Shaking hands after prayers

Egypt's Dar Al-Iftaa

Shaking hands after prayers


What is the ruling on shaking hands immediately after prayers?


Shaking hands after prayers is permissible and revolves between being lawful and recommended. This is because it is included in the general recommendation of shaking hands among Muslims which is a means for gaining Allah's pleasure and forgiveness. It also removes distress and rancor from hearts. The Prophet said, "When two Muslims meet, shake hands, praise Allah and ask for His forgiveness, they will be forgiven."[1]

In Al-Majmu', Imam An-Nawawi (d. 676 AH) preferred the opinion that it is permissible for a person to shake hands with someone who was with him before the prayer since it is recommended to shake hands with someone who was not with him before the prayer." He said in Al-Adhkar, "Know that shaking hands is recommended at every encounter. As for the practice of shaking hands after the Morning and Midafternoon prayers, there is no textual basis in Islamic law for doing it in this manner. However, there is no harm in it since the default ruling for shaking hands is that it is recommended." 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) saying that shaking hands after Morning and Midafternoon prayers is among the permissible innovations."

Islam legislated sending greetings of peace to one's right and left after finishing prayers. Scholars said, "One intends greetings of peace to those he turns to [to his right and left], whether humans or jinn, all the way to the furthest point of the world. He also intends his greetings of peace as a response to the imam's and congregants' greetings."[2]

Al-Safariny stated in Ghidha` Al-Albab Sharh Manzumet Al-Adab, "The apparent opinion of the Shafi'i scholar, 'Ezz Ibn Abdul-Salam, is that shaking hands after prayers is a permissible innovation and the apparent opinion of Imam An-Nawawi is that it is a recommendation. The hadith scholar Ibn Hajar wrote in Sharh al-Bukhari, "An-Nawawi said that shaking hands is basically a recommendation. The fact that it was observed on some occasions does not remove it from the default ruling of recommendation."

The following was mentioned in the Fatawa of Al-Ramly, the Shaf`i scholar: "He was asked about the practice of shaking hands after prayers and whether or not it is a sunna. He replied, "There is no textual basis in Islamic law for this practice; however, there is no harm in it."

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 completion of prayer or among its recommended actions which has been transmitted from the Prophet . They therefore 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 Prophet did not shake hands with others after prayers. In spite of their position, they maintained, as Al-Qari mentioned in 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 the feelings of other Muslims. This is out of kindness and friendliness and because, according to these scholars, avoiding injury takes precedence over the etiquette of shunning what they deem disliked, since it is established in Islamic law that avoiding harm takes precedence over achieving an interest.

The majority of scholars and their verifiers restricted the application of the principle of blocking the means which would otherwise result in hardship and burdening Muslims.

Islamic legal theorists have two opinions on the fact that the Prophet did not follow this practice as evidence for its impermissibility. The principle is that the original rule of things is permissibility. It has been established that, in some instances, the honorable Companions shook the Prophet's hands and took them into their own after prayers.

Abu Juhaifa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated the following: "The Messenger of Allah went out at Noon to Al-Bathaa`. He performed ablution and prayed two rak'as for the Noon prayer and two rak'as for the Midafternoon prayer and put a short lance in front of him [as a barrier]. The people stood up and started taking his hand in their own and wiped their faces with it." Abu Juhaifa said, "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) 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 intention such as seeking blessings, promoting amicability and the like."
The Prophet said, "When two Muslims meet, shake hands, praise Allah and ask His forgiveness, they will be forgiven." It is impermissible to restrict the general permissibility of shaking hands to certain times except with evidence. "When" is an adverb of time and the claim specifying the practice of shaking hands to times other than after the prescribed prayers is baseless. Moreover, there is evidence in the sunna that refutes this claim.

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 this permissibility. It is permissible or recommended—according to either one of the two opinions that scholars have, 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.
Those who follow the opinion of the scholars who consider this practice disliked must adhere to the etiquette of disagreement concerning this issue and avoid creating ill feelings or fuss about an issue which bears capaciousness in its juristic ruling.

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