Eid Greetings: Hugathon or Kissathon?

eidhugs.jpgDuring the Eid day, we get hugged and kissed more in an hour than others would in an entire lifetime. Eid day becomes a hug-athon day, and in some cultures, it’s even a kiss-athon. You get hugs and kisses (on the cheek of course) from people whom you know and do not know. You get it from every Tom, Dick and Harry, or let me say from every Ahmad, Abdullah and FathaAllah.

Hugs and kisses, depending on the culture, come in different forms and formats. In some cultures, you hug three times by holding the person’s upper arms while your chin almost relaxing on one of the shoulders and then swing your shoulders right, left and then right again each time faces come across as you switch from one side to the other. Sometimes this hug comes with a kiss on the shoulder. Some cultures add a nice innocent squeeze while folding the arms around the other persons’ back. Sometimes the squeeze can be breathtaking, literally. In other cultures, one hug on one side is enough followed by a nice warm double hand shaking.

The Sudanese hug is fun – to save some time they just pat you on the opposite shoulder and then shake hands with you. With this kind of hug comes a long standing of “how are you, how’s the family, are you ok, are you fine?” and on and on of the same line of greetings until someone gives up first. I love the way they do it. Many African hugs look similar to that one except that they pat and give a quick and light embrace, or a front shoulder to shoulder push.

Unlike men, women hug each other passionately. They even do the kissing part more than men do. They are more social, and for them it is a reflection of joy and happiness more than just a formal greeting. The kissing part for many of people, especially young ones, who grew up in the west, to only be polite I say, does not make any sense. Unfortunately, the cultural pressure nowadays made it even look awkward to watch men kissing each other on the cheek, let alone to kiss someone who is young, including a close family member. With high rates of inappropriate conduct around the world, including in Muslim societies, we do not  blame people if they shrug their shoulders when they see it, or are approached with something like that. Here is a hint, if the person is not from the culture of kissing, then don’t try it.

Some other cultures, such as in the southern belt of the Arabian Peninsula, they have a very different way of greeting. A nose bumping and sometimes nose kissing substitutes for the cheek kissing thing. You don’t like it? You don’t have to do it, you can just kiss the shoulder, it will do the job. Kissing the forehead or the hand is very common with the elders as a sign of respect; you should try it especially with your parents and grandparents. They will love it. In the Gulf culture, with the shaking of hands comes the custom of sticking cheek to cheek and the kissing will be in the air. Sometimes you stick the right cheeks first for once and then you move to the left cheek with three to four quick bumps, each comes with a kiss in the air but with a longer intermission before the last bump and then hands released.

Sticking cheeks together with a nice squeeze is common amongst women. They like to hold the forearms as they kiss, or they embrace with one shoulder by placing their arm over one shoulder from above. Much of the air kissing happens there with women as well, probably to avoid ruining their makeup art, or to avoid smearing others with their multi-colored lipsticks. Some aunties love the multiple super fast kisses on one cheek. Ask the younger ones, they hate it. For whatever reason it is done, they just express their emotions and feelings.

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The stronger the squeeze, the stronger the relation. Just don’t depend on that to gauge your meter of sensitivity with people. I’m sure after half an hour of cheek sticking and squeezing and after long time of constant smiling you get cheek muscle fatigue. You won’t be able to keep up with smiling nor squeezing.

There are so many different forms of hugging and kissing during the Eid. If you attend the Eid day, you will observe tens of different patterns. I know they start genuine and passionate but after half an hour or so of hugging and kissing, they become mechanical, and you can tell people are running out or energy.

For someone who wears glasses, like me, hugging and kissing is a nightmare. They keep bumping into other people’s noses, faces, head covers,  hijabs and sometimes catch some of their hair. And talk about hugging or kissing someone else who is wearing glasses too, now that is a scene. Therefore, before the hug-athon starts I take my glasses off and keep them in my pocket, otherwise I will have to spend the rest of the day fixing it and cleaning it. And spending your Eid day doing just that, trust me, it’s not fun.

Nevertheless, it is so beautiful to see the Muslims happy and joyful on the Eid day. It is so nice to watch everybody on the Musalla after Eid prayer exchanging hugs, kisses and handshaking with beautiful words of greetings and du’a. But what is it with hugging and kissing on Eid day anyways? Is this is the way to greet and congratulate one another for the Eid? Is there any standard way to do it? Do we know any specific Sunnah for greeting from the beloved Messenger of Allah,salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to follow on Eid day?

Greeting in general is a beautiful Sunnah that Islam requires it’s followers to observe. Spreading salam or peace in Islam is a duty upon every single Muslim. And responding to the greeting is even obligatory. We know that from so many direct and indirect aspects of our religion.

1.      As-Salam is the beautiful name of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and one of His Almighty attributes.

2.      When Adam was created, he was taught the greetings of salam by the angels. Since then it had become his way of greeting and the way of his offspring.

3.      We send salam and blessings on our beloved Messenger whenever he is mentioned.

4.      The greeting with salam, by the angels and other messengers of Allah, was mentioned in the Qur’an many times.

5.      Laylatul Qar, the Night of Power, was praised with salam and peace.

6.      Spreading salam to everyone is a great virtue, as mentioned in hadith Abdullah ibn Salam may Allah be pleased with him who narrated, the Messenger of Allah said: “O people! spread salam, and feed the needy and pray at night while people are asleep, you will enter Paradise in peace.” (Tirmidhi).  And in hadith Abu Hurayrah may Allah be pleased with him, the Messenger of Allah said: “You shall not enter Paradise until you (truly) believe, and you will not (truly) believe until you love one an another. Shall I guide you to something if you do would make you so? Spread salam amongst yourselves.” (Muslim).

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says: “When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.” (an-Nisaa’ 4:86).

So what are the etiquettes we should follow for Eid greeting?

1.      Start with salam (as-salamu alaykum) before anything else, if within a group, one salam is enough to everybody. If you were entering a room full of people then it’s better to direct salam to three directions; right, left and front.

2.      Try to be the first who starts with salam. Abu Umamah narrates the Messenger of Allah was once asked: “When two men meet, who should start with the salam greeting first?” Rasulullah replied: “The one whose more worthy with Allah.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi)

3.      Hand shaking is the standard greeting. Al-Baraa’ may Allah be pleased with him narrated, the Messenger of Allah said: “There is no occasion when two Muslims meet and shake hands, except that Allah forgives their sins before they part away.” (Ibn Majah).

4.      On regular basis, hugging and bowing down is not required, as matter of fact bowing down is not permissible to anyone but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.  Anas may Allah be pleased with him narrated; a man asked the Messenger of Allah, “If one of us meets his brother or his friend, should he bow down for him? He said “No”. “Should he embrace him and kiss him?” the man asked. “No” The Messenger replied. The man then asked, “Should he then hold his arm and shake his hand?” He said, “Yes”. (Tirmidhi)

5.      When greeting people, we should do it with a cheerful face. Meeting people with cheerful face does not hurt your face muscles or your ego. Abu Dhar may Allah be pleased with him narrated, the Messenger of Allah said: “Do not disparage (underestimate) any good deed (no matter how small it is), even if that deed was to meet your brother with a cheerful face.” (Muslim)

6.      Hugging and kissing, in the way described earlier, on special occasions is acceptable. It is a cultural matter that shari’ah does not object to. It was reported that when Zaid ibn Haritha came back to Madeenah (from a journey), the Messenger of Allah stood up to greet him, he kissed him and embraced him. (Tirmidhi) And when Ja’far ibn Abi Talib the cousin of the Messenger of Allah came back for Abyssinia, after his long absence, the Messenger of Allah embraced him. (Abu Ya’la)

7.      Verbal greeting with any permissible phrase, such as “Taqabal Allahu minna wa minkum” may Allah accept (the good deeds) from you and from us, is recommended. This was reported as the practice of the Sahaba, may Allah be pleased with them. Other phrases are also acceptable as long as prayers and invocations mentioned are halal, without phrases of shirk involved.

8.      It is important here to mention that the Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam never shook hands with foreign women, women who are not mahram to him, let alone to hug them or kiss them. Foreign women are those who are not related to the person by blood relation or not of his unmarriageable kin. And the best example is the example of Muhammad salla Allahu alyhi wa sallam.

In conclusion, the Eid day is a day of celebration and praising the Lord subhanahu wa ta’ala. It is also a day of worship, and therefore we should not turn it into a day of disobedience. The festivity of the Eid does not mean the violation of the good deeds. The greetings on Eid day, are the manifestation of joy and happiness. Regardless of your cultural choice, when the Eid comes, get ready to join the hug-athon and kiss-athon. May Allah accept from us the best of our deeds, say Ameen.

*Picture credit to waniebesh

37 / View Comments

37 responses to “Eid Greetings: Hugathon or Kissathon?”

  1. sincethestorm says:

    This article was hiliarious and then got serious…entertaining one Shaykh Yaser. hugs ;) Eid mubarak to you and the MM family.

  2. Trapped In This Dunya says:

    Mashallah! Ya this was a very funny and nice article! I am really excited for Eid which will be on wednesday for us here in the bay area! Eid Mubarak All! :) May Allah accept our duas this Ramadan!

  3. schaker says:

    jazakum Allahu khairan sheikh!
    I loved this and am really looking forward to goint to eid prayer now!
    May Allah accept everyone’s good deeds!!

  4. Redwan says:

    Eid Mubarak!

  5. Eid Mubarak to everyone!

    JazzakAllaahu Khayr Shaykh Yaser for another beautiful article.

  6. imtiaz says:

    let the games begin

    *and their off *

    EID MUBARAK !!!!

  7. Osman says:

    mashaaAllah, thats a detailed description. I think the nose kiss by the Khaleeji brothers is cute. Also, I like huggin bros on special occasions like Eid and meeting them after a long time. It strengthens the feelings brotherhood.

    Btw, ya Sheikh, the cheek muscle fatigue was a good one. Eid Mubarak all!

  8. Amad says:

    The most awkward moment is when you want to greet your wife after eid, and you kind of just make eye contact, maybe a half-hearted, half-motion (maybe like the Sudanese) hug, and move on. Any suggestions on that??

  9. B says:

    Ditto.

    I always wondered if it’s Ok to hug your female family members in public, i.e mother, sister, wife, etc

  10. ilmsummitee says:

    MashAllah, entertaining article!

    I think many people take these hugs and kisses and eid socializing for granted……SubhanaAllah, you really miss them once you move away!

    And again, Eid Mubarak ya Ja’maah! (virtual hug) :)

  11. Very comprehensive list of kisses and huggs, shaykh Yaser.

    Something to note is that when those auntys and khaltus move in with their cheeks up against yours, giving air kisses, 9 times out of 10 they get lipstick on your hijab! Ladies please, invest in some color-stay lipstick :)…. or just don’t wear it at all :)

    Can’t wait to show some love tomorrow. Eid Mubarak everyone :)

  12. AnonyMouse says:

    Aaaaahaha, excellent one, jazakAllahu khair!
    Just came back from ‘Eid salaah and my very own Hug-and-Kiss-A-Thon :D
    It’s great to see the diversity we have in our Ummah that is evident just in our greetings :)

    ‘Eid Mubarak everyone, and taqabalAllah minaa wa minkum, ameen!

  13. AnonyMouse says:

    @ Amad
    Just do it in private :D

  14. Amad says:

    well, usually you want to greet your family first, so… and usually its easy with daughters/moms…

  15. IbnAbbas says:

    “A nose bumping and sometimes nose kissing substitutes for the cheek kissing thing. You don’t like it? You don’t have to do it, you can just kiss the shoulder, it will do the job”
    lol I have never heard of this one..

    “And talk about hugging or kissing someone else who is wearing glasses too, now that is a scene”
    thats the funniest.

    “The Sudanese hug is fun – to save some time they just pat you on the opposite shoulder and then shake hands with you. With this kind of hug comes a long standing of “how are you, how’s the family, are you ok, are you fine?””
    yaa shaykh you forgot to mention the afghanese hug. they do similar type but istead of tapping on the should, they hold you and the greetings goes on for like a minute…i think the most longer greetings you’ll every see mashallah.

    jazakallahu khairan again yaa shaykh Yasir. and eid mubarak to you and everyone else. Taqabllallahu minna wa minkum.

  16. IbnAbbas says:

    spelling mistake > should = shoulder

  17. Naila says:

    Eid mubarak! :)

  18. usman says:

    salaam, very nice article, these articles really get you looking forward to eid…now i am in the eid spirit. eid mubarak to all. taqaballahu mina wa minkum.

  19. Omar Mumtaz says:

    Nice one shaykh!
    Reminded me of an Eid day few years ago when I was still in college. I missed saying Eid Mubarak to some of my Saudi friends at the masjid. Later that day we had a chemistry class on campus… as soon as we saw each other in the class room, we totally got back into the Eid “Hug & Kissathon” mode and started the saudi air kisses on the cheecks… moments later (when we got “back” to the real world) we realized that we were doing all this while standing in the middle of the class just before it had started. This class was in an auditorium room with over 100 (American) students :) (yeah, Tom, Dick, and Harry got a little shocker there….lol)

    Eid Mubarak Everyone! Enjoy your day insha’Allah.

  20. Yaser Birjas says:

    @ Amad,

    The issue of PDA (Public Display of Affection) falls in Islam under the codes of modesty. The Shari’ah gives general guidelines for these matters, and custom rules in cases that does not contradict with Shari’ah. What is considered moderate and acceptable in the Muslim custom, is fine to do. Passionate hugging or kissing in general (with spouse) is considered inappropriate, but with mom? That’s fine. I once asked sh. Salah as-Sawy about this and he explained it according to Shari’ah and local Muslim customs. And Allah knows best.

    Eid Mubarak to you all. I hope the article brings about some sweet smiles on your faces on a blessed day like the Eid day.

    @ IbnAbbas
    Although I like the Afghani food, But I guess their hugging part. Butt ya you’re right I remember seeing their hugs when I was in Madeenah. Sweet hug.

    And if we are going to be talking about all forms of hugs and kisses, then we need to open another free post for this :)

  21. Yaser Birjas says:

    @ Omar

    I can imagine the looks on their faces, it must have been an appalling moment for them :)

  22. Zohra says:

    mashaAllah, very nice article Shaikh Yasir. I enjoyed it a lot!

  23. Ibnkhalil says:

    Eid Mubarak ya’all! and here is a big cyber smile to all my brothers and sisters :)

  24. Abdullah says:

    asalamu alaykum Shaykh Yasir,

    jazak’Allah khayr for the heart-warming article, and Eid mubarak and may Allah accept from you and from us.

    i wanted to know about shaking hands with elderly women. in some cultures it is expected and in some they want you to kiss them on the hand, or cheek, etc.

  25. […] Also, check out this great article by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi on Eid Greetings: Hugathon or Kissathon? […]

  26. ilmsummitee says:

    The gulf or khaleej nose greeting:
    http://cdn.wn.com/o25/ph//2008/09/22/f1d77f073fb0edecdf7122c53970a68b-grande.jpg

    yea, its weird if you never seen if before.

    Anyways I prefer the hug, and then back slap or pat. :) Or the handshake and then putting the hand to the heart gesture (love this one!)

  27. ilmsummitee says:

    I dont know why my previous post was deleted? (I guess only the mod and Allah knows… Anyways, I’ll refrain from posting a link now.)

    Just wanted to say that my favorite greeting is the shake, and hug with the other hand plus great pat on the back.
    I also love the strong handshake followed by the warm gesture, of placing the hand flatly on the chest or ‘heart’ :D

    Sometimes (oftentimes) comments inadvertently end up in the spam bucket. Be patient with us, we try to fish them out best we can. No conspiracy here, your previous comment is now displayed. -Editor

  28. argentyne says:

    Eid mubarak everyone! We’re still waiting for Eid here, in India :(

  29. Nadia says:

    It’s really nice yet informative

    happy eid everyone

  30. ilmsummitee says:

    Sorry editor for my impatience and my wrong assumption, SubhanAllah! Please forgive us for our shortcomings, wa
    JazakumuAllahu khairan for your continual efforts. :D

  31. Jannah says:

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    Nice article, never thought I would read a comprehensive guide to muslim kissing/hugging. I gathered my family and read the article to them.

    Eid Mubarak to all. JazakumAllahu Khairan for the article.

  32. Sana K says:

    The best types of Eid greetings are when there’s a mix of cultures. Being a Pakistani married to a Palestinian makes a wonderful combination not only of one’s offspring (I’ve been blessed with a baby girl alhumdulillah) but also cultural practices. Eid greetings are the best and at the same time most confusing. On my in laws’ side there’s the kisses, the hugs, the hand kissing and then on my parents side there’s the three hugs. I guess it’d be easier to just combine the two and do three hugs with three cheek kisses, at least that’s what I’ve started to do =D

    Belate Eid Mubarak to everyone!!!

  33. […] I finished the khutbah, I got down, thinking I was prepared for the hugathon. I had even been warned that I would face an onslaught.  I figured though, that I would be immune […]

  34. umtalhah says:

    as salam alaikum

    jazakAlllahu khairan sh. yasir. very informative, comprehensive and hillarious.

    @ Sana K – i agree. being a paki i was used to the 3 hugs. then i became familiar w/ the arab-influenced cheek-cheek/kisses. after being married to an indian i assumed (my mistake) their way would be similar to the paki 3 hugs, everything else was similar to the pakis. their way, however, is 3 hugs BUT starting with a handshake!

    so on my first eid with them, eager to hug my new in-laws, i rush towards his cousin (i think, or perhaps his aunt) ready to hug. she is also very eager, but is expecting me to stop at about a foot’s distance and is ready to extend her hand to shake mine. i have no clue of this and therefore i don’t stop, she extends her hand, BOOM, punches me in my stomach, and i have already kinda thrown my shoulders over her, i knock her off guard!

    and this continued throughout the day until i could remember it is the handshake first.

    now with all my new friends, i simply extend my hand out, (from about 3 feet away), hold their arm while shaking their hand and then ask them, ‘so how does it go?’

  35. khawla says:

    Eid Mubarak, TaqabaAllahu minna wa minkum.
    Today was the Eid ul Adha. The women were as usual busy hugging, kissing and talking on top of their head, they have abondoned listening to the Eid Kutbah. The Khateeb was screaming too loud on the mic and he was just another loud noise getting in a way of people’s conversations. I wanted to be joyous but deep down I was sad. Walking away from the prayer with a revert Muslimah, it strucked me hard when she said: “I have been a Muslim for 12 years and have been going to the Eid prayers for the same counts, I have never seen the Muslim women shut up during the Eid prayer or Khutbah.”

    Call me a stiff stick whatever, unless people want some of my herpes simplex virus or cold sores to share in sisterhood, keep your kisses for others.

  36. […] I finished the khutbah, I got down, thinking I was prepared for the hugathon. I had even been warned that I would face an onslaught.  I figured though, that I would be immune […]

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