Is it Sunnah to Wash the Hands before and after Eating?

عَنْ سَلْمَانَ قَالَ قَرَأْتُ فِى التَّوْرَاةِ أَنَّ بَرَكَةَ الطَّعَامِ الْوُضُوءُ قَبْلَهُ فَذَكَرْتُ ذَلِكَ لِلنَّبِىِّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَقَالَ « بَرَكَةُ الطَّعَامِ الْوُضُوءُ قَبْلَهُ وَالْوُضُوءُ بَعْدَهُ ». وَكَانَ سُفْيَانُ يَكْرَهُ الْوُضُوءَ قَبْلَ الطَّعَامِ.

It was narrated that Salman said: “I read in the Torah that the blessing of  food is in Wudu’ before it. I mentioned that to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and he said: “The blessing of food is in the Wudu before it and after it.


Collected by Abu Dawud (3761), At-Tirmithi (1/ 329) Al-Baghawee ( 3/187), Al-Hakim ( 4/ 106) Ahmed (5/441) and others by way  of Qays ibn Rab’ee.

Benefits for this topic:

1. Wudu here in the Hadeeth is referring to washing the hands. Abu Dawud titled a chapter in his Sunnan, “Washing the Hands before Eating”. Also Al-Bayhaqi, Abu Bakr Al-Marwathee, At-Tirmith all consider the word Wudu in this hadeeth to refer to washing the hands.

2. Abu Dawud, At-Tirmithi and Al-Albani have graded this hadeeth as being weak

3. Ibn Taymeeyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The scholars differ if washing the hands before eating is disliked or recommended. There are two sayings about this issue in the Hanbali school of thought. The people who say its recommended base their view on the hadeeth narrated from Salman. He narrated that he told the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) , he read in Torah that the blessing of food is in Wudu’ before it. , ”

The scholars who hold it to be disliked base their opinion that washing the hands goes against the Sunnah of the Muslims. The Muslims don’t wash their hands before eating, but rather this is the act of the Jews. Hence it’s disliked to resemble them in their actions.

The hadeeth from Salman is unauthentic. Some of the ulema have graded it as being weak. It’s also said that this act was done earlier in Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to like to do acts of worship that the people of the book used to do, so long as it wasn’t commanded for the Muslims. [ Majmu’ Fatawa 22/ 319]

4. Sufyan, Malik ibn Anas , and Imam Ash-Shafa’i  disliked washing the hands before eating.

5. Shaykh Al-Albani (may Allah rest him in Jannah) said, “If the hands aren’t dirty then there is no need to wash them, otherwise you can wash them. Washing the hands in this state isn’t an act of worship [ Silsilatu Dha’eefah 168]

Allah the Most high knows best

Translated and prepared by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Doha, Qatar 1431 ©

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