‘It’s his culture; he can’t shake hands with women.’ That’s what the student from the Ahmadiyya Youth Association came to say to me before last week’s debate on Sharia law negating human rights at the UCL. ‘It isn’t personal’ I was told but Ayazz Mahmood of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim University of Theology and Languages would get all dirty if he touched my hand.

‘Well,’ I said, ‘it’s my culture to shake hands with men and be treated as an equal’ and that is what I did.

If only poor old Ayazz Mahmood knew that this apostate who shook his hand was menstruating at the time as well. [Just in case you don’t know, menstruating women aren’t allowed to pray, or enter Sharia courts or mosques and most probably shouldn’t be debating Sharia law’s negation of human rights.]

Oh well…

But honestly, Muslim women must be the only ones in the world who actually look forward to their periods.

And by the way, since it isn’t enough that women are humilitated day in and day out by men refusing to shake their hands, Cambridge University has issued a directive warning academics not to shake hands with Muslim women as well.

It’s their culture to hate women, so let’s all join in…



  1. Maryam, it is out of respect that practicing Muslims don’t touch members of the opposite sex unless they are relatives or spouses. I am a muslim woman and I always politely reject handshakes from men. I explain to them why and I’ve never had an issue with it. It has nothing to do with one gender being inferior or superior. Its about modesty. please dont be so ignorant. Another point i want to make is that can’t force someone to touch you, as an unwanted touch may be considered sexual harassment. Its my body . If I dont want you to touch it then I have the right to deny you. Don’t force your hand on others.

    1. It is ignorant to compare shaking of hands with a form of harassment! You are free to have your modesty. I don’t accept it and find it discriminatory against women. I don’t want a man protecting my modesty and refuse to accept that he won’t shake my hands. So please stop forcing your ridiculous notions of modesty on me!

      1. I really cant believe you cannot understand such a simple thing.So there can really be two things: ignorance or hatred at play here. Choose your pick. Please remove your blindfold of hatred and try to understand it. I will really break it down for you. It is not discrimination or whatever you are thinking. It is a thing called “culture”. May be you have not heard of it. How is it a discrimination when it is true the other way around too? Men dont shake hands of women in Islam AND women dont shake hands of men!! It is equal. Now go and read this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handshake and see that it is considered impolite to shake a woman’s hand in Russia. “Namaste” is used instead of a handshake in Indian culture. The thing is that when two cultures meet, it should be that the culture with least intrusive habits be followed so as not to hurt the other person. Let me give you an example: If there is a culture, in which when two people meet they greet by kissing. And in another culture kissing is considered a sign of affection not mere greeting. What do you think should be done when people from these two cultures meet? Should the first person impose him/herself on the second and kiss him/her regardless of whether they find it uncomfortable and inappropriate? Or should the second person’s culture (the least intrusive one) be followed here? simple logic will tell you that the later is true. Because a person doesnt get uncomfortable when he cannot kiss the other person, but a person DOES get uncomfortable when he/she is kissed when they dont want to be kissed.
        Pheeeew. Understood?
        He didnt force his notion of modesty on you. He was a bigger man and let go of his culture to keep you comfortable. You, on the other hand, were small enough to force your notion of greeting on him while knowing that it is not the same in his culture.
        I did side with many of your arguments in the debate, but this really broke it for me. I couldnt believe that you will be this close-minded. Please become a better human before criticizing others for not being good enough.

        1. Opposing hatred against women is not hatred. Not shaking women’s hands because they are seen as impure and the source of fitnah in society is the problem, not demanding respect. If he can shake a man’s hand, he can shake mine. Otherwise he should not be debating me about the wonderfulness of sharia law that deems women worth half of men and also not worthy of a courteous handshake.

          1. Maryam you are making stuff up. Did Ayyaz say “you are dirty”? I highly doubt it. If women were dirty to him then I’m sure he’d never marry. Men love women, I am a woman and I also love women. I am a proud lesbian, with a beautiful partner and I have reserved myself for her and that is why I dont shake hands. This is a personal choice. Indeed he did not force any modesty on you. Don’t ignore that fact. Maryam as a huge fan of yours I do love you! But I just don’t understand why you wish to be so disrespectful of human rights on this particular matter. at the moment, I’m a disappointed fan 🙁 but still a fan. I know many muslims who believe their bodies are only for their spouses, and that is why they don’t shake hands with the opposite sex. Im so sad that you can’t respect their choices to not touch you. I certainly would not touch you unless you were my partner 😉 you’re much too beautiful

          2. Good work maryam!
            its a nice strategy. never address the points raised by the other person. keep on ranting your own beliefs. you are also kind of an extremist, i mean really, you are showing all the traits of being one. first of them being not able to hold an honest discussion and never ready to concede a point even when all the evidence is against you.
            keep going… Regards

      2. Its not about forcing modesty on YOU. If a person wishes to remain modest thats their choice. If someone does not want to be touched by you then you should not force them. Their bodies do not belong to you. A forced touch is indeed harassment. Every human has the right to do as they Please with their bodies. You have the right to decide how you want to dress your body and who you will allow to touch it. Stop harassing people. Its just basic human rights. If I don’t want someone to touch me then no one has the right to force their hands on me.

        1. If a man refuses to shake my hand, which is common courtesy, then this is not about modesty but misogyny. Plus don’t forget many Muslims shake hands with the opposite sex. It is the Islamists who have made this – along with the Niqab and Sharia law – people’s right to religion. Don’t have public debates with “dirty” women if you cannot even shake their hands. Stay only in places where that is acceptable – your little Islamic enclave where you can force your [im]morality on others.

          1. Maryam, you are being unfair. This woman here is pointing out that everyone has the right to decide who is allowed to touch their bodies. I have explained to you my reasoning in a separate comment, it is not religious, but is personal for me. If its religious for others then so what? The bottom line is, its THEIR BODY. It is NOT YOURS to touch. Its “common courtesy” to respect another persons body, and personal space. Don’t be pushy. It does become harassment of you demand to be touched by another. I would never force someone to touch me no matter who it is or what their reasoning.

      3. Maryam! I am shocked! You are someone who fights for human rights and yet you cant respect someones basic human right to have control over ones own body? Come on Maryam! Please, I am a huge fan of some of the things you have done and enjoy your debates. But this is not something I expect from you my dear! Whatever the reason, if a person does not wished to be touched then that needs to be respected. I do find it bizarre to reject a handshake, but we must keep in mind there is something bigger than culture and religion at play here. RESPECT OF THE HUMAN BODY! I have to side with Ayyaz. I am sad that you forced your touch on to him. I really thought you were the type of person to respect one’s human rights. I humbly request that you re-think this. I really do admire you so much 🙂 and I don’t want to offend you but I can’t ignore this. You must not force someone to touch you.

        1. This is what cultural relativism has done. His misogyny is deemed a human right and my opposing it – a violation of his rights. It is like saying black South Africans entering an all white venue were violating the rights of white south Africans! Absurd logic that defends those imposing and demanding sex apartheid. Well fuck that. I will not succumb to gender segregation. I am not “dirty” and will not be treated in that manner.

          1. I am a lesbian woman. I promise I would never shake your hand if I meet you in person. But my reasoning is that I have reserved my body for my significant other, and she has done the same for me. I would bow, or curtsy, but I do not touch other people outside of family and my partner. If I gave my hand to everyone then it wouldnt be as special when I hold my beloved partner’s hand. And I actually know of other couples, even straight couples who follow this as well. Because no one is more important to me than my partner and son to be spouse. Some people find this ridiculous, and some don’t. But if I don’t want to be touched by someone then I have every right to deny. I know that in the islamic faith some people actually feel the way I do about handshakes, I have a few friends of the faith and they agree that they like the idea of saving oneself entirely for their one true love. If I were a gay man, I probably would have no problem shaking hands with you. But as a lesbian woman, who reserves her body only for her partner, I may very well be attracted to you or other women and therefore can’t shake your hand. Its because women are beautiful to me that I avoid touching them, not inferior! And that is why I empathize with Ayyaz. I know the community that he is from does not see women as inferior and it is the ONLY Islamic sect that actually respects women. Even the gays and lesbians!

  2. Dear Maryam,

    I was lucky enough to be present at the last Ahmadiyya convention. These Muslims are at a level of morality that I have yet to see in the west. Please read on, don’t disregard my message simply because I disagree with you.

    I have to warn you though, it’s not going to be nice. I was told that it was better to be gentle to people like yourself. However I do not share this opinion. People like you can learn only through being humiliated or shown their own wrong doing. This is because you are egocentric.

    It is obvious to me that you are looking for Misogyny. It’s also obvious that you have made a giant leap in finding what you THINK is misogyny in the Ahmadiyya community. It is in fact a cultural differnce. Much like if I were to give you the peace sign in the UK, (In my country it’s a nice gesture,) and then tell you that you are inferior because you didn’t understand.

    Have you taken a good look at the west lately? Since we are being specific I will limit this to sexism.

    The west has a problem with MEN. Have you heard of the word Misandry? (My spell checker only recognizes Misogyny.)

    Did you know that:

    * in the UK breast cancer charity funds are 100x greater than prostate cancer?
    * Men are 2x as many unemployed as women.
    * Men make up 80% of the homeless.
    * Men are subject to child custody laws that can turn them into financial slaves and there ARE women who take advantage of that.
    * A man recently had his penis cut off, which was later mocked on American television with no real apology.
    * Male victims of rape often go unreported, untreated, and in many cases laughed at.
    * Women are statistically punished more leniently in court.
    * Material that is equally critical of both men and women is no longer made for Television in many western countries. It has been replaced with shows designed to “empower women.” It does so by teaching them to use sex to gain the edge. Watch Top Model or Victoria secret. Are there any of these shows that feature men who are not completely emasculated?

    It’s sad that in order to find a way to make yourself feel important you have to find ways to criticize religious foreigners. Are you ready for the truth?

    Here it is: It is true that in some places women are still mistreated but it’s not do with Religion. It’s the result of the cultures of war torn countries who the west has been actively discouraging from development. The west is basically keeping them in the past and then blaming them… for being in the past.

    Men and women are in fact balanced in Islam. But also that means that in Islam a man still has a place in the world. THAT is what really bothers you and much of the west.

    Don’t believe me? Ask yourself a few simple questions and be honest with yourself.

    *Is it acceptable for a man to be dominant in a relationship? Or does that raise your suspicions that the man is a misogynist?

    *What was your first reaction the last time you saw a woman yelling at a man in public? How about a woman who just walked away from a man angrily?

    *When you see something on television that is heavily critical of men but you overlook it (Or worse, laugh at it.)

    *How often do you use the excuse that those in power are predominantly male? Why do you forget that the rest of the male majority are NOT in power?

    *Have you ever used the excuse that in past history women were treated unfairly, but conveniently forget about the military draft and all the suffering in coalmines, railroads and factories that men also had to endure in the past?

    Maybe it’s best that you clean up your own backyard first.
    It’s just easier to see another nations shortcomings before recognizing your own. That’s the sort of nationalism that is keeping us at war.

  3. The next time I learn a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to learn, however I truly thought youd have one thing attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could possibly repair should you werent too busy looking for attention.

  4. The following time I read a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I do know it was my choice to read, however I really thought youd have one thing attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you may fix should you werent too busy in search of attention.

  5. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  6. Wait a minute!!!
    Is this not hypocrisy and bigotry? I have read all the comments and the conclusion is that all the people who are claiming to be the “modern human right activists” and “enlightened” (i.e the Non Muslims on this thread) are actually showing immense hatred towards the beliefs of someones and their hatred is also evident from their derogatory wordings in some instances.

    But on the other hand are the Muslims who are time and again clarifying the issue with politeness and logic, and they are being labelled as mysoginists and haters, etc.etc.

    Welcome to the Rise of Extremism and Talibanization of West!!!!

    And I used to think that people here in West are far more accomodating and decent than Muslims…..

    What a pity indeed…..

    It seems that in 2050, the headlines would be like: “Western and Atheistic terrorists attacking pacific Muslims”

  7. Good morning,
    Having read through most of the comments, I’ve just got little to say.

    Ayyaz did not wish to shake Maryam’s hand due to his religious beliefs.
    Maryam has no hesitation in shaking hands with members of either sex.

    When Maryam held out her hand on both occasions, Ayyaz obliged and shook it.
    Ayyaz put aside his personal beliefs so as to respect Maryam even after she was informed that he would not.

    SO who was being the bigger man (no puns inteneded)? The one who forced their view on the other even after being told or the one who put aside their beleifs so as not to cause awkwardness to the other.

    It’s like a person telling another “I’m vegetarian,” before their party, and then them offering only meat dishes.

    Equality or irony?
    I have no more to say.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    1. OMG!

      Hey, it’s totally against my religion to shake hands with pale faced fucks. That you’re so pale shows God has taken the sun away from you!

      But fear not. I will still shake your hand so as to not seem impolite. I am, after all, the bigger man.

    2. Being vegetarian does not insult the host. The belief that shaking hands with a woman is wrong stems from a belief that women are inherently unclean, inferior. This is insulting to women. Your analogy fails.

    3. “It’s like a person telling another “I’m vegetarian,” before their party, and then them offering only meat dishes.”

      I take it that here, Maryam is the vegetarian in your analogy, and Ayazz initially saying that he is only offering meat, and only later relenting and preparing something veggie as well. So, yes, it was slightly more civilised and accommodating of him to agree to shake the hand of someone who wanted to be treated like an equal, rather than to childishly refuse in case he caught her woman-cooties, but how much better a person would he have been if he could just have dropped his deranged taboo in the first place?

  8. So yeah the bigots came out on this one and their contempt for women is obvious as is the indifference of supposed liberals.

    Just one quick point (sorry if it’s been said. To angry to finish reading and it’s taking all my willpower not to swear right now) refusing to shake hands with someone during an interaction is a clear signal you do not respect them.

    Imagine being part of a group and a rep from another company coming over. They shake hands with every member of the group except you. Regardless of whether you feel that’s insulting, people who are put in that situation almost always report being feeling excluded.

    Same thing with a debate. When someone is engaging you, shaking hands is meant to signal that you’re meeting on common ground even if you disagree. You are willing to show them respect despite being on opposing sides.

    Why the hell should the repulsive misogynistic blight that is this man’s beliefs trump a custom that actually puts people on equal footing?

    1. Mixed doubles at Wimbledon.

      If you are not man enough to shake an opponent’s hand because your opponent is a woman, it does not mean that you are somehow a better player, and it certainly is not “respectful”.

  9. Continuing the OTness ofthe thread…

    The mythical Muhammed is such an obvious fraud.
    Every time he wanted special rights for himself, like when he wanted more than four wives, surprise, surprise – Suddenly a new revelation about how ‘spetchal’ Allah’s prophet was an how he shouldn’t deny himself.

    The funny thing is that they know it. Every time they say ‘saws’ or ‘pbuh’ they are admitting that he was not worthy of peace.

    I’m sure you all have noticed the similarity to Joseph Smith.

    Always ready with a new “revelation” when he wanted special rights to do things

  10. steve oberski says:
    December 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm
    Speaking of history, there is actually no evidence that your pedophile prophet existed at all. But if he did he was a nasty piece of work. Quite similar to certain jewish and christian mythological figures in that sense.

    It has also been shown that many of the texts of the Koran predate it’s supposed inception by 100 years and that’s not even getting into the blatant plagiarism from Judaeo-Christian scriptures (which of course are works of fiction as well).

    Let’s not forget that they are not only plagiarized, but bastardized too. I hardly think Mary was capable of shaking a fig tree while in labour, which of course, just goes to show just how fictionalize the whole myth is and of course as you pointed out, so are the Jedaeo-Xian texts too, BUT the Quran really twists the original Talmud, esp the Torah. Honestly, making Ishmael the rightful heir to Abraham was not in the original story, which really shows the illiteracy of the original author of the Quran, not to mention, in the Jesus myth, which was prior to the Quran, Jesus cursed the fig tree and not Mary shaking it while in labour. That was just really bad writing, worse than cursing a fig tree for giving no fruit in the off season.

  11. Oh, and BTW, had it been out of respect for Maryam, he’d happily have gone with whatever she was comfortable with, instead of sending a messenger-boy ahead to inform her.
    If I don’t know whether to adress a person as “John” or “Mr. Smith”, I’m generally waiting for that person to drop the shoe or I ask him.
    I don’t inform them that I’m going to call them X because I made the decision that that’s the respect they deserve in my opinion.

  12. Really? This is what you get excited about. Very telling of your character. When you’re willing to have a grown up conversation about legitimate scholarship, let the world know.

  13. J Khan, I present you with the “No true Saudi Arabian of the year award”. It is remarkable how Islam is so totes fantastical, non discriminatory, protecting the human rights of girls and women, but somehow everybody in the history of Islam got that wrong.
    Except you, of course.
    That would be more convincing if I hadn’t heard the same thing from christians of all colours for all my life.


    Would you be offended if a man you just met came up and caressed your boob and french kissed you. What if he claimed it was his culture and only your pent up western inhibitions kept you from enjoying it. That isn’t any worse than what you did to this man.

    You can tell the degree of misogyny in somebody easily by how quick they are to compare a handshake with sexual assault, something they themselves usually have hardly to fear.

    Maryam, I’m smirking with you.

    1. You can tell the degree of misogyny in somebody easily by how quick they are to compare a handshake with sexual assault, something they themselves usually have hardly to fear

      Yeah that jumped out at me too. It says volumes about what kind of people this new breed of supposed liberal are. He is equating ignoring a custom designed to isolate women from men with sexually abusive behavior. What a fucked up mind that has to be for the two things to even be comparable.

  14. J Khan, you statements are interesting. When people attack Xianity, no one screams like you are screaming, but even so, attacking a religion and the beliefs there is not the same as killing someone nor does it cause anyone to be a victim. Quite often people of said religion scream victimhood as a means to control others and force them to conform, whether they agree/believe or not. While Xianity speaks about submission, Islam means submission and it’s nothing short of slavery, but then again, Ishmael was born to a slave woman.

    1. I agree completely, how is it that the major religions of the world are uniformly patriarchal and misogynistic and why do so many think that they are exempt from criticism when they spew their hateful dogma in the marketplace of ideas ?

  15. @Burl
    You are giving a clear example of one of the things that frustrates atheists so much-Privilege.’My religion says this therefore if you say something i dont like i can say it insults me.On the other hand my religion says this therefore i can insult you’.
    In other words ‘my feelings of disgust towards you because you are dirty and may contaminate me(based on the writings of ignorant men who new nothing about female biology) trumps you feeling insulted by being called dirty in the first place.

    1. ” In other words ‘my feelings of disgust towards you because you are dirty and may contaminate me”

      This is clearly not the explaination given by Muslims here. I would request you to please re-read the comments above. Thank you.


    2. Interesting that you make that accusation as I am not Muslim. I was pointing out that I found it bad form. Not the shaking of the hand. I couldn’t care less what the violation was. It was that she knowingly took actions that would cause distress to someone because it is a violation of their cultural or religious morays and values. Many Muslims on this thread have explained the position well. I do not need to reiterate the reason why it is not demeaning to women to not touch them, but rather out of respect that he refrains from such action.

      1. And his request violated her religious and cultural mores, and thus carrying out this stranger’s request would have caused her distress. Why doesn’t her distress count?

  16. You know, I read through some of these comments and I’m wondering if some of you are not understanding the degrading effects religion has on women- be it Fundamngelical Xianity or Islam. I’m wondering if these same people defending Islam’s degrading of women defend Christians who enable or commit child molestation and/or abuse women because they believe it’s God’s will. Some may think I’m taking this a little far by comparing Islam abuses to Fundamngelical Xianity’s abuses of women and children, but IMO, it really isn’t too much different. It’s just one is a seen burka and the other is not seen, but is still felt. The superstition behind not shaking a woman’s hand, esp when she is menstruating, which is nobody’s business, is degrading and demeaning, because it states a woman is unclean and not worthy of humanity. This is psychologically traumatizing and does psychological damage, which is far different than offering a vegetarian meat and they turning it down (BTW, I’m a vegetarian and I have yet to be seriously harmed by psychologically by meat eaters offering me meat and I politely refuse.)

      1. BTW, I know the explanation to the religious degrading and demeaning women. What I don’t understand is your statement to what I said. Women are human beings, but Islam nor Xianity treats them as equals.

        1. (Sorry that comment was a response to something else.)

          Well, we Muslims off course do not support anythings that speaks against human rights such as child molestation or abuse of women, no matter whether such violations are committed by Christians, Muslims or Atheists.

          1. ‘You Muslims’ (wow, are you their elected representative or something?) may not, but the Koran sure does (Sura 4:34 for starters).

  17. It would seem to me that a woman offering her hand to be shaken by a man amounts to, at least in this sort of situation, the woman stating “It is my hand to offer. I do not require the permission of my father, my uncle, my brother or any other man to offer my hand to anyone. I am not the property of a man. I am not inferior to a man.”
    Ayazz Mahmood could have refused to shake Maryam’s hand. He didn’t. I he was offended, so be it. No one else has the right to be offended.

  18. Personally, my feeling on this sort of thing is it’s none of my business. Refusing a handshake is not in itself oppressive and people can believe whatever silly bigoted things they want so long as they aren’t oppressing people.

    I’m a vegan. I’ve refused food I’m offered, despite it being generally considered impolite on a number of occasions. The same goes for refusing alcohol. I’ve also refused to join people in prayer. Trying to to insist on following your own social convention, no matter what arguments you can make for it, strikes me as rather gauche. I understand bucking social conventions is difficult and I’d rather have a culture where people are free to do so rather than everyone insisting on them because or social conventions are so much better than the alternatives.

    1. Ummm…. food isn’t really a comparable thing. The food thing is kind of a safety issue, when you consider the number of people with food allergies and digestive disorders (e.g. celiac, IBS) for whom ingesting the wrong thing is, at worst, a death sentence.


  19. Maryam: let’s reverse and put yourself in a position I’ve been in on several occasions: You’re a guy and a Muslim woman is refusing to shake your hand. Does that change thing? Why or why not?

    1. You’re a guy and a Muslim woman is refusing to shake your hand. Does that change thing? Why or why not?

      Is she refusing to shake your hand, or sending minions around to inform you not to even try?

      It’s important to avoid drawing a false equivalence between men and women. Even if the woman is actively refusing to shake a man’s hand, the larger ideology that unrelated men and women should not touch is still based on male superiority, specifically the idea that men are polluted by women, and that a woman’s value is inversely proportional to how many men have touched her. This rule is ALWAYS enforced more strictly for women than for men.

      It’s even *codified* in sharia: a man gets to have four wives, permanent or temporary; the woman gets to have one husband. Notice how J Khan tries to hide this by talking about “the spouses.” A man touching other women is fine, as long as he promotes them to wife first – even if only for an hour!

      Their social position and the power underlying their actions is not in any way “equal.” Thus the consequences for women breaking this rule may include physical violence against her; for a man, it probably will not. She does not have a broader social interest in enforcing this rule, in other words. The men do.

      I also am pretty disheartened that you thought “what’s a situation involving handshakes and women?” and came up with “date.”

      1. A date wouldn’t make sense, actually, as Muslim women are not allowed to date non-Muslim men. The same rule, curiously, does not apply to Muslim men, who can refuse to shake hands with all sorts of women in romantic settings.

  20. Phew! What a kerfuffle over something that is no big deal. A smile will do just as well as a handshake and there are far more important issues to discuss.

    On the handshaking issue something I regard as far worse is the Asian tradition of hand kissing or bringing the hand of the older or higher status person up to the forehead of the younger or lower status. I have been slowly fighting against this in the school where I work by substituting a “high five” for the handshake – or giving a firm handshake or elbow wrestle and I am pleased that other teachers are following my example.

    I like to give a firm handshake but have always felt rather uncomfortable at doing so with a woman. The feeling of avoiding contact with members of the opposite sex was so ingrained when I was a Muslim as one of not violating the other person rather than being “contaminated” by them. I think it important to try to understand the position of the Ahmadis. It is not a question of respect as understanding. The Ahmadis also need to be a little less strict with such minor things. They also need to understand that to refuse to shake hands can be interpreted as being disrespectful. If is a question of balance. How would they manage in Latin countries where it is the practice for both men and women to kiss a woman on the cheeks when meeting them?

    To take the position that fondling someone’s breasts and giving them a French kiss could be a form of greeting is stupid in the extreme.

    The Ahmadis are one of the few groups of Muslims you can have an intelligent conversation with and they are open to it. We are, perhaps, so used to dealing with the murderous screaming eedyots out there that it may be difficult to adjust to people who actually do have some reasonably functioning stuff between their ears.

    The fact is that the Ahmadis are wrong, as are all theists, but they are open to argument. They do not want to shut you up or shout you down or utter death threats because you are saying things they don’t want to hear.

    1. I greet with Peace
      What you may find extreme or unacceptable, may not be so for someone else. Similarly, what you find acceptable may not be be acceptable to others. But, offcouse not shaking hands is acceptable in Western culture, as clearly pointed out by J Khan. I think that’s all that needs to be said here as many Muslims have already given beautiful responses.

      1. Beautiful? If you call that beautiful I’d hate to see what you call ugly. Their responses still point to de-humanizing, degrading, and demeaning women. There is no equality and it seems those who practice such things delude themselves.

        1. What? Give me one example how from the above said comments, not handshaking with the opposite gender SPECIFICALLY de-humanizes, degrades, and demeans women.

          (sorry for the duplicate comment below)

          1. For starters, it is treating women, esp when they are menstruating, like “untouchables”, this is demeaning and dehumanizing, as well as degrading. Not only that, it contributes to low self-esteem because it can cause a woman to feel inferior. The list of psychological harm this can do is innumerable, because it is not treating her like a human being equivalent to a man.

          2. You want a specific example of what is psychologically damaging, degrading, and dehumanizing?

            Maryam said it herself, in case you missed it:

            Just in case you don’t know, menstruating women aren’t allowed to pray, or enter Sharia courts or mosques and most probably shouldn’t be debating Sharia law’s negation of human rights.

            To be honest, I put more stock in what she says.

          3. Oh and BTW, there is a verse in the Quran about that, but you’ll have to give me time to look it up to quote it exactly, which is a real pity that I’m the one that has to find. Makes me wonder if you have actually read your book.

  21. As an Ugly Rationalist American, the fact that someone holds a religious belief isn’t sufficient for me to treat that belief with respect. The idea of shaking hands only in cases of parity in the number of X and Y chromosomes involved is, quite frankly, piffle and not respect.

    Good for Maryam. And, as mas528 implied, good for Ayazz for overcoming his piffle and shaking Maryam’s hand.

    1. This. Only useful ideas deserve respect. “You can’t touch each other if you have different genitals!” is not only not a good idea, it’s an utterly terrible one.

      Did I just post like five responses to one topic on a blog that I usually forget to read*? I must be tired or something.

      *No offense, there are just way too many to keep up with here so I usually don’t manage to dig into the lower half of the page.

  22. To everyone:
    If he was actually not shaking hands as a matter of respect, she informed him that it was not a sign of respect to her and did the respectful thing and shook her hand
    No harm, no foul.

    If he was avoiding shaking hands with her because he would become polluted, and said extra prayers or did a ritual cleaning, then fie on him! He deserved to be forced to shake hands.

    Religious reasons are literally never *good* reasons.

  23. Burl, I see it as tit-for-tat. He refused to shake her hand because his culture dictates that women aren’t worthy or equal, thereby insulting her. She “insulted” him back by taking his hand — a statement that says, “Yes I am!” It would be improper on her part if she had either knowingly grabbed a Muslim man’s hand out of the blue, or if he had politely declined to shake her hand without stating the specific reason why. But he said, in effect, “You are less than me,” and she said, “Bullshit. Shake my damn hand!”

    I think it also would have been proper for her to have turned her back on him and refused any further contact with him.

    I’ll shake your hand any day, Maryam!

    1. michaelswanson in #11

      Elegantly reasoned:

      Burl, I see it as tit-for-tat. He refused to shake her hand because his culture dictates that women aren’t worthy or equal, thereby insulting her. She “insulted” him back by taking his hand — a statement that says, “Yes I am!” It would be improper on her part if she had either knowingly grabbed a Muslim man’s hand out of the blue, or if he had politely declined to shake her hand without stating the specific reason why. But he said, in effect, “You are less than me,” and she said, “Bullshit. Shake my damn hand!”

      I think it also would have been proper for her to have turned her back on him and refused any further contact with him.

      This is succinct and to the point. This is the real issue in a nutshell. A woman dared to be her own self and had the effrontery to put herself on an equal footing with a man.

      All the religious apologetics that have been moaned about in support of men not shaking women’s hands are no more than a shell game to conceal the core misogyny trembling behind the curtain. Women are not inherently “unclean”, and it is stupid and misogynistic to hold so; nor are women “unclean” or “more unclean” when menstruating–that is even more stupid, even more superstitious, and no less misogynistic. The word “respect” being bandied about in this thread is simply doublespeak. It is an attempt to mask a negative in a positive word. That is abject dishonesty. It is gross, abject, fatuous intellectual dishonesty, and the people who present that argument are aware of it, though they desperately pretend not to be aware of it.

      Answer this: Is honesty more important, or is religious apologetics more important? [A person of integrity is going to answer honesty.] But beware: honesty is a much, much harder road to follow than religious doublespeak, doubletalk, and doublethink.

      And if you are afraid of women who aren’t subservient and cowed–grow up. Stop whinging and grow up.

  24. The best response to this sort of thing I’ve ever seen came from my (Japanese) karate sensei. It went like this: one day, outside the dojo where I trained, I had a Muslim student refuse to shake my hand when I proffered it. He gave me the explanation that has been given above: ‘only with my wife’. I’d never encountered it before, and I was offended.

    Refusing to accept a proffered hand is very rude in Western cultures. It really does mean that you think the other person is unclean. It also marks the refuser out as untrustworthy, for cultural reasons that are deeply embedded in Western societies (and this is among relatively restrained English and Scots; refuse a warm greeting from a French or Italian person of either sex and good luck with closing out that business deal you had planned).

    Little did I know that Sensei had seen what was going on, and that student finished up uke for the whole lesson.


    This is not a huge amount of fun if you’ve offended the instructor.

    After class, I asked Sensei for his rationale, and it boiled down to ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’. In Japan, he pointed out, people don’t shake hands – they bow. Sensible visitors fit in with the local custom. However, he said that as he was in a Western country, he ought to follow the local custom, which was shaking hands. He pointed out that he’d seen intercultural disasters where a Western visitor in Japan had tried to bow while the Japanese person had tried to shake hands. Often they both finished up doing a bit of both, and bumped foreheads (to general mirth).

    So his rule became: in Japan, bow; in England or Scotland, shake hands, in France or Italy, kiss.

    Why is that piece of advice so very difficult for some people to follow? Is it borne of a belief that one’s (imported) religious traditions should have precedence over local custom? A lot of Muslims seem to be very bad at ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’.

    When I’m in a Muslim country, and have to wear a headscarf to visit a mosque or other historical monument, I do so, without quibble. ‘When in Rome…’ I may think the rule is silly or wrong, but I don’t say that in someone else’s country.

    It’s really very simple.

    1. Meh, this still feels way too much like fluffy accommodationist BS to me. Sure, I’ll follow whatever the local greeting is because that’s just as good a way to pick an arbitrary sign of acknowledgement as any other, but the implication in this story is that the sexist little piece of prick would have been in the right if the story had taken place in Saudi Arabia. I’m pretty sure that sexism doesn’t become any less sexist based on area, and that the value of a person isn’t based on the will of the local mob.

  25. You say it is your culture to shake hands with men. When you held your hand out for Ayyaz Mahmood to shake, you gave him an option, and he chose not to disrespect you or your culture. He put his personal preference aside, not once, but twice.

    You ignored his request not to shake hands. He did not ignore your request to shake hands. Such is your inequality.

  26. What I can’t seem to understand is that why is this being portrayed as injustice to women or women being filthy and what not? Islam forbids physical contact between opposite sexes and this applies to BOTH men and women. Men are only allowed to shake men’s hands and women can shake women’s hands. How is that unjust to anyone. If anything, you could argue on the principal given by Islam that ‘Opposite sexes shouldn’t come into any physical contact’, but don’t twist it to prove your own point.

    1. No, see, I think you’re misunderstanding how words work. “Being portrayed” implies that the thing being stated isn’t factua-

      Oh, wait, you’re doing that on purpose. Because you’re terrible. Sorry, missed that for a second! Let me rephrase:

      Fuck you, and fuck your wizard.

  27. Tahir–

    What exactly is this “thing of value” that would be devalued by a handshake between a woman and an unrelated man? Or, more to the point, why is it a thing of immeasurably greater value for me to shake a man’s hand than to shake a woman’s?

    Clearly, it’s not “touching an unrelated human being,” because you’d have no objection to my shaking the hands of a thousand Muslims I’m not related to, be they my friends or complete strangers, as long as they were of my own gender.

    If a handshake between me and an unrelated man somehow would “lessen” the intimacy between me those men you’d consider it reasonable for me to touch, why does a similar handshake between me and an unrelated woman not lessen the intimacy between me and my mother?

  28. I think some of you have missed the point. In Islam, women shake hands with women, and men with men. There is nothing unequal in that. Men and women equally avoid shaking hands with the opposite sex.

    And the reason is NOT to degrade the opposite sex. It is to show RESPECT. In Islamic culture, people of the opposite sex do not touch each other, and this is in common with many traditional Eastern cultures where there is NO handshaking at all, such as among the Hindus, Buddhists, etc., where presenting palms joined together in respect, or bowing, would be preferred. It is only recently, and under the influence of Western culture, that handshaking between the sexes is now found among some Hindus and Buddhists.

    Embarassing someone who feels shy to shake hands, into shaking one’s hand is just at worst, rude, and at best,insensitive. Making a point of being insensitive to cultural differences, is not a sign of progressive culture, and adds nothing to a healthy debate on relative values.

    By not wanting to shake Maryam’s hand, Ayyaz, according to his culture, was showing her the respect due to ladies. As a sensitive lady, she might have accepted that with good grace, instead of going off on yet another tirade against anything and everything Islamic.

    1. Oh, I get it now! They’re separate, but it’s okay because they’re equal, right? Well, it’s got a well-established cultural history, at least.

      1. Oh, I get it now as well! It’s RESPECT that a woman has to marry her rapist or go to prison. It’s RESPECT that allows adult men to marry 9 year old girls. It’s RESPECT that allows a man to throw acid in his wife’s face or cut off her ears and nose.
        I’ll tell what J Khan, take that RESPECT and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

        Respectfully Yours

        1. “Oh, I get it now as well! It’s RESPECT that a woman has to marry her rapist or go to prison. It’s RESPECT that allows adult men to marry 9 year old girls. It’s RESPECT that allows a man to throw acid in his wife’s face or cut off her ears and nose.
          I’ll tell what J Khan, take that RESPECT and shove it where the sun don’t shine.”

          Get your facts straight.
          ISLAM does not condone marrying a rapist or sending a raped woman to prison.
          ISLAM does not allow girls to marry before puberty – and the Prophet of Islam did NOT marry Ayesha at that age. This gross allegation has been debunked by historians time and time again. I’m amazed that anyone still believes it!
          And ISLAM does not condone throwing acid into anyone’s face or cutting off ears or noses.

          Yes, certain criminal-minded MUSLIMS teach these horrendous things which are decried and opposed by every sensible Muslim on earth.

          ALL the above constitute grievous human rights violations that are condemned by ISLAM, and we join you in condemning them. So don’t tell us we believe such crimes are signs of respect. That is very unjust of you.

          Furthermore, I resent your rude remark to “shove respect somewhere”. I have not come here to insult anyone, and it adds nothing to your argument – quite the contrary in fact – for you to insult others. If one cannot have a mature, respectful exchange of views, then maybe one should stick to silence which will hurt no one.

          1. Speaking of history, there is actually no evidence that your pedophile prophet existed at all. But if he did he was a nasty piece of work. Quite similar to certain jewish and christian mythological figures in that sense.

            It has also been shown that many of the texts of the Koran predate it’s supposed inception by 100 years and that’s not even getting into the blatant plagiarism from Judaeo-Christian scriptures (which of course are works of fiction as well).

          2. If I remember rightly a court in some Islamic country just refused a child bride a divorce quoting the fact that some supposed prophet or other married a child. If the courts of Islamic law can’t get it right, then I suppose it would be difficult for others to know what is true. All the other occourances I mentioned are fact and have not been challenged by any Islamic organization that I know of. I have yet to come across any sensible Muslims that have decried those acts.
            You are quite right though, I have no respect for Islam because, like it or not, it was Islamic courts and people who did those things.
            Telling me to stick to silence is another religious tactic used by people who can’t stand being exposed for what they are.
            I’ll tell you what though, I don’t respect your religion and I care even less what you think about me.

          3. To Steve Oberski: There is more evidence of the existence of the Prophet of Islam than of any other figure of the ancient world. Your incredibly unscientific statement will not be taken seriously by any self-respecting historian, and does not even deserve comment. It sounds frighteningly like the denial of the age of dinosaurs by some creationists who do not care to examine the evidence.

            To Don Quijote: What so-called Islamic courts do or do not do can hardly be proof that it is Islam as such. I agree with you that to the layman all this can sound confusing, which is why people – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – need to educate themselves so that they differentiate between ISLAM and the actions of MUSLIMS.

            Moreover, there are innumerable Muslims who decry the horrendous interpretations made by some “Islamic” courts of the texts of Islam. If you haven’t met any yet, that is not their fault. It’s for you to search and not to just to look out of your window and see ten thousand flying, singing birds, and then to conclude that all birds must therefore be able to fly and sing. We of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community make a clear distinction between what the texts actually state and the Muslims’ misinterpretations and abuses of them. They are often just as ignorant about Islamic sources as those who attack ISLAM for what MUSLIMS do. You might as well attack SECULARISM for what France does, or ATHEISM for what Russia and China do, or blame JESUS for what the conquistadors did in Jesus’ name in America. There is a distinction that must be made.

            I re-iterate it here: we stand with anyone who opposes violations of human rights. And we can prove that it is not ISLAM itself but MUSLIMS who violate human rights. We are fighting the SAME fight as you, except that we do not unjustly attack a religion when its so-called followers abuse its principles.

          4. The first artifacts bearing the name Muhammad appear 50 years after his supposed death, more than enough time to create an entirely fictional persona.

            The first biography appears 100 years after his death and no original sources of this exist, just 9th century sources containing quotes from a no longer existing 8th century document written 100 years after Moe’s death.

            Islam itself has heavy christian and gnostic influences, most likely it started as an isolated christian sect and “evolved” into the poisonous cult that it is today (that it is even more toxic than christianity quite an accomplishment).

            The name Muhammad could have quite plausibly been a title (praise worthy) that then became a name as the Muhammad figure was invented and fleshed out.

            And then there is the interesting fact that there is no pre-Islamic evidence for Moe’s home town of Mecca which is pretty surprising for a town that is supposed to have existed for thousands of years on major trades routes.

            So I suspect you don’t actually have any evidence for your claims, you have taken the whole Moe story on faith. Which is fine as long as you realize that it’s all human fabricated fairy tales and you don’t try to slap on a layer of historical respectability to the whole sordid affair and most especially don’t expect other people to respect your delusions and treat you like a rational adult as opposed to whining victim that you come across as.

            Not that it would make any difference to the truth claims of Islam if Moe did exist, it’s like claiming that if jesus was a real historical figure then christianity must be true.

          5. Can’t marry before puberty? Oh well, so then, marrying a 13/14 y.o. girl is OK, even though she is not fully matured, but yet is menstruating. IMO, that is just sick! Just as sick as Fundamngelical Xians enabling incest because it’s “God’s will”. Screw that! I certainly hope a 13/14 y.o. girl rebels, because death would be preferable than having sex a grown man old enough to be her father. Again, you make no sense and seem misogynistically vile to me.

      2. It’s all about respect. My Muslim parents taught me to respect and be sensitive to other people’s culture.

        I was once going to receive the visit of an ultra-orthodox Jewish friend. I travelled across London to buy her Kosher milk, Kosher sweets, Kosher biscuits, etc., knowing that she would not feel comfortable eating or drinking what I eat and drink. Should I have told her I’m going to impose my culture on her? On the other hand, I have no qualms about using anything Kosher myself, but would never dream of demanding non-Kosher food from her, as she is uncomfortable with such food.

        Similarly, I have received Hindu and other vegetarian guests at my home. We have never cooked any meat on those days, and in one instance, we bought new pots and pans to prepare their meal in, as they were not comfortable even using pots that had once contained meat in them, however much they had been washed. Should I have forced them to follow my culture? I think not. At their homes, I also ate vegetarian, and I would never think of demanding meat dishes from them, as that would be anathema to them.

        It’s all about respect. When one shows insensitivity to such aspects of culture, one is certainly NOT being loving and kind. By all means oppose honour killings, oppose persecution by atheist governments of the religious clergy of their countries, oppose the persecution by religious leaders of those who are not of their faith. But show some respect for people in those areas where they are uncomfortable and embarassed when forced to depart from the values they hold dear to.

        In the UK, on the bus, at school, on the underground, in supermarkets, one can talk to dozens of people daily WITHOUT having to shake their hand. Saying one is uncomfortable NOT shaking hands would therefore be ridiculous and contrived.

        1. In OUR culture, it’s out of RESPECT that we shake hands before and after a debate. It’s also out of RESPECT that we treat women as we treat men. Again, why should your gesture of respect trump mine?

          1. Because for you, NOT to shake hands with the opposite sex is NOT uncomfortable or anathema. You do it everyday. You don’t always shake hands with everyone you speak to.

            But to Muslims, shaking hands with the opposite sex IS.

            So, why go for the option where at least one party is forced to do something uncomfortable, instead of doing something which is uncomfortable to neither party?

            It just doesn’t make sense.

          2. As an American I must disagree. It is not out of respect that we shake hands. It is simply a cultural pleasantry. In hispanic culture, when someone enters the room, they go around and shake the hand of everyone in the room and kiss every woman on the cheek. When I am in hispanic countries or among hispanics here in the USA, I follow suit. Sometimes, knowing that Americans are not as happy with people they don’t really know kissing them, the Hispanics will refrain from what they consider normal. No slight is taken in those cases. In the same way, no slight would have been taken had Ms. Namazie simply said, “Hello, nice to meet you.” or some other pleasantry without making the point to offend him.

          3. To Maryam Namazie: What do you mean by “playing the victim”?

            Who has been attacking who here? Last time I checked it was you attacking Islam as a religion. So who is the victim? The attacker?

            You will never be a victim of Islam. You can be a victim of Iranian or Saudi or other criminal interpretations of Islam, but you will NOT be a victim of Islam.

            If someone kills his brother with a garden spade, designed for nurturing a garden, only the unwise will blame the spade for being a mortal weapon responsible for the crime, and launch a campaign to ban spades and blame everyone who uses one.

            If you blame the real murderer, you will find that we will stand with you in your fight for justice. If you blame the spade, on the other hand, we will not associate ourselves with such an ignorant stance.

        2. ¡Hostia! J Khan, you’ve gone all poetic on me, ten thousand birds indeed. You separate Muslims and Islam, and yet, when I do that I’m accused of Islamaphobia. For me though, it’s usually the Muslims that are the good guys.
          I am Spanish and 63 years old. I spent 30 of those years in the Merchant Navy working alongside Muslims and visiting many Islamic countries. Most of those people I met were good, kind, honest people and yet none could speak out openly against the Islamic law set on them. Why is that? You say that all those things I mentioned are not true Islamic teachings. So why don’t you speak out against, say, Anjem Choudary, or is he right? Or is it (and I wouldn’t blame you if it was true) that you are afraid to do so?

          1. To Don Quijote: I did not mean that Muslims are in general bad and only Islam is good. Ordinary Muslims are good, decent, generous people just like ordinary people anywhere on earth are usually good, decent, generous people.

            What I meant was that you will find that those who are in political and/or religious authority in Muslim countries often twist the teachings of Islam to suit their political purposes, just as people of other religions have done in other lands, and as atheist governments have twisted certain ideologies to take away many of the rights of their people.

            The common folk in any of these cases can do little to change the situation. When they clamour for their rights, they are usually suppressed in horrific ways. Often they lack the knowledge to challenge interpretations made by religious clerics who are in cahoots with the ruling party. Now imagine the frustrations of these people when instead of helping them regain their rights, Western governments do everything they can to keep those oppressive governments and the religious clerics with insane interpretations of Islam in power. Because of this, in Muslim lands, ordinary people hardly ever fall any more for the empty calls for “democracy” coming from the West, and they do not believe in the superiority of the values of those Westerners who do everything to keep corrupt dictators and Muslim clerics with extreme interpretations of Islam in power over them. At last the “Arab Spring” has come, but no one knows whether real change will come of it.

            Usually, though, the people are good and decent, but having no power or proper knowledge, they often remain resigned to their fate.

            We of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are not afraid to speak out against anyone who has extreme and twisted interpretations of Islam. We have been openly challenging Muslim religious leaders of the entire Muslim World, whether Sunni, Shi’a or Sufi, to debate their understanding of Shari’a and Islam on live programmes in Arabic on our satellite channel Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA International) on Sky channel 787. We have been receiving positive feedback from thousands of Muslims around the world, who were fed up with their religious leaders’ interpretations, and who are happy to see Islamic teachings protrayed in their true light on our channel.

      1. Given that Islamics/Muslims practice Taqiyya, I don’t think they are idiots, but I wouldn’t trust a thing they say, just in case they are feeding you Taqiyya. You can’t trust them and know when they are telling the truth, unless you read it yourself and I can tell you, the Quran is more vile than the Bile.

        1. To mrianabrinson, who wrote “Given that Islamics/Muslims practice Taqiyya, I don’t think they are idiots, but I wouldn’t trust a thing they say, just in case they are feeding you Taqiyya. You can’t trust them and know when they are telling the truth, unless you read it yourself and I can tell you, the Quran is more vile than the Bile.”

          Taqiyya is a practice of SHI’AHS, whom I am not one of. We of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are totally against lies and hypocrisy. The Holy Qur’an is replete with teachings about the evils of lying that must be avoided at all costs. So, if you like, you may choose not to trust Shi’ites, as they may well be practising Taqiyya, but you can’t paint all Muslims with the same brush. Unless you believe all Christians have a Pope.

          Your words are full of vile hatred, ignorance and disrespect. Some of the attitudes I have found here are frankly shocking to me, and are the antithesis of the civilised, peaceful and loving conversations I am used to hearing among my Ahmadi Muslim brethren. If I have to choose between being an insensitive bigot with no respect for anything others hold sacred, and a tolerant, loving and respectful citizen, I will forever choose to be the latter. Nothing but hatred and abuse can be born from hatred and abuse. Whoever thinks they can change the world through hate-filled abuse and sheer rudeness is a sadly delusional individual.

          1. No, Taqiyya is “lying for Islam”, which is said to be alright if it is for Islam.

            Your words are full of vile hatred, ignorance and disrespect.

            Right. So when it is the truth, then it is vile hatred, ignorance, and disrespect, but if I submitted, bowed to your superstition, and gave it lip service, because you feel your religion has authority and power, than I would be respectful, educated, and all that good stuff. Interesting twist.

            Why should I oppose a Secular government? I see no reason why because one cannot have freedom OF religion without freedom FROM religion, not even you. And above all, why should I have respect for superstitious dogma that does harm, psychologically and physically, to others? That totally makes no sense.

  29. Dear Maryam,

    I am the student from the “Ahmadiyya Youth Association” who came to you prior to your talk and mentioned the whole hand-shaking issue. I thought perhaps my post on here would provide an alternate insight.

    When I mentioned to you that Ayyaz would not shake hands with women, I specifically said that it was due to religious reasons-not cultural reasons. He is from a Pakistani culture and there are very many Pakistani men who would happily shake your hand.

    The reason it is within the religion of Islam for a man not to shake a woman’s hand-and for a woman not to shake a man’s hand (note the equality!), is because physical contact between the sexes is discouraged with anyone with whom you are not related to, or is not your spouse. It is, moreover, not a question of getting “aroused by a handshake” (which I am sure you will reply with), but it is rather a case of religious etiquette and in actual fact, respect for the other person. According to Islam, a thing of value is not to be accessed by all and sundry, rather its value is maintained and enhanced by its rarity. In that vein, physical contact between unrelated men and women who are not spouses is seen as de-valuing those legitimate instances of physical contact, eg: between the spouses.

    It is not disrespect to the woman that is intended; as mentioned above, Muslim women are also not enjoined to shake the hands of non-Muslim men. Your argument that hand-shaking is a part of your lifestyle and therefore you have every right to impose your lifestyle on him, unfortunately, falls down when we realise that the imposition of forcing him to shake hands (when it had been kindly requested of you not to) is far greater than the imposition upon you of not shaking his hand, as the former is the case of an imposition by an external party to do an active action ie: being forced to actively shake hands, while the latter is a self-imposed passive action, ie: witholding from an action.

    That you specifically, after being politely alerted to his religious sensibilities, decided to place him in an awkward situation does not redound well upon yourself. That you further decided to publish your intolerance towards other people’s religious sensibilities upon your blog is further damning.

    1. OHHHH, it’s a religious belief that women are filthy. Well, that makes it okay if someone’s imaginary friend tells them to do it. Wait, no. No, magically mandated misogyny is not actually okay.

    2. I believe in treating everyone equally. In such an encounter, why should your religious sensibilities trump mine?

    3. So physical contact is only supposed to be between spouses? Then you would think a severely homophobic religion such as Islam would prohibit males shaking hands with each other, as well.

    4. Thank you for your very well thought out answer. I am saddened by the number of people who can’t see how nasty this action was. It in no way condones any actions by the person in question to respect their beliefs. I personally don’t have a problem with shaking a hand or fist bumping anyone, but I refrain from such interaction with those whom I know it would offend. As I said before, had such action taken place as an accident, then it is just an awkward meeting of different cultures/religions. In this case, the author set out with the intention of offending someone’s beliefs.

    5. Right, it’s totally about showing respect. Thank you for informing me of this fact, as it has allowed me to re-evaluate my entire worldview. I now realize that down is up, left is right, zero is one, and that cats were dogs all along.

    6. Tahir, Maryam said it was due to his religious superstition when she mentioned Muslim beliefs. So you aren’t explaining anything she does not already know and comprehend. IMO, she did not impose anything. The man could have declined, if he wanted to, I’m sure, and personally, I don’t see why should have respect for religion, esp if a superstitious practice does more harm than good.

    7. Your reply is of great value, Tahir Naseer. As Maryam could not quote anything from Holy Quran during debate, yet again this kind of stuff is posted here, we can conclude that she does not know any single thing about true Sharia or true Islamic teaching.

      I wonder if she has heard a hadith that the Holy Prophet of Islam allowed his wife to pass on the Quran to him during her period when the question had been raised by his wife to make sure she was alright to touch the holy book during period.

      Yeah women cannot perform five daily prayers during menstruating but Maryam does not know that Islam states two kind of prayers 1) to fulfill the duties of God 2) to fulfill the duties of mankind. When we come across to number one, we find that not only five daily prayers are mentioned as the duties of God in Islam. There are several others which women can perform even during their period. As far as number 2 is concerned, there is no time restricted not to perform it.

      So, she just need to go back and study whether women are not allowed to pray during the period or women are alright not to pray during their period.

      Btw, it seems like since Maryam could not defeat Ayaz during debate, she planned this as to defame him as she tried twice to touch his hand by disrespecting his personnel desire.

  30. Re this recent ‘post’ on Facebook, and knowing how much you regard the correct use of English as important, (notwithstanding -my ‘one-language’ only position as inadequate), I refer you to the ‘heading’ of this article -entitled: It’s his culture; he can’t shake your hands’.
    The latter has a degree of ambiguity, inasmuch as it gives the impression that ‘he’ is refusing to ‘shake’ your two hands. (the plural).
    Normally, we would say, ‘He can’t shake you hand’. I do however, take on board the fact that the ‘phrase’ could be interpreted as being addressed to all that are reading it -‘your hands’ -the ‘one right hand’ of all those who read it.
    It’s just that it ‘jars’ a little, because one is used to reading such missives as directed at oneself personally, rather than to a ‘mass’ audience -at once.
    Keep up the excellent work Maryam. It is very much appreciated, by the many friends I pass your contributions on to -posted on facebook -to those who don’t participate on the latter.

  31. While I agree with the stance that Islam isn’t kind to women. I must say that I find the in your face defiance of someones culture unsettling. Would you be offended if a man you just met came up and caressed your boob and french kissed you. What if he claimed it was his culture and only your pent up western inhibitions kept you from enjoying it. That isn’t any worse than what you did to this man. If it had been an accident, it would have been an interesting look at cross cultural communication. By your own admission, you went out of your way to be offensive to his culture. My real question is “Why?”.

    1. Way to miss the point. I’ll write it in bold: these men shake hands with men but not women.. So your example is valid only if that person French kisses everyone he meets.

      1. It’s interesting how Burl worries about the theologian’s culture being offended but not mine. Cultural relativism lives on in him! In all of this, we take sides. Burl prefers to side with the misogynist’s culture and I prefer to side with mine. Plus all I did was shake his hand. How very offensive!!!??? But no worries that he thinks I have cooties… And you really need to know why!!!

        1. Plus the point is honour killings is also someone’s culture so live and let kill? Can you please stop bending over backwards to justify reaction or will that be too difficult.

          1. My point had nothing to do with supporting honor killings or even the Muslim traditions of downgrading women.It was to question the reasons behind knowingly offending someone’s culture. It is like going into a holiness church and flashing the congregation. You may have the ability to do it, and you might not like that the women there wear long dresses and don’t cut their hair, but should you do it? Standing up for someone being beaten or killed is one thing. Shoving pork down a Jewish person’s throat is another. I may feel they are missing out for not eating bacon, but they hold that it is unclean. I don’t see how this action gained anything.

    2. Why?

      I’m willing to bet that it’s because the act of shaking hands isn’t degrading to much of anyone, where as the example you give is an invasion of personal space and is degrading – as is the institutionalized thought that women are second-class citizens in any way.

      A handshake, while possibly having roots in warrior culture (“Look! I extend my unarmed sword hand to you to show my good intent!”), takes place outside of the core personal space. Actual body groping and tongue-thrusting? Not so much.

      Do you ever stick up for friends when they’re slandered? Or do you let it go and support the slanderer because “they’re like that”?

      1. I would take that bet. To the Muslim man, it was degrading to shake her hand. It was a violation of his rules regarding appropriate action with a woman no more and no less vile than the example I gave.

        1. Your example, bizarre as it is, misses a key difference between the fictitious Frenchman and what Maryam did – she didn’t FORCE herself upon him. She didn’t grab his hand and crank it, she extended it as a collegial greeting, a greeting which is completely acceptable to him except for the fact that she’s a woman.

          At any rate, bigotry is not culture. If someone told me that she won’t do business with me because it’s not “in her culture” to do business with black people, I’m not required to simply bow my head and accept it – I’m making it HER problem.

          1. If you read carefully, the author states, “He was forced to shake my hand twice”. “Forced” is not the same as offering someone something politely and leaving them the option to refuse without losing face. Her point was to humiliate this man and to violate his cultural morays. That is what I took offense to.

          2. Burl, He was only “forced” by his own desire to not appear rude, but not forced physically.

            I, in fact, DO know a girl who was felt up by expats from Brazil. This was at a fortune 100 company we both worked at. She told them “we don’t touch that much here” and they complained to her manager. Please note, she worked in HR. You know what her manager said? “it’s there culture you should be more sensitive”. I told her she should have sued.

            No, extending your hand to embarrass someone into shaking it is not “forcing”, not the same as touching them when or in a way they do not want to be touched, not even in the same ballpark.

            If he really, truly, was as horrified as you think he was, then he would have simply not shaken her hand.

          3. @Burl… Well, then, Maryam would make a very good American, if it is that much of cultural moray. lol Hey, Maryam, if you aren’t here already, please do come on over and join us. 🙂

    3. Any culture that treats someone differently solely on the basis of gender is offensive and deserves to have that offense turned back around on them.

    4. @Burl

      So you agree that Islam isn’t kind to women but you take issue with an unwillingness to condone a practice designed to denigrate and humiliate women ?

      Such abhorrent behaviour must be marginalized, to not publicly oppose this type of sociopathy is to implicitly approve of it.

      While the practice of the handshake is thought to have originated as an indication of no weapons and hence no threat the same can not be said for your totally specious example involving the physical assault of a woman, which by the way is a common occurrence in the type patriarchal and misogynistic theocracy that Ayazz Mahmood would like to impose on the world.

    5. Burl, shaking hands and French kissing etc is not the same thing. A handshake is no where near sexual assault, but if you prefer, I’ll give you the Vulcan hand gesture. I must make note though, that in Star Trek First Contact ( http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_First_Contact ) the movie, the head Vulcan gave in and shook Cochrane’s hand when the Vulcan realized Cochrane was struggling to make it and Vulcan’s are not accustom to making casual physical contact. My point is, a handshake really isn’t that bad of a cultural difference and to compare it with sexual touching is most illogical.

    6. “Culture” is for assholes. If what you’re doing is right, you don’t have to hide behind the mob to excuse it.

  32. It sounds personal to me.

    But how did you handle it? Did you reach out and take his hand? Or did he have a little more grace than that and extend his hand when you extended yours?


      1. I wonder if he’s muttering “Out, damned Maryam! Out, I say!” over the sink as he compulsively washes his hand to get rid of the menstruating, female apostate cooties.

      2. What you did is just plain immature Maryam, he shook your hands so that he doesn’t offend you because he took into account your cultural background so he actually went out of his way to shake hands with you.

        It does have to do with you being a women that he didn’t shake hands, but you’re saying it is out of disrespect while that is completly false. In Islam, men need to avoid unnecesary physical contact with the other sex out of respect to the women and in order to keep one’s thoughts clear and deal with the person objectively. That’s his belief and you’re just projecting your hate on that tradition by your lack of understanding.

        It has nothing to do with whether he respects you as a women or not, obviously he did respect you enough to not be rude to you since he though you were just ignorant about it, but you khew he doesn’t do it and yet you forced him to do it, i think that’s a very immature and malicious thing you did there.

        The better person of the story? it’s the man who set aside his religious belief so as not to offend you.

        Have a good day.

        1. Maybe it taught him two lessons on cleanliness.
          1) Women’s hands are no dirtier than those of men
          2) It’s possible to keep one’s thoughts clean despite of physical contact.

          He should thank Maryam for the free learning experience.

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