Manners of Shaking Hands

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What is manners of shaking hands in islam? How to perform manners of shaking hands?

“The Prophet (pbuh) said: If two Muslims meet, shake hands, praise Allah, and ask Him for forgiveness, they will be forgiven.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 142)

Musafaha means shaking hands. When believers meet, it is among the nice manners suggested to the believers to greet each other and then shake hands. To turn away from a person who extends his hand and not to accept his hand is something against Islamic manners. Indeed in a prophetic saying shaking hands is described as the complement of greeting. (Tirmidhi, Isti’dhan, 31) Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) accepted all hands extended to him, and never pulled his hand back unless the other person pulled it first. He (pbuh) also did not turn his face away as long as his addressee did not turn away. (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 46)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) encouraged believers to shake hands in his following saying:

“If two Muslims meet, shake hands, praise Allah, and ask Him for forgiveness, they will be forgiven.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 142)

Forgiveness mentioned in this saying does not consist of great sins like the rights of other human beings but only little sins. Receiving such a great reward for such a small act proves how significant shaking hands is. Similarly, a nice word (Ibn Hanbal, II, 316) or even a little smile will be written in the rewards sections of a believer’s deeds. (Tirmidhi, Birr, 36) Because love and beautiful friendships amongst people will grow through such good attributes.

In addition to shaking hands, hugging (muanaqa) friends, especially those who come from far away places, and kissing the hand or forehead are permissible actions. Aisha (r.anha) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) welcomed, hugged, and kissed Zaid b. Haritha (r.a), who had come to Medina from out of town. (Tirmidhi, Isti’dhan, 32)

Again the Prophet (pbuh) hugged and kissed Ja’far (r.a.), who had come back from Abyssinia, between his eyes. (Ibn Hisham, III, 414)

According to the narration of Ibn Umar (r. anhuma), Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) let his companions kiss his hand. (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 96; Adab, 148) The following incident narrated by Safwan b. Assal (r.a.) proves that kissing hands might be an appropriate behavior under certain circumstances:

“A Jew told his Jewish friend:

“Take us to that Prophet.” His friend replied:

“Do not call him a prophet. If he hears you, he would be very happy and his eyes would shine with joy.” Then they came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and asked the nine commands (which are common between Jews and Muslims). Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) replied:

“You shall not attribute partners to Allah, you shall not steal, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not unjustly kill the innocent, you shall not take an innocent person to a statesman to be executed, you shall not engage in sorcery, you shall not deal with usury, you shall not slander a chaste woman; you shall not run away from battlefield. And the last one just for you, the Jews, you shall not violate the Sabbath day.” Upon this they kissed the Prophet’s hand and feet and said:

“We bear witness that you are a true Prophet.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked:

“Then what prevents you to follow me?” They replied:

“David (pbuh) always prayed to his Lord to be blessed with a prophet from his offspring. If we follow you, we are afraid that Jews might kill us.” (Tirmidhi, Isti’dhan, 33)

Under the light of these and similar reports Muslim scholars said that it is permissible to kiss someone’s hand, who is distinguished by his knowledge, piety, dignity, trustworthiness, and justice. However, it is not permitted to kiss someone’s hand because of his wealth. (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, 57)

It is forbidden to shake hands with the opposite sex, if he/she is in the category with which on can marry. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) especially avoided to shake hands with women when they took an oath of allegiance (Bukhari, Talak, 20) and said “I do not shake hands with women.” (Ibn Majah, Jihad, 43) However, in the modern era we see some Muslims who follow the wrong customs and do not pay enough attention to this matter; whereas, what is appropriate for the believers is to obey the Messenger of Allah in every aspect of their lives.

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

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