The Holy Prophet (SAW) urged the Muslims to clip their nails at regular intervals. Abu Hurayra (RA) reported that the glorious Prophet (SAW) said: “Five things are from the traditions of the Prophets of the old: circumcision, removing the hair below the navel, trimming the moustaches, cutting the nails and removing the hair from armpit.” (Bukhari, Muslim).
The Holy Prophet (SAW) not only prescribed the duration but the mode of cutting nails as well. He (SAW) and the Sahaba (companions) (RA) would clip their nails every week. In any case, nails should not be allowed to grow more than forty days at a stretch. (Reported by Muslim and narrated by Anas (RA).
Hazrat Ali (RA) quoting a Hadith said, “It is better to start cutting nails from the little finger of the right hand, then the middle finger, followed by the thumb, then the ring finger, and lastly, the pointer. In the left hand start from the thumb, then the middle finger, and then the little finger, then the pointer, and lastly, the ring finger.”
Durr-e-Mukhtar quoting the most revered Prophet (SAW) reports a simple method. “Start cutting the nails from the pointer of the right hand and finish with the little finger. Then start cutting the nails of the left hand beginning from the little finger and finish with the thumb and finally cut the nails of the right thumb.”
Clipping nails on Friday is mustahab (desirable). However, if nails have grown, one should not wait for the Friday. While clipping the nails of the toes (finger of feet) it should began with the small toe (finger) of the right foot and end with the big toe of the left foot and with the small toes of the same foot.
A Muslim should not clip his nails when taking an obligatory bath. Similarly a woman should not clip her nails during menses. It is makrooh (not desirable).Some people eat their nails. The most revered Prophet (SAW) has strictly forbid this. It also makes others sick.
However, a person should not clip his nails while in Ahraam or during the first ten days of Dhul Hajj if he intends to offer sacrifice. “Once the ten days start, for those of you who have the intention to sacrifice, let them not cut any of their hair or nails (until they sacrifice).” (Al Muslim). There is consensus among the scholars that a person in the state of Ahram is forbidden to clip his fingernails without any genuine excuse. However, if a nail is broken, one may remove it without incurring any penalty.
Some people believe that clipping nails at night is forbidden. Alamgiri says that the clipped nails should be buried. However, a recent ruling issued by Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al Munajjid on December 21, 2006 reads, “Praise be to Allaah. There is no basis for saying that cutting the nails at night is haraam; rather a person may cut his nails whenever he wants, at any time of day or night. Similarly, there is no basis for saying that one must say Bismillaah three times before removing nails or hair; otherwise the Shaytaan will use them. It is also not correct to say that they must be buried; a hadeeth was narrated concerning that which is da’eef jiddan (very weak).
It is permissible to throw them in the garbage or down the drain, or to bury them. If a person fears that they may fall into the hands of those who practise sehr (witchcraft) then he should dispose of them in a place where they will not be able to get hold of them. And Allah knows best.”