What is the decree about eating with the left hand? How did the incident in which the Prophet (pbuh) damned a person who ate with his left hand take place and what is the wisdom behind it?

Details of the Question

- How did the incident in which the Prophet (pbuh) damned a person who ate with his left hand take place and what is the wisdom behind it?
- Is that damning valid for everybody who eats with the left hand?
- Is eating with the left hand without any obligation and due to simple reasons like being in a hurry regarded as opposition to the Sunnah?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is not haram to eat with the left hand. However, a person who does so does not act in accordance with the manners of eating of the Prophet (pbuh) and is deprived of thawabs. Therefore, it is necessary to get used to eating with the right hand.

All states of the Prophet (pbuh) are wonderful. We sometimes see so much wisdom and mercy behind his states that seem contrary to mind when we search. The questions you ask can be evaluated based on the same criteria.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sees somebody eating with his left hand. He says,

"Eat with your right hand." The man says,

"I cannot eat with my right hand." The Messenger of Allah damns him by saying,

"You will not be able to raise it.” After that, the man could not raise his left hand. (Muslim, Ashriba: 107, no. 2021; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, 8:152; Qadi Iyad, ash-Shifa, 1:328-329; Ali al-Qari, Sharhush-Shifa, 1:666.)

A punishment for lying is in question here. For, the Prophet (pbuh) ordered that person by saying, “Eat with your right hand”. That person said, “I cannot eat with my right hand” though he could. There are several wise and compassionate outcomes of the Prophet’s statement, “You will not be able to raise it” against this disrespectful and dishonest attitude:

1. Telling a lie is not a good thing and it causes man to be punished.  

2. That the person is punished in this world instead of the hereafter is actually a prayer for him, not damnation.

Questions on Islam

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