on one hand, you say that when you wore hijab you were taken for your intellect and not the size of your breasts. You also said Islam protected you by placing boundaries between yourself and the opposite gender. At the same time, men are sexually assaulting muslim women everywhere, even mecca. The majority of women in Cairo say they’ve been harassed and whistled at by men in the street, and how many women wear hijab there now? 90 odd percent? So the idea that hijab protects you from “wolf whistles” on the street is just false. Plain and simple.

    You said, “However, is it necessary to have this intimacy with the opposite gender of which you have no family or marital ties? ”

    No. it is not at all necessary and if you aren’t comfortable with that, I have no objection. I think we all need to do what makes us feel safe, happy, connected to God, etc. So, if for you, that is not hugging non-mahram men, then awesome. All the power to you. But for mrs. hijabman and many other women that is something else that’s okay too. Like I mentioned in a previous comment. Muslim folks in Argentina were kissing each other on each cheek. That wasn’t intimate to them, it was just a greeting!
    Acts have different meanings to different people.

    You said, “I know we can’t live our lives in fear, but at the same time we also can’t live with the illusion that everyone has a pure heart and pure intentions because It’s simply not the reality. ”

    V, I never proclaimed that you should hug every person you meet, or trust every person you meet. Nor did I ever say that it is the right thing for everyone. What I did say was that everyone’s boundaries are different. That is why communication is so important, because different people have different boundaries, emotions, preferences, approaches, etc. To be self-aware is a hard, steep path.

    Thank you for reminding me that this is a massive undertaking. I pray that I stay conscious of God while I build this site and others.

  27. hijabman says:

    just one more quick note, as you know, hijabman.com recently switched from textpattern to wordpress, and as a result many comments were lost. There have also been some glitches that have needed to be worked out… including a corrupted SQL database… so if any comments were lost without my knowledge, my humble apologies.

  28. Laura says:

    V, I am truly sorry you had to experience this. As a fellow survivor of a sexual assault, I have some experience of the hurt, self-doubt, guilt, pain, and mistrust that comes with surviving an assault. I’m so glad to hear you survived both the experience itself and the terrible and ongoing aftermath of the assault. It takes a strength few are ever required to summon.

    At the same time, I think it’s a bit tricky to equate Islam with protection. In my time as a counselor at my University’s Sexual Assault Center I personally counseled two hijabi survivors of assault, both assaulted by fellow Muslims. I was not Muslim at the time, and I recall the great confusion that was added to their experiences because, Islamically, they had “done everything right.” They wore hijabs, they didn’t have male friends, they didn’t date, they didn’t drink, they didn’t, they didn’t, they didn’t… but they were assaulted anyways. I also remember the guilt: maybe if they hadn’t attended that co-ed gathering. Maybe if they hadn’t accepted that ride home. Maybe if they hadn’t agreed to help that brother. Thing is, hindsight is 20/20. Nothing could have predicted what happened to those women and they acted–to my mind then and to my now-Muslim-mind–in completely appropriate ways. I would have done the same thing in their situations.

    I hear what you’re saying about risk and I know the argument (largely because I went through it myself): so don’t go to the co-ed gatherings because then it definitely won’t happen there. Don’t talk to men at all because it lowers your risk. The problem is: where does it end? Don’t go to class because there will be men there. Don’t attend that halaqa because it’s co-ed. Don’t take that job. Don’t, don’t, don’t. Don’t leave the house because you’re at greater risk of being assaulted.

    I am a firm believer in everyone making choices that make them feel safe. Everyone has to draw a line and decide what they will and will not do to feel safe. But I do have a problem with the idea that it is our responsibility to prevent our own assaults. I am responsible for what I do, not what is done to me, and it is not my responsibility to dress a certain way so that men won’t rape me. Eventually, I got tired of limiting my actions because of something someone else might do to me. I got tired of pretending I could protect myself with a slew of arbitrary rules. I finally realized an incredibly important fact:

    We cannot predict who will commit a sexual assault and the only person to blame for a sexual assault is the perpetrator of that assault.

    It was incredibly freeing for me. Scary, but freeing. I hadn’t done anything. The women I counseled hadn’t done anything and nothing they wore or didn’t wear and no one they hugged, shook hands with or didn’t shake hands with could have prevented what happened to them. The men who assaulted them were responsible for their assaults. Nothing reliably predicts who will and who will not be assaulted. Interestingly, being in University at all is one of the most statistically significant “risk factors” for being assaulted, but (I would hope) we aren’t advocating that women shouldn’t go to University because they might be assaulted. And if we did want to go down that road, I would hope that the argument would run more like “men can not attend Universities because they might assault women.” Let’s put the blame where it belongs: square on the shoulders of the perpetrators of sexual assault.

    So, ultimately, if you feel more comfortable wearing hijab and not having interactions with non-maharam men, that’s great and I fully support your choice to live that way. Like Hijabman, I’m glad you have found a way to live that works for you, that makes you feel comfortable, safe and connected with God. You’ve set boundaries that function in your life. So have I. Mine are different than yours. If either of us (God forbid) is ever assaulted again, it will have nothing to do with which of us wore hijab, what halaqas we attend, whether or not we hug men, or how many handshakes we turn down. It will have nothing to do with the boundaries we’ve set. It will have everything to do with someone violating those boundaries. It will have to do with the perpetrator.

  29. ummzak says:

    V, as a fellow survivor, I am so sorry for your pain. But I have to wonder, if you’re thinking of marital or other close familial ties as the only ones that legitimate touch, that puts one at risk because judgment might be compromised in order to get that need met. While this is also true for sexual needs, to defer sexual and non-sexual touch needs to marriage places even greater burden on those who are not currently married. Not everyone is able to find a spouse instantly. Lots of people spend years or even decades looking.

    Also, if you’re looking to avoid the people most likely to sexually assault a woman, frankly, they’re at home. Women of all faiths are most often assaulted by relatives, and marital rape is no less heinous for occurring within marriage. So should women wear hijab at all times, and never touch her husband? The key here is to teach people the signs of controlling and abusive behavior, including “grooming” of victims, so they can avoid potentially unsafe situations.

    And on the point of women being assaulted on Hajj: it happens to women who travel with a mahram, too. The rule about women having to be accompanied by a mahram isn’t a very new one. Hajj is a human activity, and humans vary in their ability to behave themselves.

  30. V says:

    My name was published in full without my prior knowledge.
    Please delete my post and other posts with both my first or surname in it.

  31. hijabman says:

    V, To suggest that someone other than yourself published your name without your knowledge, when you a. made your own profile for this site and b. clicked on ‘submit comment’ is misleading.

    Furthermore, I find it just a bit ironic that your comment was about accusing me of arbitrarily deleting comments and editing comments. And now you want me to delete your comments.

  32. Sara says:

    Beautiful :)

    I have never had trouble hugging or even kissing the opposite sex on the cheeks. I’ve never thought of it as “haram” until people started going on and on about it, and even then I didn’t accept that logic. When we give sexual connotations to something that isn’t sexual by default, we ruin it.

  33. N says:

    ok after reading all tht.. tht huggung the opposite sex will lead to other things etc etc.. so what do i tell my non-muslim gay friends whom im always close to jus as if they were a girl.. i knw this may go into gays and muslims debate which i dnt want to hear as i am not tht religious but i do like to hear all the points and then make my mind up about life and wht to follow. which i think is a simple rule of life to make ur own choice rather then following others…

    oh yeah about the comment made in one of the posts above:-
    ”email me your contact details … and I will personally HUG your wife on a daily basis and see your reaction and IF YOUR wife has a problem i would suggest her to fix you first and if you have no problem with me hugging your wife …then there there brother I will give reference to what ever you have given reference about and get away with MURDER …

    likewise I want to hug your MOTHER, your SISTER, your cousins and any female member of your family.”

    dude why did u feel the need to atack hijabman personally… i mean tht jus shows how low can one stoop to make a point even if ther is no point… the guys (by tht i mean hijabman lol!) just sharing wht he believes in, either read and think or read and forget. no need to atack in such a way…

  34. Sana says:

    “Say to the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty. That is purer for them, and Allah is aware of what they do. And say to the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty.” [Qur’an, 24:30-31].

    So I am guessing you and the rest of the girls who agree with you here give kisses and hugs to the opposite gender while closing their eyes?

    Allah has commanded us women to cover up and keep our eyes low. That should be ENOUGH for us, because he is our creator, he has all the right over us- we are only slaves.

  35. hijabman says:

    I don’t read the Qur’an literally. If Muslims above the arctic circle did the same, they’d die of starvation when fasting during the summer months when the sun does not set.

  36. Nakia says:

    Why yes, Sana, I do sometimes close my eyes when receiving a friendly embrace or buss on the cheek. But even more to the point of the aya, I do not act out of physical desire toward people without honorable intentions. And I do not allow men to act out their desire for me without honorable intentions.

  37. Sana says:

    @ Hijabman

    Ok. So in which way would you approach the ayah I quoted in my earlier post if not “literal”?

    @ Nakia

    “And when you ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts.” (33:53)

    And who were more honorable than the wives of the Prophet Muhammad SAW?

  38. hijabman says:

    Muhammad Asad quotes Razi’s commentary on “Lowering your gaze”

    “it relates to both physical and emotional modesty” (Page 600 of the 6 volume message of the Qur’an set)

    Also, take a look at how the Qur’an speaks of lowering one’s voice. (same word, lowering in arabic)

    “Behold, they who lower their voices in the presence of God’s Apostle – it is they whose hearts God has tested [and opened] to consciousness of Himself; [and] theirs shall be forgiveness and a reward supreme.” -49:3 (M. Asad’s translation)

    The same way, in this verse, it doesn’t literally mean talking in whispers– but approaching the Prophet with respect. humility.

    So lowering one’s gaze isn’t necessarily about literally lowering your gaze, but approaching people with respect! with good intentions.

    And to add some purely anecdotal stories to the discussion: I’ve seen guys completely avert their gaze when a woman was speaking with them, and she found the behavior rude. I would too. Here, culturally you look people in the eyes when you speak with them. Same here in Malaysia. My wife’s friends would find it rude if I literally lowered my gaze.

    Also, if you lower your gaze, couldn’t you possibly be looking at someone’s chest? I can imagine that would be a lot more awkward than looking them in the eye. :) And probably much more offensive.

  39. T Hoss says:

    I probably disagree with hijabman’s/mrshijabmans view completely, but that doesn’t mean I am going to sit here and annoy them about it. Allah (SWT) created us free and maybe if we spent more time trying to get closer to him rather than yelling at people trying to force them to accept our view, then we would be better off on the day of Judgment. We have to accept that there are other opinions on almost every little issue in Islam – the test is whether we can look past these differences and unite as an ummah. There is nothing wrong with debating your point but there is no need for the whole accusations – if you have a problem, contact hijabman directly and if that doesn’t work, forget it. Don’t read his website. No one is forcing you to. It is his website anyways.

  40. Zaigham Faraz Siddiqui says:

    @Baraka

    The most telling picture from 90s is Benazir refusing and outstretched hand of Mark Taylor at the final of 1996 Cricket World Cup final in Lahore.

  41. Muslima says:

    I would rather hug a stranger or a friend/teacher etc. than hug my boyfriend. Because a stranger/friend/teacher doesn’t mean anything to me, he wouldn’t wake any feelings or temptations in me, and the reason why hugging is Haraam is exactly because it could wake the kind of Haraam feelings in you, so… But I would never (InshaAllah never) hug or walk hand-in-hand with my boyfriend, because there is a bond between us, because we are in love and the slightest touch could make us want more.

    I do have a question about this last one though: Can you hug your boyfriend to comfort him when he is sad? Like really really sad and needs comfort? My boyfriend and I have both been through a lot of difficulties in life, actually this is what has brought us together. We haven’t met each other physically yet (we found each other through the internet, and we knew we were meant to be right away – strange and long story), but he is moving to my country in a month and we are finally going to meet each other InshaAllah (in the most non-Haraam Islamic way!). So I thought, when talking about the things we’ve been through, if one of us starts to cry, would it be a problem to hug each other just to comfort, to tell each other that we will always be there for one another? Because I have been crying even talking to him through the internet, and I’ve always felt the urge to hug him when he was sad or being hugged by him when I was sad, just to let him know that I will always be there for him and vice versa, no sexual intentions or thoughts AT ALL, Wallah Billah. Is this Haraam? I am dead sure that there will be moments where we will both feel sad and even cry when we meet each other, and I can’t imagine neither him nor myself to not hug the other in that situation. I’m feeling that it’s not Haraam, but is it or not?

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