Regarding the Practice of Shaking Hands after Salah



The following fatwa was given by the Mufti of Egypt, scholar of the Shafi’i Madhhab, Shaykh ‘Ali Jumu’ah:


“In and of itself, shaking hands is unanimously considered a recommended act. An-Nawawi stated, “It is Sunnah upon meeting one another.”1. Ibn Battal said, “The majority of the scholars consider shaking hands to be a good act.”2 Scholars of various schools recommend shaking hands between men. They base their recommendation on the hadith narrated by Ka’ab ibn Malik (r), “I entered the masjid and the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu’alayhi wa sallam) was present. Talha ibn Ubaydullah got up and quickly approached me, taking me by the hand and congratulating me.”3 When Qatadah asked Anas [ibn Malik] “Was handshaking found amongst the companions of the Messenger of Allah?” He replied “Yes”.4 Furthermore it was narrated by Ata ibn Abi Muslim Abdullah Al Khurasani that the Messenger of God  (sallallahu’alayhi wa sallam)  said, “Shake hands with one another and hatred will vanish, exchange gifts and you will love one another and rancor will be known no more.”5

As for handshaking after prayer, none of the scholars have deemed it impermissible. According to their opinions it is a recommended act, and a praiseworthy innovation, if you greeted them before prayer then it is a neutrally permissible innovation. Imam An-Nawawi decisively ruled upon handshakes with his statement: “If you shake hands with someone you did not greet before prayer it is a praiseworthy innovation, if you greeted them before Salah then it is a neutrally permissible innovation.6

Al-Haskafi said, “Al-Timirtashi,in accordance with Al-Durr, Al Kanz, Al Wiqayah, Al-Niqayah, Al-Mujma, Al-Multaqi, and other works, ruled that shaking hands is permissible in all circumstances, even after afternoon prayer. By using the word innovation,they mean a praiseworthy innovation, as mentioned by An-Nawawi in his Adkar.”7 After mentioning the jurists of the Hanafi school who say handshaking is praiseworthy in all circumstances, Ibn ‘Abidin commented, “This ruling is in accordance with what the commentator mentioned in regards to the school’s texts, andhe has used the generality of the reports regarding the religious sanctioning of handshaking as textual proof.”8

Other scholars say that handshaking after prayer is praiseworthy in all circumstances. Al-Tabari based his opinion on the hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari and Ahmad recounting the words of Abu Juhayfa, “The Messenger of God  (sallallahu’alayhi wa sallam)  came out in midday to the city square, where he made ablution, and then prayed the noon prayer in two cycles and the afternoon prayer in two units. In front of him there was a spear before which the women would pass. The people rose and went to him to take his hand, wiping their faces with it. So I took his hand and placed it on my face and it was colder than ice, and more radiant than musk.” [Sahih Al Bukhari 3:1304] According to Al-Tabari, when their actions are coupled with good intentions, people seek solace in the shaking of hands after prayer, especially the afternoon and sunset prayers.

Al-’Izz ibn Abdus-Salam, who divided innovation into five categories: mandatory, prohibited, reprehensible, recommended, and neutrally permissible, said, “An example of a neutrally permissible innovation is the shaking of hands after morning and afternoon prayers.”9

In the words of An-Nawawi, “Regarding the common practice of handshaking after morning and afternoon prayers, Shaykh Ibn Abdus-Salam called it a neutrally permissible innovation that cannot be described with any reprehensibility or recommendation. What he has stated is fine, the preferred opinion is that if one shakes hands with one known to him before meeting for salah, it is neutrally permissible, but if one shakes hands with one whom he was not acquainted with before salah, it is recommended, since shaking hands upon meeting is a Sunnah by consensus, due to the authentic hadiths narrated on the subject.”10

From the above body of evidence it is clear that critics of shaking hands before or after prayer, either have no knowledge of the texts we have mentioned, or are not on the path of knowledge to begin with. God is Most High and Knows best!

Taken from:  ”Responding from the Tradition: One Hundred Contemporary Fatwas by the Grand Mufti of Egypt” published by Fons Vitae. [pages 265-267]

  1. Fat-hul-Bari 11:55 of Ibn Hajr Al Asqalani []
  2. Ibid. and Al Mubarakfuri in Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 7:426 []
  3. Musnad Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Sahih Al Bukhari, and Sahih Muslim []
  4. Sahih Al Bukhari and Ibn Hibban []
  5. Muwatta’ of Imam Malik 2:908, []
  6. An-Nawawi, Majmu’ 3:469-470 []
  7. Al-Haskafi, Al-Durr Al-Mukhtar, 6:380 []
  8. Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd Al-Muhtar ‘ala Al-Dur Al Muhtar, 6:381 []
  9. Qawa’id Al Ahkaam fi Masalih Al-Anam, 2:205 []
  10. Al-Majmu’, 3:469-70 []