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How to Clip Nails According to the Sunnah

How to clip nails according to the sunnah?

Nails, which are made of corneous substances on the tips of fingers and toes, and which protect fingers and toes from external factors, grow in the course of time. It is one of the dispositional sunnahs for human beings to clip them when they grow. The Prophet stated that it was one of the five kinds of dispositional cleanliness to clip nails. When nails grow, dirty and microbial substances may enter between nails and fingers/toes. And especially fingers contaminate microbes to all over body and into mouth while eating. Clipping nails is also very important in terms of preventive medicine. While making ablution (wudu) and full ablution, one has to wash under long nails. If they cannot be wetted because it is full of dirt under the nails, that cleaning is not accepted. It is wrong and inappropriate for the sunnah to grow nails for nice appearance even if they are kept clean.

Clipping nails is forbidden only while in the state of Ihram during Hajj and Umrah. Except for that period of time, nails can be clipped any time. There is a superstition amongst people, in which it is believed that nails cannot be clipped on some specific days and times, such as at nights. At the times when there was no electricity yet, one could not see where the clipped nails spread at night and that superstition results from that fact. It can be reasonable for such situations. However, it is unobjectionable to clip nails at nights in places where is lit up by electricity. Clipped parts of nails must not be left in random places; they must be exterminated in an appropriate way.

Appropriate way of clipping nails

Can nails toes be clipped at the same time? Is there a certain day for clipping nails?

They can be clipped at the same time. There is not a certain day for clipping nails. They can be clipped whenever necessary (whenever they grow). It is considered appropriate to start clipping nails from the nails of fingers and then to clip the nails of toes. When clipping nails of hands, it would be appropriate to start from the index finger of the right hand and continue clipping rightwards, when both hands are joined as their palms will see each other; and then to continue starting from the small toe of right foot and finish with the small toe of the left foot. (Khattab as-Subki, al-Manhal, I/189). That is what Ghazali stated.

However, Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Baari (10/345):

There is no proven hadeeth about the order of fingers when cutting the nails. While Ibn Daqeeq al-Eid rejected the order mentioned by al-Ghazaali and those who followed him, and he said: There is no basis for any of that, and to suggest that it is mustahabb when there is no evidence for that is abhorrent in my view. If anyone were to suggest that it is mustahabb to start with the right forefinger because of its honorable status, there is no basis for the rest of this sequence. Yes there is a basis for starting with the right hand and the right foot, which is “he liked to start on the right.” End quote.

There are different views on the matter. It is more appropriate to clip nails once a week. Nevertheless, it is unobjectionable to do it once in two weeks. Clipping nails once in forty days is, however, strictly makrooh (abominable).

It is appropriate (especially for men who going to the mosque) to delay clipping nails until Friday, if the nails will not grow too much to exceed limitations. In Fataway-i Qadihan, the following is stated regarding the issue: “If a man, admitting that it is also permissible to clip nails on other days as well, decides on Fridays to clip his nails and to have his hair cut, and if his nails grow too much until Friday, it is makrooh. As a matter of fact, rizq (boons and blessings) of a person whose nails are too long will be very little. If it will not be too late or if he is waiting for Friday to clip nails in order to follow the hadith on the matter, it is appropriate. As it is narrated from Hazrat Aisha, the Messenger of Allah said:

“Whoever clips nails on Friday, Allah protects him/her from troubles until the next Friday and for three days more.” – (Qadihan NI/411); Hindiyya, V/358. For similar hadiths see al-Hindi, Kanzu’l-ummal VI/656, 659).


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