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All praise be to Allah. May peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, and Companions. Many people from here and abroad inquire about the position of placing the hands after Ruku` (bowing). Thus, I opine to give a detailed answer for this out of sincere advice for Muslims, to display the truth, clarify ambiguity, and propagate the Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet). In explanation, I can say that it was authentically established in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) that he used to place his right hand on his left forearm when he was standing in Salah (Prayer) and that he (peace be upon him) used to command Muslims to do so.
It was stated by Imam Al-Bukhari (may Allah be merciful to him) in his Sahih Book of Hadith (in the chapter entitled placing the right hand upon the left one) that `Abdullah ibn Maslamah reported from Malik, from Abu Hazim that Sahl ibn Sa`d (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The people were ordered to place the right hand on the left forearm in Salah (Prayer).
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Abu Hazim remarked: "I do not know except that he attributed it (i.e., the report) to the Prophet (peace be upon him).
" We can infer from this authentic Hadith that it an act of Sunnah to place the right hand upon the left one while standing in Salah both before and after Ruku` (bowing) through the fact that Sahl said that people were ordered to place the right hand on the left forearm in Salah. It is known that it is an act of Sunnah for the one who is performing Salah to place the palms on the knees when in a state of Ruku`, and to place them on the floor by his shoulders or his ears when in the state of Sujud (prostration), and to place them on both his thighs and knees while in both the states of sitting between the two prostrations and reciting Tashahhud (a recitation in the sitting position in the second/last unit of Prayer) according to what is explained in the Sunnah of the Prophet in this regard. Thus, it is only the position of standing that is not mentioned. Accordingly, it is concluded from the report of Sahl that it is such position that is meant. Thus, it should be clear that it is an act of Sunnah for the one who is performing Salah to place his right hand over his left forearm while in the state of standing up in his Salah, whether standing both before or after performing Ruku`, because it was not reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he differentiated between them as far as we know. As for a person who differentiates between them, he has to bring evidence for this.
It is authentically reported in the Hadith related by Wa'il ibn Hujr on the authority of Al-Nasa'y with an authentic chain of narrators: Whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) stood up in Salah, he used to place his right hand on his left one.There is another narration also related by both Al-Nasa'y and Abu Dawud with an authentic chain of narrators
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on the authority of Wa'il who said: I saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) after he pronounced Takbirat-ul-Ihram (saying: "Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]" upon starting Prayer) placing his right hand over the back of his left hand, wrist and forearm. Such is an obvious and authentic explanation on the posture of the person who is performing Salah during standing up in Salah i.e., to place his right palm on the back of his left hand, wrist, and forearm. There is no difference stated between standing up before or after Ruku`. Thus, it is evident that the Hadith is applied to both cases. His authority Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar (may Allah be merciful to him) said in his book Fat-h Al-Bary (a commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari) while commenting on the title of the relevant report: "His saying 'chapter on placing the right hand upon the left in Salah' refers to the position of standing up. His saying 'people were commanded' refers to that it was the Prophet (peace be upon him) who gave them orders as will be explained later.
His saying: "upon his arm" did not define the specific part of the arm. The Hadith related by Wa'il and recorded by Abu Dawud and Al-Nasa'y clarifies it: Then, he placed his right hand over the back of his left palm, wrist, and forearm. Ibn Khuzaymah and others ranked it as Hadith Sahih (a Hadith that has been transmitted by people known for their uprightness and exactitude; free from eccentricity and blemish). The source of this Hadith is found in Sahih Muslim without the addition. The wrist is the joint between the hand and the forearm. Another report will be cited in the last part of Salah Issues but it does not specify the parts of body whereupon the hand is placed either. Ibn Khuzaymah also related on the authority of Wa'il that the Prophet placed them on his chest whereas Al-Bazar's narration states that the Prophet placed them by his chest.
Imam Ahmad stated the same thing in the Hadith related on the authority of Hulb Al-Ta'iy.
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In Ziyadat al-Musnad (a book compiled by `Abdullah the son of Imam Ahmad), it is stated through the Hadith related by Imam `Aly that the Prophet placed them under the navel. Yet, its chain of narrators is weak. There is an objection on the part of Al-Dany mentioned in "Atraf Muwatta' Malik", where he stated: "This is just a guess on the part of Abu Hazim." He argued that had not Abu Hazim said "I do not know...", the Hadith would have taken the rank of a Hadith Marfu` (a Hadith narrated from the Prophet with a connected or disconnected chain of narration), because the saying of a Companion: "We were commanded to do such-and-such", obviously refers to the person who has the authority to give orders i.e., the Prophet (peace be upon him). This is because the Companions are revealing the rulings of Shari`ah (Islamic law) and thus they convey the teachings of the law-giver i.e., the Prophet. This is similar to the statement of `Aishah: "We were ordered to make up for the days of Sawm (Fast) we have missed." It means that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is the one who gave the order. It is stated by Al-Bayhaqy that there is no disagreement among narrators in this regard. And Allah knows best.
Additionally, a supporting report is narrated in Sunan of Abu Dawud and Al-Nasa'y and Sahih Ibn Al-Sakan that could help in determining the person giving the order and the one receiving it. It is narrated that Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) saw me when I was placing my left hand on my right hand. He made me place the right hand on the left one. Its Isnad (chain of narrators) is good. It is argued that had the Hadith related by Abu Hazim been Marfu`, then he would not have needed to say "I do not know..."
In reply to this, it can be said: He wanted to confirm his expression because without such a comment on the part of Abu Hazim, the Hadith will not be Marfu` but still has the same effect of Marfu`. Scholars state that the wisdom behind such a mode (i.e. placing one's hands in such a mode) is that it is the manner befitting the humble Slave who beseeches his Lord through preventing one from fiddling and bring him Khushu` (the heart being attuned to the act of worship). It seems that Al-Bukhari (may Allah be merciful to him) noticed this. Thus, he followed this chapter by a chapter on Khushu`. It was
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said: "Heart is the place of intention and it is customary that when one wants to preserve something, one puts one's hands on it." It is stated by Ibn `Abdul-Bar: "There is no difference concerning this issue in the reports from the Prophet (peace be upon him). Moreover, it is the opinion adopted by the majority of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) and the Tabi`un (Followers, the generation after the Companions of the Prophet), and is stated by Malik in Al-Muwatta'. Ibn Al-Mundhir as well as other scholars only reported that from Malik. Yet, Ibn Al-Qasim related from Malik that he adopted the viewpoint of releasing one's hands. This was adopted by the majority of his followers. Another viewpoint differentiating between the obligatory and the supererogatory Salah is also attributed to Malik. Some of them also hated holding one's hands during Salah. It is reported by Ibn Al-Hajib that this is when one holds one's hands deliberately with the intention to relax oneself." This is a precise and concise explanation of the issue. The statement of Imam Ibn `Abdul-Bar proves that placing the right hand on the left hand during standing in Salah is the opinion adopted by the majority of scholars. There is no differentiation on the part of Ibn `Abdul-Bar (may Allah be merciful to him) between the two cases. As for what was stated by Imam Al-Muwaffaq in his book Al-Mughny, the author of Al-Furu’ (i.e., Ibn Muflih, the student of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah), as well as others on the authority of Imam Ahmad (may Allah be merciful to him) that he opines that the one who is performing Salah has the choice either to release his hands or to hold them upon standing erect after Ruku` (bowing), I know of no legal evidence supporting this. On the contrary, it is obvious through the authentic Hadiths mentioned above that it is an act of Sunnah to hold one's hands in both cases. The same applies to what was stated by some Hanafy jurists who preferred releasing one's hands during the standing posture following Ruku`. This is baseless, because this contradicts the Hadiths mentioned above. When juristic preference goes against the Hadiths, this preference will be unreliable as stated by scholars.
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As for what was reported by Ibn `Abdul-Bar from the majority of the Maliky scholars who preferred releasing one's hands, he means by this both cases i.e., before and after Ruku`. There is no doubt that this opinion is overweighed and contradicts the authentic Hadiths and the opinion adopted by the majority of scholars as previously explained. Both the Hadiths related by Wa'il ibn Hujr and Hulb Al-Ta'iy indicate that it is better to place one's two hands upon the chest while one is standing in Salah. Both the Hadiths were mentioned by Al-Hafizh as stated above. The two Hadiths are good and have an acceptable chain of narrators. The first i.e., that was related by Wa'il was reported by Imam Ibn Khuzaymah (may Allah be Merciful with him) who judged it to be authentic. It was also mentioned by Al-Shawkany in his book Nayl Al-Awtar. The second Hadith related by Hulb was recorded by Imam Ahmad (may Allah be merciful to him) with a Hasan Isnad (a Hadith whose Isnad contains a narrator with weak exactitude, but is free from eccentricity or blemish). It was also related by Abu Dawud (may Allah be merciful to him) on the authority of Tawus from the Prophet (peace be upon him) what reconciles with the Hadith related by Wa'il and Hulb. Such a Hadith is Mursal (a Hadith with no Companion of the Prophet in the chain of narration) and reliable. If one said: "Abu Dawud narrated on the authority of `Aly (may Allah be pleased with him): 'It is an act of Sunnah to place the two hands under the navel during prayer,' the reply is that this is a weak Hadith as stated by Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar in his words mentioned above (may Allah be merciful to him). The reason behind its weakness is that it is related by `Abdul-Rahman ibn Is-haq Al-Kufy, who is also called Al-Wasity. His narrations are weak and cannot be relied upon according to scholars. He was judged as weak by Imam Ahmad, Abu Hatim, Ibn Ma`in, and other scholars. The same applies to the Hadith related by Abu Hurayrah on the authority of Abu Dawud that is judged as Marfu`: The established way of folding hands is to hold one hand on the other hand below the navel. This is because its Isnad includes `Abdul-Rahman ibn Is-haq. We have just mentioned such a person and identified his condition.
The following text was stated by Shaykh Abu Al-Tayyib
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Muhammad Shamsul-Haqq in his book "`Awn Al-Ma`bud Sharh Sunnan Abu Dawud", where he stated after mentioning many things in this regard: "The Hadith Mursal (a Hadith with no Companion of the Prophet in the chain of narration) related by Tawus, and the Hadiths related by Hulb and Wa'il ibn Hujr all indicate the desirability of placing the two hands upon the chest. This is the truth. As for placing them either below or above the navel, there is no authentic Hadith reported from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in this regard." I adopt such opinion stated by the Shaykh (may Allah be merciful to him) regarding the mentioned Hadiths.
If it is argued that the following text is stated by Shaykh Muhammad Nasir Al-Din Al-Albany in the footnote of his book "Sifat Salat Al-Naby (peace be upon him)" page (145) in the sixth edition: "I have no doubt that placing the two hands upon the chest in this standing (i.e. standing after Ruku`) is a misleading Bid`ah (innovation in the religion), because this was not mentioned at all in any of the Hadiths on (describing) Salah though they are numerous. Had this had any origin, it would have been reported to us even through just one means. This is supported by the fact that this was neither performed by any of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) nor was mentioned by any of the scholars of Hadith, as far as I know." In reply to what our brother scholar Shaykh Nasir Al-Din stated in the footnote of his mentioned book, we can say: First: His affirmation that placing the right hand upon the left hand when standing after Ruku` is a misleading Bid`ah is an obvious mistake that no one ever adopted among
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the scholars, as far as we know. It is contradictory to the authentic Hadiths mentioned above. I do not have the least doubt regarding his comprehensive knowledge, virtue, and concern with the Sunnah. May Allah grant him much more knowledge and success. Yet, he has committed an obvious mistake in this issue. The opinions of any scholar can be accepted or refuted as stated by Imam Malik ibn Anas (may Allah be merciful to him): "Our opinions can be accepted or refuted except for the sayings of the one who is buried in this grave." He meant the Prophet (peace be upon him). Such is the viewpoint of all scholars before and after him. Yet, this neither degrades nor belittles them at all. Rather, they are entitled to have either one or two rewards. This is according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) regarding the Mujtahid (jurist who practices independent reasoning): The one who is correct will receive a double blessing and the one who is wrong will receive one reward.
Second: The one who thinks about the Hadiths mentioned above i.e., the Hadith related by Sahl, and that related by Wa'il ibn Hujr, and others, will realize that they indicate that it is an act of Shari`ah to place the right hand upon the left hand when standing in Salah both before and after Ruku`, because there is no details differentiating between the two postures and in fact there is no legal text that differentiates between the two postures.
Moreover, the commandment of placing the right hand on the left forearm during Salah was stated also in the Hadith reported by Sahl. Yet,
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it is not explained when to do so while in Salah. If we contemplate what is related in this regard, it will be clear to us that it is an act of Sunnah to place the palms on the knees when in a state of Ruku`, to place them on the ground when in a state of Sujud, and to place them on both one's thighs and knees while in the state of sitting. Thus, it is only the posture of standing that is not mentioned. Accordingly, it is inferred from the Hadith related by Sahl that it is such posture that is meant. This is very clear.
As for the Hadith related by Wa'il, there is a declaration on the part of Wa'il (may Allah be pleased with him) that he saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) holding his left hand with his right one when he was standing in Salah. It was reported by Al-Nasa'y with an authentic chain of narrators. Such wording given by Wa'il implies the standing in the two positions. As for the one who differentiates between them, he is obliged to present evidence for this. We have already referred to this at the beginning of this article.
Third: Scholars state that the wisdom behind placing one's right hand on one's left hand is that this brings one closer to Khushu` (the heart being submissively attuned to the act of worship) and humility and keeps one away from fiddling. This was discussed earlier in the opinion of Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar. Since the one who is performing Salah should observe this meaning before and after Ruku`, it is impermissible to differentiate between the two postures except when a differentiating authentic text exists, which would be inevitably adopted.
As for the saying of our brother scholar: "This was not mentioned at all in any of the Hadiths on (describing) Salah though they are numerous. Had this had any origin, it would have been reported to us even through just one means," our reply is that this is not true. Rather, what indicates this was actually reported in the Hadiths related by Sahl, Wa'il, and others as mentioned above. As for the one who excludes the posture of standing after Ruku`, he has to raise the reliable manifest evidence in support of this exclusion.
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As for his saying (may Allah grant him success): "This is supported by the fact that this was neither performed by any of the Salaf nor was it mentioned by any of the scholars of Hadith, as far as I know," our reply is that such a claim is very strange because it lacks evidence that none of the Salaf performed it. Rather, this is the very evidence that they used to hold their hands when standing after Ruku`, because had they performed other than that, this would have been reported to us and because the Hadiths mentioned above indicate that it is an act of Shari`ah to hold one's hand when standing in Salah, whether before or after Ruku`. This is what is implicated from the title that Imam Al-Bukhari (may Allah be merciful to him) gave as we have mentioned at the beginning of this article. The opinion stated by Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar implies the same meaning. Had any of the Salaf performed other than that, this would have been reported to us. Moreover, it was not reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he released his hands when standing after Ruku`. Had he done so, this would have been reported to us because the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) reported from the Prophet what is less important than this regarding his sayings and actions (peace be upon him). It was discussed earlier in the opinion of Ibn `Abdul-Bar (may Allah be merciful to him) that nothing contradictory to holding the hands was reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him). Al-Hafizh affirmed such an opinion and we know of no narration proving anything else. According to what we have stated, it should be clear that what was stated by our brother Shaykh Muhammad Nasir Al-Din in this issue is a proof against him, not supporting him when pondering and considering the rules followed by scholars. May Allah forgive us and him. May He grant us all forgiveness. We hope that after reading what we have stated in this article the truth will be clear to him. He could return to it, because the truth is the sought-after goal.
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Whenever a believer finds it, he adopts it. Praise be to Allah, the Shaykh is one of those who seek the truth and exert much efforts to make it clear and call for it.
It should be known that the research mentioned above on holding the left hand with the right one and placing them both on the chest or any other place either before or after Ruku` is an act of Sunnah, not obligatory according to scholars. Thus, if anyone performs Salah with his hands released and does not hold them before or after Ruku`, his Salah is valid but he left what is better to do in Salah. Thus, none of the Muslims should exploit the disagreement on this issue as well as similar issues taking them as a means to dispute, separation, and dissention. This is not permissible for Muslims even when it is stated that holding the hands is obligatory as opted for by Al-Shawkany in the book of Nayl Al-Awtar. Rather, it is obligatory for all Muslims to exert their efforts to cooperate in righteousness and piety, to explain the truth through evidence, and to be keen on achieving the purity of hearts and keeping them safe from rancor and malice. It is obligatory also to beware of what leads to separation and dissention, because Allah (Glorified be He) made it obligatory for Muslims to hold fast, all of them together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e., this Qur’an), and be not divided among themselves. Allah (Glorified be He) says: And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allâh (i.e. this Qur’ân), and be not divided among yourselves
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The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Three things are pleasing to Allah when you do them and three are displeasing: It pleases Him that you worship Him and do not associate anything with Him, and that you take hold of the Rope of Allah altogether, and that you give good counsel to the one to whom Allah gives command over you. I came to know that hatred and dissention arise between many of my Muslim brothers in Africa and other places due to the issue of holding one's hands and releasing them during Salah. There is no doubt that this is Munkar (that which is unacceptable or disapproved of by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect). They should not do that. It is obligatory upon all Muslims to advice and debate with one another so as to present the proofs that enable them know the truth within the frame of mutual love, purity, and Islamic brotherhood. The Companions of the Messenger (peace be upon him) and scholars after them (may Allah be Merciful to him) used to differ regarding secondary matters. Yet, this did entail neither separation nor dissention between them, because the aim of each one of them was to know the truth through presenting evidence. Once it became clear before them, they would unanimously agree to it. When it did not reach the knowledge of any of them, they did not accuse their brothers of going astray, abandon or desert them or refuse to offer Salah behind them due to this. Thus, it is obligatory for all Muslims to fear Allah (Glorified be He) and follow the way of the righteous predecessors preceding us who adhered to
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the truth, religious brotherhood, and turned away from desertion and dissention over secondary matters where evidence may be ambiguous and juristic reasoning may lead to different views. May Allah with His Most Beautiful Names and Sublime Attributes increase us and all Muslims in guidance and success. May He grant us all sound understanding of Islam and support us to abide by, support, and call others to it. He is the One Capable of doing so. May Allah's Peace and Blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions, and those who follow his guidance and honor his Sunnah until the Day of Judgment.
President of the Islamic University
in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah.
`Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz