How to Greet Muslim Women

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Muslim women are raised and taught to guard their modesty. This is reflected in their dress and actions. Knowledge of the modest dress and behaviour codes for Muslim women may give rise to questions regarding the etiquette of greeting Muslim women, particularly if you are male. Greetings vary based on cultural background, setting, whether you are Muslim or not and whether you are a man or woman. It is important to remember to always respect Muslim women's modesty when approaching and greeting them.

Greet Muslim women with the greeting "Assalamu alaykum," which is interpreted as peace be upon you, if you are a Muslim man or woman; they should respond with "Wa alaykum assalam," which means upon you be peace. Offering the Salam is a means of maintaining and enhancing love and affection. In some Muslim cultures, it is common for Muslim women to kiss each other on the cheeks three times upon greeting. If you are non-Muslim man or female, you are not obligated to give Muslim women the salams. Instead, it is appropriate to respectfully greet them with hello, hi, good morning, good afternoon or good evening.

Shake hands with Muslim women upon greeting if the situation requires it, and you are of the opposite sex; for example, in certain business settings where it is proper etiquette to shake hands upon meeting someone.

If you are a man, avoid shaking hands with Muslim women in most situations since this is not Islamic protocol or etiquette. According to a fatwa by Muhammad al-Hanooti, shaking hands with Muslim women is not a halal, or permissible style of greeting. However; the fatwa also states that we cannot say it is haram, or impermissible because the hadith, the sayings and traditions of the Prophet, narrated for prohibition are weak. It is makrooh, or disliked, which means it's better for a Muslim not to perform it unless the situation prefers doing so. Some Muslim women may prefer not to shake hands with a man at all, regardless of the situation.

Avoid prolonged eye contact or gazing at Muslim women when greeting them. In Islam, to gaze at a strange woman is said to be "zina," adultery of the eyes. There are settings where eye contact is necessary such as in certain business settings and even in general social interactions. Gazing at a Muslim woman, however, can appear lustful and counteracts her modest intentions.

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