Raf’ al Yadayn – Raising the Hands for Ruku’ [Hanafi Opinion]

By Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf D.B

Similar to the issue of Aameen, the question of whether or not to raise the hands anywhere in the prayer after the opening takbir, is not as serious difference of opinion as has made out to be. Whether one should raise his hands or not, before and after the bowing [ruku‘], is merely a difference in ascertaining the better of two ways. Sometimes it is taken so seriously that some proponents of raising the hands at these instances, label those who do not raise them as ignorant, deviant or guilty of reprehensible innovation. These are serious allegations. Likewise, the latter group has also been known to sometimes criticize the former group in a similar way.

It must be remembered that just as not raising the hands at any instance beyond the opening takbir [tahrima] is derived from the hadiths, so is the practice of raising them in bowing. Hence, both methods are permissible according to most scholars. The only difference is that according to some scholars, not raising the hands is more virtuous than raising them, whereas the others assert a contrary view. In the terminology of the jurists [fuqaha], this issue is referred to as the issue of raf’ al Yadayn or ‘raising of the hands’.

The following sections discuss the hadiths and evidences pertaining to this issue. They also seek to demonstrate the strength of the Hanafi position on this issue.

THE VARIOUS OPINIONS

Let us first take a look at the difference of opinions regarding the raising of the hands at various points in the prayer:

(1) Raising the hands while saying the opening takbir – all scholars are unanimous that the hands should be raised at this point.

(2) Raising the hands before bowing [Ruku’] and after returning from it – one group (who will be referred to as “group one”  in this chapter) state that it is sunnah and more virtuous to raise the hands at these instances. Another group, which includes Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahumullah), is of the opinion that it is sunnah abd more preferable not to raise the hands at these instances.

(3) Raising the hands at any other point in the prayer, for instance, when moving into prostration [sajdah] or returning to the third standing [qiyam] – there is no difference of opinion regarding these instances. All the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah are unanimous that it is no longer Sunnah to raise the hands at these instances, since the practice was abrogated.

It should be remembered, however, that since this is not a debate about something being obligatory [fardh] or unlawful [haraam], the scholars state that it is permissible for a person following the opinion of group one not to raise his hands, just as it is permissible for a Hanafi or Maliki to raise them. However, it is preferable to follow the preferred practice of one’s own school of fiqh, since that entails greater reward.

Some history regarding the issue

The whole debate concerning the “raising of the hands” revolves around two points. The first is regarding the differences  found in the hadiths pertaining to this issue, and the second is regarding the differences found in the practices of the people of the three great cities of Islam during the first century A.H. – Makkah, Madinah and Kufa.

Imam Malik (rahimahullah) based his opinion on the conduct [ta’amul] of the people of Madinah, who did not observe the practice of raising the hands. Hence, he was of the opinion that one should not raise the hands anywhere after the opening Takbir. It states in al-Mudawwana:

Imam Malik (rahimahullah) said, “I do not consider the raising of the hands to be part of any takbir of the prayer, neither of any descending or ascending motion, except at the beginning of prayer” Ibn al Qasim states, “Raising the hands [at any other point] was considered a weak practice according to Imam Malik” [al-Mudawwanat al-kubra 1:71]

This is Imam Malik (rahimahullah) sitting in the capital of Islam of the time, the city of Madinah, where the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the rightly guided caliphs (khulafaa Rashideen) resided, stating that raf’ al Yadayn was a weak practice.

The opinion of Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) on the other hand, were usually based on the fiqh of Makkah. Hence, he preferred the raising of the hands, as it was the practice of most of the inhabitants of Makkah in accordance with the teachings of ‘Abdullah ibn Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu).

Other than these two cities, the most significant center of Islamic learning was Kufa. ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) has sent ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) to Kufa as its teacher, in addition to approximately fifteen hundred other Companions who had previously taken up residence there. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) had transferred the center of the Islamic Caliphate to Kufa as well, where he also took up residence. Hence, the people of Kufa, based on the teachings of Ibn Mas’ud and Ali (radhiyallahu anhuma), did not practice the raising of the hands. The great Hadith master ‘Allamah ‘Iraqi reports in his book Sharh al-Taqrib that Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Marwazi said regarding the inhabitants of Kufa:

We are not aware of any city, in which all its inhabitants had completely abandoned the practice of raising the hands at all instances of ascending or descending in prayer, besides the people of Kufa. None from among them would raise their hands except at the initial takbir. (Ithaf al-sadat al-muttaqin bi sharh ihya ulum al-din)

Hence, only one city from amongst the three great centers of Islam gave preference to raising the hands. The practice in the other cities was the contrary. This is a very strong evidence in favor of the Hanafi opinion, because many of the people of Kufa travelled to Makkah but still chose not to adopt the pracrice of the people of Makkah in raising the hands.

Imam Tirmidhi, in his Sunan, composed two chapters concerning this issue: one contains the hadiths of raising the hands, and the other contains the hadiths of not raising them. At the end of the first chapter, he remarks concerning the raising of the hands, “This is the opinion of a few [ba’d] Companions.” At the end of the second chapter, on not raising the hands, he remarks, “This is the opinion of more than one companion.” The expression used-ghayru Wahidin, “more than one”- indicates a greater number than the term ba’d “few.” These remarks of Imam Tirmidhi indicates that the practice of not raising the hands was very widespread one.

The Differences found in the Narrations

The hadiths regarding raf’ al Yadayn are of three types:

(1) There are those which clearly mention the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) raised his hands at the time of ruku’.

(2) There are those which mention that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) never raised his hands except when uttering the opening takbir.

(3) There are those which describe the complete prayer of Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), but do not mention whether or not he raised his hands after the opening takbir.

The hadiths of the first category stands as evidence for group one, whose opinion is of raising the hands; whereas the second category of hadith stands as evidence for those whose opinion is not to raise the hands. Although the hadiths of the first category seem to outnumber those of the second, but this does not mean anything, because the hadiths of the third category could also be used as a conjunction with the second as evidence for not raising the hands. The reason for this is that not mentioning something only evidences that it was not a popular practice. It is also very difficult to accept that while demonstrating the prayer of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), a narrator could have failed to mention something as significant as eaising of the hands, had it been an important aspect of the prayer. Hence, along with the hadiths of the third category, which are supplementary evidence for those of the second category, the hadiths in support of not raising the hands would actually outnumber those in support of it.

To elaborate further, it must be understood that the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) not raising the hands is a “nonexistent” action, and people do not mention nonexistent actions in their conversations. For instance, if an individual returning home from the masjid, happened to fall down and hurt himself, the eeport would state, “he fell down,” since his fallaing down became an existent action (something that actually took place). On the other hand, if this same person arrived home without any accident, nobody would remark, “He did not fall,” since this is a nonexistent action. It is just another one of several hundred other such incidents that did not occur.

The case of these hadiths is similar because, since the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did not raise his hands at all, the narrators did not report it. If it had been a regular practice of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that he failed to do sometimes, the narrator would certainly have mentioned it.

This can be likened to the example of a person who has a fixed time for eating. If, for some reason, he failed to eat at that time, someone vould remark that he did not eat, since eating at that time should have been an existent action for him but it did not occur. Nobody would comment on his not eating at any other time, since eating at other times is a non-existent action for this person, and nonexistent actions are normally not mentioned.

Now, the hadiths of the third category do not mention anything about the raising of the hands being a habitual action of Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). As a result, this hadiths can also be used as evidence, along with those of the second category, for the Hanafi point of view. This would significantly increase the number of hadiths in the favor of Hanafi opinion, causing them to outnumber the hadiths of the first category.

Another Complication

Another complicating aspect of this issue is that there are other hadiths which inform of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) raising his hands at various instances within the prayer. More specifically, there are seventeen instances in the salaat where the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is reported to have raised his hands at one time or another; (1) at the initial takbir; (2) before and after bowing [ruku‘]; (3) before descending in prostration [sajdah]; (4) between the two prostrations [sujud]; (5) when beginning the second rak’a; (6) when beginning the third rak’a; (7) in fact, some narrarions mention that he raised his hands at the change of every new posture in the prayer.

The opinion of group one is that one should raise his hands at the first and second instances mentioned above, while the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik is that one should raise his hands at the first instance only. The question that arises here is: “Why has group one adopted the first two instances only and not the others?” Whatever their reason is for adopting only two instances and abandoning the rest will be the reason for Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik adopting the first instance only and abandoning the others.

Undoubtedly, all of the Imam’s have their reasons for not classifying the raising of the hands being Sunnah in all seven instances, inspite of these hadiths which mention that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) frequently raised his hands during salaat. By the end of this chapter, it should become clear as to why such a practice was discarded, and why the raising of the hands was restricted to the opening takbir only.

THE HADITH’S ON RAISING THE HANDS

Group one normally presents the narrations of Ibn ‘Umar and Malik ibn al-Huwayrith (radhiyallahu anhuma) as their primary source of evidences, since both of these Companions have reported the raising of the hands at the time of bowing. However, both of these Companions have also reported the raising of the hands regarding all seven instances mentioned above. Group one has only accepted those narrations of the two Companions which mentions that the Messenger of Allah raised his hands at the opening takbir and when bowing, and have disregarded the other narrations.

The Hanafi scholars dis not base their opinion on these narrations but on those reports whose reports are consistent. Their primary source are the narrations of Hadhrat ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu), who states that the hands were raised at the initial takbir only, and not repeated at any other time in the prayer. All reports from him explain the same practice.

Weakness of Hadhrat Abdullah ibn ‘Umar’s (radhiyallahu anhu) narration:

Now we come to the issue of the narrations of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), which are normally quoted by those who claim that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) frequently raised his hands during salaat. It is well known that Imam Malik received many narrrations from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu). In fact, his famous chain of transmission, which runs through Nafi’ to ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) is known as “the golden chain” [silsilat al dhahab]. However, in this issue, Imam Malik (rahimahullah) did not base his opinion on these narrations, but rather adopted the narrarions of Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) instead, and gave preference to the practice [ta’amul] of the people of Madinah, which was to raise the hands at the initial takbir only.

Second, Ibn Abi Shaybah and Imam Tahawi (rahimahumullah) have related another hadith of Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) through Mujahid, in which there is also no mention of raising the hands. If this was the constant practice of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), then why it is not mentioned in this narration?

Furthermore, although there are many hadith’s of Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) regarding the raising of the hands, there are many inconsistencies found in them. Such confusion in the reports of the narrator will not allow his narrations to be adopted in the presence of other reports that are precise and consistent. For example, in one of his narrations, which is mentioned in Imam Tahawi’s Mushkil al-Athar, it states that the hands were raised at every moment of the prayer, whereas in his other narrations, this is not mentioned.

THE HADITHS ON NOT RAISING THE HANDS

We will now present the narrations of various Companions, including those of Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), which state that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) raised his hands for the opening takbir only.

The Hadiths of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu)

1. ‘Alqama reports that,

‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) said: “Should I not demonstrate the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) for you?” He performed the prayer, and did not raise his hands except at the initial takbir. [Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:59, Sunan al-Nasa’i 1:161, Sunan Abi Dawud 1:116]

Imam Tirmidhi classifies this hadith as sound [hasan]. ‘Allama Ibn Hazm classifies this as rigorously authenticated [Sahih] (al-Muhalla 4:88), and ‘Allama Ahmad Muhammad Shakir, rejecting the criticism of some scholars, writes in his commentary of Sunan al-Tirmidhi:

This Hadith has been authenticated by Ibn Hazm and other hadith masters [huffaz], and whatever has been stated about it containing defects, it is incorrect

It is mentioned in al-Jawhar al-Naqi that its narrators are those of Sahih Muslim. [I’la al-Sunan 3:45]

2. Alqama reports that,

‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) asked: “Should I not inform you of Allah’s Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayer?” He stood up and raised his hands at the outset and did not do so again. [Sunan al-Nasa’i 1:158, I’la al-Sunan 3:48]

3. ‘Alqama narrates from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu):

The Messenger of Allah would raise his hands at the opening takbir, then would not raise them again. [Sharh Ma’ani ‘l-Athar 224]

4. Hadhrat ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) relates:

I prayed with the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhuma). They dis not raise their hands except at the beginning of the prayer. [Nasb al-raya 1:526, Majma’ al-Zawa’id 2:101]

Judging from the above hadiths, it can be concluded so easily, that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) dis not raise his hands regularly during the course of the prayer. Ibn Mas’ud, ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhuma), and other Companions would never have narrated such reports had they observed the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the Caliphs [khulafa] regularly raising their hands? It has also been observed that all the narrations of Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) are consistent that they relate the hands being raised only at the beginning of prayer and not at any other instance.

The Hadiths of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu)

The following narrations of Ibn ‘Umar speak of the hands being raised at the opening takbir only.

5. Salim report that his father (Ibn Umar) said:

“I observed that when the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would begin his prayer, he would raise his hands while leveling them: one say at shoulder level. Thereafter he would not raise them again  before the bowing or after it. Some have added that he woul not raise them between the two prostrations [sujud] either.” [Sahih ibn ‘Awana 2:90]

In this narration, Ibn Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) actually confirms that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did not raise his hands at the time of ruku’. Imam Humaydi, the shaykh (teacher) of Imam Bukhari, has also reported this very hadith through his own chain, which is one of the most reliable chains (Musnad al-Humaydi 2:277). It is an agreed upon fact that all of the hadiths of Sahih ibn ‘Awana, where this hadith is be found, are rigorously authenticated [Sahih].

6. Salim reports from his father that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would raise his hands to shoulder level when beginning the prayer [al-Mudawwanat al-Kubra 2:71]. Imam Malik rejected raf’ al-yadayn at the time of bowing due to this hadith.

7. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

The hands are to be raised at seven instances: at the beginning of prayer, when setting sight on the house of Allah, at Safa, Marwa’, Arafat, Muzdalifah, and when saluting the Black stone [Nasb al-Raya 1:521]

In this hadith, there is no mention of the hands being raised at the time of bowing [ruku’].

The Hadiths of Jabir ibn Samurah (radhiyallahu anhu)

8. Jabir ibn Samurah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) approached us and remarked, “Why is it that I see you raising your hands as though they are the tails of restive horses? Remain calm in prayer” [Sahih al-Muslim 1:81, Sunan al-Nasa’i 1:176, Sunan Abi Dawud 1:150].

In this hadith, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prohibits the raising of the hands while performing prayer. This could only mean at the time of bowing, prostration and the like. It cannot be considered prohibited to raise them whem proclaiming the openin takbir, since the raising of the hands at that time is not considered to be inside the prayer and, as such, does not interfere with the calmness recomended in the salaat.

Some scholars however assert that this hadith is regarding the prohibition of raising the hands  while making salaam at the end of salaat. This is a misconception that has risen from another similar hadith regarsing salaam, which states:

Whenever we prayed with the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), we would say, “al-salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah, al-salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,” and we would gesture with our hands towards our sides. The Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) asked, “What are you gesturing towards with your hands, as though they are the tails of restive horses? It is sufficient for you to leave your hands on your laps and make salaam to your brother on your right and on your left” [Sahih Muslim  1:181]

This misconception may have occurred because of a statement in both narrations mentioning raising the hands “as though they are the tails of restive horses.” This may have lead some scholars to conclude that both narrations are concerning one and the same incident [i.e. the raising of the hands while saying salaam]. However, if both the narrations are analyzed and the circumstances of each investigated, it is evident, Insha Allah, that both are concerning two different and separate incidents. Some of these differences are highlighted below:

(a) In the first Hadith (Jabir ibn Samurah’s narration), it states that the Companions were engrossed in their own prayers when the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) addressed them. The second hadith mentions that they were  performing prayer behind Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), after which he addressed them.

(b) The first hadith states that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) pronibited them from  “raising their hands during prayer,” and in the second hadith he prohibited them from “gesturing to the right and left with their hands when making salaam

(c) In the first hadith, the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) instructed them to exercise calmness in prayer after prohibiting them from raising their hands, whereas in the second one he only instructed them on how to properly perform the salaam.

(d) In the first hadith, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) uses the words “in prayer” whereas salaam is made at the end of prayer. This means the hadith is concerning observing calmness throughout the prayer, and not just at the time of making salaam.

(e) If the first hadith were taken for a moment to be referring to calmness during salaam, it would then mean that remaining calm in the prayer itself, when bowing for example, would be even more important. If raising of the hands during salaam is prohibited, it would be more conclusively be prohibited throughout the prayer.

The Hadiths of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu)

9. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) reports that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

The hands should not be raised except at seven instances: at the beginning of the prayer, when entering the Masjid al-Haram [“the Sanctified Masjid”], and setting sight on the House of Allah, when standing on Safa’, Marwa’, and when standing [Yaqifu] with the pilgrims in ‘Arafat, and at Musdalifah. [Nasb al-Raya 1:290, Mu’jam al-Tabarani 1:389]

10. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) also narrates:

The hands should not be raised except at seven instances: when beginning the prayer, when setting sight on the House of Allah, at Safa’, at Marwa’, at Muzdalifah, and when pelting the jamarat [stone pillars representing the Satan at Mina’] [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:237]

The Hadiths of Bara’ ibn Azib (radhiyallahu anhu)

11. Ibn Abi Layla reports that he heard Bara’ (radhiyallahu anhu) narrate to a group of people, among whom was Ka’b ibn ‘Ujra (radhiyallahu anhu):

I observed the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) at the initial takbir when beginning the prayer [Daraqutni 1:293]

It is mentioned in the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah  that Ibn Abi Layla was also known not to raise his hands [except at the initial takbir] [1:237]

12. Bara’ ibn Azib (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that,

When the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would begin the prayer, he would raise his hands up to his ears, then not do so again.

One version of this narrarion adds: “Only once” (i.e. he raised his hands only once), and another adds: “then he  would not raise them again until completing the prayer” [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:236, Sunan Abi Dawud 1:109]

This further clarifies that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) only raised hos hands at the beginning of the salaat. Like these narrations, there are many countless others which informs us that the hands were not regularly raised beyond the first takbir. For those seeking further clarification, additional narrations and commentary can be found in the following books: Nasb al-raya of ‘Allama Zayla’i, 2:389-416, Awjaz al-Masalik of Shaykh Zakariyyah Khandlawi, 1:202-210, and I’la al-Sunan of Shaykh Zafar Uthmani 3:43-72.

THE COMPANIONS AND FOLLOWERS ON THIS ISSUE

1. Aswad reports

I performed prayer with ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) and he raised his hands only when beginnimg the prayer. [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:237]

2. ‘Abd al Malik states:

I observed that Sha’bi, Ibrahim al-Nakh’ai and Abu Ishaq did not raise their hands except at the beginnimg of the prayer. [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:237]

3. ‘Asim ibn Kulayb, reports from his father who was a Companion of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu), that,

“‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) would raise his hands only at the initial takbir when beginning his prayers; thereafter, he would not raise them again at any other place in the prayer.” [Muwatta Imam Muhammad 94, Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:236]

4. Ibrahim al-Nakh’ai reports that,

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) would raise his hands at the beginning of the prayer, then would not raise them again. [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:236]

5. Mujahid reports:

“I did not see ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) raise his hands except at the beginning of the prayer”  [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:236]]

6. Imam Malik reports that,

Na’im ibn Abdullah al-Mujmir and Abu Ja’far al-Qari informed him that Abu Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) would lead them in prayer. He would say the takbir every time he moved from one posture to another, and would raise his hands when saying the takbir at the beginning of the prayer. [Muwatta Imam Muhammad 90]

7. Abu Ishaq reports that,

the Companions of Ibn Mas’ud and ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhum) would not raise their hands except at the beginning of the prayers, Waki’ confirms that they [the Companions] would not raise them thereafter.  [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah: 1:236]

8. Isma’il reports that

Qays would raise his hands when entering into prayer, after which he would not raise them again. [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:236]

The narrator Qays has the honor of transmitting from all ten of the Companions who were given glad tidings of Paradise by the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in one sitting [‘ashara mubashshara]

9. It is reported from Aswad and ‘Alqama that

they would raise their hands when beginning the prayer, after which they would not raise them again [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:236]

10. Sufyan ibn Muslim al-Juhani reports that

Ibn Abi Layla would raise his hands at the beginning [of the prayer] when saying the takbir.

11. It is reported from Khaythama and Ibrahim al-Nakh’ai that they would only raise their hands at the beginning of prayer [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:236]

12. It is reported regarding Sha’bi that he would raise his hands at the initial takbir (only), then he would not do so again. [Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 1:236]

13. Abu Bakr ibn ‘Ayash narrates

I have never seen a jurist do such a thing i.e. raising the hands at any point other than the initial takbir [Sharh Ma’ani l’ Athar 1:228]

Here are the likes of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, Ibn ‘Umar, Abu Hurayrah and many other Companions (radhiyallahu anhum) followed by Sha’bi, Ibrahim al-Nakh’ai, Abu Ishaq, Qays, Aswad, ‘Alqama and Ibn Abi Layla, all from the Followers – they have reported to have not raised their hands except at the initial takbir. It is quite clear that they would not have omitted the “raising of the hands” at the time of bowing, had it been the regular practice of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

OTHER REASONS FOR NOT RAISING THE HANDS

(1) Not raising the hands beyond the opening takbir is most in conformance with the Holy Qur’an. Allah Ta’ala says:

“Successful indeed are the believers, those who humble themselves [khashi’un] in their prayers” [al-Qur’an 23:2]

The word khushu means humility and humbleness. Similarly, in another verse, Allah Ta’ala says:

“Stand before Allah, in a devout frame of mind [qanitin]” [al-Qur’an 2:238]

From these verses, it is understood that both humility and calmness are required in salaat. The Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prohibited the raising of the hands (as in hadith 8 above) because it interfered with the maintainance of humility and calmness in it. Not raising the hands so frequently will help achieve the peace, tranquility and devotion encouraged by Allah Ta’ala in the Qur’an.

Furthermore, according to the principles of Ahadith [Usul al-Hadith], when some hadiths are in apparent conflict with others – as in this case – those most in conformance with the Qur’an will be regarded as most superior.

(2) Raising the hands at the opening takbir is a sunnah by consensus, and raising them before and after bowing is where the difference of opinion lies. Raising the hands beyond these two instances is unanimously viewed as not being sunnah. Now let us determine whether the takbir at the time of descending into ruku’ and the tasmi’ [sami’Allahu liman hamidah] when retirning from it, are similar to the opening takbir or to the takbirs at other instances in the prayer.

They are not similar to the opening takbir, because the opening takbir is an integral [rukn] of salaat, whereas the takbir and the tasmi’ for ruku’ are  sunnah. The takbirs at all other instances in the prayer, however, are also sunnah and the hands are not raised when saying them. Since the takbir and tasmi’ when bowing resemble these other takbirs in their being sunnah, it should follow that the hands should never be raised at the time of bowing either, as they are not raised these other takbirs.

(3) Since there are two types of hadiths found – those which state the hands were raised when bowing and those which state on the contrary – it is important to find out which practice abrogated the other. Whenever an abrogation [Naskh] occurred regarding any particular action of prayer, it was always regarding an action that was initially commanded and practised. Nonexistent practice were not abrogated. For instance, in the earlier period of Islam, it was permissible to talk and move around during prayer. Both of these actions were later prohibited and no longer remained valid. This is what abrogation is; when a practice is cancelled after having been existent.

We cannot say that something which was never practised to begin with, became abrogated by an injunction commanding its performance. That would just be considered a new command. Similarly, it should be understood here that raising the hands at the time of bowing, while being initially allowed, was later abrogated, just as the Hanafis have said.

(4) The narrations on this issue are of two types. There are those which outline the method of the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayer and whether he raised his hands or not. Many differences are to be found in these narrations. Some state that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) raised his hands at every takbir, whereas others state that he raised them for the initial takbir only and so forth.

The second type of narrations are those in which the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) issues direct commands about raising the hands in prayer. Unlike the first category,  there is no confusion or inconsistency found in these narrations. They all mention that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prohibited the raising of the hands in prayer. For instance, hadith 8 above clearly prohibits the raising of the hands while engrossed in prayer. According to principle of hadith [Usul al-Hadith], the narrations which contradict each other will be rejected, and those which are consistent will be accepted. Hence, since the hadith of the second category are very consistent in their prohibition of raising the hands, they will be preferred over the first category, which are inconsistent.

(5) The narrators of the hadiths who, like ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), mention the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) raising the hands at the time of bowing, have themselves been reported to have not raised their hands. However, the primary narrator of this hadiths which mention the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) as having not raised his hands, is ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu). He has not been reported to have adopted any method besides what is mentioned in his narrations. This means that Ibn Mas’ud’s (radhiyallahu anhu) hadiths hold a stronger position in this issue, since, according to the principles of Hadiths [Usul al-Hadith], the narrations of a narrator whose personal practice contradicts his narrations are usually not accepted.

(6) Those who narrated that the hands were not raised, were higher ranked jurists [fuqaha]  than those who narrated that it was a constant practice. For instance, it is well known that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) was a greater jurist than ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu); and Ibn Mas’ud’s (radhiyallahu anhu) students, ‘Alqama and Aswad, were greater jurists than Nafi’, who reported from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu). Hence, according to the principles of Hadith [Usul al-Hadith], the narrarions of Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu), ‘Alqama and Aswad on this issue are preferred over those of Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) and his students, due to their status in jurisprudence [fiqh].

(7) Since Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) was older than Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), he had more opportunity to stand in the first row closer to the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), giving him a closer view of the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayer. Ibn ‘Umar’s (radhiyallahu anhu), due to his young age, would not stand in the front rows. Hence, Ibn Mas’ud’s (radhiyallahu anhu) narrations will be regarded as stronger than Ibn ‘Umar’s (radhiyallahu anhu) narrations in this issue.

Besides this, Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) enjoyed a very  close relationship with the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). ‘Allama Dhahabi, describing the status of Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu), writes:

“Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu), the learned leader [al-Imam al-Rabbani], ‘Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Abdullah ibn Ummi’ ‘Abd al-Hudhali; Companion and personal servant of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam); among the first to embrace Islam; among the veterans of the battle of Badr; among the expert jurists and teacher of the Qur’aan; among those who strove to convey the words of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) accurately; extremely scrupulous in his narrations; and one who would admonish his students upon their negligence in recording the exact words of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)…Due to extreme caution, he would narrate very little himself….His students would never give preference to any Companion over him….Surely he was from among the leading Companions, the bearers of sacred knowledge, and the exemplars [a’imma] of guidance” [Tadhkirat al-Huffaz].

Imam Tahawi relates a very interesting incident:

Mughira ibn Muqsim reports, “I mentioned to Ibrahim al-Nakh’ai the hadith of Wa’il ibn Hujr (radhiyallahu anhu) regarding the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) raising his hands before and after bowing” Ibrahim al-Nakh’ai said, “If Wa’il has seen the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) raising his hands once, then Ibn Mas’ud has seen him fifty times not raising them” [Sharh Ma’ani ‘l Athar]

‘Urwa ibn Murra stated:

When I entered the masjid (mosque) in Hadhramaut. I heard ‘Alqama ibn Wa’il narrate from his father that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would raise his hands before and after the bowing posture. I mentioned this to Ibrahim al-Nakh’ai, who responded angrily, “Is Wa’il ibn Hujr the only one ro have seen the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)? Did not Ibn Mas’ud and his Companions also see him?” [Muwatta Imam Muhammad 92]

(8) One other reason for not raising the hands at the time of bowing is that we find all of the various invocations of prayer accompanied by a specific body motion. For instance, there is takbir before bowing and tasmi’ before returning from it, and likewise, when descending into the prostration there is a takbir. Since there was no accompanying body motion for the beginning and ending of prayer, raising the hands was allocated for the opening takbir, and the tuening of the heads for taslim [salaams]. Now, if the hands were also to be raised at the time of bowing, then the takbir and tasmi’ at that time will be accompanied by two actions (i.e. bowing down and raising the hands) and in turn cotradicting the standard of having only one motion for every invocation.

CONCLUSION

The Hadiths which mention that the hands were raised at the time of bowing, do not constitute sufficient evidence to establish that the raising of the hands remained a permanent practice of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Therefore, raising the hands before and after bowimg cannot be called a Sunnah mustamirrah or “permanant or continuous practice of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam),” due to the many authentic narrations which state that the hands were never raised after the opening takbir. The pracrice of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs [khulafa’ rashidun] and many of the Prominent Companions was also not ro raise them, and hadith 8 (above)  actually prohibits raising them. All of these points indicate raising the hands when bowing iw a Sunnah matruka or “an earlier practice of Allah’s Messenger which he later abandoned;” hence, it would be Sunnah and more preferable not to raise the hands before and after bowing.

To expound further, the Hanafis do acknowledge tgat the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) raised his hands at the various instances in the salaat that are outlined in the hadiths; however, they recognize this as a temporary practice. It was only at the time of the opening takbir that he raised them regularly. Npt a single narration is found from those presented by group one which establishes that the hands were raised by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) on a permanant basis before and after bowing.

One narration of Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), which is sometimes mentioned, ends with the words, “Thus, this remained the practice of Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in prayer until he met with Allah.” This narration is either extremely weak or fabricated due to it containing ‘Isma ibn Muhammad in its chain of narrators. This narrator has been described as follows: (a) Yahya ibn Ma’in calls him as “flagrant liar [kadhdhaab] who fabricates hadiths;” (b) ‘Uqaylu states, “He narrates nonsense from reliable narrators [Mizan al I’tidal 3:68];” (c) Ibn ‘Adi states, “None of his narrations are free from defects” [Mizan al I’tidal 2:582]

It also contains another narrators, ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Quraysh, who has also been criticized and called a fabricator. [Mizan al I’tidal 2:582].

Hence, all the hadiths which have been brought forth as evidence by group one only mention that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) raised his hands at the time of bowing, just as some hadiths also explain that he raised them at various other instances as well. None of these hadiths, however, state that these additional raises were a constant and lifelong practice of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

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