The Tradition of Kissing Hands and Feet of Fakirs in Sufism

Respect is the first step on the path of love (Faqr or Sufism). One has to adopt respect if they want to succeed in life. Whether it is religious or worldly matter. In addition, one should be respectful when visiting sacred places or visiting a Fakir (saint) or his shrine.

Parents and teachers play crucial role in the development of a person’s character. On the other hand, a perfect Fakir or Murshid trains one inwardly. He cleanses a person’s innerself and enlightens the soul.

Whether its parents, teachers or Murshid, they are all worthy of respect.

It is incumbent upon us to respect them. In today’s age, people in general and the youth in particular are moving away from respect of elders. Let alone adopting the company of Fakirs (saints), people don’t even deem them necessary. And if someone adopts their company for spiritual training, then people make fun of them. If someone, out of love and respect kisses their hands and feet, people would make fun of them. Irony is that people assimilate this with prostration which is completely wrong. 

Pre-Requisites of Prostration

According to Sharia, in the state of prostration, a person’s seven body parts must touch the ground. These are the fore head, two hands, two feet and two knees. Anas ibn Malik relates from holy Prophet (pbuh) in Sahih al-Bukhari:

اَنْ یُّسْجُدَ عَلٰی سَبْعَۃِ اَعْضَائِ

Prostration is performed with 7 parts of the body.

Imam Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti says that

complete prostration is with seven parts: two hands, two feet, two knees and forehead.

(Jamia al-Sagheer)

Even if a single part of the seven parts doesn’t touch the ground then the prostration remains incomplete. From this, we can say that kissing the feet of Fakirs does not fall in prostration. Secondly, for anything, the intention is pivotal. The holy Prophet (pbuh) said:

Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or deeds, but rather He looks at your inwards and intentions.

Kissing Hands and Feet of Fakirs is not Prostration

Therefore, when kissing the feet of the Fakirs, a person’s intention is to respect and not to prostrate.

It is related in ‘Tanveer al-Quloob’ from Buraydah ibn al-Khasib that once a bedouin came to the holy Prophet (pbuh) and asked if the holy Prophet could show him some miracle. The holy Prophet said to him: “Go and ask that tree (pointing to a tree), Messenger of Allah has called you”. 

Buraydah ibn al-Khasib narrates that the tree, bowed left, right, front and backwards and then uprooted itself and started moving towards the holy Prophet, when it reached there, it said “Salutations upon you O Messenger of Allah”.

The Bedouin then asked the holy Prophet to order the tree to return to its place. Upon the order of holy Prophet, the tree returned to its original place. After seeing this miracle, the Bedouin asked the Messenger of Allah to allow him to prostrate him. Upon this the holy prophet (pbuh) said, “If I had ordered someone to prostrate then that would have the wife to prostrate her husband.” Then, the Bedouin asked permission to kiss the hands and feet of the Messenger of Allah. The holy Prophet gave him permission for that. (Tanveer al-Quloob)

Pondering over the afore mentioned Hadith, if kissing hands and feet was wrong then the Messenger of Allah would have forbidden it like he did for prostration. Instead, he allowed that which vindicates that there is nothing in wrong in kissing the hands and feet, instead it is fully permissible act. Below are few examples from the life of the Companions about kissing the hands and feet of the Beloved of Allah.

The Companions Kissing the Hands of Prophet Mohammad

It was common practice for the companions that whenever they visited the holy Prophet (pbuh) they used to kiss hands.

Abdullah ibn Umar relates that

once we went closer to the holy Prophet and we kissed his sacred hands.

(Sunan Abu Dawood, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal)

Safwan ibn Assal relates that

once, two Jews came to the Messenger of Allah and asked few questions. The holy Prophet answered their questions. Those Jews kissed the hands and feet of the holy Prophet (pbuh).

(Al-Tirmidhi: 3705, 4083)

Shaikh Abd al-Haqq Dehlvi quotes in his book Madarij-un-Nabuwat that

Once Usama ibn Zayd came to the holy Prophet (pbuh) on 11th of Rabi al-Awwal to seek permission to depart with his battalion. He came close the Messenger of Allah and then kissed his forehead and hands.

(Madarij-un-Nabuwat)

Companion of holy Prophet, Zaraa narrates that

He was among Wafd al-Qais (Delegation of Qais). When we reached Madina, we got off our rides and briskly headed towards Prophet Mohammad and kissed his hands and feet.

(Masabih al-Sunnah)

Waaz’e ibn Amir relates that

We were in the company of the Messenger of Allah but we were not familiar with him. Someone pointed us to him. We kissed the hands and feet of the holy Prophet (pbuh).

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Tanveer al-Quloob)

These were some examples of the respect of the beloved of Allah. The holy Prophet (pbuh) himself used to show a lot of respect for his daughters. In particular, Fatimah al-Zahra. Whenever she used to visit him, he used to stand up, kissed her and sat her at his own place. Similarly, when the holy Prophet (pbuh) visited her, she used to do exactly the same. (Abu Dawood: 5217)

The Companions and Kissing of Hands

Apart from kissing the hands and feet of the holy Prophet, the companion used to respect each other a lot. Every companion used to kiss the hands of more senior companions. Here are few stories from their lives:

Thabit ibn Qays once asked Anas ibn Malik,

“Have you touched the hands of the holy Prophet?”

He replied, ‘Yes’.

Upon this, Thabit ibn Qays kissed the hand of Anas ibn Malik.

(Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal)

Abdul Rehman ibn Razeen was travelling for Hajj. He stopped at Zubdah with his caravan. He said, I learned that here, the companion of the holy Prophet Salma ibn Akoo. He went to see him. During meeting, Salma ibn Akoo took his hands out and said, I pledge allegiance to the holy Prophet with these hands. We all kissed his palms.

(Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal)

Shaikh ul Islam Abu al-Qasim Abdul Kareem writes in his book. He says, once Zayed ibn Thabit was about to get onto his ride, he addressed Abdullah ibn Abbas with respect and said: “O the son of holy Prophet’s uncle! Please do not hold the reins of (camel or horse).” Abdullah ibn Abbas said, we have been instructed to respect the scholars. Upon this, Zayed ibn Thabit held the hand of Abdullah ibn Abbas, kissed it and said, similarly, we have been ordered to respect the family of the holy Prophet (pbuh).

Practice of Fakirs and Scholars about Kissing Hands and Feet

Shaikh Abd al-Haqq Dehlvi says

That when Imam Muslim who wrote Sahih Muslim, went to visit Imam Bukhari, he asked his permission to kiss his feet (as a sign of respect).

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim mentions an incident of Shaikh Al-Hanbla ibn Aqeel writes in his book ‘Badai al-Fawaid’ that

Once whilst meeting the king of the time, he kissed his hands. Upon this, someone criticised him. He replied, ‘If it was my father and I kissed his hands out of respect, would that have been permissible or not?’ people replied, yes. Then he replied, when it is permissible to kiss hands of someone’s father, it is perfectly fine to kiss the hands of king of the time (a father only looks his children and family, whereas a king looks after all the people of the kingdom). Therefore, a king is more respectable. (Badai al-Fawaid)

Someone asked Imam Nawawi about his views about kissing the hands of others. He replied,

Kissing hands of Fakirs, pious people and scholars is permissible.

(Kitab al-Azkar Lin-Nawawi)

Once people asked Ibn Hajr Makki about kissing hands of others. He replied,

Greeting others and kissing the hands and feet of pious people and Scholars is permissible and tradition of Muslims.

Sufian ibn Ainiyah says

It is perfectly permissible to kiss hands of Muslim scholar and just king.

(Mujma’a al-Anhar)

Similarly, Shaikh Abd al-Haqq Dehlvi says that

kissing the hands of Muslim scholar, pious people or elders is permissible.

Shaikh Syed Ahmad bin Mohammad al-Hamoodi says,

Kissing the hands of people who deserve respect is permissible.

Such as Muslim scholars, descendants of the holy Prophet (pbuh) and noble people. This has been the tradition of the companions. (Miftah al-Saadat)

Saying and Practice of Perfect Fakirs about Kissing Hands and Feet

Ghaus al-Azam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani writes in his book Ghunia tu Talibeen,

“If two people met each other and if they kissed each others foreheads and hands, it is perfectly permissible from sharia point of view.”

(Ghunia tu Talibeen)

Khawaja Qutb ud Din Bakhtiar writes about kissing the feet of his spiritual guide (Murshid) Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti,

“I had the privilege of kissing the feet of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti on a Thursday at Jamia Mosque Ajmer Sharif.”

(Akhbar al-Ahkiyar)

Khawaja Farid ud Din says about his Murshid Khawaja Qutb Uddin Bakhitar Kaki that

Whenever he used to come out of the mosque, he used to spread his hands out. The devotees gathered around in circle and kissed his hands one by one.

(Israr al-Aulia)

Shaikh Nizam ud Din Auliya quotes from his Murshid Shaikh Farid ud Din Ganj Shakar that

Once Shaikh Abu Saeed Abu al-Kahir was travelling somewhere. One of his disciples met him who was on foot. The disciple kissed the knees of his Murshid, the Shaikh said kiss below. He kissed the feet, the Shaikh again said kiss below, he kissed the knees of the horse. The Shaikh again said kiss even below, the disciple then kissed the feet of the horse. The Shaikh again said kiss below, the disciple kissed the ground. Upon this, the Shaikh said, when I asked you to kiss lower and lower, I didn’t want you to kiss the ground but in fact every time you kissed, your spiritual ranks elevated because of your humility.

(Fawaid al-Fawaid)

Shaikh Sharf Uddin’s View

Shaikh Sharf Uddin Muneeri writes in his letters:

“The disciples who kiss the hands and feet of their Murshid, they are correct in this. Because the companions kissed the feet of the holy Prophet (pbuh) and he did not stop them from doing so. If this not permissible them the holy Prophet would not have allowed that.”

From the aforementioned incidents and saying of Companions, Fakirs and scholars, it is proven that the kissing hands and feet is allowed. The spiritual levels of disciples elevate when they do so. 

Allama Badr-ud-Din Ghani Hanfi relates that once someone went to the Holy Prophet’s assembly and said

“I vowed that if Allah grants you victory in Makkah I would go to the Kaaba and kiss its boundary.” The Holy Prophet replied “Go kiss your mother’s feet and your vow will be fulfilled.”

(Umdat Ul Qari)

Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti has described the following types of kissing:

  1. Out of Love

  2. As a sign of Sympathy

  3. As Compassion

  4. To Respect

  5. As Lust

Kissing with love is like parents kissing their children’s forehead. With sympathy is like children kissing their parent’s cheeks. Kissing with compassion is like a sister kissing her brother’s forehead. With respect is like a Muslim kissing another Muslim’s hand. 

Kissing Hands and Feet is a sign of Respect

If kissing children, parents and spouses is allowed then how can kissing the hands and feet of perfect Fakirs be wrong? We respect the Quran because it is a Holy book, we keep it at a high and clean place and avoid turning our backs on it. Perfect Fakir is Annihilated and Immortalised in Allah, he is a man of book. Why would respect of such an entity be wrong? The relations between child and parent or husband and wife are limited to this world and will end after death. All these relations will not help on judgement day where everyone will be selfish. But

The relation with Perfect Fakir is inwardly and spiritual that will remain after death. 

Moreover, when Satan will be busy in trying to mislead man with all his strength during the state of conflict right before death, then only the perfect spiritual guide will take him out of the ignorant darkness and keep him safe from the clutches of Satan.

Universal Divine Man of Present Era

If we are busy in sinful activities today, it is because we have forgotten to respect these sacred personalities. The point to ponder is that instead of politics we need spiritual treatment for success in life and afterlife. This spiritual treatment is only available in the court of perfect spiritual guide. In the present era, the sacred company of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen is the only place of spiritual treatment where those who come with respect and faith find their resolve, reach their purpose in life by gaining the Divine Gnosis, and illuminate their inwards with the contemplation, invocation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat and inscribing Allah’s name on the body. It is an open invitation to men and women of devotion and love to come to Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen’s court and have spiritual treatment.

May Allah grant us the opportunity to attain the perfect Fakirs’ company and keep us safe from disrespect and arrogance. And also keep us safe from the perpetrators who betrayed the perfect Fakirs. Ameen!

Note:

This is English translation of Urdu blog :

ہاتھ اور پاوَں چومنے کا ثبوت

which appeared in November 2021 issue of the Mahnama Sultan ul Faqr Magazine, Lahore. Ahsan Ali Sarwari Qadri wrote the original article. Waheed Hassan Sarwari Qadri has translated it in English.

In Sufism (Faqr) kissing the hands and feet of Murshid (Spiritual Guide) is a sign of respect and honour. The Perfect Fakir (spiritual) of Sarwari Qadri order is at the station of ‘When Faqr is accomplished that is Allah’. This means when through the benevolence of Allah and the holy Prophet (pbuh) they reach the peak of Faqr, they completely annihilate in Divine Essence. In other words, there remains nothing within them other than Allah. Therefore, they are worthy of respect and reverence. So, kissing their hands and feet as a symbol of respect is completely permissible. This is proven from Hadiths and the life of the Companions.