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Offering and accepting things with the left hand

Published: 27/08/2011 09:31:00 PM GMT
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What is the ruling of serving food to someone with your left hand? Is it forbidden, disliked, or allowed? We had a situation at our mosque where an individual refused to eat food that was given to him because the server gave him the food with his left hand. In fact, this individual has said, in front of others, that he will refuse any food given to him by this server, because the server habitually offers things with the left

Answered by

the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

It is not forbidden to hand a person something with one's left hand. There is no sin in doing so. This is merely a question of etiquette.

With respect to the food that we give to others, touching it directly with the left hand is improper, since we are emphatically supposed to give preference to our right hands when eating. If follows from this that we should not directly handle pieces of food we offer to others using our left hands. However, holding a container, tray or platter in the left hand is not a problem.

Be that as it may, it is best to give preference to the right hand in all clean actions. `A’ishah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to like to start with the right side when putting on his sandals, combing his hair, engaging in his ritual purifications, and in all of his activities. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

There is certainly nothing wrong with accepting something from someone else who offers it to us with his or her left hand. Depending on the situation and people involved, it might be offensive to refuse, especially when dealing with people from other cultures and faiths.

Indeed, even in matters as serious as our ritual purification, starting with the right is not obligatory. Scholars agree that starting with the right side in wudû’ and in ghusl is merely a Sunnah act and that it is not obligatory. Al-Nawawî declares it to be a matter of consensus in al-Majmû` (1/383).

Likewise, Ibn `Abd al-Barr says in al-Istidhkâr (2/21): “There is unanimous agreement that someone who washes his left hand before his right does not have to repeat his ablutions.” The same is said by Ibn al-Mundhir in al-Awsat and Ibn Qudâmah in al-Mughnî.

If this is the case with our purification for prayers, it is certainly the case for receiving things from people that they might offer to us with their left hands.

At the same time, if a Muslim knows that certain people take offense by having things offered to them by the left hand, then it is wrong for that Muslim to persist in offering things to them with his or her left hand. A Muslim should always exhibit impeccable manners and respect the customs and sensitivities of others.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today




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