A man shaking hands with his female relatives

A: The Qur'an and Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet) have urged Muslims to maintain the ties of kinship, but this is to be done within the limits enjoined by Allah (Exalted be He). Indeed, it is a major sin to sever the ties of kinship. However, trying to avoid what is forbidden by Shari`ah (Islamic law), when exchanging visits, is not considered severance of the ties of kinship. Rather, it is cooperation in abstaining from sin and transgression, which includes avoiding shaking hands with a non-Mahram woman (not a spouse or an unmarriageable relative) and kissing her. A wife of one's paternal or maternal uncle or even of one's brother is not a Mahram for a man or she is not the same status as his mother; and, thus, the rulings related to Mahram (spouse or permanently unmarriageable relative) are not applicable to them. Accordingly, it is Haram (prohibited) to kiss and shake hands with each other. Muslims are required to prefer the Shari`ah and give it higher priority to customs in order to establish the truth and revere the Shari`ah. Allah (Exalted be He) is the One sought for help. These women should be guided and advised, and Munkar (that which is unacceptable or disapproved of by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect) should be denied. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.