Kissing the hand is not prostration


As-Salāmu `Alaykum
Shaykh Gibril,

We are sorry to bother you but we would like to have a clarification concerning a certain matter if you don’t mind enlighten us, insh Allah.

It is regarding kissing the hand of a scholar, but more specifically putting the forehead on the hand of the scholar. One friend of mine who is following a different Sufi Order, told us that kissing the hand of a scholar is OK, but to put the forehead on his hand is haram and prohibited because it is consider a prostration.

We were really surprised and we would like to have the correct view and opinion of Ahl ul Sunnah wa Jamma`a from a real and respected scholar like you as we are ignorant.

Thank you and Forgive us again for our lack of adab and please pray for us insh Allah.


`Alaykum Salam,

The Prophetic hadiths on hand-kissing are countless, yet in none of them does the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) or the Companions specify not to touch the hand with the forehead. Such a distinction is unheard of. Nor did any of the major Imams of fiqh that discussed this topic bring that up. What they said is that it is forbidden to kiss the hand if for a worldly purpose, or out of lust; otherwise it is Sunna for parents, pious leaders, scholars and the righteous. They did not add to that, and what was good enough for them is good enough for us.

So the claim that “kissing the hand of a scholar is ok but to put the forehead on his hand is haram and prohibited because it is considered a prostration” (i) contradicts the Sunna; (ii) is novel; and (iii) is devoid of sense since the two things (kissing and putting the forehead on the hand) are so close to each other that if one were haram then the other one would necessarily be prohibited, as people would be in constant danger of falling into the haram; which is not the case.

In fact, when Abu Aswad al-Jurashi one of the Tabi`in Abdal of Sham (born in Jahiliyya) on his deathbed got the visit of the great Companion Wathila b. al-Asqa`, he sat up and grasped Wathila’s hand then he kissed it, passed it on his chest, and passed it on his face. Another time Abu al-`Aliya, one of the great commentators of the Qur’an among the Tabi`in received an apple from Anas b. Malik, whereupon he said: “An apple from the hand that touched the hand of the Messenger of Allah!” then he kissed it and passed it on his face over and over. These two reports show that kissing and touching with one’s forehead was one and the same for the early Muslims. They did not invent Byzantine distinctions that no one thinks about.

Finally, an authentic hadith mentions a Jew who asked permission to kiss the feet of the Prophet and he said yes; then he asked permission to make sajda to the Prophet and he said no. This clearly shows that kissing and actual prostration are two different and easily separable and identifiable acts; so to try and label a certain type of hand-kissing as “considered a prostration” is baseless and false, and more akin to waswasa and ghuluw (extremism) than to Fiqh. May Allah grant you and us understanding in His Religion.

Ibn al-A`rabi (d. 340). al-Qubl wal-Mu`anaqa wal-Musafaha. Ed. Majdi
al-Sayyid Ibrahim. Cairo: Makatabat al-Qur’an (1987).
Ibn al-Muqri’ (d. 381). al-Rukhsa fi Taqbil al-Yad. Ed. Mahmud
al-Haddad. Riyadh: Maktabat al-`Asima (1988).
`Abd Allah al-Ghumari. I`lam al-Nabil bi-Jawaz al-Taqbil. 2nd ed. Cairo:
maktabat al-Qahira (1994).
Mahmud Ahmad al-Rifa`i. Hukm al-Qiyam wal-Taqbil fil-Islam. Damascus

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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