How a Muslim should shake hands

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What is the proper manner according to the Sunnah of shaking hands when greeting someone? Should one hand or both hands be used? I heard that there is a hadith in Sahîh al-Bukhârî that both hands should be used. Is it wrong or an innovation to opt for the customary way of shaking hands found in one’s culture when that way differs from the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him)?

(by the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî)

Shaking hands is a Sunnah. However it is not a formal act of worship like prayer and fasting that must be performed in a specific way. Therefore, the question of innovation does not come into play here. We believe that the manner of shaking hands is something to be done according to customs of the people.

It is well-known that in some eastern societies, when someone uses two hands in welcoming his counterpart, it is an indication of affection towards him. In some parts of the Arab world, it is customary to greet a person by placing the left hand on the other person’s elbow when shaking his hand. In parts of the Sudan, it is the custom to first place one’s hand on his counterpart’s shoulder before taking his hand.

The important thing is to greet your brother with “salâm” and to shake his hand.

Al-Bukhârî has a chapter in his Sahîh entited “The Chapter of Shaking Hands” in which he records the following hadîth:


Ka`b b. Mâlik narrates: “I entered the mosque and thereupon I found Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). Then Talhah b. `Ubayd Allah stood up and rushed over to me to shake my hand and greet me.”

Qatadah narrates that he asked Anas: “Had the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) been in the custom of shaking hands?” and that Anas told him that they were. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6263)]

Right after this chapter on shaking hands, al-Bukhârî comes with another chapter entitled “The Chapter of Clasping with Two Hands”. At least, this is how the chapter heading is given in most editions of Sahîh al-Bukhârî. In some editions it reads: “The Chapter of Clasping with the Hand”.

Under this chapter heading, there is only a single narration that pertains to the issue of handshaking. It states that Hamâd b. Zayd shook Ibn al-Mubârak’s hand by taking it with his two hands.

Al-Bukhârî does not mention under this chapter heading any hadîth attributed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) about shaking hands.

How a Muslim should shake hands