Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|10/27/00 at 10:44:58|
I found this on Miss Manners and I thought it would be useful for us.
Dear Miss Manners,
I am male, aged 27, and a software engineer. My religion prohibits me from making physical contact with members of the opposite sex (with exception to family members).
Now, in my day-to-day work, I sometimes have to meet female clients. When being introduced, I politely nod and do not offer a handshake, with the hope it would be understood. However, sometimes the client offers her handshake, and I have to respond in order not to offend her. I do not like to do this because it compromises my religious values that I hold strongly. How do I tackle this problem?
Not by compromising your religious values, Miss Manners assures you, but neither by assuming that this will be understood. You are living in a country where the handshake is considered to be an impersonal show of goodwill and the refusal to shake hands a high insult. At that, you're lucky not to be in one of the subcultures that considers a kiss to be an impersonal show of good will.
As with people speaking different languages, you not only need to translate when you are speaking a language that you presume to be unknown to your listeners, but to make sure that your intent is not misunderstood. Yet you certainly don't want to open a religious discussion every time you meet someone, and certainly not with clients.
Miss Manners suggests saying only, "Sorry I canıt shake hands," perhaps offering a friendly little half-wave to demonstrate good will. There are many reasons people donıt shake hands, and whether your clients realize this is a religious matter or assume it has to do with an injury doesnıt matter. You can head off inquiries by jumping in and saying, "But Iım delighted to meet you," and then opening the matter you are meeting to discuss.
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