Raising the hands in Witr Salaah.

Q. Imam Bukhari (RA) narrates a hadith that Saaiduna Abdullah Ibn Masud Radiallahu Anhu would recite in the last rakah of witr Qulhuwallahu Ahad and then raise his hands for Qunut before the ruku. Furthermore, Imam Bukhari (RA) also brings a hadith from Saaiduna Umar Radiallahu Anhu that he would raise his hands in Qunut. (Ilaaus Sunan p.84 v.6) Please explain.

A. Both the ahadith which you have referred to, are proofs of Imam Abu Hanifa, that when one begins the Qunoot in witr Salaah he must raise his hands. These ahadith clearly indicate that one should lift his hands before Qunoot in the same manner he raises them when beginning Salaah. These ahadith do not state, nor have the scholars deduced from them, that one is required to keep his hands raised (like that of dua) while he recites the complete Qunoot.

In the both traditions, the words that were used are ‘yarfa’o yadaihe’ which means ‘he lifted/raised both hands’. These words refer to the act of raising the hands as one does in Salaah, and do not refer to the act of stretching out the hands for dua (as others do in their Qunoot). This manner of raising the hands when one says the Takbeer before beginning the Qunoot is also evident from the narration which has been recorded by Imam Tahawi. It states, ‘The hands shall be raised in seven places. In the beginning of Salaah, in the beginning for Qunoot in witr, in both Eid Salaah, at the time of making Istilaam of Hajr Aswad, upon Safa and Marwa, at Arafah and at the two Jamraats. (Tahawi- Sharh Ma’ani Al Athaar].

While explaining this mas’ala in his Sharh of Al Hidaya, Hafiz Badrudeen Al Aini states ‘Raising the hands and saying the Qunoot’ means raising the hands just as it is done in the Takbeer to begin Salaah. (Here, in this Mas’ala), Imam Shafi’s preferred opinion is that one should not raise the hands. It is also the opinion of Imam Malik. (Al Binaya vol.2 pg. 492).

In Ila’us Sunan, Allama Zafar Uthmani has quoted the narration of Abdullah bin Umar (RA) and then stated, ‘In this narration, there is a proof that keeping the hands raised in Qunoot as one does for dua, is Makrooh. Ibn Umar’s hadith indicates clearly that the Prophet (SA) did not exceed more than the mere raising of the hands to the level of the shoulders’. (Ila’us Sunan vol.6 pg.58)

From these explainations, it is evident that the raising of the hands mentioned in the traditions which you have indicated to, does not mean that one should keep his hands raised (as in dua) during the recitation of the Qunoot. Instead, it means that before beginning the Qunoot one should say the Takbeer, and raise the hands (as he does while beginning Salaah) and should then lower it while reciting the Qunoot.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan