The Sunnah is to say to the one who sneezes, âYarhamuk Allah (may Allah have mercy on you)â if he sneezes and praises Allah (by saying âal-hamdu lillah (praise be to Allahâ). If he does not praise Allah, then one should not say âYarhamuk Allahâ to him.
Al-Bukhaari (6221) and Muslim (2991) narrated that Anas ibn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Two men sneezed in the presence of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and he said âYarhamuk Allahâ to one of them and not to the other. He was asked about that and he said: âThis one praised Allah and that one did not praise Allah.â
And Muslim (2992) narrated that Abu Moosa (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: âWhen one of you sneezes and praises Allaah, then say Yarhamuk Allaah to him, but if he does not praise Allaah, then do not say it to him.â End quote.
Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
This is a clear instruction to say âYarhamuk Allahâ if the one who sneezes praises Allah, and clearly forbids doing so if he does not praise Him. End quote.
if a non-Muslim sneezes and praises Allah, one should not say to him, âYarhamuk Allah (may Allah have mercy on you)â; rather one should say to him: âYahdeekum Allahu wa yuslih baalakum (may Allah guide you and set your affairs straight),â because of the reports narrated by Abu Dawood (5038), and by al-Tirmidhi (2739) who classed it as saheeh, from Abu Moosa (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: The Jews used to sneeze in the presence of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) hoping that he would say to them, âMay Allaah have mercy on you,â but he used to say: âMay Allaah guide you and set your affairs straight.â.
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Al-Haafiz (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Fath (10/604):
The hadeeth of Abu Moosa indicates that they are included in the general command to pray for the one who sneezes, but there is a special prayer for them, which is the prayer that they be guided and their affairs set straight. There is nothing wrong with that, and it is different from the prayer for Muslims, for they are the ones for whom mercy should be sought, unlike the kuffaar. End quote.
If a Muslim sneezes and praises Allah, it is the same whether someone prays for mercy for him or not, whether he is alone or is in a gathering of people. It is not prescribed for him to pray for mercy for himself (in this situation); rather he should praise Allah only (by saying âal-hamdu Lillahâ).
Praying for mercy for oneself after saying âal-hamdu lillahâ is not narrated in the Sunnah and it is not narrated from any of the Sahaabah as far as we know.
Al-Bukhaari and Muslim (1718) narrated that âAaâishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: âWhoever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not part of it will have it rejected.â
If this is what was prescribed, the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) would have stated that, especially when there is a need to know the ruling concerning the matter.
And Allah knows best.