Neither add nor detract from the sunnah, even when it comes to sneezing

Hadrami, the freed slave of the family of al-Jaarood narrated from Naafi’ that:

 أَنَّ رَجُلاً، عَطَسَ إِلَى جَنْبِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ فَقَالَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ وَالسَّلاَمُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ ابْنُ عُمَرَ وَأَنَا أَقُولُ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ وَالسَّلاَمُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ وَلَيْسَ هَكَذَا عَلَّمَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَّمَنَا أَنْ نَقُولَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ

“A man sneezed beside Ibn ‘Umar and said, ‘al-hamdulillaah w’al-salaam ‘alaa rasoolillaah. (All praise is due to Allah, and peace upon the Messenger of Allah)’. So Ibn ‘Umar said, ‘I too could say al-hamdulillaah w’al-salaam ‘alaa rasoolillaah, but this is not what the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) taught us. He taught us to say, “Al-Hamdulillah ‘alaa kulli hal (All praise is due to Allah in every circumstance).”

[al-Tirmidhi #2738, hasan]

Imam al-Mubarakfoori, in his commentary on Jaami’ al-Tirmidhi, wrote the following concerning this hadeeth:

اعلم أن العطاس نعمة من نعم الله ، فلا بد للعاطس إذا عطس أن يحمد الله تعالى . قال الحافظ ابن القيم في زاد المعاد : العاطس قد حصلت له بالعطاس نعمة ومنفعة بخروج الأبخرة المحتقنة في دماغه التي لو بقيت فيه أحدثت له أدواء عسرة ، شرع له حمد الله على هذه النعمة ، مع بقاء أعضائه على التئامها وهيئتها على هذه الزلزلة التي هي للبدن كزلزلة الأرض لها . انتهى .

Know that sneezing is a blessing from Allaah, so when the sneezer sneezes he should praise and thank Allah the Exalted. Al-Haafidh ibn al-Qayyim said in Zaad al-Ma’aad, “The one who sneezes has received a blessing and a benefit by that sneeze in the expulsion of the congestion in his head which, had it remained there, would have caused him severe illness. It is legislated for him to praise and thank Allah for this blessing, as well as his limbs remaining well and present in the midst of this great shaking which is like as earthquake to the body just as the earthquake is to the earth.”

قوله : ( أن رجلا عطس إلى جنب ابن عمر ) أي منتهيا جلوسه إلى جنبه ( فقال ) أي العاطس ( الحمد لله والسلام على رسول الله ) يحتمل أن يكون من جهله بالحكم الشرعي ، أو ظن أنه يستحب زيادة السلام عليه لأنه من جملة الأذكار ( فقال ) أي ( ابن عمر وأنا أقول ) ما تقول أيضا ( الحمد لله والسلام على رسول الله ) لأنهما ذكران شريفان كل أحد مأمور بهما ، لكن لكل مقام مقال ، وهذا معنى قوله ( وليس هكذا علمنا رسول الله ، صلى الله عليه وسلم ) بأن يضم السلام مع الحمد عند العطسة بل الأدب متابعة الأمر من غير زيادة ونقصان من تلقاء النفس إلا بقياس جلي ( علمنا أن نقول الحمد لله على كل حال ) فالزيادة المطلوبة إنما هي المتعلقة بالحمد له سواء ورد أو لا ، وأما زيادة ذكر آخر بطريق الضم إليه فغير مستحسن ; لأن من سمع ربما يتوهم أنه من جملة المأمورات .

His statement, “A man sneezed beside Ibn ‘Umar” – meaning he was at the edge of the sitting, to his side, “So he said” – meaning the one who sneezed – “al-hamdulillaah w’al-salaam ‘alaa rasoolillaah.” It is likely that he was ignorant of the Shari’ ruling, or that he thought that it was commendable to add the blessing upon the prophet since it is one of the beautiful adhkar. “So he said” – meaning – “Ibn ‘Umar, ‘And I too (could) say” – what you said, “al-hamdulillaah w’al-salaam ‘alaa rasoolillaah” because these are two noble pieces of dhikr, both of which we have been commanded to say. However, for every situation there is an appropriate word, and this is the meaning of his statement, “but this is not what the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) taught us” i.e. including the salaam with the alhamdulillaah when one sneezes. Rather, the correct course is to follow the command with neither increase nor decrease from the command itself, except in cases of clear and informed qiyaas. “He taught us to say, ‘Al-Hamdulillah ‘alaa kulli hal’” so any addition which is sought is only that which is related to praising Allah, whether that has been narrated or not. And as for adding another dhikr by including it with this one, then that is not an approved, because whoever hears it, perhaps they would think that it is a commanded phrase (i.e. a part of the legislated worship).

وفي الحديث أنه يقول العاطس : ( الحمد لله على كل حال ) وعند الطبراني من حديث أبي مالك الأشعري رفعه : إذا عطس أحدكم فليقل الحمد لله على كل حال . ومثله عند أبي داود من حديث أبي هريرة ، وللنسائي من حديث علي رفعه يقول العاطس : ( الحمد لله على كل حال ) . ولابن السني من حديث أبي أيوب مثله ، ولأحمد والنسائي من حديث سالم بن عبيد رفعه : إذا عطس أحدكم فليقل الحمد لله على كل حال ، أو الحمد لله رب العالمين وإليه ذهبت طائفة من أهل العلم ،  .

And in the hadith, there is that the one who sneezes should say, “alhamdulillaah ‘alaa kulli hal“. And al-Tabarani records a hadith from Abu Maalik al-Ash’ari from the Prophet that, “Whenever one of you sneezes, then let him say, ‘alhamdulillaah ‘alaa kulli hal‘.” And something similar was reported by Abu Dawud in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah, and from al-Nasaa’i in the hadith of ‘Ali from the Prophet: “Whenever one of you sneezes, then let him say, ‘alhamdulillaah ‘alaa kulli hal‘, or ‘alhamdulillaah rabb al-‘aalameen’,” and a group of the people of ‘ilm have brought that.

وقالت طائفة إنه لا يزيد على ” الحمد لله ” كما في حديث أبي هريرة ، عند البخاري : إذا عطس أحدكم فليقل الحمد لله الحديث ، وقالت طائفة يقول : الحمد لله رب العالمين ” . ورد ذلك في حديث لابن مسعود . أخرجه البخاري في الأدب المفرد والطبراني وورد الجمع بين اللفظين ، فعنده في الأدب المفرد عن علي قال : من قال عند عطسة سمعها الحمد لله رب العالمين على كل حال- ما كان ليجد وجع الضرس ولا الأذن أبدا . وهذا موقوف رجاله ثقات ، ومثله لا يقال من قبل الرأي فله حكم الرفع ،

And another group has said that there should be no addition to “alhamdulillaah” as is in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in Saheeh al-Bukhari: “Whenever one of you sneezes, let him say, ‘alhamdulillaah‘.” And another group say, “alhamdulillaah rabb al-‘aalameen.” And that is narrated in a hadith of Ibn Mas’ood; al-Bukhari reported it in Adab al-Mufrad and by al-Tabarani which reported it in a way with combined both wordings. As for the one in Adab al-Mufrad, ‘Ali said, “When someone hears a sneeze and says, ‘Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, in every situation,’ he will never get a toothache or earache.” And that narration is mawqoof (i.e. it’s chain of narration ends before reaching the Prophet), and it’s narrators are reliable. And something like that could not be said by virtue of one’s own opinion, so it takes the ruling of being from the Prophet.

وقالت طائفة ما زاد من الثناء فيما يتعلق بالحمد كان حسنا ، فقد أخرج أبو جعفر الطبري في التهذيب بسند لا بأس به عن أم سلمة قالت : عطس رجل عند النبي ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فقال الحمد له ، فقال له النبي ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ : ” يرحمك الله ، وعطس آخر فقال : الحمد لله رب العالمين حمدا طيبا كثيرا مباركا فيه ، فقال : ” ارتفع هذا على هذا تسع عشرة درجة ويؤيده ما أخرجه الترمذي وغيره من حديث رفاعة بن رافع قال صليت مع النبي ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فعطست فقلت : الحمد لله حمدا طيبا مباركا فيه ، مباركا عليه كما يحب ربنا ويرضى فلما انصرف قال : ” من المتكلم ” ثلاثا ، فقلت أنا ، فقال والذي نفسي بيده لقد ابتدرها بضعة وثلاثون ملكا أيهم يصعد بها وأخرجه الطبراني وبين أن الصلاة المذكورة المغرب وسنده لا بأس به ،

And a group said that what is added of praise, so long as it is related to alhamdulillaah, then that is fine. Abu Ja’far al-Tabari has recorded in al-Tahdheeb with an isnad that has no problems from Umm Salamah that she said, “A man sneezed while he was with the Prophet (ﷺ) so he said, ‘alhamdulillaah‘, and then the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “yarhamukAllaah.” He then sneezed again and said, “alhamdulillaah rabb al-‘aalameen hamdan tayyiban kathiran mubaarakan fiih (All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of all creation, praise which is good, abundant, and blessed),” so the Prophet said, “this is elevated above that (first supplication) by 19 degrees.” And this (narration) is supported by what has been recorded by al-Tirmidhi and others of the hadith of Rifaa’a ibn Raafi’:

I prayed behind Prophet (ﷺ) and I sneezed and said, “Al-Hamdulillah, hamdan kathiran tayyiban mubarakan fih, mubarakan alaihi kama yuhibbu Rabbana Wa Yarda (All praise is due to Allah, many good blessed praises, blessings for Him as our Lord loves and is pleased with.) When the Prophet (ﷺ) and turned around (after the completion of the prayer) he said: “Who was the speaker (during the prayer)?” three times.  So I said, “It was I.” He said, “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul! I saw thirty-some angels competing over which of then would ascend with it.”

And al-Tabarani recorded it and clarified that the salaat mentioned in it was salaat al-Maghrib, and its isnad had no problems in it.

وأخرج ابن السني بسند ضعيف عن أبي رافع قال : كنت مع رسول الله ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فعطس فخلى يدي ، ثم قام فقال شيئا لم أفهمه ، فسألته فقال : ” أتاني جبريل قال : إذا أنت عطست فقل الحمد لله لكرمه ، الحمد لله لعز جلاله . فإن الله عز وجل يقول صدق عبدي ( ثلاثا ) مغفورا له . قال الحافظ في الفتح بعد ذكر هذا كله ما لفظه : ونقل ابن بطال عن الطبراني : أن العاطس يتخير بين أن يقول الحمد لله ، أو يزيد : رب العالمين . أو : على كل حال . والذي يتحرر من الأدلة أن كل ذلك مجزئ لكن ما كان أكثر ثناء أفضل ، بشرط أن يكون مأثورا .

And Ibn al-Sunni reported with a weak isnad from Abu Raafi’ who said:

I was with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and then he sneezed so he let go on my hand, then he stood up and said something which I did not understand, so I asked him about it and he said, “Jibril came to me and said, ‘when you sneeze, then say “alhamdulillah li-karamihi, alhamdulillaah li-‘izza jalaalahu. (All praise belongs to Allah for His Nobility. All praise belongs to Allah for the honor of His Majesty).” For verily Allah ‘azza wa jall says, “My slave has said the truth” three times and forgives him.'”

Al-Haafidh (ibn Hajar) said in al-Fath after mentioning all this, “And ibn Battaal narrated from al-Tabarani: The one who sneezes can choose between saying ‘alhamdulillaah‘, or adding ‘rabb al-‘aalameen’, or alaa kulli haal‘. And that which is free from the evidence, then all of it is permissible, however what has more praise is more virtuous, so long as it can be traced back to a narration.

وقال النووي في الأذكار : اتفق العلماء على أنه يستحب للعاطس أن يقول عقب عطاسه الحمد لله ، ولو قال الحمد لله رب العالمين ، لكان أحسن ، فلو قال الحمد لله على كل حال ، كان أفضل . كذا قال

And al-Nawawi said in al-Adhkaar, “The ‘ulamaa’ agree that it is desirable for the one who sneezes to say immediately following his sneeze, ‘alhamdulillaah‘, and if he were to say, ‘alhamdulillaah rabb al-‘aalameen‘, then that would be better. And if he were to say ‘alhamdulillaah ‘alaa kulli hal‘, then that is the most virtuous.” That is what he said.

[Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi #4429]

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