Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

Is it sinful to eat with the left hand?

One of our children is left-handed and he finds it very difficult to eat, and perform other functions, with the right hand.

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

No, it is not sinful to eat or drink with the left hand. Rather, it is contrary to what is superior, recommended, and the way of Islam, as instructed to us by our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), because the right hand is used for noble matters.

A man ate with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) using his left hand, and he (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Eat with your right hand.” He said, “I cannot.” He (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Then you cannot.” Only pride had stopped him and he could not raise it to his mouth. [Muslim]

This is explained by the scholars to be a command of recommendation and propriety, and not of necessity as understood from Imam Nawawi’s comments in Sharh Sahih Muslim and elsewhere. As for the supplication made against him, it was due to his dishonesty, arrogance and acting contrary to the prophetic sunna and command.

In any case, there is no disapproval or impropriety in eating with the left when there is a need to do so due to some kind of inability, such as injury. Moreover, there is also no harm in assisting with the left hand as we have prophetic precedence in this.

Nevertheless, gentle encouragements towards the good will help, as well as the realisation that children (and adults) can be trained to use a different hand to do something. Ask Allah Most High for facilitation, and show him how to eat in a manner which is in greater correspondence to the sunna.

Please also see: What Are Some of the Sunnahs of Eating? and: Riyad al-Salihin: Book on the Adab Related to Food and: Is It Sinful to Eat With the Left Hand? (Maliki)

[Ibn `Allan, Dalil al-Falihin; Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih; Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha]

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: FrankGuido

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