Imagine, for a moment, that you’re on your way to the most important job
interview of your life. You’ve spent the previous two weeks preparing for
it, anticipating the questions, memorizing the answers, and figuring out
ways to impress your prospective employer.

You’re escorted into an empty room and told to wait until the boss arrives.

After a few minutes, the door opens. In walks a tall, welcoming, attractive
woman. Your knees starting to wobble. She smiles, approaches you, sticks
out her hand, and says: “Hi, nice to finally meet you.”

You stand there, frozen, staring at her outstretched hand. The lump in your
throat is starting to grow. She’s confused, as though she’s done something
wrong. After a few awkward moments, you finally muster the courage to
respond the only way you know how.

“Uhhhh, sorry, I don’t shake hands with women.”

Offensive? Absurd? Chauvinistic? Welcome to the dilemma that is my life.

As a Muslim, I try to practice my religion to the best of my ability. For
me, that includes not shaking hands with women other than those with whom I
have a blood relationship. And I’m not alone. Thousands of Canadian Muslims
face the same problem. In our schools, community centres, hospitals, places
of work — you name it — we face the same challenge everyday: To shake or
not to shake?..

Muhammad Athar Lila lives in Toronto where he is a producer at iChannel


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