Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
Is there any special significance to the Prophet’s sandals? I’ve seen others use three fingers and kiss it, but never had the courage to ask them what they are saying when kissing. They carry it and every so often they will kiss it.
Answer: Jazakum Allah Khayr for your question. May Allah increase you in every good. Yes, like anything connected to the blessed and beloved Prophet (peace and blessing upon him), The sandals of the Prophet have significance. Many a scholar have written about the significance of the Na’alayn and seeking blessings from it.
Love of the Prophet is obligatory on the believers, and a part of the completion of faith. The Prophet said, ’None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his very self, wealth, and all people.’ [Muslim].
There is no such thing as excess love when it comes to love of our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). When someone truly loves a person (truly, madly, deeply as the saying goes), they love everything connected to that person. This is what is meant by the poetry of Majnun when he said of his yearning for Layla,
‘I was in the land of Layla and I kissed its walls. In my heart resides the inhabitant of this land but I love the other dwellers too.’ [Shifa al-Siqam]
Anything that reminds you of your love, is a part of your beloved, and cherished. This is what Imam Qadi ‘Iyad refers to when he writes, ‘The abode of the best of Messengers, the guide to the worlds and the performer of miracles, I feel aching, love and yearning for him. When I see those walls and plains, I will kiss them so much that my white beard will be filled with dust.’ [al-Shifa’ 2:46].
This is not an innovation, for the Companions themselves scrambled for the Prophets hair, saved drops of perspiration, and treasured his clothes, all out of love, and desiring the blessings from them. They gave the items belonging to the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) every veneration and attachment. The Mother of Believers, A’ishah lovingly kept the blanket in which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) had passed away in. Abu Hurairah relates that ‘A’ishah took out a thick blanket and showed it to us. She said, the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) had breathed his last in this blanket.’ [al Bukhari, Muslim]
During his lifetime (peace and blessing be upon him), Ibn Masud would hold the sandals for the Prophet when he took them off and hold them under his arms, while after his death (peace and blessing be upon him) Sayyidna Anas was the keeper of the sandals of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him).
This veneration of all things connected to the Prophet is explained by Qadi Iyad when he to says, ‘It is from the respect due to the Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) that one gives reverence to all things connected with him, all places he stayed in Makka and Madina, the things he touched and all things that are known connected to him.’ [al-Shifa’]
The Prophet’s sandals have a special significance in many ways, not only because it was the sandals that the blessed feet were placed upon, but they were the sandals that were worn during the Heavenly Ascent, and when the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) was in the Presence of the Lord of the Worlds. Unlike where God told Sayyidna Musa to take off his sandals before intimate conversation with his Lord (Verily I am thy Lord! Therefore (in My presence) put off thy shoes: thou art in the sacred valley Tuwa.’ [20:12]), the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) was not asked to do so. This inspired poets from all over the world to write about the sandals. Sa’duna Umm Sa’d bint Isam al Himyarriya, a poetess from Andalusia writes,
I shall kiss the image if I do not find
A way to kiss the Prophet’s sandal
Perhaps the good fortune of kissing it
Will be granted to me in Paradise in the most radiant place
And I rub my heart on it so that perhaps
The burning thirst which rages in it maybe quenched
[Sa’adat Al Darayn]
There is no objection to kissing the image of the sandals, in the same way there is no objection in kissing a picture of the Ka’ba, or the Prophet’s Mosque. It is from the love of what these places and items are attached to, not the things themselves, that is intended. The muhaddith ibn ‘Asakir writes on kissing the image of the sandals, ‘Kiss the image of the blessed sandals because even if you get to kiss this, then what an honour this is.’ [Timthalu Naal al-Nabiyy]
Similarly, Taj al Din Fakihani writes in Fajr Muneer, ‘One benefit of making the image is that whoever cannot see the actual shrine can look at the image and kiss it with a yearning because this image is the same as the actual. The image of the sandals is full of benefit which makes it the same as the actual. This has been tried and tested. Hence, the scholars have ordained the same respect for the image as they do for the actual [al-Fajr al-Muneer]’
Thus kissing the image of the Prophet’s sandals is not only permissible but recommended, and when done sincerely and with the right intentions, is full of blessings. It is a kiss of respect, veneration, and love for the best of creation (peace and blessing be upon him). As for the three fingers, I am not sure what that is referring to or where it has come from.
I leave you with the beautiful and relevant words of Imam Shaykh Yusuf Al Nabahani,
Verily I serve the image of the Sandal of Mustafa
That I shall live under its shadow in both worlds
Ibn Masud was in the service of His Sandal
And I am fortunate by serving its image
I dust the Sandal image with the whiteness of my beard
Since the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) fastened the band that passed between His toes
It is not for the image that my heart is longing
Yet it yearns for the one who wore this Sandal
We are lowered by awe to honour this Sandal
And whenever we lower before it we are raised
So place it on the highest shelf!
For indeed in reality it is a crown and only outwardly a Sandal
May Allah makes us truly, madly, deeply, drunk with the pure love of the Prophet, not just in words, but in our very core states and our actions, that we may one day actually kiss the blessed feet that they bore.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.