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Imam Musa Sadr’s Solution for Shaking Hands with Women

What follows is a memoir about Imam Musa Sadr, the great Shiite scholar who has long been disappeared, when he found a way to shake hands with women.

There are two memoirs about the behaviors of Imam Musa Sadr which are cited from a book named “Your Clicks are warmly Welcomed!” written by Muhammad Reza Zaeri.

My hand is still laying on my chest!

As narrated by Dr. Hussein Kanaan in his book called “Imam Musa Sadr, His stature, His Era”, someday the Imam recounted a story for him which is as follows:

“When I was roughly 19 years old, I was assigned with a duty to deliver a letter written by my father (Ayatollah Sadr, the then grand Ayatollah) to the incumbent Iranian Prime Minister. I, therefore, travelled from Qom to Tehran early morning and went to his magnificent house. I was ushered to the first floor where I sat on a sofa, watching the surroundings. I, as an ordinary seminary student who had been brought up in a humble home, was really impressed by that splendid and princely hall which had been ornamented by great paintings, brocade curtains and some decorative items, contemplating on such cultural and social gap.

Meanwhile, I noticed a young girl who was playing a piano at the end of the hall. As I had not heard piano before, I sat still, astonishingly listening to her playing when she suddenly noticed my presence and came to me for greetings. When she stretched her hand towards me for shaking hands, I put my right hand on my chest and replied her greeting accordingly”. When the story reached here, Imam Musa Sadr smiled and added wittingly that “my hand is still laying on my chest”, Dr. Kannan added.

It is interesting that such a nice culture and laudable solution which may have been originated from his Excellency’s treatment in that case is now commonly practiced in Lebanon and many other nations.

Are you trying not to avoid being ritually impure?!

Sayyed Abbas Nour al-din, a knowledgeable scholar and writer, narrates a memory about Imam Musa Sadr which reads as the following:

“Someday he delivered a very compelling and impressive speech in a church (or a university) to which the audience was deeply enthralled.  At the end of his speech, a young pretty lady who was extremely resentful of the success of a Muslim scholar, told her buddies that she knew how to demean and spoil him, and thus, immediately after the end of his speech, she took to the podium and, while she had grabbed everyone’s attention, stretched her hand toward him.

He, as usual, replied her greeting by putting has hand on his chest. However, the lady who was expecting such reaction asked him in response that “are you trying to avoid being ritually impure?” (She was referring to a common misunderstanding among non-Muslim women who interpret such avoidance by Muslim men to shake hands with women as a low status of women in Islam and/or the impurity of non-Muslims etc.). Imam Musa Sadr, however, cleverly replied her in no moment that “the case is totally the reverse; you are so respected and pure that such touches would intrude on your sacred feminine privacy”.

Such a deep, wise, and smart answer not only thwarted her plot but also worked counterproductive and the Christian audience who had attended the event got excited and accorded him more respect than ever before.

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