Assalamualaikum ustaz. Is it true that it is impermissible for us to recite Alhamdulillah more than three times when we sneeze? Isn’t it the sunnah of the Prophet PBU to recite Alhamdulillah everytime he sneezes? Hope for an explanation from you. Thank you.
Waalaikumussalam w.b.t. Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Islam is a religion which emphasizes the importance of everything in our lives from the smallest to the greatest of matters. According to the above presented question, sneezing is a form of blessing that happens naturally to every human being.
Furthermore, Allah SWT loves those who sneezes, for sneezing would remove an illness or disease from his body. This is as stated in a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, he said the Prophet PBUH said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْعُطَاسَ وَيَكْرَهُ التَّثَاؤُبَ
“Allah loves sneezing but dislikes yawning,”
Sahih al-Bukhari (6226)
Imam Ibnu Hajar cited the opinion of Khattabi which state that the meaning that Allah SWT loves those who sneezes because sneezing would lighten the body and open the pores. (See Fath al-Bari li Ibnu Hajar, 10/607)
Furthermore, the encouragement of the Prophet PBUH to a person who sneezes to recite the tasymit and tahmid as a sign of gratefulness to Allah SWT. The same for the opposite, for those who hear this recitation, he is encouraged to recite tasymit and pray for goodness for the person who sneezes.
This is encouraged in a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا عَطَسَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ. وَلْيَقُلْ لَهُ أَخُوهُ أَوْ صَاحِبُهُ يَرْحَمُكَ اللَّهُ. فَإِذَا قَالَ لَهُ يَرْحَمُكَ اللَّهُ. فَلْيَقُلْ يَهْدِيكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيُصْلِحُ بَالَكُمْ
"If anyone of you sneezes, he should say 'Al-Hamduli l-lah' (Praise be to Allah), and his (Muslim) brother or companion should say to him, 'Yar-hamuka-l-lah' (May Allah bestow his Mercy on you). When the latter says 'Yar-hamuka-llah", the former should say, 'Yahdikumul-lah wa Yuslih balakum' (May Allah give you guidance and improve your condition).
Sahih al-Bukhari (6224)
Furthermore, in another narration by Abu Ayyub, the Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا عَطَسَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ وَلْيَقُلِ الَّذِي يَرُدُّ عَلَيْهِ يَرْحَمُكَ اللَّهُ وَلْيَقُلْ هُوَ يَهْدِيكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيُصْلِحُ بَالَكُم
"When one of you sneezes let him say: 'Al-Hamdulillahi 'Ala Kulli Hal (All praise is due to Allah in every circumstance).' And let the one replying to him say: "Yarhamukallah (May Allah have mercy upon you).' And let him say to him: 'Yahdikumullah Wa Yuslihu Balakum (May Allah guide you and rectify your affairs).'"
Sunan al-Tirmizi (2960)
It is clear that the prophet PBUH encourages his ummah to be mindful of the manners when sneezing by reciting tahmid and for those who hears this to recite tasymit which is to supplicate for goodness on him.
Imam Ibnu Hajar cited the opinion of Imam al-Nawawi saying that scholars have agreed that it is sunnah to recite tahmid as stated by Ibnu Battal and others without the addition of the word Alhamdulillah as stated in the hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA. (See Fath al-Bari li Ibnu Hajar, 10/600)
In another hadith, the Prophet PBUH taught a person who sneezes to recite tashmit if he sneezes for more than three times. And if it exceeds three times the Prophet PBUH encourages us to supplicate for the person being cured from illness. The hadith narrated by Ilyas bin Salamah from his father, the Prophet PBUH said:
يُشَمَّتُ الْعَاطِسُ ثَلاَثًا فَمَا زَادَ فَهُوَ مَزْكُومٌ
“The one who sneezes may be responded to three times; if he sneezes more than that, he has a cold.”
Sunan Ibnu Majah (3714)
In al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah reciting tasymit literally means supplicating for goodness and barakah. And every supplication of a person for good is considered as tasymit.
Ibnu Daqiq al-A’id said, for some Syafi’iyyah scholars, the recitation of al-Tasymit is repeated if a person sneezes multiple times, unless it is known that he has a cold, then a person should supplicate for him to be cured from the disease. And it is understood that the commandment of reciting tasymit is abrogated if a person sneezes because of a cold. (See al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 12/25-32; Fath al-Bari, 10/606)
Likewise, the prophet PBUH also advises his ummah to cover their mouths with their hands or a cloth as well as turning away from people or food when sneezing. This is to prevent the infection of diseases to others. Furthermore, he should also lower his voice when sneezing as to not disturb others near him.
In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA:
أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ إِذَا عَطَسَ غَطَّى وَجْهَهُ بِيَدِهِ أَوْ بِثَوْبِهِ وَغَضَّ بِهَا صَوْتَهُ
“When the Prophet (ﷺ) would sneeze, he would cover his face with his hand or with his garment, and muffle the sound with it.”
Sunan al-Tirmizi (2745)
In Faid al-Qadir the author cited the opinion of al-Turibishti who said that this is one of the manners for a person who sneezes when there are others around him. When a person sneezes, this would cause discomfort to others who hear or see it. (See Faid al-Qadir, 5/149)
According to the above question and discussion, we would summarize that sneezing is a blessing of Allah SWT for His creations. Thus, Islam taught its ummah to be mindful of the etiquette and manners of sneezing as has been taught by the Prophet PBUH. Hence, in short, if a person sneezes, it is advised to do the following:
- The person who sneezes should recite tahmid which is by reciting Alhamdulillah or Alhamdulillahi ala kulli hal.
- The person who hears another person sneezing and reciting tahmid should answer with
- Afterwards, the person who sneezes should respond with Yahdikumullah wa yuslih baalkum.
- If the person sneezes for more than three times, then the person who hears this should supplicate for health and cure for him.
- A person who sneezes should cover his mouth and turn away from others and food when he is sneezing.
Other articles regarding sneezing that you can refer to:
- AL-KAFI #671: IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO RECITE TAHMID IF A PERSON SNEEZES IN PRAYER?
- AL-KAFI #1470: THE RULING OF RECITING ALHAMDULILLAH AFTER A PERSON SNEEZES DURING THE FRIDAY SERMON
- IRYAD AL-HADITH SERIES 158: RESPONDING TO NON-MUSLIMS WHEN THEY SNEEZES
May Allah SWT give us a sahih understanding in His religion and guide us to obey His commandments.