My maternal grandfather and I were the only ones in my immediate family who were left handed. Every time we went to their house, I would inevitably end up reading his copy of The World’s Greatest Left Handers: Why Left-Handers are Just Plain Better Than Everybody Else. I never felt any stigma about my left handedness, because obviously left handed people were teh awesome. No stigma that is, until I became a muslim.
Now, it’s not been terrible, but even aside from the ahadith that recommend using the right hand to eat, using one’s left hand is considered a faux pas in many of the muslim cultures that dominate the masjid. And if one favors their left hand, people do tend to notice.
But, it looks like there are quite a few converts who are also left handed. I wonder if the independent spirit that seems to thrive among lefties draws us to islam in greater numbers than our portion of the total population? In general, lefties think differently, and perhaps that different thinking leads us to be more willing to explore a religion outside the “norm” for spiritual fulfilment?
Perhaps we should start a club – we could all get together and commiserate about how difficult it is to eat with our right hands and the evil looks we get at the masjid when we give up and use our left to shovel the biryani down at iftar time.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I try to eat with my right hand, partially to fulfill a sunnah of the Prophet (saws), but also to avoid the constant naseeha of strangers coming up and telling me not to eat with my left hand.
It is a sunna to use the right hand for noble matters, and the left hand for lowly matters, whenever reasonably possible. This is a general recommendation. It is not sinful or prohibited to use the left hand; doing so without need is, however, blameworthy because it is going against recommended Prophet practice.
Sayyida `Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) related that, “The Messenger of Allah loved using the right in wearing his shoes, combing his hair, purification, and in all his matters.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
She also related that, The Messenger of Allah’s hand (blessings and peace be upon him) was for his purification and eating, and his left for the toilet and anything lowly. [Abu Dawud; Nawawi declared it rigorously authentic in his Majmu`]
Anas (Allah be pleased with him) said, “It is from the sunna that you enter the mosque with your right leg, and leave with your left leg.” [Hakim]
The hadiths related to this are numerous.
Ibn Daqiq explained that this is a general recommendation from which certain particulars have been excepted, such as entering the washroom, cleaning one�s private parts, leaving the mosque, and the like, for the sunna in these is to use the left. [Sharh Umdat al-Ahkam]
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
It is in of itself superior to use the right hand for all noble matters, for this was the way of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) said that the he (Allah bless him and give him peace) liked to use the right in all matters.
In matters requiring dexterity, such as writing, there is no harm in a left-hander using their left hand. However, one should avoid eating with the left hand, because it is a specific sunna, and dignified conduct, to do so with the right hand.
And Allah alone gives success.
It is recommended to do all noble things with the right hand. If one does this, with an intention of following the noble way of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions), one is rewarded. But one is not blamed for non-performance of such matters. [Imam al-Ayni, Umdat al-Qari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari]
The same applies, Imam al-Ayni says, to eating with the left hand. The vast majority of the scholars, except the Literalists, held that it is recommended to eat with the right hand, but it is not something that is sinful or blameworthy if left out, unless one does so out of disregard or disrespect for the sunna of the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).
Therefore, it is permitted to do dhikr with both hands. Some scholars preferred this, so that all one’s fingers would bear witness for one’s worship on the Day of Judgment. Others preferred that one limit oneself to the right hand, because, as `A’isha (Allah be pleased with him) mentioned, “The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) like to use the right in all things.”
Thus, it is a difference of preference, not permissibility.