Photo by Roi Dimor on Unsplash.
If you’re a left-handed convert to Islam, you must learn to always use your right hand when you do these three things:
- Hand things to people
Presumably, this will be important to about 1 in 10 converts, since about 10% of humans are southpaws. For some reason, the left/right ratio for cats is 50/50–a bit of unrelated trivia I found interesting.
More to the point, Satan is left handed.
This should come as no surprise to converts from Christianity since we already know this. For those who were not paying attention in Sunday school, the Bible has 100 positive mentions of the right hand, and 25 mentions of the left hand, all of which are negative. Jesus is traditionally depicted using his right hand, and the devil his left.
Anyway, because the devil is left-handed, and some other stuff, including some matters of hygiene, it’s imperative for left-handed converts to make the switch. A few people may argue otherwise, but I think the evidence suggests you must, and really, it’s not that big of a deal.
Lefties, you learned how to shake with your right hand instead of your left hand, right? So you already have some experience.
There are no concrete statistics on how long it takes to make the switch, to the point where you automatically eat and drink with your right hand, and don’t even think about it anymore. A survey of one says it takes about one full year of determined effort.
It may be pretty easy to immediately start using your right hand to scoop up hummus with bread, especially if you have not been doing a whole lot of that anyway.
Flatware is a different matter.
Everything from soup to salad to cutting a steak may be a challenge. You may have to practice a little with your right, then switch to your left so you can finish your meal until you get enough skill to eat with your right hand while others are still at the table and your food is still reasonably warm. But soon, you’ll no doubt get the hang of it.
Painful to even mention, but yes, if you use chopsticks with your left hand, you need to switch. Fortunately, if you’re like me, you were already incompetent at using chopsticks with your left hand, so you can just shuffle the awkwardness over to the right, and it will feel about the same. I recommend you do this only when you can’t find a fork and spoon (which you can’t in most restaurants in Japan, FYI).
Be forewarned that old habits die hard.
Even after a successful transition, where you’re thinking, “yay, I’ve got this!” every now and then, most lefties do suddenly “revert” briefly to using their left hand. Maybe it’s just that one bowl of grandma’s banana nilla wafer pudding that distracts you so completely, you look down to find a wayward spoon has made its way into your left hand.
It’s okay. As soon as you notice, just quietly switch to your right. No one else has probably noticed.
I once watched a lecture by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf where he admitted to this happening to him. He discovered himself accidentally eating a dessert with his left hand, right in the middle of an Islamic conference, proving that this sort of thing can happen to the best of us!
By this time, you’re probably asking, “Doesn’t the devil also write with his left hand?”
Good question. I don’t know the answer. But either way, you are allowed to keep on writing with your left hand. Maybe someone will offer a different view in comments, but as far as I know, it’s okay to do every halal thing with your left hand, except what I’ve already mentioned:
Eat, drink, and hand things to people…that’s it. 🙂