Should you only drink while sitting down?

Should you only drink while sitting down?

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be please with him) said the Prophet (peace be on him) said:

None of you should drink while standing’  (Muslim)

This hadith though clear in its meaning has to be viewed in relation to other hadith in order to get a full picture of what is permissible. We do not take this hadith on its own.

On another narration Ibn Abbas mentioned that the Prophet (peace be on him) said:

‘ I offered the Prophet (peace be on him) the Zamzam water so he drank it whilst he was standing’ (Sunan Nasa’i)

The fact we have one hadith which says do not drink while standing and the other hadith says the Prophet (peace be on him) was drinking while he was standing, shows that it is recommended to sit but not prohibited to stand while drinking.

Actually, though there appears to be contradiction between the two hadith, when put together we are able to see that the general practice was that the Prophet (peace be on him) used to drink while he was sitting, but on some occasions he drank while he was standing (peace be on him) to show that this was permissible.

The ‘nahih’ (forbidding) here is not an absolute command or prohibition. Scholars have a discussion on this issue because of these and other narrations. They say that we cannot deduce from this that there is a prohibition, otherwise the Prophet (peace be on him) would never have drunk standing. It shows that drinking while standing is disliked.

Disliked does not mean haram, it means not what was the common sunnah of the Prophet (peace be on him). The Prophet (peace be on him) drank Zamzam standing to show the permissibility of drinking while you are standing.

In practice I know some people will say if you drink you must sit down otherwise it is not the sunnah. However the Prophet (peace be on him) did not say to his companions then if you see somebody standing tell him to sit down. Therefore do not judge others or look down on them for not doing this.

If you see somebody drinking while standing that is permissible, if you do not want to stand and drink then don’t. However don’t impose this on others. Do not introduce the sunnah to others in a way that puts them off the sunnah altogether. Do not be harsh.

Similarly I have noticed some people overreact if they are served a glass of water or something by someone’s left hand. It is not a big deal. Some people make a big fuss about this.

Following the sunnah is definitely better, but don’t make people hate the sunnah – they will never carry things in their right hand as a result! Similarly regarding drinking water, we need to be lenient and accommodating towards others and wise in our actions.

We ask Allah Almighty to enable us to follow in his footsteps (peace be on him) and be among those who are knowledgeable and wise in their practice. Ameen.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim- Sunday Hadith Class

Transcribed by Asma Husain

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.