The scholars of Islam, may Allah have Mercy on them, have a difference in opinion about which finger the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) wore the ring, and whether he wore it in the right hand or the left:
First Opinion: Left Hand.
This is the opinion of the scholars of the Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali schools of thought.
It is mentioned in Rad Al-Mukhtar (5/230), a book of the Hanafi school:
“(In his left hand) and it should be worn in the little finger (pinkie), not the other fingers, and neither the right hand. Al-Kohistani narrated from Al-Muheet: It is permissible to wear it in the right hand, except that it is a sign of the Rafidhis (extreme Shi’ite, who revile the Companions).”
It is mentioned in Hashiat Al-’Adawi ‘ala kifayat al-Talib (2/360), a book of the Maliki school:
“the choice of the majority of the scholars, including Imam Malik, is that it is praiseworthy (mandub) to wear the ring in the left hand. Imam Malik use to wear it in the left hand.”
Another Maliki scholar, Abu Al-Waleed Al-Baji, may Allah have Mercy on him, said:
“Ahl Al-Sunnah (people of Sunnah) are in consensus that the ring should be worn in the left hand,. It is also the opinion of Imam Malik, and he disliked (makruh) that it should be worn in the right hand. And he (Malik) said that the right hand is used to eat, drink and work, so how can one use his left hand to wear the ring in the right hand.” [Al-Muntaqa Sharh Al-Mu'atta (7/256)]
It is mentioned in Kashaaf al-Qina’ (2/236), a book of the Hanbali school:
“Wearing the ring in the little finger of the left hand is better than wearing it in the little finger of the right hand, as explicitly narrated from Imam Ahmed in the reports of Salih and Al-Fadhl. This is more established and more authentic. Al-Athram and others reported that Imam Ahmed declared the narrations of wearing the ring in the right hand as weak.
Imam Al-Daraqutni and others said: The well-preserved narration from Prophet (peace be upon him) is that he used to wear the ring in his left hand.”
The proofs of this opinion are as follows:
- Anas Bin Malik (may Allah be please with him) said, “The ring of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) was on this”, and he pointed toward the little finger of his left hand. [Sahih Muslim, (no. 2095)]
- It was the practice of the majority of the Companions (may Allah be please with them). In fact, Ibn Abi Shaibah reported in Al-Musannaf (6/68) with his own chains of narrations from Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, Al-Hasan, Al-Hussain, Ibn ‘Umar, Al-Qasim, Salim and other eminent Muslims of the earliest generations of Islam that they used to wear their rings in the left hand.
- Wearing it in the left hand makes it easy for the wearer to take it off with the right hand to stamp (documents etc with the ring) with the right hand. Rings were mostly worn for the purpose of stamping (documents, letters etc.) with them. Hence, wearing it in the left hand was more suitable for fulfilling this purpose.
- Wearing the ring in the right hand is the practice of the Rafidhis (extreme Shi’ite, who revile the Companions), and it recommended to oppose Ahl Al-Bid’ah (innovators).
Second Opinion: Right Hand.
This is the opinion of the Shafa’ii school of thought.
Imam Al-Nawawi, may Allah be pleased with him, said in Al-Majmu’ (a book of the Shafa’ii school):
“It is permissible for a man to wear a silver ring in the little finger of the left hand, or if he wants, in the little finger of the right hand, as both practices have been authentically narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, the sahih mashhur (correct and well-known position of the Shafa’ii school) is that it is better to wear it in the right hand, since it is an adornment and the right hand is more honored. The author of Al-Ibanah said that it is better to wear it in the left, since wearing it in the right has become a sign of the Rafidhis (extreme Shi’ite, who revile the Companions)….but the first opinion is correct, and it not their sign in most cities. Even if it were their sign, wearing it in the right should not be abandoned and how can a Sunnah be abandoned because a sect of innovators is doing it. In Sunan Abi Dawud, it has been narrated with an authentic (Sahih) chain of narrators from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that he used to wear the ring in his left hand, and with a good (hasan) chain from Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that he used to wear it in his right.” [Al-Majmu' (4/462)]
The proofs for this opinion are:
- Imam Al-Bukhari [hadith no. 5876] reported from ‘Abdullah Bin ‘Umar : The Prophet had a golden ring made for himself, and when he wore it. he used to turn its stone toward the palm of his hand. So the people too had gold made for themselves. The Prophet then ascended the pulpit, and after glorifying and praising Allah, he said, “I had it made for me, but now I will never wear it again.” He threw it away, and then the people threw away their rings too. (Juwairiya, a sub-narrator, said: I think Anas said that the Prophet was wearing the ring in his right hand.) Imam Muslim also narrated the hadith (no. 2091) in which too the right hand is explicitly mentioned.
- Anas b. Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) wore a silver ring on his right hand which had an Abyssinian stone in it, and he kept its stone towards the palm. [Sahih Muslim (no. 2094)]
- ‘Abdullah Bin Ja’far (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to wear the ring in his right hand. [Musnad Imam Ahmed (3/265)] The researchers of the Musnad Imam Ahmed published by Al-Risalah Establishment said it is hasan (good, well-preserved narration). Imam Al-Bukhari said: “It is the most authentic thing reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this subject.” [Sunan Al-Tirmithi (no. 1744)]
- Imam al-Tirmithi said: “In this subject, there are narrations from ‘Ali, Jabir, ‘Abdullah Bin Ja’far, Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Aishah, Anas and the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar (the none in Sahih al-Bukhari, above) is hasan sahih (good and authentic).”
- The scholars of this opinion also use the fact that “the Prophet used to like to start from the right side on wearing shoes, combing his hair and cleaning or washing himself and on doing anything else” [Sahih Al-Bukhari (no. 169)] for supporting their opinion. Since wearing a ring is part of adornment, it is recommended to wear it in the right hand.
They replied to the proofs of the first opinion (that it is better to wear it in the left hand) by saying that the hadiths mentioning the right hand in tis regard are more numerous and more authentic, hence they should be preferred over others.
Ibn Hajar Al-Haitami, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “It is better to wear it in the right hand, since the hadiths about it are more numerous.” [Tuhfat Al-Muhtaj (3/276)]
Similarly, Imam Al-Nawawi replied to their contention that wearing the ring in the right hand is characteristic of the Rafidhis, by saying:
“It not their sign in most cities. Even if it were their sign, wearing it in the right should not be abandoned and how can a Sunnah be abandoned because a sect of innovators is doing it.” [Al-Majmu' (4/462)]
As far as their using the practice of wearing the ring in the left hand of some Companions as evidence for their opinion is concerned, then it can be said that other Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) have been reported to wear it in the right hand. Ibn Abi Shaibah in Al-Musannaf (6/65) narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas, Ja’far Bin Muhammad, ‘Abdullah Bin Ja’far used to wear it in their right hands. In fact Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
“It has been narrated from Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and numerous Companions and Followers (Tabi’oon, people who lived in the Companions’ lifetime) of Medina and others, that they used to wear their rings in the right hand.” [Fath Al-Bari (10/372)]
Third Opinion: Either Hand.
Some scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible to wear the ring in either hand: left or right. This will make one follow all the hadiths mentioned in this regard.
Imam Ibn Qayyim (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“There are varying account from the Prophet (peace be upon him) about whether he used to wear it in the right or the left, and all of them are authentically reported.” [Zad Al-Ma'ad (1/139)]
Sheikh Ibn ‘Uthaimin, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
“The correct opinion is that the Sunnah is to wear it in the right and the left (i.e. either of the two).” [Al-Sharh Al-Mumti' (6/110)]
The finger in which it should be worn is the pinky or the little finger, as mentioned in the hadiths.
Anas Bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) got a ring made for himself and said, “I have got a ring made (for myself) and engraved a certain engraving on it so none of you should get such an engraving on his ring.” I saw the glitter of the ring on his little finger. ” [Sahih Al-Bukhari (no. 5874). Imam al-Bukhari named that chapter: “The ring in the little finger”]
In fact, there are reports which mention the prohibition of wearing it on the middle or the forefinger. ‘Ali Bin Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) forbade me that I should wear a ring in this and that finger of mine, and he pointed to the middle finger and the next one. [Sahih Muslim (no. 2078)]
[Translated for Islam-QA]