How are nails cut in accordance with the Sunnah? What are the manners of cutting nails?

The Details of the Question

How are nails cut in accordance with the Sunnah? What are the manners of cutting nails?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Nails, which are the thin, hard layers covering the outer tips of the fingers and toes protecting the fingers and toes from external effects, get long in time. Cutting the parts that get long is one of the sunnahs that are the necessities of being humans. Hz. Prophet (pbuh) stated that one of the five kinds of cleanliness of human nature is cutting the nails.

«There are five things that are the necessities of human nature: To be circumcised, to remove the pubic hair, to cut the nails, to remove the underarm hair and to shorten the mustache.» (Muslim, Taharah, 49)

When nails get long, dirty things and microbes enter between the flesh and the nails. Especially the fingers touch almost all parts of the body and the mouth while eating, infecting the body with microbes. Cutting the nails is very important in terms of preventive medicine. It is necessary for the water to touch under the nails (the parts of the nails that get long) while making wudu and ghusl. Since they are full of dirt, water will not reach those parts, causing wudu and ghusl to be incomplete. It is wrong and contrary to the sunnah to lengthen the nails with the purpose of beauty even if one keeps them clean.

To cut nails is forbidden only when one is in ihram during hajj or umrah; they can be cut any time except when one is in ihram. There are some wrong beliefs among people that it is not permissible to cut nails at certain times, for instance, at night. This belief originated from the times when there was no electricity since the pieces of cut nail could not be seen at night; it can be valid when it is dark and there is no electricity. However, today, when electricity is widely used, there is no drawback to cutting nails at night. The pieces of cut nails should not be left around; they should be removed properly.   


Can fingernails and toenails be cut at the same time? Are there any days determined for cutting nails?

They can be cut at the same time. There is no definite day for cutting nails. They can be cut when it is necessary, when they are long. It is regarded mustahab to start cutting the fingernails first and the toenails after that, to start cutting the nail of the right index finger first followed by the fingers on its right, then starting the left hand from the little finger ending with the right thumb forming a circle when palms face each other, then starting from the little toe of the right foot ending with the little toe of the left. (Khattab as-Subki, al-Manhal, I/189) That is what Ghazali says.

There are different views regarding the issue.The most appropriate one is to cut the nails once a week. There is no drawback to cutting them every two weeks. It is makruh tahrimi to postpone cutting the nails to forty days.

It is mustahab to cut the nails on Friday (especially for men who go to mosque) if they do not get too long up to that day.The following is stated in Fatawayi Qadihan regarding the issue:

"If a man determines Friday for cutting his nails or having a haircut though he accepts that it is permissible to cut them on other days and waits for Friday for cutting his nails though they are very long, it becomes makruh. For, he who has long nails will have little sustenance. If they do not get very long until Friday and if he waits until Friday by obeying the advice in the hadith, it becomes mustahab. For, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following according to the narration of Hz. Aisha,

"If a person cuts his nails on Friday, Allah will protect him from troubles till next Friday and three days more." [Qadihan (Hindiyya, marginal notes) NI/411; Hindiyya V/358.  For similar hadiths, see al-Hindi, Kanzu'l-Ummal VI/656 659].

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