What is the proper method of embracing someone upon greeting him, as established by the Sunnah of our Prophet (peace be upon him)? Does it include the bringing of one’s cheek to the other’s as is practiced now in Central Arabia?
Sheikh Hânî al-Jubayr, judge at the Jeddah Supreme Court
The word for the embrace mentioned in the Sunnah is mu`ânaqah. Looking at the word itself, we can see that it comes from the same root word as the word `unuq, meaning "neck". As this word implies, this embrace entails bringing the other person close to oneself and placing one’s hand on the other’s neck.
No doubt, an embrace can be done in this manner and in many other different ways. I have come across no evidence indicating the exact form that an embrace of greeting took during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
However, this practice is not a formal act of worship that must be done in a specific form and that can never be altered or modified. Rather, one’s matter of embracing is something that must be referred back to the norms and customs of the people. Whatever is accepted by the culture as a proper embrace to indicate a more emphatic, sincere, and warmer than usual greeting, will be an embrace of greeting that fulfills the purpose of such an embrace.
I do not consider there to be any benefit in giving extra concern to defining a matter that Islamic Law has not shown any concern to define. This will not contribute anything useful to our body of Islamic knowledge. If the exact manner of embracing was of importance, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have described it to us in detail and encouraged us to put it into practice.
And Allah knows best.
Source: Islam Today
-- Al Arabiya Digital