Islam 101: Why We Use the Right Hand

As a new revert, learning and adapting Islamic practices can seem overwhelming. I have created this series, so that I may address the little details of being a Muslim that may come as second nature to most people born into Islam. The answers presented in these articles will be based on the Quran and Hadith, not opinion, and will be short and sweet, insha’Allah.

Assalaamu Alaikum!

Today, I want to talk about why Muslims only eat and drink with their right hand. It’s as simple as this:

The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said: β€œNo one among you should eat with his left hand or drink with it, for the shaytaan eats with his left hand and drinks with it.”

The right hand in Islam is seen as the more honoured and pure hand. It is used for purification (we start on the right side when cleansing ourselves), eating, drinking, shaking hands, putting on clothes, entering the masjid (mosque), and giving/receiving money/gifts, etc. The left hand is the one we use for cleaning ourselves after going to the toilet, amongst other things. While we obviously cleanse ourselves thoroughly, as it is required, the left hand is still seen as inappropriate to use for “clean” tasks. You can find a more in depth explanation and more Hadith to support this practice here and here.

It can be tricky to remember to do this if you are left-handed or simply that you’ve been using both hands to eat with your entire life. It takes practice, but eventually you’ll catch on and it will become second-nature. We should strive to do this because it has been commanded, but also because it is common sense. Using one hand exclusively for eating (also shaking hands and giving gifts) and the other exclusively for doing tasks considered “unclean” is an effective way to avoid spreading germs and maintain cleanliness.

I hope this article was helpful to you and look forward to the next topic in this little series, insha’Allah.

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