Question # 36: Please explain the ruling on raising hands in the Salah (Raf’ al-Yadayn).

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).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The four places in which the hands are raised: (They are) upon making the opening Takbir, upon bowing, upon straightening up from bowing and upon standing up from the first Tashahhud. These are the four places whose authenticity has been confirmed by the Hadith from the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) who said: “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to raise his hands when he made Takbir for the prayer, when he made Takbir for the Ruku’, when he said: ‘Allah hears the one who praises him.’ And he did not do so in prostration.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari in the Book of the Athan, in Chapter 83: Raising the Hands in the First Takbir at the Opening of the Prayer; and by Muslim in the Book of Prayer, in Chapter 9: The Recommendation of Raising the Hands 21 and 22) The difference of opinion among the scholars regarding it cannot be easily resolved; however, the majority of scholars followed the above mentioned hadith and said that it is mustahabb (recommended) for the worshipper to raise his hands at the points mentioned. Nevertheless, raf’ul yadayn is not among the nullifiers of the prayer and although, it is allowed to pray without raising the hands (before and after Ruku’), it is better to raise the hands. Also Refer Question # 325: Timing of Raising Hands before Rising for Third Rak’ah.

Long Answer: Some Muslims abandon the Sunnah of raising their hands when reciting Takbiratul Ihram (opening takbir), when doing Ruku‘, when rising from it, and after the first Tashahhud… Those who do such acts depend on false ahadith or the misinterpretation of other authentic ones such as:

  • The false hadith that states: ‘whoever raises his hands in Salat, his Salat is invalid’. (Narrated by Al-Jawraqani in “Al-’Abatil” traced back to the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). He said: ‘This is a false hadith’, in its chain of narration there is Ma’mun Ibn Ahmad al-Harawee, who is a wicked, lying fabricator and impostor’. Adh-Dhahabee said about him, “He brought calamities and disgraceful reports. He invented ahadith, this being one of them, and related them apparently on the authority of reliable narrators.” (‘Prophet’s Prayer Described’ by Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaani)
  • Ibn ‘Umar’s statement: “Raising your hands in Salat like this is by Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) Bid‘ah. Indeed the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) never exceeded in Salat this level, pointing to his chest”. (Narrated by Al-Jawraqani in “Al-’Abatil” and Ibn Al-Jawzī in “Al-‘Ilal”. They both considered the hadith as a weak one because of Bishr Ibn Harb [one of the narrators] who is a weak narrator. Al-Jawraani said: ‘This is a false hadith narrated only by Bisher Ibn Harb from Ibn ‘Umr’…)
  • Some scholars held it Bid‘ah to raise one’s hands when doing Ruku‘ and raising from it depending on the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) hadith that states: “why do you raise your hands as if they are the tails of undomesticated horses, keep calm in your Salat”. This view was, however, refuted by Imam Al-Bukhari who said: ‘This hadith pertains to Tashahhud not doing Ruku‘ or raising from it. The Sahabah (رضي الله عنه) used to raise their hands when reciting Tashahhud saluting each other. Seeing this, the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) ordered them not to do so. Consequently, this hadith must not be used as evidence. (The Clarified Ruling of Mistakes Done In Salat’ by Mashhur Hasan Al Salman)
  • We do not know whether the ahadith about raising the hands reached Abu Hanifah (may Allaah have mercy on him) or not, but they did reach his followers. But they did not follow them because they had other ahadith and reports which said that the hands should not be raised except when saying “Allahu akbar” at the beginning of the prayer. These ahadith include the following:
  1. The hadith narrated by Abu Dawood from al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib, which says that the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to raise his hands almost to his ears when he started to pray, then he did not repeat (this action).
  2. The hadith narrated by Abu Dawood from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (رضي الله عنه) who said: “Shall I not lead you in prayer as the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did?” Then he prayed and he only raised his hands once. (See Nasb al-Raayah by al-Zayla’i)

Both these ahadith were classed as da’eef (weak) by the imams of hadith. The hadith of al-Baraa’ was classed as da’eef by Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah, al-Shaafa’i, al-Humaydi the shaykh of al-Bukhaari, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Ma’een, al-Daarimi, al-Bukhaari, and others.  The hadith of Ibn Mas’ood was classed as da’eef by ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Mubaarak, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Bukhaari, al-Bayhaqi, al-Daaraqutni and others. (Talkhees al-Habeer by al-Haafiz ibn Hajar) (Islam Q&A)

Authentic ahadith:

  1. “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to raise his hands when he made Takbir for the prayer, when he made Takbir for the Ruku’, when he said: ‘Allah hears the one who praises him.’ And he did not do so in prostration.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari in the Book of the Athan, in Chapter 83: Raising the Hands in the First Takbir at the Opening of the Prayer; and by Muslim in the Book of Prayer, in Chapter 9: The Recommendation of Raising the Hands 21 and 22)
  2.  “Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to beging his Salat with raising his hands to the level of his shoulders, and do the same when raising himself from Ruku” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Malik in his ‘Muwatta’, Ahmad in ‘Al-Musnad’, Ash-Shafi‘i in ‘Al-Musnad’, Ad – Darimi in ‘As-Sunnan’, Abu Dawud in ‘As-Sunnan’, At-Tirmidhi in ‘Al-Jami’, Ibn Majah in ‘As-Sunnan’, Al-Baihaqi in ‘As-Sunnan’ and added: ‘He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did his Salat in that manner till he passed away’)

This hadith was narrated by nearly fifty of the Sahabah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), ten of whom were those who had received the glad tidings of being guaranteed admision to paradise. Imam Al-Bukhari said: Both Al-Hasan and Humaid Ibn Hilal stated, ‘the prophet’s Sahabah (رضي الله عنه) used to raise their hands [in Salat], all of them…’ Ibn Al-Qayyim said: ‘Pay heed to the prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و سلم) manner in doing his Salat; raising his hands when doing Ruku‘ and when rising from it. After his death, his Sahabah (رضي الله عنه) followed his example earnestly that Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) even used to throw pebbles on those who do not raise their hands in Salat. [These narrations report the prophet’s practice as if it was done before one’s eyes’. (Narrated by Al-Bukhari in “Juz‘ Raf’ul Yadain”) (The Clarified Ruling of Mistakes Done In Salat’ by Mashhur Hasan Al Salman)

Opinions of Madhahib

Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah wrote: “Muslim scholars unanimously agreed that Raf’ul Yadayn must be done with the Opening Takbeer. As for raising them before and after Ruku’, it was unknown to most scholars of Koofah, such as Ibraaheem An-Nakha‘i, Abu Haneefah, Ath-Thawri, and others. As for most of the scholars in other parts of the Muslim world and scholars of traditions (Hadith and reports), such as Al-Awzaa‘i, Ash-Shafi‘i, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Is-haaq, Abu ‘Ubayd, and it was one of the two views reported from (Imam) Maalik, they knew it given that the Sunnah abounded with it.” (Majmoo’ Al-Fataawa)

Ibn Al-Qayyim said in Zaad Al-Ma’ad, “It was narrated that he (saws) raised his hands in these three positions on the authority of about thirty Companions, and the ten (Companions who were given glad tidings of Paradise) unanimously agreed on it. It has not been authentically reported otherwise about the Prophet (saws); rather, this was his practice (raising hands in prayer in these three positions) until he passed away.”

The Hanafi book Badaa’i’ As-Sanaa’i’ reads: “As for raising the hands while reciting Takbeer, according to our school of Fiqh, it is not an act of the Sunnah in the obligatory prayers, except in the Opening Takbeer. Ash-Shafi‘i said, ‘He (the praying person) raises his hands before and after Ruku’ … Our evidence is what was narrated by Abu Haneefah with his chain of narration on the authority of ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas‘ood, who said that the Prophet (saws) used to raise his hands in the Opening Takbeer and not raise them again.’ ‘Alqamah said, ‘I prayed behind ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood, and he did not raise his hands before or after Ruku’. I asked him, ‘Why did you not raise your hands?’ He replied, ‘I prayed behind the Messenger of Allah (saws) and behind Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and they did not raise their hands except with the Takbeer that the prayer is opened with……’

What he (ash-Shafi‘i) narrated (i.e. that the Prophet  used to raise his hands to the level of his shoulders when saying Allahu Akbar, when bowing down and when standing up from Ruku’) was abrogated as he narrated that the Prophet  used to raise his hands and then refrained from it; as evidenced by the hadith of Ibn Mas’ood that reads, ‘He, raised, so we raised, and he refrained from it, so we refrained from it” This indicates that the evidence of Raf’ul Yadayn was the narration on the authority of ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Umar and ‘Aasim ibn Kulayb….”

Based on the above, the issue of abrogating Raf’ul Yadayn before and after Ruku’ is a statement by some scholars, and the difference of opinion regarding it cannot be resolved. However, whoever refrains from Raf’ul Yadayn, his prayer is valid, and whoever does it has done well. Ibn Taymiyyah wrote, “The raising of hands about which scholars held different views is not among the nullifiers of the prayer; rather, it is allowable to pray without raising the hands (before and after Ruku’); however, it is better to raise the hands.” (Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)

To summarize, the believer should not fail to raise his hands at the points in prayer described in the Sunnah. He should strive to make his prayer like the prayer of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) who said, “Pray as you have seen me praying.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari) May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) guide us all.

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.

 Wassalaam