Many people in this world are left handed: "Studies suggest that 88–92% of the world population is right-handed." -- Handedness, Wikipedia. Presumably, somewhere around 10% of Muslim converts are left handed.

In Islam, however, we are discouraged from eating with our left hands:

... When one of you eats, then let him eat with his right hand, and let him drink with his right hand, for indeed Ash-Shaitan eats with his left hand, and he drinks with his left hand. ... -- Jami' at-Tirmidhi 1800 [grade: sahih] (sunnah.com)

(See also the questions about drinking tea and an authentic hadith where a man was prevented from using raising his right hand to his mouth.)

This raises the question:

Question: Do left-handed converts need to start eating with their right hand?

As far as I know, it's not forbidden to eat with your left hand, but it's discouraged (makruh). However, there are social implications of eating among a group of Muslims using your left hand. For example, one of my friends tells a story where he drank soup with his left hand, and someone moved his soup bowl to his right-hand side.

It seems likely that it would be impractical for a left-handed convert to continue using their left hand to eat. However, this is just hypothetical, and I'm wondering if this is actually the case.

  • When it comes to eating, it is easy to eat with both hands even though I am right-handed, it is easy to eat with my left-hand but of course I don't. – Armaan May 8 '17 at 7:14
  • It represents halal and haram. In Islam, "right" usually means halal, clean food or earning. And "left" means haram food or earning. This means "eat and drink halal and clean food or drink" as far as I know. So you don't need to convert because Allah created you left-handed. – Ferdi Çıldız May 11 '17 at 11:55
  • Well eating with your right hand is probably a good idea in the 6th century when hygiene was more of an issue (i.e. you can do something else with your left hand) but this is the 21st century. Who cares now? Just wash your hands. – stuart stevenson Feb 9 '18 at 19:56

To the best of my knowledge, although it is recommended to eat by the right hand, instead of left hand (and actually it is said that it is Makruh to eat by the left hand), but it doesn’t mean that it is a haram act to do so. Consequently there is no necessity for left-handed people to change their habit about that.

Of course, as a related helpful point, what Islam recommends us to do (or not to do) is to our advantages, so, for instance, perhaps it can have medical effect on the body, or even e.g. as you presumably know, people before used to eat with their hands (and there were not such instruments such as spoon and fork, although some people still eat by hands too), so whereas before/now people often clean (do Taharah/purify of their bodies, at W.C.) by their left hand, then logically it is not so health to eat with the (left) hand that is used to clean the dirtiness of the body …

Note that what I remarked, could be deemed as just an example/justification regarding the issue, otherwise there can be some other reasons that Allah knows.


Although Islam has not ordered us to definitely eat by our right hand, but its encouragement to eat by right hand (instead of left hand) can prove that at least it can have some advantages to eat by right hand (and disadvantages by left-hand). Hence, rationally, every wise person likes to get advantage instead of disadvantages. But, to the best of my knowledge, observing such formula won’t be necessary/recommended if it can be the cause of difficulty for left-handed people (to eat by right hand).





The answer given by Ferdi Cildiz (spelling may be wrong) is closest. Right and left in the Quran are used to connote purity va uncleanness (among other things). The Quran enjoins Muslims to think and understand. The purpose of right and left hand restrictions is applicable to right-handed people. The point is to separate the hand that consumes food from the hand that cleans the person after toilet (urination or defecation), for reasons of health. This is an example where sayings that relate to health or other subjects are taken to be extremely enforceable in all situations. Of course, if a person is left-handed and eats that way, s/he should use the other hand for cleaning. Access to water and cleaning/ toilet facilities has changed, and we should govern ourselves accordingly. The Prophet responded to specific situations and we should take that into consideration. The Quran is the ultimate source of Islamic law, or should be. Then the hadeeths have a place in context and with broad-mindedness.

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