Thursday, August 2, 2012

Brief Comments on Riyaadh al-Saaliheen #35

Etiquette of yawning

بـسـم الله والحـمـد لله والـصلاة والـسـلام عــلى رسـول الله، وبـعـد

[Sharh Riyaadh al-Saaliheen (4/439-440) of Shaikh al-`Uthaymeen رحمه الله]

Narrated Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه: The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “Allaah likes sneezing and dislikes yawning, so if someone sneezes and then praises Allaah (by saying: al-Hamdulillaah), then it is obligatory on every Muslim who heard him, to say:

يرحمك الله
May Allaah be merciful to you.

But as regards yawning, it is from Shaitaan, so one must try one's best to stop it, if one says 'Ha' when yawning, Satan will laugh at him.” [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (6223, 6226)]

Shaikh al-`Uthaymeen رحمه الله said:

And as for yawning, then it is from Shaitaan and that is why Allaah dislikes it. Why? Because yawning is an indication of laziness (slothfulness) and that is why the yawning increases when a person is sleepy which shows the person’s disinclination (to continue further) and this is why Allaah dislikes it.

So when a person yawns, the first thing he should do is try to stop it, i.e. by suppressing it. The scholars have said that when you want to suppress it, you should bite your lower lip, not that you bite it severely to hurt it, but bite it only to the extent that your mouth does not open. The most important is that you stop it, either by this method or other than it, and if you fail to suppress it (this way) then you should place your hand over your mouth. [1]

And what some of the scholars - Allaah have mercy on them - have mentioned about that you should place the back of the hand over the mouth; then there is no basis for this. Rather one should place the inside of his hand (the palm) over his mouth to block it (completely).

The reason for this is that when a person yawns, the Shaitaan laughs at him, because the Shaitaan knows that this is the sign of the person’s slothfulness and slackness. Shaitaan loves that the son of Aadam be lazy and slack - we seek Allaah’s refuge for us and for you from this - and he hates the person who is active, hardworking and is always full of energy. So when you feel a yawn coming, you should try to suppress it and stop it, and this is the Sunnah, and this is better, but if you fail to stop it, then place the hand over the mouth.

But should one say:

أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم
(A`oodhu billaahi min al-shaitaan al-rajeem)
I seek refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaitaan?

No, because nothing such is reported from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم taught us what to do when there is a yawn coming, but he did not inform us to say such and such. Rather he صلى الله عليه وسلم said to stop it or to cover the mouth with the hand, but he did not instruct us to say: “A`oodhu billaahi min al-shaitaan al-rajeem”. And what has become famous with some of the people is that when they yawn they say: “A`oodhu billaahi min al-shaitaan al-rajeem”, this has no basis. Acts of `Ibaadah are based on the Sharee`ah and not on desires.

Some people said: “Does not Allaah says:

{وإما ينزغنك من الشيطان نزغ فاستعذ بالله إنه سميع عليم}
{And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaitaan then seek refuge with Allaah. Verily, He is All-Hearer, All-Knower} [Surah al-A`raaf (7): 200]

And the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said that the yawning is from Shaitaan, so isn’t this evil?”

We say: No, you have misunderstood the Verse. The Verse means, the inclination to do evil or to leave of the Obligatory (acts of `Ibaadah), this is all evil suggestion from Shaitaan, as Allaah تعالى said in this verse, Shaitaan wants to tempt them towards evil. So Shaitaan’s temptation is to draw people towards sins and discourage them from righteousness, so if you feel such temptations then say: “A`oodhu billaahi min al-shaitaan al-rajeem”. But as for yawning, then the practical Sunnah in this is to suppress it as much as possible and if one is unable to, then to place the hand over the mouth.


[1] The Hadeeth on placing the hand over the mouth when yawning:

Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه reported that Allaah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “Sneezing is from Allaah and yawning is from the devil. So when one of you yawns, let him put his hand over his mouth; but when he says, ‘Ah, ah,’ the devil laughs from inside his mouth. And Allaah likes the sneeze but dislikes yawning. When a man who yawns says, ‘Ah, ah,’ the devil laughs inside his mouth.” [Tirmidhee (2746) and graded as “Hasan-Saheeh” by Shaikh al-Albaanee]


  1. Salam alaikum,

    Again me - seems to become a habit hugh!

    As far as I have read one says A`oodhu billaahi min al-shaitaan al-rajeem in case one forgets to put the hand infront of the mouth or in case one does not ave the time to do so on time, because the yawn is so sudden and then the Shaitan can enter the person, which is also stated in hadith, so one seeks refugee to prevent that?

    Does it matter which hand to use? I once read on a Salafi website the right inneer hand or the left outer hand?

    BarakAllah feek!

    Salam alaikum


    1. wa `alaikum assalaam.

      As far sayinng: (A`oodhu billaahi min al-shaitaan al-rajeem), then this is the maater of `Ibaadah, which has to have a basis from the Qur'aan or the Sunnah. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم only instructed to put the hand over the mouth. So one has to bring the evidence on the permissibility of saying that.

      As for using the right hand or the left, then even Shaikh al-`Uthaymeen did not clarify that. So it could be which ever hand is free, but preferring the right hand over the left. And Allaah knows best.

    2. salam alaikum

      but Rasul Allah, sal Allahu alayhi wa salam, also told us to seek refugee from the accursed shaytan by saying that, and since he can enter us when we forget, don't have time, or our hands are not available at the moment of yawning, should we then not seek refugee but let the shaytan enter us? I do NOT mean, to leave out the hand at all, of course one should use the hands to cover the mouth, ut sometimes it's not possible. Allahu alam.

      And do you know what other scholars said about it?

      Not asking out of doubt or to debate, but to learn : )

      BarakAllah feek.

      Salam alaikum wa rahmatAllah wa barakatuhu


    3. Wa `alaikum assalaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh sister,

      There is a text, the verse in the Qur’aan, which instructs us to Seek Refuge when one wants to begin the recitation of the Qur’aan. But as the Shaikh رحمه الله clarified, there is no text to support seeking refuge at the time of yawning.

      Not able to put the hand over the mouth is a totally different issue. A situation where a person is not able to carry out the instructions due to inability is better than a person does something for which he has no textual proof.

      As for the other scholars, then I do not know what they might have said about this issue. I myself have just started learning.

      Wa feeki baarak Allaah.