Kissing Shaykh’s Hand Revisited


We are still seeing some people who object about Mawlana Shaykh Nazim calling himself the Sultan al-Awliya. Also they repeatedly bring up the objection of kissing his hand.


wa `alaykum salam,

Shaykh Hisham has clarified, that Mawlana Shaykh never claimed to be Sultan al-Awliya, rather it is his mureeds who consider him so. He only says “I am nothing; I am the most humble servant of Allah; I am the most weak and helpless one.”

Regarding the kissing of hands, Mawlana Shaykh himself addressed this in detail (excerpted from interview on Sufismus-online):

Q: People object on your hands being kissed.

S.N: I am not a sultan. Let people go and kiss their hands! These people are envious, because they are not giving full respect to their Lord. If they were, people would respect them. Maybe I am respected in the Divine Presence and that is why people run up to me. I am not begging people to come up to me and to kiss my hands! They rush on me from all over the world and I do not tell them to go away. Why should I? Are my hands dirty? If they were I would prevent it.

But the hands of the people who oppose this are dirty with their dirty works. When people come close to a blessed person they feel familiarity and want to kiss and embrace. When a person wants to show their respect by kissing the hand it is not prohibited in the Islamic Shariah. No-one can bring any evidence that Muhammad* did not allow it.

Q: But not only men are kissing your hand, but women too. Is that allowed in Islam?

S.N: Do they have evidence on that? If that was prohibited we would not be allowed to approach our women. They have no fiqr [sic – fiqh]. (Quran, Surat 4, Ayat 43 {or ye have been in contact with women} and Surat 5, Ayat 6 {or ye have been in contact with women}). You may touch.

Q: For the mahram, or…?

S.N: [Surat], is alif lam [I.e. al-nisaa] a sign for all women, or just for some? There is a secret reality there: You can touch a lady, but if your ego awakes with a bad desire it is prohibited. A person may touch his daughter or his mother and it is not prohibited. He may touch his wife and it could be prohibited. Nothing awakes in a person with his mahram, but if it is not a mahram it is dangerous. That is why the Shariah prevents you to touch without a reason. Otherwise a doctor couldn’t touch the body of a woman. No-one objects to the millions of ladies who every day go to the doctor and show everything. It did not exist at the time of the Prophet (s). When they give birth they show themselves completely! How can that be? Why do people not complain about that? Instead they come to me, a person who is 80 years old!

The Shariah does give the permission for the hands of prophets and their inheritors to be kissed. I do not tell the ladies to come and kiss my hand. No! They come to give their respects. I cannot refuse it, because I am calling Europeans, non Muslims, into Islam. They are still new and if I would prevent them from kissing my hand their hearts would be broken. They would accuse Islam of having no gentleness. We are not living in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Turkey, Iran or in Pakistan! I am calling people here, in Europe. This is why we can use the methods which the Prophet (s) was using at the beginning of Islam. People at that time were also not using scarves. For the first 13 years in Mecca, they were mixing freely with men and not wearing scarves. All that came in Medina. The people who are accusing me of these points have no understanding of Islam. They are scholars, but empty!

Q: According to the Hanafi school what are the rules of a woman touching you without desires? Would you need an ablution?

S.N: All the four schools of thought were going to agree on this point, but then Imam Shafi prevented it. He wanted to close the door of fitna which arises through young people touching each other. Abu Hanifa gave the permission under a condition: if your feelings do not change and become haram, it is all right. If they do, it is prohibited in the school of Abu Hanifa too. When feelings change, our body awakens and we discharge, making our wudu invalid.

As well, see Shaykh Gibril’s lucid clarification:

“From the Shari`a viewpoint hand-contact between the sexes is wrong for someone who is not old. At the same time it is a fact that the conditions of da`wa in the West for a Sufi Shaykh who is completely accessible to hundreds of people a day on any given trip are such as to make contact unavoidable. It has nothing to do with a brains-vs.-heart opening. It is a practical matter.

The strongest proof for the conditional licitness of this particular situation for the da`i is probably the hadith of Anas in al-Bukhari, that the slave-women of Madina would take the Prophet (s) by the hand to ask whatever need they had.

The meaning of this is that even the lowest and least educated level of society had complete free access to him (s) and that there was not one iota of haughtiness in him, hence al-Bukhari placed this report in the chapter on kibr in the book of adab in his Sahih.

This is a prooftext for the leeway of at the very least a passive handshake for the da`i in the West – and Allah knows best.”

I heard from Suhayl al-Omani in Damascus this May 2002, from his teacher Shaykh `Isa al-Himyari of Dubai that when Shaykh `Isa was in Germany some years ago with Mawlana he witnessed a woman making her way to Mawlana and kissing his hand. Shaykh `Isa in his heart said: “This ought not to be, you are a respected Shaykh who should not breach the Shari`a.”

Shaykh `Isa said that Mawlana [Shaykh Nazim] turned to him and said: “I know what you said. Remind me to tell you about it later.” Later, Mawlana said to him that he did not use to allow this and that the Western ladies felt relegated to an inferior status. He then saw the Prophet (s) in a dream and the Prophet (s) gave him permission to let them kiss his hand”. [I add:] Hence the change in approach, as a dream is a strong point for the one who received the dream, and it is confirming a legal opinion for conditional exceptional circumstances (that is, the dream was not establishing shariah, merely pointing from the highest authority of Shariah to a possibility already considered inside Shariah).

In conclusion, as far as can be ascertained the position of Mawlana [Shaykh Nazim] in the matter is:

(1) `Umum al-balwa – the prevalence of general ignorance of Islam, necessitating complete availability of the transmitters of Islam to the public including in customary contacts such as handshake or handkissing;

(2) Da`wa in the West, whose unprecedented nature necessitates unprecedented measures, especially since in the West the avoidance of any physical contact with the opposite sex is regarded as insulting and demeaning, just as the avoidance of eye contact;

(3) Mawlana’s age”

[I add:

(4) Maulana’s ikhlas as a most solid internal barrier against misuse of it].

And finally, previous answer on eShaykh regarding kissing hands of a shaykh.

Taher Siddiqui

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