Shaking hands after prayers

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Shaking hands after prayers


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We reviewed request no. 1693 for the year 2005 which includes the following:

Is shaking hands after prayers from among the completion of prayer? Is it disliked or an innovation?



Shaking hands after prayers revolves between being lawful and recommended. However, a congregant who shakes hands with another after prayer must not assume that it is from among the completion of prayer or even from among its recommended actions which have been transmitted from the Prophet.
The legal premise of those who maintain the recommendation of shaking hands after prayers is the tradition narrated by Abu Juhayfa (may Allah be pleased with him) who said, "The Messenger of Allahwent out before noon to al-Bat-haa`. He performed ablution and prayed two rak'as for the Noon prayer and two rak'as for the Midafternoon prayer; he put a stick in front of him [as a barrier].  [After prayers], the people stood up, took his hands and wiped their faces with them." Abu Juhayfa continued, "I took his hand and placed it on my face; it was cooler than snow and more beautifully scented than musk" [Recorded by Bukhari in his Sahih].
Al-Muhib al-Tabari (d. 694 AH) said, "One can draw upon this report for the practice of shaking hands after congregational prayers, especially after the Midafternoon and Sunset prayers when it is done with a good intentions such as seeking blessings, promoting amicability and the like."
 In Al-Majmu', Imam An-Nawawi (d. 676 AH) preferred the opinion maintaining that shaking hands with someone who was present with a person before the prayer is permissible while shaking hands with someone who was not present with him before the prayer is a sunna. He wrote in Al-Adhkar, "Know that shaking hands is recommended at every encounter. There is no textual basis in Islamic law for the practice of shaking hands in this manner after the Morning and Midafternoon prayers. However, there is no harm in it since the default ruling for shaking hands is its recommendation." The fact that people observe it on some occasions and omit it on many or the majority of others, does not remove those times when it is observed from those that have a textual basis in Islamic law." He then quoted Imam al-'Ezz Ibn Abdul-Salam (d.660 AH) who maintained that shaking hands after Morning and Midafternoon prayers is among the permissible innovations."
Some scholars regard shaking hands after prayer disliked. They opine that its continuous practice might lead those who are ignorant [of its legal status] to believe that it is part of the completion of prayer or among its recommended actions which has been transmitted from the Prophet. Consequently, they declared it disliked to block the means to such a belief. Others substantiated their opinion on its impermissibility by drawing upon the fact that the Prophetdid not shake hands with congregants after prayers. In spite of their position, they maintained, as Ibn 'Illan quoted from the book Murqat Al-Mafatih, that if a Muslim extends his hands, one must not turn him down because of the resultant injury of offending and hurting his feelings. Because it is established in Islamic law that avoiding harm takes precedence over achieving an interest, these scholars maintained that avoiding injury takes precedence over the etiquette of shunning what they deem disliked.
The ruling
Shaking hands has a [textual] basis in Islamic law. The fact that it occurs after prayers does not remove it from [the scope] of permissibility. It is permissible or recommended — according to either one of the two scholarly opinions, or according to the detailed opinion of Imam An-Nawawi on this issue. It must be noted that shaking hands is neither part of the completion of prayer nor one of its recommended actions which the Prophet was reported to have observed regularly. It is this which the scholars who maintain its dislike noted and their position pertains to the assumption that shaking hands is part of the completion of prayer or one of the actions which the Prophet practiced on a regular basis and does not pertain to the practice of shaking hands per se. Those who follow the opinion of the scholars who consider this practice disliked must take this into consideration and adhere to the etiquette of disagreement concerning this issue and avoid creating dissonance, division and enmity among Muslims by refusing to shake hands with a fellow worshipper who has extended his hands after prayers. They must know that treating others with kindness and spreading friendship and bringing people together are more beloved to Allah the Almighty than avoiding an act deemed disliked by some scholars when the verifiers from among them maintained its permissibility or recommendation.
Allah the Almighty knows best.
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