Is It Sinful to Eat With the Left Hand? (Maliki)

Answered by Saira AbuBakr

Question: Assalamu alaikum. If someone is left-handed and eats with the left hand is it a sin?

Answer: May Allah reward you for your question.

In the Maliki school it is not considered sinful to eat with the left hand. However it is a sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, peace and prayers upon him, to eat and drink with the right hand. This is true for both left and right-handed people. Leaving a sunnah is discouraged (makruh).

There is no harm in writing with the left-hand. Traditionally scholars would not discourage children from writing with the left hand.

In general, actions that are considered significant in the religion should be carried out with the right hand. This is especially true if these actions have been mentioned in prophetic narrations (narrations) as praiseworthy.

In the Risalah of Imam Ibn Abi Zayd al Qayrawani the author mentions the following:

If you (intend to) eat and drink then it is required (a confirmed sunnah) to say Bismillah and to take (what you will be eating or drinking) with the right hand (also a confirmed sunnah). When you have finished (eating or drinking) then say, ” Alhamdulillah” (silently). It is recommended to lick the fingers (but not by putting them all the way into the mouth) before you wipe your hands.

One of the etiquettes of eating is leaving one-third of your stomach for food, one-third for drink and one-third for breathing (i.e. empty). If you eat with another person (from the same plate) then take from what is immediately in front of you and do not take another morsel until you are done with the previous one. Don’t breathe in the glass (vessel) when you drink. (Taken from: Chapter on the Etiquettes of Eating and Drinking).

It is important to note:

A confirmed sunnah is an act the Messenger of Allah, peace and prayers be upon him, would do on a consistent basis and rarely leave. There is great reward associated with a sunnah act. It is discouraged to leave it (but not sinful). That is the basic ruling.

However, one of the greatest ways to get close to the Messenger of Allah, peace and prayers upon him, is to follow his practices.

The Messenger of Allah is reported to have said: “A person is with the one he loves.”

Saira AbuBakr

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Rami Nsour