In today’s world, spitting is considered an unclean and unhygienic act. There are laws against spitting in public places in many countries around the world carrying huge fines, especially Singapore, where the monetary fine for spitting can go up to $1000. Especially in the post-Coronavirus world, where spitting can also be a vector for the spread of COVID-19, the act of spitting, especially in public places, is looked down upon throughout the world. However, in Islam, spitting carries a special meaning, especially, to ward off the ‘evil spirit’ or ‘Satan’.
According to various Hadiths, spitting in a particular manner can ward off bad dreams and even the interference of Satan (Shaitaan) himself. According to Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 513, spitting to your left is a way to be safe from bad dreams. It says that the Prophet of Islam said that “A good dream is from Allah, and a bad or evil dream is from Satan; so if anyone of you has a bad dream of which he gets afraid, he should spit on his left side and should seek Refuge with Allah from its evil, for then it will not harm him.”
This also gets credence in Sahih Muslim, Book 026, Number 5463 which says that spitting to your left three times stops the interference of Satan.
Uthman b. Abu al-‘As reported that he came to Allah’s Messenger and said: Allah’s Messenger, the Satan intervenes between me and my prayer and my reciting of the Qur’an and he confounds me. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: That is (the doing of the Satan) who is known as Khinzab, and when you perceive its effect, seek refuge with Allah from it and spit three times to your left. I did that and Allah dispelled that from me.
In many cultures around the world, spitting on someone else is seen as the sign of ultimate disrespect. A person spitting on somebody else is usually reason enough for a brawl or physical fistfight to take place. However, in Islam, this is not the case. There are multiple references to Prophet Muhammad spitting on people in order to bless them.
These references are listed below:
1. Narrated Mahmud bin Ar-Rabi’: I remember Allah’s Apostle and also the mouthful of water which he took from a bucket in our house and ejected (on me). … (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 12, Number 801)
2. … Urwa returned to his people and said, “O people! By Allah, I have been to the kings and to Caesar, Khosrau and An-Najashi, yet I have never seen any of them respected by his courtiers as much as Muhammad is respected by his companions. By Allah, if he spat, the spittle would fall in the hand of one of them (i.e. the Prophet’s companions) who would rub it on his face and skin; if he ordered them, they would carry out his order immediately; if he performed ablution, they would struggle to take the remaining water …(Sahih al-Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 50, Number 891)
3. Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: … So I came (to my house) and Allah’s Apostle too, came, proceeding before the people. When I came to my wife, she said, “May Allah do so-and-so to you.” I said, “I have told the Prophet of what you said.” Then she brought out to him (i.e. the Prophet) the dough, and he spat in it and invoked for Allah’s Blessings in it. Then he proceeded towards our earthenware meat-pot and spat in it and invoked for Allah’s Blessings in it. (Sahih al-Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 59, Number 428)
4. In the Islamic hadiths, there is also reference to people using the water Prophet Muhammad used to clean himself on themselves. (According to Sahih al-Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 8, Number 373)
5. Narrated Abu Juhaifa: I saw Allah’s Apostle in a red leather tent and I saw Bilal taking the remaining water with which the Prophet had performed ablution. I saw the people taking the utilized water impatiently and whoever got some of it rubbed it on his body and those who could not get any took the moisture from the others’ hands.