Placing of hands in Qiyam position.

Q. What is the correct place to put the hands in Qiyam position? Is it to put on the chest or below the navel?

A. With respect to where the hands should be placed while one is in the standing (Qiyam) position of Salaah, there are slightly different practices which are evident from the Prophet (SAS). One practice is that of placing the hands on the chest, another is that of leaving the hands at the side to hang without folding it, and a third practice is that of placing the hands beneath the navel.

It is to be noted that all these practices are acceptable, since they have been traced back to the actions of the Prophet (SAS). As a result (of this), the Sahabahs (Companions) practiced different methods of positioning the hands and so, it came down to the generations of the Tabieen and Tab’ut Tabieen (that is, 2nd and 3rd generation Muslims).

Scholars from among the Salafus Saaliheen (Pious Predecessors) including the four Imams of Fiqh have therefore concluded that all the above practices are valid and authentic, however, due to the fact that some narrations are stronger than others, they have stated that a certain action is more preferable than another.

From among the collection of Ahadith on this topic, one will find that the traditions that speak of placing the hands beneath the navel, are stronger than the others and hence, more preferable. As for the narrations that indicate to the practice of placing the hands on the chest or leaving it at the side, these have been considered weak by many great Scholars and therefore, have not been accepted by them.

With regards to the opinion of leaving the hands at the side (without folding them), this is narrated as the opinion of Imam Malik (AR). While commenting on this, the scholars have stated that there are no authentic narrations that prove this act, although some reports indicate that some companions (Sahabahs) were seen praying with their hands at the side. (Bidayatul Mujtahid vol.1 pg.140).

In contrast to this, there are many traditions that prove that the Messenger of Allah (SAS) folded his hands while standing in Salaah and he did not leave them hanging on the side.

With respect to folding the hands on the chest, we have the following traditions:-

The Companion Wa’il ibn Hujr (RA) says, ‘I reformed Salaah with the Messenger of Allah (SAS) and he placed his right hand upon the left one on his chest’.(Sahih Ibn Khuzaimah)

Based on this tradition, some scholars are of the opinion that while in the qiyam position (in Salaah), one must put his hands on the chest as is evident from this narration. However, while some have practiced upon this tradition, many scholars have not adopted it and have stated that this hadith is weak and should not be accepted. While commenting on this tradition, the scholars of hadith have identified Mu’ammal Ibn Isma’il, one of the narrators of the above tradition to be very weak. About him Imam Bukhari says, ‘His narrations are rejected’. Hafiz Zahabi says, ‘He (Muammal) makes many errors’. (Fathul Mulhim Vol.3 pg. 408 Maktaba Darul Uloom, Karachi)

The scholars of hadith have also mentioned that this narration has also been narrated in other compilations of Ahadith through different chains, however, none of them contains the words ‘on the chest’. The same narration (with different chains) is mentioned in the Sunan of Abu Dawood, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Musnad of Ahmad, Darimi, Baihaqi. As mentioned by Hafiz Ibn al Qayyim, ‘No one has said’ upon the chest’ besides Muamal bin Ismael’. (llaamul Muwaqieen vol. 1 pg. 722 Maktaba Darul Bayan Damascus).

While commenting on the above tradition, Allama Nimawi says, ‘this version of the tradition which is transmitted with the words of ‘on the chest’ is weak and inaccurate’. (Atharus Sunan pg. 84)

Another version of the hadith of Wa’il bin Hujr (RA) is recorded in the Musnad of Al Bazzaar which stated that the Prophet (SAS) placed his hands ‘near the chest’. With respect to this narration, the scholars have also stated that one of the narrators of (this narration) is Muhammad ibn Hujr against whom, some scholars of hadith have spoken. About him, Imam Bukhari said, ‘His matter is unsettled’. Hafiz Zahabi stated, ‘Some of his narrations are rejected’. Hafiz Ibn Hajar has also stated, ‘some of his narrations are rejected’. (Al Jarh wat Ta’deel vol.7 pg. 320. Darul Kutub Al llmiya Beirut Lebanon; Lisanul Meezan vol.5 pg. 126. Darul Kutub Al llmiya Beirut Lebanon).

Based on the above explaination, many scholars have considered the above narration weak and unacceptable.

Another tradition which has been cited, indicating to the practice of placing the hands on the chest is the following:-

Qabeesa bin Hulb narrates from his father (Hulb RA) who says, ‘I saw the Prophet (SAS) turn from his right and from his left, and I saw him placing this upon his chest’. Yahya describes this to be that he placed his right hand upon left above the joint’.(Recorded by Ahmad).

Having quoted this tradition in his compilation, Allama Nimawi stated, ‘Though the Sanad (chain) is good, the words ‘on his chest’ is not accurate and authentic’. (Atharus Sunan pg.87). The great scholar of Hadith, Allama Nimawi then went on to prove that the same tradition of ‘Qabeesa bin Hulb from his father’ has been narrated in other narrations and none of these traditions contain the words ‘on his chest’.

In this respect, we find that the exact tradition (above) has been recorded by the following :-

1) Imam Ahmad from Wakee from Sufyan from Simak from Qabeesa bin Hulb from his father

2) Dar Qutni from Abdur Rahman bin Mahdi and Wakee from Sufyan from Simak from Qabeesa from his father

3) Imam Tirmizi and Ibn Majah from Abu Ahwas from Simak from Qabeesa from Hulb from his father

4) Ahmad from Shareek from Simak from Qabeesa from his father.

All these narrations do not contain the words ‘on the chest,’ although it is the same hadith which has been transmitted from Qabeesa bin Hulb from his father. It therefore becomes established, that the narration of Imam Ahmad from the way of Yahya bin Saeed is opposing to all the other narrations and hence, it has not been accepted as retentive and accurate. (At Ta’ leequl Hasan pg. 87).

Another tradition quoted is :-

‘Tawoos narrates that the Prophet (SAS) used to place his right hand over his left hand and then fold them on his chest while he was in Salaah’. (Abu Dawood in his Maraseel ) Allama Nimawi has recorded this tradition in his Atharus Sunan and then said, ‘it’s Isnad (chain of narration ) is weak’. (Atharus Sunan pg.87).

Further to this, Imam Nimani writes in his At Taleequl Hasan, ‘This is a Muraal narration(which means that there is a missing link) and along with this, Sulaiman bin Moosa (a narrator in the tradition) is weak in hadith. Imam Bukhari says that, ‘he has some rejected traditions’. Imam Nasai says, ‘he is not strong’. (At Taleequ; Hasan pg.88).

There are other narrations which have been narrated on this practice (of placing the hands on the chest), however, as stated by the great scholar of hadith, Allama Nimawi, they are all weak. (Atharus Sunan pg.88).

Imam Nimawi further went on to convincingly prove the weakness of those narrations which have recorded by Baihaqi in his Sunan( At Taleequl Hasan pg. 88).

Besides the above mentioned practice, there is yet another one which states that one should place the hands above the navel, but beneath the chest. This is the well known practice which has been adopted by Imam Shafi as mentioned by Imam Nawawi in Sharh al Muhazzab. It is also an opinion of Imam Malik. This practice however, is not substantiated by any narration from the Prophet (SAS), nor can it be traced back to an action of the Prophet (SAS). In this regard, the great Muhadith Allama Yusuf Al Binnori writes, ‘There is no proof/evidence in a Marfu or Mawqoof narration that explains this position’.(Ma’arifus Sunan –Sharh of Sunan Tirmizi vol.2 pg.445 H.M. Saeed Co. Karachi Pakistan).

Having explained the above mentioned traditions which indicated to the placing of the hands on the chest, we must now look at the other traditions which prove that the hands should be placed beneath the navel. These traditions are sound, and have been attested to by the scholars of hadith as being reliable and strong (narrations). From among them are:-

1) Alqama bin Wail bin Hujr narrates from his father Wail (RA) who said, ‘I saw the Prophet (SAS) placing his right hand above the left in Salaah beneath the navel’. (Recorded by Ibn Abi Shaiba –Atharus Sunan pg. 90)

Having quoted this hadith in his book Atharus Sunan, Allama Nimawi said, ‘the sanad of this hadith is sound’. (Atharus Sunan pg.90). He (Allama Nimawi ) then went on to give the statements of the great scholars of hadith to prove the authenticity and soundness of this hadith. In this regard he said, ‘Hafiz Qasim bin Qatlubagha said in his takhreej of the Ahadith of Al Iktiyaar, ‘This Sanad (of the hadith) is a good one’. Allama Muhammad Abu Tayyib Al Madani, in his commentary of Sunan At Tirmizi said (about this hadith), ‘this hadith is strong with respect to its sanad’. Shaikh Abid As Sindhi has stated in his Tawali-ul-Anwar, ‘the narrators of this hadith are credible/reliable/authentic’.(At Taleequl Hasan Pg. 90; Ma’arifus Sunan vol.2 pg.443; Fathul Mullim vol.3 pg.412).

2) Hajaj bin Hasaan said I heard Abu Mijlaz or I asked him, ’How should I place my hands?’ (That is, when I am standing for Salaah). He said, ‘A person should put the inside of his right palm over the outside of his left palm and place both of them below the navel’. (Ibn Abi Shaiba-Atharus Sunan pg.91). Having quoted this hadith, Allama Nimawi said, ‘The Sanad of this hadith is sound and authentic’. (Atharus Sunan pg. 91). Allama Yusuf Al Binori has also said that the sanad of this hadith is authentic, and he stated that Al Mardini has made the takhreej of this tradition in his book Al Jawhar An Naqi and said, ’the sanad is good’. (Ma’arifus Sunan –commentary of Tirmizi vol. 2 pg. 444).

3) It is narrated from Ali (RA) that he said, ‘it is from the Sunnah to place the palm above the palm beneath the navel (in salaah)’. (Sunan Abu Dawood; Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaiba; Dar Qutni- Nasbur Rayah vol.1 pg.392).

It is to be noted that when the word Sunnah is used by a Sahabi (companion), it falls in the category of a Narfu narration. Ibn Abdul Barr stated, ‘know that when a companion uses the word Sunnah, it refers to the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAS). (Nasbur Rayah vol. 1 pg. 393). Based on this, it is established that Ali’s (RA) statement tells clearly that the action of placing one palm above the other, beneath the navel was indeed an established practice of the Prophet (SAS). While commenting on this narration, the great Muhadith Allama Yusuf Al Binori writes, ‘Although some scholars have considered the above narration to be weak, it is nevertheless, supported by other sound narrations which reinforce the practice of placing the hands beneath the navel’. (Ma’arifus Sunan vol. 2 pg. 444).

From the narrations which support the above mentioned practice are:-

i) The tradition of Abu Mijlaz which states that one must place the inner part of the right palm upon the outer part of the left palm and then place them beneath the navel- Ibn Abi Shaiba has narrated this with a good sanad.

ii) Ibraheeem An Nakha’i has narrated that the Prophet (SAS) would rest one of his hands on the other in salaah beneath the navel. Ibn Abi Shaiba has narrated this with a good sanad.

iii) Anas (RA) narrates, ‘There are three things from the conduct of the Prophet (SAS). They are: Hastening to break the fast, delaying in having sehri and placing the right hand over the left hand in salaah beneath the navel’. (Ma’arifus Sunan vol.2 pg.444)

iv) Abu Huraira (RA) narrates that ‘the placing of the hands upon the hands in Salaah is below the navel’. (Abu Dawood).

All these traditions quoted above are stronger and more reliable than the ones before which speak about placing the hands on the chest. From this, it is concluded that placing the hands beneath the navel is more preferable as it is established as the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAS). It is possible that the other actions were done by the Prophet (SAS) at one time or the other, however, it did not remain as a continuous practice.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan