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Last Updated: 2007/05/21
Summary of question
Is it necessary to wear the ring on the right hand?
Someone told me that it is better to wear my ring on my right hand. However, in American culture a ring on the left hand signifies that one is married, and that is why I was wearing it on my left hand. What should I do in this instance?
Concise answer

One of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and imams’ traditions, is to wear a ring. The material, appearance and design of the ring have all been pointed to in our hadiths. It has also been advised to wear the ring on the right hand. All of the rulings of Islam regarding wearing a ring are mustahab (religiously preferred, not obligatory), although wearing a gold ring is forbidden for men (and any other jewelry made of gold). Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a ring on the left hand if your culture calls for it, and you are free to do so.

Detailed Answer

Wearing a ring is an admired tradition in Islam which the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and our imams (a.s.) have paid attention to. There are numerous hadiths that express what stone should be used in a ring, what material the ring itself should be made of, what the design on its stone should be, and how the ring should be worn.  For instance, in our hadiths, aghigh (a type of stone, mostly found in Yemen, normally dark red or brown) has been suggested and it has been said to bring abundance and protection from disaster and catastrophe.[1] Regarding its material, silver has been proposed. Concerning the design on the stone, dhikrs (religious doxologies) with very high meanings have been suggested. Dhikrs like «الله الملک» (Allah is the absolute master)[2] and «محمد نبی الله و علی ولی الله» (Muhammad is Allah’s messenger and Ali is his waliyy (apostle)[3]. Also, it is highly preferable to wear the ring on the right hand and has been counted as one of the signs of being Shia. In hadiths narrated by the seventh imam, Imam Kadhem (a.s.), it has been said that: “Imam Ali (a.s.) would wear a ring on his right hand, because after the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.), he is the leader of the Ashab-ul-Yamin (In Arabic, yamin means right [opposite of left] and ashab-ul-yamin refers to those who will receive their “report cards” on the Day of Judgement in their right hands, meaning that they are going to heaven and will prosper. In contrast to them, those who receive it in their left hands, are those who aren’t qualified to go to heaven. Here, when it is said that the Prophet and imams are the leaders of the “People of the Right Hand”, it means that they are the leaders of those who are going to go to heaven and they wear their rings on the right hand in order to show that they are the leaders of the People of the Right Hand )…and this is the sign of our followers …”[4], meaning that wearing the ring on the right hand is a result of following the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.). In other words, the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and Imam Ali (a.s.) are the leaders of the Ashab-ul-Yamin and when they wear their ring on their right hand they are illustrating this point, therefore its better for Shias to do the same in order to have followed their imams and to be united.

Of course, it should be noted that all of these recommendations and virtues that have been mentioned concerning wearing a ring, especially on the right hand, are all expressing the istihbab (being preferred in Islam and not being obligatory) of it without any obligation. In other hadiths, instances other than the mustahabb (Islamicly preferred) ones mentioned above, have been considered permissible, such as the hadith narrated by Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that says that the holy Prophet’s (p.b.u.h.) ring was made of silver and contained no stone[5], or like the hadith in which Imam Kadhem (a.s.) says in response to a question about which hand the ring should be worn on: “You may wear it both on your right hand if you wish, and on your left hand.”[6]   Therefore, if because of the culture of one’s country, one wears a wedding ring on the left, it is permissible, although it is better to wear a ring containing an aghigh on the right hand in order to show one’s being Shia and to benefit from the blessings, spiritual rewards, and other advantages of such an admirable act.

Of course, one mustn’t forget that wearing jewelry made of gold, such as a gold ring, is forbidden for men.[7]

[1] Wasa’el-ul-Shia, v.5, pg.91.

[2] Wasa’el-ul-Shia, v.5, pg. 93.

[3] Wasa’el-ul-Shia, v.5, pg. 91.

[4] Bihar-ul-Anwar, v.42, pg. 61.

[5] Wasa’el-ul-Shia, v.5, pg. 77.

[6] Wasa’el-ul-Shia, v.5, pg. 79.

[7] See: Tawdih-ul-Masa’el Maraje’, v.1, pg. 482.

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