Is it sunnah to enter a place with the right foot and exit with the left foot, to start doing things from the right? Will you show the resources regarding the issue?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to a narration of Hz. Hafsa, one of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh), the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used his right hand to eat, drink, make wudu and wear his clothes, give and take something; he would use his left hand to do other things. (Musnad, 6/287; Abu Dawud, Taharah, 18)

Hz. Aisha, one of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) said,

"The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used his right hand to clean himself, eat and drink. He used his left hand to clean his private parts and to do other disturbing things." (Musnad, 6/156; Abu Dawud, Taharah, 18)

Suraqa b. Malik b. Ju'shum came and said, "The Messenger of Allah taught us this and that." Somebody who was there made fun of him and asked, "Does he also teach you how to go to toilet?" Thereupon, Suraka b. Malik said, "Yes, I swear by Allah who sent him as the true prophet that he ordered us to lean to the left side on the toilet and to hold the right foot straight." (Tabarani, al-Mu'jamul-Kabir, VII, 136; Majmauz-Zawaid, I, 206)

When the narrations are taken into consideration, it is understood that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used his right hand to do certain deeds and his left hand to do other deeds. (see Musnad, 6/287; Abu Dawud, Libas, 44)

According to the narrations above and similar ones,

It is mustahab to use the right hand (foot, etc.) to wear clothes, hats and khuffs, to enter the mosque, to use miswak, to apply kohl, to trim nails, to shorten the mustache, to comb hair, to shave under the arms, to cut hair, to salute at the end of the prayer, to wash the organs in wudu, to exit the toilet, to eat, to drink, to shake hands, to greet hajar al-aswad and to do similar deeds; it is mustahab to use the left hand (foot, etc.) to enter the toilet, to exit the mosque, to blow one’s nose, to clean one’s private parts, to take off clothes, hats and khuffs.

It is determined as mustahab to use the left foot to enter the toilet and the right foot to exit the toilet.

It will be useful to differentiate between starting with the right and using the right hand. It is sunnah to start with the right in many deeds but, while continuing a deed, it is permissible to use the left hand or foot when it is necessary. For instance, one starts to wear his shoes beginning with the right shoe but he wears his left shoe after that. One starts to make wudu with the right side but he washes the left side after that. The left side is not ignored.

It is sunnah to use the right hand all the time only in eating and drinking. It is permissible to use the hand that is more skilled in other deeds including writing after starting with the right. Thus, it is sunnah to clean one’s private parts with the left hand and to start with right side in all other deeds and to use the right hand while eating and drinking. However, a person who does not do so is not regarded to have committed a sin. 

"Allah likes it when one starts everything with the right including putting on and taking off shoes." (Bukhari, Wudu', 31)

To start wudu with the right side:

Narrator: Ibn Abbas

"Ali entered upon me after he passed water. He wanted water for wudu. We brought to him a vessel containing water. He said to me,   

"O Ibn Abbas! Shall I show you how the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) made wudu?" I said,

"Yes, please!"

Thereupon, he inclined the vessel toward his hands and washed his hands. He then put his right hand in the vessel and poured water over the other hand and washed his both palms. He then rinsed his mouth and snuffed up water. He then put both of his hands together in the water and took out a handful of water and threw it upon the face. He then inserted both of his thumbs in the front part of the ears. He did like that twice and thrice. He then took a handful of water and poured it over his forehead and left it running down his face. He then washed his forearms up to the elbow three times. He then wiped his head and the back of his ears. He then put both of his hands together in the water and took a handful of it and threw it on his right foot, which was in a shoe. Then, he did the same thing with his other (left) foot. (Abdullah al-Hawlani) says, "I asked Ibn Abbas:  

"Did he wash his feet while they were in the shoes?" He replied:

"Yes, while they were in the shoes." I asked again:

"In the shoes?"

"Yes, in the shoes." I asked again:

"In the shoes?" He replied:

"Yes, in the shoes." (The following is stated in another narration of Nasai:)

"...Then, he rinsed his mouth and snuffed up with a handful of water three times." [Abu Dawud, Taharah 50, (117); Nasai, Taharah 76, (1, 68)]

Eating with the right hand:

Narrator: Umar Ibn Abi Salama.

I was a child educated by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Once, I was eating by putting my hand all around the plate. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) warned me as follows:

"Boy! Mention Allah's name, eat with your right hand and eat from the part of the plate in front of you."

After that, I always ate like that. [Bukhari, At'ima 2, 3; Muslim, Ashriba 108, (2022); Muwatta, Sifatun-Nabiyy 32, (2, 934); Abu Dawud, At'ima 20, (3777); Tirmidhi, At'ima 47, (1858)]

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