Manners of Yawning and Sneezing         

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What are the manners of yawning? What are the manners of  sneezing?

Yawning is an involuntary action that causes us to open our mouths wide and breathe deeply in and out because of tiredness, sleepiness, or boredom.٭ It is at the same time a sign of heedlessness and absent mindedness.

A sneeze, on the other hand, is a convulsive expulsion of air from the lungs through the nose and mouth, usually caused by foreign particles irritating the nasal mucosa.٭٭ Sneezing happens because of a compelling force which comes from the body and the person who feels the urge to sneeze feels relieved after sneezing. This is why, on the contrary to yawning, sneezing is a cause for liveliness of the body. In this context, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) states that sneezing is something liked by Allah the Almighty and yawning comes from Satan:

“…But as regards yawning, it is from Satan, so one must try one’s best to stop it, if one says ‘Ha’ when yawning, Satan will laugh at him.” (Bukhari, Adab, 125) In another narration it is stated that, “When one of you yawns, he should keep his mouth shut with the help of his hand, for it is the devil that enters therein.” (Muslim, Zuhd, 57-58)

Yawning, which is expressed in these tradition as an action which comes from Satan, is usually caused by excessive eating, inactivity, and sleepiness. All of these are the states liked by Satan. This is why yawning is not an appropriate action. It should be prevented as much as it is possible; if it cannot be stopped, then one should close his mouth with his hand.

There are several ways to prevent yawning. To prevent yawning especially during prayer, one should pay attention to the following points:

– Pay attention to the manners of going to the privy

– Refreshing or performing a new ablution for every prayer

– To leave everything other than Allah behind especially after saying the takbir of a prayer

– To recite “auzu basmala” consciously

The Prophet’s advices about the manners of sneezing are as follows:

“If anyone of you sneezes, he should say ‘Al-Hamdulillah’ (Praise be to Allah), and his (Muslim) brother or companion should say to him, ‘Yarhamuka-l-lah’ (May Allah bestow his Mercy on you). When the latter says ‘Yarhamuka-l-lah,’ the former should say, ‘Yahdikumul-lah wa Yuslih balakum’ (May Allah give you guidance and improve your condition).” (Bukhari, Adab, 126)

Sneezing is related to the brain, nose, and throat. Sneezing affects all the limbs of the body which are shaken by it. As a result it is considered as a cause for liveliness and healthiness of the body. Health is considered a great blessing. This is why those who sneeze should praise Allah.[1] It is suggested to say ‘Yarhamuka-l-lah’ to one who praises Allah, but there is nothing that needs to be done for the one who does not praise. In this context, Anas (r.a.) narrated:

“Two men sneezed before the Prophet and he said ‘Yarhamuka-l-lah’ to one of them, while he did not say ‘Yarhamuka-l-lah’ to the other. So that man said, “O Allah’s Apostle! You said ‘Yarhamuka-l-lah’ to that fellow but you did not say ‘Yarhamuka-l-lah’ to me. “The Prophet said,

“That man praised Allah, but you did not praise Allah.” (Bukhari, Adab, 127)

The Prophet’s response to the praised person was because that person was aware of the significance of praising Allah for His blessings. As for the second person, he did not have such a mental state; thus he was deprived of the prophetic prayer.

If a person sneezes frequently because of a cold, it is not necessary to pray for him every time he sneezes. This is explained by a tradition of the Prophet (pbuh):“Respond three times to your brother when he sneezes, and if he sneezes more often, he has a cold in his head. (Abu Dawud, Adab, 92)

There are also other expressions used today to respond to people who sneeze, such as “bless you”, “gesundheit”, or “long live”. These are good wishes for the addressee, but their meanings cannot match the prayers advised by the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh).

In addition to all these, it is an appropriate behavior to close one’s mouth with his/her hand or with a handkerchief. It is narrated that when the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) sneezed, he placed his hand or a garment on his mouth, and lessened the noise. (Abu Dawud, Adab, 98)

٭ http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/behavior/question572.htm

٭٭ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneeze

[1] When a person sneezes the heart, which ensures the vitality of the body, stops for an instant and then starts again. In a way in sneezing there is matter of a person’s death and resurrection. Praising Allah with this consciousness becomes more meaningful.

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

The Human Reality

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