By Muhammad ibn Ahmad
With regard to the placing of the hands below the navel in Salaah (see Sifah Salah an-Nabee, appendix 4, pg. 102-103, English ed’n), al-Albani has declared all the Hadith that reached him on this issue to be Daeef, due to the presence of the narrator Abdar-Rahman ibn Ishaq al-Wasiti al-Kufi. This may be true due to what the scholars of Hadith have said, but he has either overlooked the fact that there are many other Ahadith which order the placing of the hands below the navel, or has deliberately not bothered to mention them to his readers who are usually unaware of this fact!
Al-Albani claims on page 12 of the same book:
“To place them on the chest is what is proved in the Sunnah, and all that is contrary to it is either Daeef or totally baseless.”
But he contradicts himself on page 102-103 of the same book by saying:
“What further points to its weakness (i.e. the Hadith of Abdar-Rahman ibn Ishaq) is that contrary to it has been narrated on the authority of Ali (Allah be pleased with him) with a better Isnad: the Hadith of Ibn Jareer al-Dabbi an (from) his father, who said, ‘I saw Ali holding his left arm with his right on the wrist, above the navel (I say: The statement above the navel, does not mean on the chest, but literally above the navel and below the chest, since this is the opinion of the Shafiyyah scholars like Bayhaqi, Nawawi, Muslim and so on) – this Isnad is a candidate for the rank of HASAN; Baihaqi (1/301) firmly designated it to be Hasan, and Bukhari (1/301) designated it with certainty while giving it an abridged, ta’leeq form.”
Is this not a clear contradiction from within the same book? And this is not all my dear reader…
Al-Albani claimed that it was found in Bukhari (1/301), but when I examined the Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol.1, Chapter. 6, no. 707, pg. 396, English ed’n), I did not find this narration of Ibn Jarir al-Dabbi (Allah be pleased with him), but instead a Hadith from Sahl ibn Sa’d (Allah be pleased with him) who said: “The people were ordered to place the right hand on the left forearm in the prayer.” Abu Hazim said, “I knew that the order was from the Prophet (Peace be upon him).” [see also Muwatta of Imam Malik, section 9.15, no 50, pg 70, English trans’n by A. Abdarahman and Y. Johnson for a very similar narration].
Now you have just read above that al-Albani classified the Hadith of Ibn Jarir al-Dabbi to be HASAN, but when I found this very Hadith in the Sunan of Abu Dawood (1/756, pg. 194, English ed’n) and cross referenced it to the list, “Daeef Ahadith of Abu Dawud’s Sunan.” I found that his followers listed it as being DAEEF!! Imam Abu Dawood (Rahimahullah) said after relating the Hadith from Ibn Jarir al-Dabbi: “Sa’id ibn Jubair narrated the words: ‘above the navel’. Abu Mijlaz reported the words: ‘below the navel’. This has also been narrated by Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him). But that is not strong.” The latter quote is one which al-Albani failed to mention in “Sifah Salah an-Nabee!”
Note also that al-Albani said with regard to the placing of the hands on the chest (see Sifah Salah an-Nabee, pg. 12, in the footnote):
“In fact, Imam Ishaq ibn Rahwaih acted on this Sunnah, as Marwazi said in ‘Masaa’il (pg 222): ‘Ishaq used to pray witr with us….he would raise his hands in qunoot, and make the qunoot before bowing, and place his hands on his breast or just under his breast.'”
But when I read the footnote to Abu Dawood’s Sunan (vol. 1, pg. 194, fn. 345, English ed’n), I noticed that the author of Awn al-Mabood (1,275), Shams al-Haqq Azimabadi, claimed that both Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi and al-Hafiz Ishaq ibn Rahwaih (one of Imam al-Bukhari’s teachers) held the position that the hands should be folded below the navel! In his Sahih Muslim sharif-Mukhtasar Sharh Nawawi (vol. 2, pg. 28, fn. 23), Wahid az-Zaman (a late scholar of the ‘Salafiyya’ in Pakistan) also affirmed that the Imam’s Sufyan al-Thawri, Abu Hanifah, Ishaq ibn Rahwaih and Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi (Allah’s mercy be upon them) all used to place their hands below the navel! So who do you think is quoting correctly, al-Albani or al-Azimabadi and az-Zaman?
Here is the full quote from Abu Dawood’s Sunan:
“The question of folding hands in prayer below the navel is disputed amongst the jurists. According to Abu Hanifah, Sufyan al-Thawri, Ishaq ibn Rahwaih, Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi (I say: others who held the same view include the Mujtahid’s like Ibrahim al-Nakhai, Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, Abu Yusuf, Muhammad al-Shaybani, Zufar ibn Hudayl and many other scholars, Allah’s mercy be upon them), the hands should be folded below the navel. This tradition is followed by them (I say: it is not just this tradition which lends support to placing the hands below the navel, but others as well). According to al-Shafi’i, the hands should be placed below the chest (I say: this is also the opinion of Imam Muslim, according to the chapter heading used by him: ‘The placing of the right hand over the left hand after the first takbir in prayer below the chest and above the navel and then placing them opposite the shoulders in prostration’ (see Sahih Muslim, vol.1, pg. 220, English ed’n). Al-Nawawi says that this is the view of the majority of the jurists (this may have been in Imam Nawawi’s day, but it is well known that through out the centuries of Islam in aggregate, most of the Ulama as well as the common folk have been placing their hands below the navel, by Allah’s decree and will). Two statements have been attributed to Ahmad ibn Hanbal (see al-Albani’s Sifah Salah an-Nabee, footnote on pg. 51). According to the third view ascribed to him he does not give any preference to any of these two views. One has the choice of placing the hands. Malik is also reported to have held two different views. According to the second, he held that one should leave the hands in their natural position without folding them. One should not fold them placing one on the other.”
NB- The most authoritative position of Imam Malik (Rahimahullah) has been recorded in al-Mudawwana al-Kubra, by Qadi Sahnoon (d. 240 AH). This book contains the most authentic positions of al-Imam Malik and his illustrious disciples, namely Imam ibn al-Qasim and Imam ibn Wahb. Qadi Sahnoon recorded the declarations of Imam Malik directly from Imam ibn al-Qasim, hence there is no real doubt in my mind that whatever has been recorded in this book is the Madhhab of al-Imam Malik, and usually the amal (practise) of the people of Madinah in his day. In al-Mudawwana (vol.1, pg.75-76), Imam Malik has been recorded to have said, “Putting the right hand on the left in salah, I have no knowledge of it in the compulsory (fard) prayer, it is thus disliked (makrooh). But in the supererogatory (nafl) prayer there is no harm (in folding the hands), it is left to the individual to decide.” This statement from Imam Malik is a strong proof against those who claim that Imam Malik only prayed with his hands at his sides, after he received a severe beating (see. The Evolution of Fiqh, pg. 70, by A.A. Bilal Philips)!
Al-Albani has only ‘checked’ six Hadith which allow the placing of the hands below the navel (see his ‘Sifah’, pg.102, Appx. 4). But there are more than 6 other Hadith (which allow the placing of the hands below the navel) which he has not bothered to mention/check; may be he has not come across them! One of such Hadith is very similar to what al-Albani mentioned in “Sifah Salah an-Nabee,” pg.11: “We, the company of Prophets, have been commanded to hasten the breaking of the fast, to delay the meal before the fast, and to place our right arms on our left arms during prayer [from Ibn Hibban and Diyaa’, with a Sahih Isnad according to al-Albani]. The version I have is related by Sayyidina Ali (Allah be pleased with him): “Three things are from the habits of Prophethood: To hasten the breaking of the fast, to delay the Sehri (pre-fast meal) as late as possible, and to place one’s right hand on top of the left hand below the navel (transmitted by Hafiz Ibn Shaheen).”
To finish, As-Sayyid Sabiq quoted Imam Tirmidhi (Rahimahullah) as saying in Fiqh-us-Sunnah (vol. 1, pg 132): “Knowledgeable Companions (Allah be pleased with them all), their followers and those that came after them believed that one should put his right hand over the left during prayer, while some say above the navel and others say below the navel.”