Question # 380: Is touching the earlobes with the thumbs sunnah when uttering takbir (Allahu Akbar) at the beginning of prayer?
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: When uttering takbirat al-ihram, one should raise his palms up to the level of his shoulders, and sometimes he should raise them even further, up to the level of his earlobes. However, as for actually touching the earlobes with the thumb, there is no basis for this in the Sunnah. Also, none of the four major school of thoughts recommend touching the earlobes.
Long Answer: According to the Hanafis, a man emulates the prophetic Sunnah by raising his hands when uttering takbirat al-ihram and holding them alongside his ears with his fingers parted… According to the Shafi’is, both men and women emulate the prophetic Sunnah most perfectly by raising their hands in the following situations: (I) when uttering takbirat al-ihram, (2) when bowing and rising from a bow, and (3) when rising after the first testimony. One should hold one’s raised hands in such a way that the fingertips are alongside the tops of one’s ears and one’s thumbs are across from one’s earlobes. Raising one’s hands in this manner represents the most complete emulation of the Sunnah… In the Malikis’ view, it is recommended that one hold one’s hands to one’s shoulders when uttering takbirat al-ihram, but that it is undesirable to do more than this… As for the Hanbalis, they hold that both men and women emulate the prophetic Sunnah by raising their hands to their shoulders when uttering takbirat al-ihram, when bowing, and when coming up from a bow. (‘Islamic Jurisprudence According to the Four Sunni Schools’ by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jaziri)
Many narrations have been recorded concerning the subject of ‘How to Raise the Hands’ at the beginning of each prayer’s takbeer. Many scholars have chosen the following forms: the hands are raised to the shoulders with the fingertips parallel to the button of the ears. Says an-Nawawi, “This is how ash-Shafi’i combined the hadith (on this question), and the people found it to be good.” It is preferred that one extends the fingers while raising the hands. Abu Hurairah said, “When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) stood for prayer, he would raise his hands (with them being) open.” (Related by “the five,” except for Ibn Majah) (‘Fiqh us-Sunnah, at-Tahara and as-Salah’ – Translated by Muhammad Sa’eed Dabas and Jamal al-Din M. Zarabozo)
According to Shaykh Nasir Al-Albani, “…He should raise his palms up to the level of his shoulders, and sometimes he should raise them even further, up to the level of his ear lobes. [Footnote: I say: As for actually touching the earlobes with the thumb then there is no basis for this in the Sunnah. Rather in my view this has to do with waswaas (insinuating whispers of the Shaytaan).] (‘An Abridgement of The Prophet’s Prayer Described’ by Muhammad Nasirud-deen Al-Albaanee)
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.