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Kissing the hand of a scholar is Sunna
June 15, 2008, 1:49 am
Filed under: HALAL AND HARAM

Kissing the hand of a scholar is Sunna
The following is a refutation by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani of a fatwa which states kissing the hand of a scholar is haram

Question: Is it allowed to kiss the hand of an ‘aalim? Some ‘ulamaa’ regard this as sort of respect.Albani’s answer: Kissing the hand of an ‘aalim has a basis in the Sunnah; however, this basis is one of allowable action, not one of a recommended example. Nowadays in many Islaamic lands, many of the shaykhs do not know the example of the Prophet (saw) of shaking hands with his Companions: as Abu Dhar said, “Whenever the Messenger of Allaah (saw) met us, he would shake hands with us.” These shaykhs only know how to extend their hands to be kissed; as for extending the hand to shake, they have no idea! This sort of kissing in place of shaking hands is not allowed. The Prophet (saw) encouraged his ummah, “Any two Muslims who meet and shake hands before parting, their sins fall as leaves fall from a tree in autumn.”

Shaykh Hisham says:

The question is not about Muslim brothers meeting and shaking hands but about the etiquette of the ordinary Muslim meeting the older `alim or scholar of Religion. Similarly, the hadith of the Prophet’s meeting the Companions and shaking hands with them does not apply as much as the hadiths of the Companions coming up to the Prophet and kissing his hand do. This is an important difference which is altogether overlooked, whether inadvertently or deliberately, in the above answer. Nor did it escape our notice that Shaykh Albani’s reply declares the same thing allowed and yet not allowed at one and the same time.

As for the claim that “Nowadays in many Islaamic lands, many of the shaykhs do not know the example of the Prophet (S) of shaking hands with his Companions” and “These shaykhs only know how to extend their hands to be kissed; as for extending the hand to shake, they have no idea,” then this is iftira’ — slanderous fabrication — of the sort which have been unfortunately accustomed from that source, as Shaykh Hasan `Ali al-Saqqaf amply demonstrated in his compendium of Albani’s insults of the `ulama entitled Qamus shata’im al-Albani. Let us repeat the excellent warning our master Mawlana Shaykh Nazim gave concerning the stance of “Salafis” regarding the ethics of respect in Islam: “They want to break the relationship between the Believers and their Teachers in Islam.”

Allah ordered the Prophet: “Lower your wing for the believers” (15:88) from which some have inferred the order to show courtesy to Muslims, and He said: “Who magnifies the sacred symbols of Allah, then it is better for him with his Lord” (22:30), and: “Who magnifies the symbols of Allah then it is truly from the piety of hearts” (22:32). The scholars are, after the Prophets, of the greatest symbols of Allah on earth and the receptacles of the Religion. To insult them or seek to lower their image in the eyes of Muslims is a grave sin indeed. To insult a Muslim is one of the Kaba’ir, then what about those who insult their teachers? To insult the awliya’ is an even greater enormity, and al-Shafi`i said that the scholars are the foremost awliya’. That is why the Prophet warned strenuously against harming the rights of the scholar in Islam when he said in an authentic hadith: “Whoever does not know the rights of our scholars is not one of my Community” (which Albani authenticated in his Sahih al-targhib 1:44!).

The least that one may say about kissing the hand of the scholar in Islam is what Imam Ahmad said: la ba’sa bihi, there is no harm in it and not add to it needlessly. However, our position and that of Tamim ibn Salama, Sufyan al-Thawri, and the school of Imam Shafi`i including Bayhaqi and Nawawi is that it is Sunna and mustahabb as it shows the necessary ta`zim (magnification) and tawqir (reverence) of a person of religion and knowledge in Islam, and as shown by the narrations, it is closer to the practice of the Companions with the Prophet and the knowledgeable ones among themselves as well as the true Salaf.

The ruling among the authorities that kissing the hand of the scholar is mustahabb is categorically proven by the fact that when Imam Muslim met the Mountain of Hadith Mastership — Imam Bukhari — he desired to kiss not merely his hands but his feet. This was not gratuitous behavior on the part of Imam Muslim but an excellent and meritorious display of humbleness and respect on his part. They purposely imitated in this — and Allah knows best — Abu `Ubayda when he met `Umar ibn al-Khattab in Jerusalem, and the precedent of those two, who were of the “Ten Promised Paradise” by the Prophet is enough proof in itself that it is Sunna.

It is authentically recorded that others of the true Ahl al-hadith did this also, such as the Tabi`is Khaythama ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-Ju`fi (d. 85) and Talha ibn Musarrif (d.112) kissing each other’s hand, and the same Talha kissing the hand of Malik ibn Mighwal (d. 159), and Sufyan ibn `Uyayna and Fudayl ibn `Iyad kissing the hand and foot of Husayn ibn `Ali al-Ju`fi (d. 203) respectively.

Narrations of the Prophet relevant to kissing the hand of the ulama:

  • Usama ibn Sharik narrates: “I came to see the Prophet while his Companions were with him, and they seemed as still as if birds had alighted on top of their heads. I gave him my salam and I sat down. [Then Beduins came and asked questions which the Prophet answered.] … The Prophet then stood up and the people stood up. They began to kiss his hand, whereupon I took his hand and placed it on my face. I found it more fragrant than musk and cooler than sweet water.”
  • Ibn al-Muqri’ in al-Rukhsa (p. 58 #2) narrates it with a chain which Ibn al-Hajar graded as “strong” (sanaduhu qawiy) in Fath al-Bari (1989 ed. 11:67) and he listed it among the “good” (jayyid) narrations of Ibn al-Muqri’ on the topic. Imam Bayhaqi included it as part of the proofs for the fact that giving honor to the Prophet is part of faith in Chapter 15 of his Shu`ab al-iman entitled: The Fifteenth Branch of Faith, Namely A Chapter On Rendering Honor To The Prophet, Declaring His High Rank, And Revering Him (al-khamis `ashar min shu`ab al-iman wa huwa babun fi ta`zim al-nabi sallallahu `alayhi wa sallama wa ijlalihi wa tawqirih). Ibn al-I`rabi narrated it with a stronger chain yet in his book al-Qubal.

    It is partially narrated, without the mention of the kiss, by Abu Dawud (#3855), Tirmidhi (2038 — hasan sahih), Ibn Majah (3436), al-Hakim (4:399), and Ahmad (4:278).

  • Jabir said: “`Umar ibn al-Khattab got up and kissed the hand of Allah’s Messenger.” Ibn al-Muqri’ narrates it in al-Rukhsa (p. 71 #11) and although its chain contains `Ubayd Allah ibn Sa`id who is weak, Ibn Hajar included it among Ibn al-Muqri’s good narrations (min jayyidiha) on the subject (Fath al-Bari 11:66).
  • Tabari narrates it mursal [missing the Companion-link] through al-Suddi in his Tafsir in commenting on verse 5:101: “Do not ask of things which once shown to you would hurt you” with the wording: “`Umar ibn al-Khattab got up and kissed the foot of Allah’s Messenger and said: O Messenger of Allah, we are pleased with Allah as our Lord, with Islam as our religion, and with Muhammad as our Prophet, and with the Qur’an as our Book. Forgive, and Allah will forgive you (fa`fu `afallahu `anka). And he did not cease until the Prophet softened.”

    The hadith is established as authentic by the following narrations in Bukhari’s Sahih:

    al-Zuhri said: Anas bin Malik told me: The Prophet came out after the sun passed the mid-point of the sky and offered the Zuhr prayer (in congregation). After finishing it with Taslim, he stood on the pulpit and mentioned the Hour and mentioned there would happen great events before it. Then he said, “Whoever wants to ask me any question, may do so, for by Allah, you will not ask me about anything but I will inform you of it as long as I am at this place of mine.” The people were weeping profusely (because of the Prophet’s anger). Allah’s Apostle kept saying, “Ask Me! ” Then a man got and asked, ”Where will my entrance be, O Allah’s Apostle?” The Prophet said, “The Fire.” Then `Abd Allah ibn Hudhafa got up and asked, “Who is my father, O Allah’s Apostle?” The Prophet replied, “Your father is Hudhafa.” The Prophet then kept on saying (angrily), “Ask me! Ask me!” `Umar then fell to his knees and said, “We have accepted Allah as our Lord and Islam as our religion and Muhammad as our Apostle.” Allah’s Apostle became quiet when `Umar said that. Then Allah’s Apostle said, “Woe! By Him in Whose Hand my life is, Paradise and Hell were displayed before me just now, across this wall while I was praying, and I never saw such good and evil as I have seen today.”Muslim’s version (Kitab al-fada’il) adds: “There was no harder day on the Companions than that day.”

    Bukhari narrates it in the third chapter of Kitab al-i`tisam bi al-kitab wa al-sunna, entitled: “What is disliked in asking too many questions, and those who take on what does not concern them, and Allah’s saying: “Do not ask about things which once shown to you would hurt you” (5:101).” (English: Volume 9, Book 92, Number 397). The Sahih contains other versions of this hadith such as in Kitab al-`ilm, chapter 28: “On anger during exhortation” and chapter 29: “On kneeling before the Imam or muhaddith.” (English: Volume 1, Book 3, Number 90-93), and in Kitab mawaqit al-salat, chapter 11: “The time of Zuhr is after the sun passes the zenith.” (Volume 1, Book 10, Number 515).

    Ibn Hajar in his commentary on the collated accounts of this hadith says (Fath al-Bari 1989 ed. 13:335):

    “There is in this hadith [evidence for]:

    • the Companions’ acute observation of the states of the Prophet and the intensity of their fear when he became angry, lest it result in a matter that would become generalized and extend to all of them;
    • `Umar’s confidence in the Prophet’s love (idlal);
    • the permissibility of kissing the foot of a man;
    • the permissibility of anger in exhortation;
    • the student’s kneeling in front of the one who benefits him;
    • the follower’s kneeling before the one followed if he asks him for a certain need;
    • the lawfulness of seeking refuge from dissension when something occurs which might result in its foreshadowings;
    • the use of pairing [subjects] in du`a in his words: Forgive, and Allah will forgive you (fa`fu `afallahu `anka).”
  • Umm Aban, daughter of al-Wazi` ibn Zari` narrated that her grandfather Zari` al-`Abdi, who was a member of the deputation of `Abd al-Qays, said: “When we came to Medina, we raced to be first to dismount and kiss the hand and foot of Allah’s Apostle…” Abu Dawud narrates it in his Sunan, book of Adab. Bukhari relates from her a similar hadith in his Adab al-mufrad: We were walking and someone said, “There is the Messenger of Allah,” so we took his hands and feet and kissed them. Ibn al-Muqri’ narrates it in his Kitab al-rukhsa (p. 80 #20), al-Tayalisi in his Musnad, al-Bazzar in his Musnad (3:278), Bayhaqi in the Sunan (7:102), and Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (1989 ed. 11:67 Isti’dhan ch. 28 #6265) said: “Among the good narrations in Ibn al-Muqri’s book is the hadith of al-Zari` al-`Abdi.” It was declared a fair (hasan) hadith by Ibn `Abd al-Barr, and al-Mundhiri confirmed it in Mukhtasar al-sunan (8:86).
  • Albani’s lone claim in his Da`if al-adab al-mufrad (p. 89 #154) that Umm Aban is an unknown (majhula) is put to rest by the hadith master Haythami’s remark in Majma` al-zawa’id (9:390): “Its narrators are trustworthy, as for Umm Aban, Abu Dawud narrated from her and he kept silent concerning her narration,” as the silence of the Imams of hadith concerning a narrator is considered acceptance, not tajhil, by their vast majority. Of note also is the fact that Ibn al-A`rabi and al-Baghawi narrated the hadith in Mu`jam al-sahaba and they, like the totality of the hadith masters who cited this hadith, raised no doubt concerning Umm Aban. Moreover the declaration of a narration as weak on the basis of a narrator can only be done through the mention of that narrator in one of the books of the Du`afa’ and not through any other way. These rules show why they all considered, either explicitly or tacitly, that the hadith was authentic.

  • From Safwan ibn `Asal al-Muradi: “One of two Jews said to his companion: Take us to this Prophet so we can ask him about Musa’s ten signs… [the Prophet replied in full and then] they kissed his hands and feet and said: we witness that you are a Prophet…” Narrated by Ibn Abi Shayba (Book of Adab, Chapter entitled A Man Kissing Another Man’s Hand When He greets Him), Tirmidhi (Book of Adab) who declared it hasan sahih, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Maja (Book of Adab), and al-Hakim who declared it sahih.
  • Burayda said: When we were with Allah’s Messenger on an expedition, a Bedouin came and asked for a miracle. The Prophet pointed at a tree and said to the Bedouin: “Tell that tree: Allah’s Messenger summons you.” The Beduin did, whereupon the tree swayed and brought itself out, and came to the presence of the Prophet saying: “Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah!” The Bedouin said: “Now let it return to its place!” When Allah’s Messenger ordered it, the tree went back. The Bedouin said: “let me prostrate to you!” The Messenger answered: “If I commanded anyone to do that, I would command the wife to prostrate to her husband.” The Bedouin said: “Then give me permission to kiss your hands and feet.” The Prophet gave him permission.
  • Qadi `Iyad narrated it in al-Shifa’ (1:299) and al-Bazzar in his Musnad (3:49). The editor of Suyuti’s Manahil al-safa (p. 124 #575) said: See Kashf al-astar (3:132). Ghazali cites the account of the kiss in the Ihya’ and al-Hakim in the Mustadrak as well as Ibn Muqri’. Both al-Hakim and al-`Iraqi declared its chain authentic (sahih), as stated by al-Zabidi in his Ithaf (6:280) while Dhahabi declared it weak. However, Ibn Hajar included the hadith of Burayda among Ibn al-Muqri’s good narrations (min jayyidiha) on the subject of kissing the hand, and Qadi `Iyad also mentions a similar narration from Ibn `Umar which Suyuti said was narrated by Darimi, Bayhaqi, and al-Bazzar with a sound chain. Qadi `Iyad said the hadith of the tree’s uprooting and coming to the Prophet is also narrated by Jabir, Ibn Mas`id, Ya`la ibn Murra, Usama ibn Zayd, Anas ibn Malik, `Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ibn `Abbas, and others who all agreed on the same account and so did the Tabi`in who related it.

  • Ibn `Umar was sent with a detachment by the Prophet. The people wheeled round in flight. He said: I was one of those who wheeled round in flight. When we stopped, we said: What should we do? We have run away from the battlefield and deserve Allah’s wrath. Then we said: Let us enter Medina, stay there, and go there while no one sees us. So we came and thought: If we present ourselves before the Prophet, and if there is amnsety for us, we shall stay; if there is something else, we shall go away. So we sat down waiting for the Prophet before the dawn prayer. When he came out, we stood up to him and said: We are the ones who have fled. He turned to us and said: No, you are the ones who return to fight after wheeling away. We then approached and kissed his hand, and he said: “I am the main body of the Muslims.” (ana fi’atu al-muslimin).
  • Narrated by Bukhari in his Adab al-mufrad, see Bab taqbil al-yad (Chapter on Kissing the Hand) and Bab taqbil ar-rijl (Chapter on Kissing the Foot), also in Abu Dawud’s Sunan (Book of Jihad, chapter on desertion in the face of the enemy) — al-`Iraqi said: “with a fair (hasan) chain,” see Zabidi’s Ithaf (6:280) — also in Tirmidhi’s Sunan, (book of Jihad, chapter on flight in the face of the enemy) but without mention of the kissing and he said: hasan gharib, also Ibn Majah’s Sunan (Book of Adab #3704), Bayhaqi through al-Shafi`i in his Sunan (9:76-77) and in Dala’il al-nubuwwa, Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf (8:749-750 Adab), al-Khattabi through al-Humaydi in Gharib al-hadith (1:331), Abu Ya`la in his Musnad (8:42), Ibn Sa`d in his Tabaqat (4:1/107) and Ahmad in the Musnad (2:58, 2:70) and also without mention of kissing (2:86, 2:100, 2:111). Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (1989 ed. 11:67) cited it in his lof the narrations providing evidence for kissing the hand and he did not weaken it.

    Albani alone declared the hadith weak in his Da`if al-adab al-mufrad on the sole grounds that all of its chains contain Yazid ibn Abi Ziad who is weak. Yet none of the masters cited above declared the hadith weak since other factors preclude it. Further, the hadith is cited in full as evidence on the rulings concerning desertion or flight in the face of the enemy: by al-Qurtubi in his Jami` li ahkam al-qur’an (Dar al-hadith ed. 7:365-366) and Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir (2:294 / 3:567) — which would be impermissible if it were indeed weak — as well as Suyuti in al-Durr al-manthur (3:174) in commentary of the verses: “When you meet the unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs on them. If any do turn their back on them on such a day — unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop of one’s own — he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is the Gehenna, an evil end” (8:15-16). In conclusion it is as Tirmidhi and `Iraqi said and as all confirmed tacitly, namely that the hadith is hasan.

  • A narration states that Ka`b ibn Malik al-Ansari kissed the hand and knees of the Prophet, Peace be upon him, after repenting from the charge of hypocrisy which followed his sitting out in Madina the Prophet’s expedition to Tabuk. Bayhaqi in Dala’il al-nubuwwa, Ghazali in the Ihya’, and Ibn al-Muqri’ in al-Rukhsa cite it from Ka`b with a weak chain according to al-`Iraqi: “When Allah sent down my acquittal, I came to the Messenger of Allah and kissed his hand and knee.” (lamma nuzilat tawbati ataytu al-nabi sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam fa qabbaltu yadahu wa rukbatahu). al-Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (8:42) also states that Tabarani narrates it (cf. al-Kabir 19:42) with a chain that contains a weak narrator. Nevertheless Ibn Hajar cites it (Fath al-bari 1989 ed. 8:155 book of Maghazi ch. 80) from Ibn Mardawayh without weakening it in his commentary on the long hadith of Ka`b in Bukhari (excerpted below) which provides the context of the incident:
  • … the period of fifty nights was completed starting from the time when Allah’s Apostle prohibited the people from talking to us. When I had offered the Fajr prayer on the 50th morning on the roof of one of our houses and while I was sitting in the condition which Allah described (in the Quran) i.e. my very soul seemed straitened to me and even the earth seemed narrow to me for all its spaciousness, there I heard the voice of one who had ascended the mountain of Sala’ calling with his loudest voice, ‘O Ka`b ibn Malik! Good news!’ I fell down in prostration before Allah, realizing that relief has come. Allah’s Apostle had announced the acceptance of our repentance by Allah when he had offered the Fajr prayer. The people then went out to congratulate us. Some bringers of good tidings went out to my two fellows, and a horseman came to me in haste, and a man of Banu Aslam came running and ascended the mountain and his voice was swifter than the horse. When he (i.e. the man) whose voice I had heard, came to me conveying the good tidings, I took off my garments and dressed him with them; and by Allah, I owned no other garments than them on that day. Then I borrowed two garments and wore them and went to Allah’s Apostle.

    The people started greeting me in droves, congra-tulating me on Allah’s Acceptance of my repentance, saying, ‘We congratulate you on Allah’s Acceptance of your repentance.” Ka`b further said, “When I entered the Mosque. I saw Allah’s Apostle sitting with the people around him. Talha bin `Ubaidullah swiftly came to me, shook hands with me and congratulated me. By Allah, none of the Emigrants got up for me except him (i.e. Talha), and I will never forget this for Talha.” Ka`b added, “When I greeted Allah’s Apostle he, his face being bright with joy, said “Be happy with the best day that you have got ever since your mother delivered you.” Ka`b added, “I said to the Prophet ‘Is this forgiveness from you or from Allah?’ He said, ‘No, it is from Allah.’ Whenever Allah’s Apostle became happy, his face would shine as if it were a piece of moon, and we all knew that characteristic of him. When I sat before him, I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Because of the acceptance of my repentance I will give up all my wealth as alms for the Sake of Allah and His Apostle. Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Keep some of your wealth, as it will be better for you.’ I said, ‘So I will keep my share from Khaibar with me,’ and added, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Allah has saved me for telling the truth; so it is a part of my repentance not to tell but the truth as long as I am alive. By Allah, I do not know anyone of the Muslims whom Allah has helped foretelling the truth more than me. Since I have mentioned that truth to Allah’s Apostle till today, I have never intended to tell a lie. I hope that Allah will also save me (from telling lies) the rest of my life. So Allah revealed to His Apostle the Verse:

    “Verily, Allah has forgiven the Prophet, the Muhajirin (i.e. Emigrants (up to His Saying) And be with those who are true (in word and deed).” (9.117-119)

    By Allah, Allah has never bestowed upon me, apart from His guiding me to Islam, a Greater blessing than the fact that I did not tell a lie to Allah’s Apostle which would have caused me to perish as those who have told a lie perished, for Allah described those who told lies with the worst description He ever attributed to anybody else. Allah said:– “They (i.e. the hypocrites) will swear by Allah to you when you return to them (up to His Saying) Certainly Allah is not pleased with the rebellious people” (9:95-96). Ka`b added, “We, the three persons, differed altogether from those whose excuses Allah’s Apostle accepted when they swore to him. He took their pledge of allegiance and asked Allah to forgive them, but Allah’s Apostle left our case pending till Allah gave His Judgment about it, regarding which Allah said: “And to the three whose case was delayed.” (9:118)

    What Allah said (in this Verse) does not indicate our failure to take part in the Ghazwa, but it refers to the deferment of making a decision by the Prophet about our case in contrast to the case of those who had taken an oath before him and he excused them by accepting their excuses.

    al-Zabidi, Ghazali’s commentator, says that Ka`b was one of the Ansar who had stayed behind in the campaign of Tabuk — eighty-odd individuals according to the hadith of Ka`b in Bukhari. However, the repentence is from the charge of nifaq, not from staying behind during a campaign, and this is explicited by Ka`b himself in the last words of Bukhari’s narration. The incident is alluded to in the verse: “And to the three whose case was delayed until the earth seemed straitened for them for all its spaciousness, and their very lives seemed straitened for them, until they realized that there was no recourse from Allah except to Him, then He relented towards them so that they repented. He is Oft-Reutrning, Most Merciful.” (9:118)

  • `Ubada ibn al-Samit said: The Prophet said: “He is not of my Community / He is not one of us who does not give respect to our elders or does not show mercy to our little ones or does not recognize the rights of our scholars.”
  • An authentic hadith narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad (5:323), al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak (1:122) — al-Dhahabi agreed with him on the authentication of the hadith, — and Tabarani in al-Mu`jam al-kabir. al-Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (1:127, 8:14) said its chain was fair (hasan). So did al-Mundhiri in al-Targhib wa al-tarhib (1:125). Shaykh Albani the leader of the “Salafis” said one time that it was sound (sahih), and one time that it was fair (hasan), respectively in Sahih al-targhib (1:44) and Sahih al-Jami` al-saghir (5:103)! al-Ajurri (d. 360) cited it in Akhlaq ahl al-Qur’an, 2nd ed., ed. Muh. `Amr ibn `Abd al-Latif (Beirut: dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya, 1407/1987) p. 136-137. al-Hakim said: “He is not one of us” means: He is not on our path nor does he follow our guidance. Tirmidhi in the Sunan (3:216) said: Some of the scholars said it means: He is not of our Sunna, and: He does not follow our etiquette (adab).

  • Kathir ibn Qays said: “I was sitting with Abu al-Darda’ in the mosque of Damascus. A man came to him and said: Abu al-Darda’, I have come to you from the city of Allah’s Messenger for a narration I have heard that you relate from the Prophet. I have come for no other purpose.” He said: I heard Allah’s Messenger say: “If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise, the angels will lower their wings from good pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, and the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and the fish in the depth of the water will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the ordinary believer is like that of the moon on the night when it is full over the rest of the stars. The learned are the inheritors of the Prophets, and the Prophets have neither dinar nor dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.” Abu Dawud narrated it in his Sunan as the first hadith of the book of `Ilm, also Ibn Majah and Darimi in the muqaddima of their Sunan, all of them with a weak chain which, however, is strengthened by the fact that Bukhari in his Sahih, Tirmidhi in his Sunan, Ahmad in his Musnad, Bayhaqi in his Sunan all narrate various parts of this hadith.

Narrations of the Companions and their explicit practice of kissing the hand:

  • Tamim ibn Salama relates with a chain of trustworthy narrators that Abu `Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah kissed `Umar’s hand when the latter came to Damascus, after which they both began to weep. Tamim said: “Therefore they considered that kissing the hand is Sunna,” and in another version: “Kissing the hand is Sunna,” and in another: “Kissing is Sunna.”
  • Ibn Abi Shayba narrates it in his Musannaf (8:750 Adab), Bayhaqi in his Sunan (7:101 Nikah), both from Sufyan al-Thawri who narrated it in his Jami`. Ibn al-A`rabi mentions it in the Siyar (1:15). Abu Nu`aym also mentions it but through another chain. Ahmad cites it in Kitab al-wara` (p. 113 #510). Bayhaqi narrates it in his Kitab al-adab (p. 181 #296). Ghazali in his Ihya’ also cited it. Ibn Taymiyya cites it as evidence in the Mukhtasar al-fatawa al-misriyya (p. 563-564). The meaning of Tamim’s comment is that these two are of the Ten who were given the glad tidings of Paradise, and they would not have done it if it were not the Sunna.

    Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Minhaji al-Suyuti (d. 880) cites it in his book Ithaf al-akhissa bi fada’il al-masjid al-aqsa (p.231) but his version states that Abu `Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah extended his hand to shake the hand of `Umar and `Umar extended his hand, whereupon Abu `Ubayda descended to kiss it wishing to magnify him among the people. At this `Umar descended to the foot of Abu `Ubayda and kissed it.

  • al-Shu`bi narrates — and also Hammad ibn Salama from `Ammar ibn Abi `Ammar — that Zayd ibn Thabit intended to go on a trip, whereupon the young `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas stood humbly at his side and taking hold of the reins of his mount adopted the attitude of a humble servant in the presence of his master. Zayd said to him: “Don’t, O cousin of the Prophet.” “Thus we were commanded to treat our ulama and elders,” was `Abd Allah’s reply. Zayd said to him in turn: “Let me see your hand.” Abdullah stretched out his hand. Zayd, taking it, kissed it and said: “Thus we were commanded to treat the members of the household of the Prophet.” al-Abhari and Ghazali mention it, and the latter adds that `Umar once helped Zayd Ibn Thabit to mount his camel by holding his foot, and said to the onlookers: “Do the same.” al-Zabidi (Ghazali’s commentator) said: “I.e. with your `ulama’.”
  • Narrated by al-Khatib in al-Faqih wa al-mutafaqqih (2:99), Bayhaqi in al-Madkhal (p. 137), and Ibn Sa`d in his Tabaqat (2:360) from Abu Nu`aym with a sound (sahih) chain according to Ibn Hajar in al-Isaba (1:561 “Zayd ibn Thabit”). Also by Tabarani and Ibn al-Muqri’ in his Rukhsa (p. 95 #30), Tabari in his Tarikh (11:57, al-Fath), and Ibn `Asakir in his Tarikh in the biography of Zayd.

  • Bukhari in his Adab al-Mufrad narrates from `Abd al-Rahman ibn Razin that one of the Companions, Salama ibn al-Akwa`, raised his hands before a group of people and said: “With these very hands I pledged allegiance to the Messenger of Allah,” upon hearing which all who were present got up and went to kiss his hand and he did not object.
  • Ibn al-Muqri’ narrates it in his Rukhsa (p. 72 #12). Narrated with a good chain by Ahmad in his Musnad (4:54-55). Ibn Hajar in Fath al-bari (11:57) declared its chain good (jayyid), and Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (8:42) declared its narrators all trustworthy, while Albani declared Bukhari’s hadith fair (hasan) in his Sahih al-adab al-mufrad (p. 372 #747)!

  • Abu Malik al-Ashja`i said that he once asked another Companion of the Tree, Ibn Abi Awfa, “Give me the hand that swore allegiance to the Allah’s Messenger, that I may kiss it.” Ibn al-Muqri’ related it with a sound chain.
  • Bukhari in al-Adab al-mufrad also relates with a sound chain that Suhayb the freedman of al-`Abbas saw Sayyidna `Ali kiss the hand and feet of the Prophet’s uncle al-`Abbas and said to him: “O Uncle! Be pleased with me.” al-Muqri’ also narrates it through Sulayman ibn Ayyub and through a third chain from his shaykh al-Tahawi in al-Rukhsa fi taqbil al-yad (p. 73 #13, p. 76 #15).
  • Albani in his book Da`if al-adab al-mufrad (p. 89 #155) declared it weak claiming that Suhayb is “not known” (ghayr ma`ruf) as a narrator. However, Ibn Hibban accepted him as trustworthy and al-Dhahabi did not contradict him, and even if this were not the case, how could Suhayb be “not known” as a narrator when the trustworthy narrated from him, such as Abu Salih Dhakwan, al-Mujmir Nu`aym ibn `Abd Allah, Shu`ba, `Amr ibn Murra, al-Tahawi, and others? Sakhawi said in Fath al-mughith (p. 137): Daraqutni said: “One from whom two trustworthy narrators (thiqatan) take hadith, his state of “unknowness” (jahalatuhu) is lifted, and his credibility is established.” The same was declared by al-Dhuhli (“if two or more narrate from him”) and Ibn `Abd al-Barr (“three or two”) as stated respectively by al-Khatib in al-Kifaya (p. 88), and in Ibn `Abd al-Barr’s commentary on Malik’s Muwatta’ entitled al-Istidhkar in the chapter entitled Tark al-wudu’ mimma massathu al-nar.

    Furthermore the position of the majority of the authorities of hadith is that short of the explicit mention of a narrator as da`if in the books of weak narrators, such a narrator is considered trustworthy. This was the method followed or declared explicitly by the hafiz Haythami, Ibn Daqiq al-`Id, al-Mundhiri, al-Zayla`i, Majd al-Din Ibn Taymiyya (the grandfather), al-Dhahabi, Ibn `Abd al-Hadi, Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Kathir, al-Zarkashi, Shawkani, Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, and Sakhawi in their books, and among contemporary scholars: Shaykh Ahmad Shakir, Shaykh Zafar Ahmad al-Tahanawi, Shaykh Habib al-Rahman al-A`zami of India, Shaykh Muhammad `Abd al-Rashid al-Nu`mani of Karachi, Shaykh Muhammad Taqi al-`Uthmani of Karachi, Shaykh Isma`il al-Ansari of Riyadh, and Shaykh `Abd Allah ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari, as shown by the late Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda — rahimahullah — in his marginalia on `Abd al-Hayy Lucknawi’s al-Jarh wa al-ta`dil (p. 232-248). How then could the entire narration be declared as weak by Albani on the sole basis of an incorrect grading of Suhayb? Rather, according to the above criteria, Suhayb is a reliable narrator, the chain is sound, and the hadith is authentic, and Allah knows best.

  • Bukhari in the Adab al-mufrad, Ahmad in his Musnad (3:111), and Ibn Abi `Umar al-Adani in his Musnad (#19) also narrate through Sufyan ibn `Uyayna that Thabit al-Bunani the Tabi`i would come to Anas and kiss his hand because it had touched the Prophet’s hand. Ibn al-Muqri’ cites it in al-Rukhsa (p. 79 #19). The ruling by Albani that this narration is weak (cf. his Da`if al-adab al-mufrad p. 88 #153) is rejected, since the account is confirmed by the following three sound narrations and therefore it is sahih li ghayrih.
  • Jamila, Anas iMalik’s freedwoman and the mother of his child, relates that Anas would say whener Thabit visited him: “O jariya, bring me some perfume for my hand, because whenever Thabit comes he does not accept not to kiss my hand and he says: It is a hand that touched the hand of Allah’s Messenger.”
  • Narrated with a sound (sahih) chain by Ibn al-Muqri’ in al-Rukhsa (p. 68 #7), al-Musili in his Musnad, and Abu Nu`aym in Hilyat al-awliya’ (2:327) under Thabit al-Bunani’s biography.

    This hadith constitutes an important basis for the merit of companionship with those who kept companionship with the Prophet. This derivation of blessing undoubtedly continues in our time uninterrupted. As the Prophet said: tuba li man ra’ani wa li man ra’a man ra’ani wa li man ra’a man ra’a man ra’ani. “Blessed is the one who saw me, and the one who saw the one who saw me, and the one who saw the one who saw the one who saw me.” Albani included it among the sound narrations of his Silsila sahiha (#1254)! That this blessing still applies in our time is proven by the similar narration: tuba li man ra’ani wa amana bi marratan wa tuba li man lam yarani wa amana bi sab`a marrat. “Blessed once is the one who saw me and believed in me, and blessed seven times is the one who did not see me and believed in me.” Narrated with a sound chain by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, Ahmad in his Musnad (3:71, 5:248, 5:264), al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, Tabarani in al-Kabir (8:311), Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (10:20, 10:67) and others.

    That Anas scented his hand for greeting others is confirmed by Bukhari’s narration in al-Adab al-mufrad with a sound chain from Thabit al-Bunani whereby: “Whenever Anas rose in the morning he would daub his hand with perfume for shaking hands with his brothers.” Albani included it in his Sahih al-adab al-mufrad (p. 388 #774) and said: sahih al-isnad!

  • Mubarak ibn `Aqil Abu Sakhr said: I heard Thabit al-Bunani say: Whenever I visited Anas ibn Malik I would take his hand and kiss it and say: “My father for these two hands which touched Allah’s Messenger!” Then I would kiss his eyes and say: “My father for these two eyes which saw Allah’s Messenger!”
  • al-Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (9:325) said: “Its narrators are those of the sahih narrations [i.e. retained by Bukhari and Muslim], except Abu Bakr al-Muqaddami, and he is trustworthy (thiqa).” That is: the chain is sound. Ibn al-Muqri’ narrates it partially in al-Rukhsa fi taqbil al-yad (p. 78 #18).

    The Prophet spoke of Thabit’s example when he said: “Among those of my Community who love me most intensely are certain people who will come after me and who would give away their family and property in exchange for seeing me.” Muslim narrated it in his Sahih, book of “Paradise and its bliss and people.”

  • Hammad ibn Salama narrated from Thabit al-Bunani that Anas gave an apple to Abu al-`Aliya one of the Tabi`in narrators of sound hadith — who began to turn it in his hands and kiss it and place it against his face, saying: “An apple which touched the hand which touched the Prophet’s hand.”
  • Narrated with a sound chain by Ibn al-I`rabi in his book al-Qubal as well as Ibn `Asakir in his Tarikh (8:331 Mukhtasar).

Fatawa and practices of the Tabi`in and major `ulama on kissing the hand of the `alim or the just leader of the Muslims:

  • 1. Khaythama (d. 85)
  • Talha ibn Musarrif (d. 112)

    Malik ibn Mighwal (d. 159): Malik heard from Talha: “Khaythama [ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-Ju`fi] kissed my hand” and Malik added: “And Talha kissed my hand.”

    Ibn Abi Shayba in the Musannaf (8:750) and Ibn al-I`rabi in al-Qubal narrate it from Sufyan ibn `Uyayna with a sound chain.

  • Tamim ibn Salama (d. 100): It is Sunna. See his narration above.
  • al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110): It is ta`a (and act of obedience to Allah – Ibn Muflih, al-Adab 2:271).
  • Sufyan al-Thawri (d. 161): It is Sunna (Ibn al-Muqri’ al-Rukhsa p. 70 #10 through Abu Hatim al-Razi); la ba’sa bih (Ahmad, al-Wara` #512).
  • Malik (d. 179): ankarahu — he condemned it in a worldly context; however, he deemed it ja`iz — permissible for the pious scholar. Related by Ibn Battal and al-Abhari as well as Ibn Hajar.
  • Musa ibn Dawud al-Dubbi (d. 217) said: “I was with Sufyan ibn `Uyayna (d. 198) when Husayn ibn `Ali al-Ju`fi (d. 203) came, whereupon Sufyan stood up and kissed his hand.”
  • Narrated with sound chains by Ibn Sa`d in his Tabaqat (6:397 “Husayn al-Ju`fi”) and Ibn al-I`rabi in al-Qubal. Also al-Mizzi in al-Tahdhib (6:452) and al-Dhahabi in the Syar (9:398).

  • Sufyan ibn `Uyayna and Fudayl ibn `Iyad (d. 187) kissed the hand and foot of Husayn ibn `Ali al-Ju`fi respectively. Ibn Muflih relates it in al-Adab al-shar`iyya (2:272) from Ibn al-Jawzi in his Manaqib ashab al-hadith.
  • Sulayman ibn Harb (d. 224): It is the minor prostration (al-sajda al-sughra). I.e. it is disliked. (Ahmad, al-Wara` #513).
  • Ahmad (d. 241): la ba’sa bih — there is no harm in it. Kitab al-wara` (p. 113 #509-510), and Ibn Muflih, al-Adab (2:270).
  • Imam Muslim (d. 261) when he met Imam Bukhari (d. 256) said to him: Da`ni hatta uqabbila rijlayka ya ustadh al-ustadhayn, “Let me kiss your feet, O professor of the two professors.”
  • It is narrated by al-Khatib in his Tarikh (13:102), al-Hakim in al-Tarikh and Ma`rifat `ulum al-hadith, Bayhaqi in al-Madkhal, Ibn Hajar in Hadi al-Sari (p. 488) and his Nukat (2:717-719), as well as al-Subki in the chapter of Bukhari in Tabaqat al-shafi`iyya, and Ibn al-Muqri’ (d. 381) in the introduction to his al-Rukhsa fi taqbil al-yad (Riyad ed. 1987).

  • Ibn Battal (d. 449): mustahabb — desirable. Related by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (1989 ed. 11:67).
  • Ghazali (d. 505): la ba’s. Ihya’ `Ulum ad-din (Kitab al-adab).
  • Nawawi (d. 676): mustahabb — desirable. Fatawa & Ibn Hajar’s Fath al-bari 11:67.
  • al-Zayla`i al-Hanafi (d. 742) in Tabyin al-haqaiq : sharh Kanz al-daqaiq (6:25) [a commentary on Nasafi (d. 709)] said: In [Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Shaybani’s] al-Jami` al-saghir: “It is disliked that the man kiss the mouth of another man, or his hand, or any other part of him, or that he hug him.” Tahawi said that this is the saying of Abu Hanifa and Muhammad while Abu Yusuf said: la ba’sa bi al-taqbil wa al-mu`anaqa: “There is no harm in kissing and hugging.” They said that the divergence is only insofar as they are unclothed other than with a lower garment: otherwise then there is no harm in it by consensus. That is what the Shaykh chose in his Mukhtasar, while Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi eliminated the discrepancy by saying that what is disliked is what is done for the purpose of pleasure (shahwa), while what is done out of piety (birr) and courtesy (ikram) then it is allowed (ja’iz). The Sun of Imams, al-Sarakhsi (d. 490) and some of the late authorities allowed the kissing of the scholar’s hand and that of the Godwary man (al-mutawarri`) for the purpose of deriving blessing (`ala sabil al-tabarruk)… and Sufyan al-Thawri said: Kissing the scholar’s or the just sultan’s hand is a Sunna.”
  • Hafiz al-Dhahabi (d. 748) writes in the compendium of his shaykhs entitled Mu`jam al-shuyukh (1:73) in the entry devoted to his shaykh Ahmad ibn `Abd al-Mun`im al-Qazwini (#58): “The Companions saw the Prophet with their very eyes when he was alive, enjoyed his presence directly, kissed his very hand, almost fought with each other over the remnants of his ablution water, shared his purified hair on the day of the greater Pilgrimage, and even if he spat it would virtually not fall except in someone’s hand so that he could pass it over his face…. Don’t you see what Thabit al-Bunani did when he kissed the hand of Anas ibn Malik and placed it on his face saying: “This is the hand that touched the hand of Allah’s Messenger”? Muslims are not moved to these matters except by their excessive love for the Prophet, as they are ordered to love Allah and the Prophet more than they love their own lives, their children, all human beings, their property, and Paradise and its maidens. There are even some believers that love Abu Bakr and `Umar more than themselves… Don’t you see that the Companions, in the excess of their love for the Prophet, askehim: “Should we not prostrate to you?” and he replied no, and if he had allowed them, they would have prostrated to him as a mark of utter veneration and respect, not as a mark of worship, just as the Prophet Yusuf’s brothers prostrated to Yusuf.” End of Dhahabi’s words in Mu`jam al-shuyukh al-kabir.
  • Ibn `Abidin al-Hanafi (d. 1252) said in Hashiyat radd al-muhtar `ala al-durr al-mukhtar (5:244-246): “There is no harm in kissing the scholar’s hand and that of the Godwary man for the purpose of deriving blessing, and it has been said that it is Sunna. Kissing the scholar’s and the Godwary man’s head is better… Kissing the hand of one’s friend upon meeting him is disliked by consensus. As for kissing the ground in front of the ulama or dignitaries it is forbidden (haram), and both the doer and the one who approves it commit a sin, because it resembles idol-worship.”
  • Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al- Bajuri al-Shafi`i (d. 1276) in his supercommentary on al-Ghazzi’s (d. 917) commentary on Abu Shuja` (Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Asfahani) entitled Hashiyat al-bajuri `ala sharh ibn al-qasim al-ghazzi `ala matn abi shuja` (2:116) said: “Kissing the righteous man’s hand, the scholar’s, and the ascetic, is Sunna, while kissing the hand of the rich or influential man is disliked. It is narrated: Whoever abases himself for a rich man because of his wealth, two thirds of his religion have left him.”

To conclude: Allah said: “Above every knowledgeable one there is one with more knowledge” (12:76). Respect for the people of knowledge in Islam, the `ulama and shaykhs, is based upon the recognition that they stand above us by virtue of their effort (ijtihad) and renunciation of worldly pursuits (zuhd) towards the acquisition of the Highest Knowledge (al-`ilm). The above verse shows that there are innumerable ranks and levels of knowledge in the sight of Allah.The divine warning for every individual to know his ignorance in relation to one more knowledgeable is uttered in the Qur’an in the form of a rhetorical question: “Are the knowledgeable equal with the ignorant?” (39:9) Of course they are not. Allah further addresses the ignorant by telling them to ask those who know: “Ask the People of Remembrance if you do not know” (16:43). One cannot ask sincerely and at the same time claim equal status with the one who knows, or grudge him respect under a false notion of egalitarianism. Respect for the people of knowledge is therefore of the foundation of religion, because knowledge is the foundation of religion, and has been handed down from the more knowledgeable to the less knowledgeable from the time of the Prophet when he gave it to the Companions.

Shaykhs and `ulama are the guardians of the Islamic knowledge of preceding generations. As such they should be respected and obeyed, and even cherished and venerated by Muslims as they have been traditionally in fourteen centuries of Islamic culture. Kissing their hand is but an elementary and ordinary outward sign of such ethics. Their fellowship should be sought, their advice heeded, and their du`a requested, because all three are ways of receiving mercy from Allah Most High. They should receive every mark of courtesy and every affordable service, for even a kind look towards a `alim’s face will receive its reward. It is the mark of the enemies of Islam, not of Muslims, to injure the honor and rank of the ulama or abolish it. Therefore those who scoff at the ranks or grades given by Allah to His ulama, and grudge them their extra respect, and consider them the same as ordinary people, are only injuring themselves and those who imitate them. And Allah knows best.


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