What is the ruling on kissing the hands of people? Is it permissible to kiss the hands of rulers, scholars, and parents?
Kissing the hands is out of submission, and the human being should not submit to mankind; as it has been narrated from Ali ibn Musa al-Rida, peace be upon him, that he said: «لَا يُقَبِّلُ الرَّجُلُ يَدَ الرَّجُلِ، فَإِنَّ قُبْلَةَ يَدِهِ كَالصَّلَاةِ لَهُ»; “No one shall kiss the hand of another, for kissing his hand is like performing prayer for him,” and from Sulayman ibn Harb that he said: “kissing the hand of a man is minor prostration (to him),” and from ibn Nizar that he said: “kissing the hand is one of the two prostrations,” and this is what Malik said, unless he is God’s Caliph on the earth; because submission to him returns to submission to God, considering that God has glorified and honored him. Therefore, the human being should kiss the hand of no one but the Messenger of God, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family, and the Imam from his Ahl al-Bayt; as it has been narrated from Ali ibn Mazyad Sahib al-Sabiri that he said: «دَخَلْتُ عَلَى أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ -يَعْنِي جَعْفَرَ بْنَ مُحَمَّدٍ الصَّادِقَ- عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ فَتَنَاوَلْتُ يَدَهُ فَقَبَّلْتُهَا، فَقَالَ: أَمَا إِنَّهَا لَا تَصْلُحُ إِلَّا لِنَبِيٍّ أَوْ وَصِيِّ نَبِيٍّ»; “I went to Abu Abdullah -i.e., Ja‘far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq- peace be upon him, then I held and kissed his hand, then he said: ‘This is appropriate only for the Prophet or his successor,’” and it has been narrated from Zayd ibn Thabit that he said to ibn Abbas: “Show me your hand,” then he held out his hand, then he kissed it and said: “This is what we are commanded to do with the Ahl al-Bayt of our Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family,” and it has been narrated from Sufyan al-Thawri that he said: “There is nothing wrong with doing it for a just Imam,” and one of our companions informed us, he said:
«أَرَادَ رَجُلٌ أَنْ يُقَبِّلَ يَدَ الْمَنْصُورِ فَأَبْعَدَ يَدَهُ وَقَالَ لَهُ: أَتُرِيدُ أَنْ تُغِرَّنِي كَمَا تُغِرُّ هَؤُلَاءِ الدَّجَاجِلَةَ؟! لَا يُقَبِّلُ الرَّجُلُ يَدَ الرَّجُلِ إِلَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ إِمَامًا مُفْتَرَضَ الطَّاعَةِ، قَالَ الرَّجُلُ: وَاللَّهِ مَا فَعَلْتُ ذَلِكَ إِلَّا لِأَعْلَمَ أَهُوَ مِنَ الدَّجَاجِلَةِ أَمْ لَا، فَعَلِمْتُ أَنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْهُمْ»; “A man wanted to kiss Mansoor’s hand, then he pulled his hand away and said to him: ‘Do you want to deceive me as you deceive these dajjals?! No one shall kiss the hand of another unless he is an Imam who must be obeyed.’ (Then) the man said to us: ‘I swear to God, I did not do this except to know whether he was one of the dajjals or not, so I knew that he was not one of them!’”
Yes, there is nothing wrong with kissing the hands of Muslim parents; because God has commanded submission to them; as one of our companions informed us, he said:
«سَأَلْتُهُ عَنِ الرَّجُلِ يُقَبِّلُ يَدَ وَالِدَيْهِ، فَقَالَ: لَا بَأْسَ بِهِ، أَمَا سَمِعْتَ قَوْلَهُ تَعَالَى: ﴿وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ﴾؟!»; “I asked him about a man who kisses the hands of his parents, so he said: There is nothing wrong with it. Have you not heard the words of God Almighty that has said: ‘And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy’?!”
This is also the saying of Mu‘adh ibn Jabal, one of the Sahabah, as it has been narrated that he said: “It is not appropriate to kiss the hand of anyone except for a just Imam and parents.” As for kissing the hands of oppressive rulers and the scholars who follow them, it is forbidden without the slightest doubt; because it is submission to oppressors, while God Almighty has said: ﴿وَلَا تَرْكَنُوا إِلَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا فَتَمَسَّكُمُ النَّارُ وَمَا لَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مِنْ أَوْلِيَاءَ ثُمَّ لَا تُنْصَرُونَ﴾; “And do not tend toward oppressors, lest the fire seize you, and you have no guardian but God, and then you will not be helped,” as one of our companions informed us, he said:
«سَمِعْتُ الْمَنْصُورَ يَقُولُ: مَنْ قَبَّلَ يَدَ ظَالِمٍ يُظْهِرُ بِذَلِكَ وَلَايَتَهُ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَبَّلَ اللَّاتَ وَالْعُزَّى»; “I heard Mansoor say: ‘Whoever kisses the hand of an oppressor to express his affection for him, it is like that he has kissed al-Lat and al-Uzza.’”
And ibn Jubayr did a good poetry when he said:
“Ask everything you want from God,
for the human being does not possess any benefit or harm.
Do not be humble before rulers,
for they are so arrogant as if they are drowning in drunkenness.
Avoid being satisfied with kissing hands so easily,
for it has been said about it: ‘It is minor prostration.’”