Question # 147: Is it forbidden or a sin to lean on one or two hands while sitting in masjid or anywhere on the ground?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Based on an authentic hadith narrated by Ahmad and Abu Dawood, it is forbidden for a person to lean on his left hand by placing it behind him, while sitting in the masjid or elsewhere; however, there is no harm in leaning on right hand or both hands by placing them behind one’s back.
Long Answer: Ash-Shareed Ibn As-Suwaid (رضي الله عنه) said, “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) passed by me while I was seated thus: I had placed my left hand behind my back, and I was leaning on the Aaliyah (the flesh that is at the root of one’s thumb) of my hand. Then he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Do you sit in the position of those that have incurred [the] wrath [of Allah] upon them.”” (Related by Ahmad and Abu Dawood and Al-Albani ruled that it is authentic) (‘The Book of Manners’ by Fu’ad Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ash-Shulhoob)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “…This hadith indicates that it is not allowed to sit in this manner, for the reason that it is the way in which those who are punished sit…” (Iqtida’ as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem)
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: “…What appears to be the case is that it is general in application and includes prayer and other circumstances, if one is leaning on the left hand and leaning on the heel of the hand, like this. The apparent meaning of the hadith is that this is not allowed.” (Majmoo‘ Fataawa Ibn Baaz)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “…As for placing both hands behind one’s back and leaning on them both, there is nothing wrong with that, or if he leans on his right hand, there is nothing wrong with it…” (Sharh Riyadh as-Saaliheen)
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbaad said: “…the fact that in this hadith this manner of sitting is described as the manner of sitting of those with whom Allah is angry indicates that it is haraam.” (Sharh Sunan Abi Dawood)
(Most part of the above reply is based on answer provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.