Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
Is it permissible for a Muslim woman to touch another Muslim woman on those parts of the body that it is permissible for her to see? And also, is it permissible for a Muslim woman to touch a non-Muslim woman, like in a hug, etc.?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessing of Allah be showered upon the Prophet Muhammad, his family, companions, and those who follow them with sincerity.
The awrah, or nakedness, of a Muslim woman in front of another Muslim woman is from the navel to the knee. In another words, you cannot look at what is between the navel and the knee of another Muslim woman. An exception to this is if you are a health care worker, for example a doctor or nurse. In this case, you are allowed to treat the afflicted limb, even if it is the awrah. What is other than the awrah is permissible for you to look at and touch, provided that this is without desire.
As for touching a non-Muslim woman, you are allowed to do so provided that the woman is of good character. For example, if the woman is a known lesbian or is corrupt in character, then you should refrain from touching her. The scholars in Yemen have said that such a woman has the ruling of a man. In the same way that you can’t touch a man, you can’t touch her.
And Allah knows best.