Chapter 478 – Number 1046
On the authority of Mubārak bin Fuḍālah who said, I heard al-Ḥassan say:
“The women used to greet the men (during the time of the companions)” [Sound chain, narrated by al-Bayhaqī]
Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Nāsir al-Dīn al-Albānī said while commenting on this narration:
“This was narrated by al-Bayhaqī in al-Shuʿab from the chain of Mubārak bin Fuḍālah and also he said: “al-Ḥassan was asked regarding greeting the women?” he answered “The men did not greet the women, rather the women used to greet the men”.
And on commenting on this narration I (al-Albānī) say:
“It has been authentically narrated from the Messenger ﷺ that he greeted women as mentioned in the narration of Asmāʾ, likewise the greeting of Umm Hānī (to the Messenger of Allāh) was authentically narrated in the chapter that preceded this, and she was not from his maḥārim (relatives who one cannot marry).
So all of this was authentically narrated from him and this is the principle (that men can greet women). As for the narrations (from the salaf) then they differ. Some of those narrations make it (the greeting) permissible without any restrictions and does not differentiate between the young women and the old women, so (these narrations) stick to the principle while other narrations forbid it completely and others make it permissible to greet the old women only and not the young women.
Other narrations detail the ruling in another fashion, stating that it is absolutely forbidden for the men to greet the women but it is permissible for the women to greet the men, as in the narration of al-Ḥassan.
What I (al-Albānī) hold to be correct –and Allāh ﷻ knows best- is to stick to the foundation (that it is permissible for men to greet women and women to greet men) and this is because it is in accordance to the narrations which command to spread the greetings whilst also bearing in mind (as much as possible) the principle of “prevention of harm is given precedence over reaching the benefits” and this is the opinion that al- Hilīmi held which is evident in narration al-Bayhaqī reported about him:
“The Messenger (may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not fear any trial or temptation and for that reason he greeted the women. So whosoever feels safe (from falling into fitnah) then let him greet, and whosoever does not feel safe from (falling into fitnah) then he should not greet. This is because speech may drag on and may lead to other things, so not greeting is safer”. This opinion was approved by al-Bayhaqī and al-Asqalānī.
As for absolutely prohibiting the greeting between men and women then there is something that is worth mentioning, and that is, alongside the fact that it is in opposition to the foundation of the matter (as preceded), it is also something incomprehensible; except if it was assumed that it is impermissible for a man to speak with a woman and vice versa when there is a need, and no sane person holds this opinion. So if this true, then initiating the greeting becomes something unavoidable.
As for the situations that are not of necessity, then this is an issue of difference of opinion (between the scholars) and the correct opinion was clarified.