Fatwa n° 303
Category: Fatwas about family – Woman
The ruling concerning saying “Yarhamuki Allâh (May Allah bestow his mercy upon you)” when a stranger woman sneezes
What is the ruling concerning saying “Yarhamuki Allâh” to a stranger woman?
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection:
The most valid of the two opinions of the scholars is that saying “Yarhamuka Allâh” to the person who sneezes and then says “Al-Hamdu Lillâh” (praise be to Allah): is obligatory upon every person who hears him according to the hadith of the Prophet صَلَّى الله عليه وآله وسلم: “Allah loves sneezing but dislikes yawning; so if anyone of you sneezes and then says “Al-Hamdu Lillâh”, it is his right that every Muslim that hears him says to him “Yarhamuka Allâh” (1), and the text of the hadith is general, it includes both male and female without any separation. This is supported by the hadith of the Prophet صَلَّى الله عليه وآله وسلم: “Women are the partners of men” (2) i.e.: in (applying) the religious rulings. Moreover, the deeds of Salaf (ancestors) strengthen this meaning. It is reported from the hadith of Abû Burda who said: “I visited Abû Mûşa, as he was in the house of the daughter of Al-Fadl Ibn ‘Abbâs. I sneezed but he did not say to me “Yarhamuka Allâh”. Then she sneezed and he (Abû Mûşa) said to her: “Yarhamuki Allâh”. I came back to my mother and informed her about that. When he came to her she said: ‘ My son sneezed in your presence and you did not say to him: “Yarhamuka Allâh”, but when she sneezed you said to her: “Yarhamuki Allâh” ’. Thereupon he said: ‘ Your son sneezed but he did not say “Al-Hamdu Lillâh” and I did not say to him “Yarhamuka Allâh”, but when she sneezed, she said “Al-Hamdu Lillâh”, so I said to her: “Yarhamuki Allâh”, as I heard Allah's Messenger صَلَّى الله عليه وآله وسلم saying: “If any one of you sneezed and said “Al-Hamdu Lillâh”, then you should say to him: “Yarhamuka Allâh”. But if he did not say: “Al-Hamdu Lillâh”, then do not say to him: “Yarhamuka Allâh” ’ ”(3).
Al-Bukhârî put a special chapter in “Al-Adab Al-Mufrad” (4) concerning “The saying of the man “Yarhamuki Allâh” to a [strange] woman”. In addition, the majority of scholars restrict it with security from seduction. Also it is included in this meaning: greeting her, greeting her in return and offering condolences to her which are restricted with the previous condition.
The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah عزَّ وجلَّ. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers, Dhu Al-Qa‘da the 23rd, 1426H.
Corresponding to: December the 25th, 2005.
(1) Reported by Al-Bukhârî (6226) on the authority of Abû Hurayra رضي الله عنه.
(2) Reported by Abû Dâwûd (236) and by At-Tirmidhî (113). This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albânî in “Sahîh Al-Jâmi‘ ” (2333) and in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha” (2863).
(3) Reported by Muslim (2992) on the authority of Abû Mûşâ رضي الله عنه.
(4) See: “Sahîh Al-Adab Al-Mufrad” (377).