Shaking hands with Non Mahram women.
In Islam, interactions between the sexes are permitted within certain limits specified by the Quran and the Sunna. To some, these limits might appear to be very strict. However, there is a divine wisdom underpinning the limits set down by the Shariah. In adhering to the boundaries set by the Sharia, we can uphold the Quranic command to the believing men and women to be awliya of one another, or protecting friends, while at the same time maintaining the modesty and purity of heart that come from obeying Allah and His Messenger in this regard.
In brief, when interacting with a woman who is not a member of your unmarriageable kin (Ghair Mahram) or your wife, you must avoid khalwa, or seclusion; guard your gaze; and obviously, avoid any physical contact. There is no doubt that physical contact between males and females who are not mahrams (illegal for marriage) is Haraam, even if there is no fear of arousing any sexual desire.
From the following narrations, we can plainly see the prohibition of a man touching a Ghair Mahram woman.
It was narrated that Ma’qil ibn Yassaar RA said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “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.
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (RA) the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “By Allaah, the hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman, rather they would give their oath of allegiance with words only.” And ‘Aa’ishah (RA) said: “By Allaah, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) only took the oath of allegiance from the women in the manner prescribed by Allaah, and the hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any woman. When he had taken their oath of allegiance he would say, ‘I have accepted your oath of allegiance verbally.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 1866)
So, the Prophet of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), the infallible one, the best of mankind, the leader of the sons of Adam on the Day of Resurrection, did not touch Ghair Mahram women. This is despite the fact that the oath of allegiance was originally given by hand. So how about men other than the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?
It was narrated that Umaymah the daughter of Raqeeqah (RA) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “I do not shake hands with women.” Narrated by al-Nasaa’i (4181) and Ibn Maajah, 2874; classed as Saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2513.
It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has said: Every part of the body plays its part in adultery. Eyes fornicate and their fornication is seeing. Hands fornicate and their fornication is holding and grasping. Feet fornicate and their fornication is to walk (towards adultery). Mouth fornicates and its fornication is to kiss. The heart desires and the private parts endorse it by fornicating or belie it and stays away from adultery. (Musnad Iman Ahmed bin Hambal, Hadith No. 8572)
With regard to the views of the four imams, they are as follows:
1 – The Hanafi madhhab:
Imam Ibn Nujaym said: It is not permissible for a man to touch a woman’s face or hands even if there is no risk of desire because it is haraam in principle and there is no necessity here that may allow it. (Al-Bahr al-Raa’iq, 8/219)
2 – The Maaliki madhhab:
Imam Muhammad ibn Ahmad (‘Ulaysh) said: It is not permissible for a man to touch the face or hand of a non-mahram woman, and it is not permissible for him to put his hand on hers without a barrier. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never accepted a woman’s oath of allegiance by shaking hands with her; rather he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to accept their oath of allegiance by words only.” According to another report, “His hand never touched the hand of a woman; rather he would accept their oath of allegiance by words only.” (Manh al-Jaleel Sharh Mukhtasar Khaleel, 1/223)
3 – The Shaafa’i madhhab:
Imam Al-Nawawi said: It is not permissible to touch a woman in any way. Al-Majmoo’, 4/515.
Shaikh Wali al-Deen al-‘Iraaqi said: This indicates that the hand of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not touch the hand of any woman apart from his wives and concubines, whether in the case of accepting the oath of allegiance or in other cases. If he did not do that despite the fact that he was infallible and beyond suspicion, then it is even more essential that others heed this prohibition. It appears from the texts that he refrained from doing that because it was haraam for him to do so. The fuqaha’ among our companions and others said that it is haraam to touch a non-mahram woman even if that is not touching parts of her body that are not ‘awrah, such as her face. But they differed with regard to looking when there is no desire and no fear of fitnah. The prohibition on touching is stronger than the prohibition on looking, and it is haraam when there is no necessity that would allow it. If it is the case of necessity, e.g. medical treatment, removing a tooth or treating the eyes, etc., if there is no woman who can do that, then it is permissible for a non-mahram to do that because it is the case of necessity. Tarh al-Tathreeb, 7/45, 46
4 – The Hanbali madhhab
Shaikh Ibn Muflih said: Imam Ahmad was asked about a man who shakes hands with a woman. He said, No, and was emphatic that it is haraam. I said, Should he shake hands with her from beneath his sleeve? He said, No. (AlAdaab al-Shar’iyyah, 2/257)
All these rulings and warnings mentioned above should suffice for a true believer to refrain from touching or worst, hugging and kissing, a Ghair Mahram; even if they be and old friend or an extended family member.
And Allah Taala knows best