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The Hands Below the Navel in Salah Defended

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In January of 2007 we compiled a brief article full of quotes from the Imams of the Hanbalis stating that the relied upon opinion of the Hanbali school is that the Hands are to be placed below the navel in Salah. That article, of course, irritated some pseudo-Hanbalis, who are in fact pseudo-salafis blindly following their wahhabified Imams from the Arabian pennisula as well as their illegitimate “Imam” Muhammad Al-Albani. So it worries any Sunni that this new pseudo-salafi sect would so boastfully and arrogantly claim that the verdicts of Muhammad Al-Albani supersede the verdicts of the Imam of the Hanbalis, Ibn Qudamah Al-Maqdisi, a man who is a mountain in the divine law.

Though it is not only the Hanbali’s official stance that the pseudo-salafis arrogantly reject, it is also the view of the Sunni guild of Imam Abu Hanifah that they boastfully condemn. Recently someone, a fan of Al-Albani to be certain, decided he would do a copy and paste job and “respond” to the article we had done on the Hanbali’s school relied upon position by attacking the ahadith the mention “below the navel”. Men far more knowledgeable than I have responded to such critique and it is here that I will bring forth their arguments with minor commentary or notes from myself.

From the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah:

 

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From Waki’ from Musaa from ‘Alqamah ibn Wa’il ibn Hujr from his Father (Wa’il) who said: “I saw the Nabi (‘alayhis salam) placing his right hand upon his left hand in Salah, below the navel.”

Shaykh Muhammad Hashim As-Sindi in his “Dirham As-Surrah…” states that this chain is strong for the following reasons:

1) Waki’ is thiqah (impeccably trustworthy).

2) Musaa ibn ‘Umair Al-’Anbari is also thiqah and from the major Imams of his time. (Declared thiqah by Abu Hatim)

3) ‘Alqama ibn Wa’il Ibn Hujr was declared Saduq by Adh-Dhahabi in Al-Mizan, Thiqah by Ibn Hibban, and Ibn Sa’ad stated in his Tabaqat, ‘Thiqah with few hadith.

He also mentions that Ash-Shaykh Qaasim ibn Qutlabughaa stated that this chain was “Jayyid”. ((See page 40 of Dirham As-Surrah… ))

An argument forwarded by Muhammad Hayat Sindi is that this hadith is not included in the manuscript of Abdullah ibn Salim. However, as Shaykh Muhammad Hashim responds, Abdullah ibn Salim’s manuscript does not meet the requirements forwarded by Qadi ‘Iyad for acceptability. Furthermore, the manuscript of Imam Qasim Qutlabughaa did have this narration. Imam Qasim was known as impeccably trustworthy, and he is the Shaykh of the Mujtahid Shafi’i Imam As-Suyuti, the Shaykh of the Imam Al-Qastalani, the Shaykh Ar-Ramli as well as other A’immah.

Another claim brought forth by those who question this ziyadah (or addition) of the words “Below the Navel” is that it is just that, an addition to the narration. This same narration is reported without the words “Below the Navel” in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad. To this, Shaykh Abul Hasan responds:

 

Those who affirmed the ziyada have argued that though the same marfu chain is found in the Musnad and similarly in other Hadith collections without the ziyada: “Under the navel”, its very presence with the additional wording in some copies of the Musannaf is a ziyada by a Thiqa (trustworthy) narrator. Additions made by trustworthy narrators to a text were acceptable to many Hadith scholars with some conditions. This latter point was mentioned by Shaykh Hashim al-Sindi in his radd to Shaykh Hayat al-Sindi. 

 

Shaykh Abul Hasan also mentioned in an article he titled, “Those who truly Lied against Shaykh Al-Azami” the following:

As for the Hanafi’s after al-Ayni and Ibn Qutlubugha, it was mentioned by Shaykh Muhammad Abul Tayyib ibn Abdal Qadir al-Sindi al-Madani (d. 1140 AH) in his Sharh on al-Tirmidhi, seen and accepted by Shaykh Hashim al-Sindi and Shaykh Qa’im al-Sindi in the manuscript of the Musannaf possessed by the Hanafi Mufti of Makka, Shaykh Abdal Qadir ibn Abu Bakr al-Siddiqi (d. 1138 AH according to Shaykh Abdal Fattah Abu Ghudda), and in Sind it was seen by Shaykh Hashim al-Sindi in Shaykh Muhammad Akram al-Nasrpuri’s personal copy. It was probably seen by al-Hafiz Murtada al-Zabidi (d. 1205 AH) since he possessed the 8th century copy of the Musannaf. After them it was found in the nuskha of the Musannaf possessed by Shaykh Muhammad Abid al-Sindi (d. 1257 AH) and accepted by him in his Tawali al-Anwar. It was mentioned by Shaykh Abdal Hayy al-Lucknawi (d. 1304 AH) in his Umdatur Ri’aya (p. 165) followed by his pupil, Shaykh al-Nimawi (d. 1322 AH) in his Athar al-Sunan.

 

It is also interesting to note that the Tunisian manuscripts of the Musannaf of ibn Abi Shaybah have this addition as well and the manuscripts have Imam Al-’Ayni’s comments written on them. They were transcribed sometime between 741-744 A.H. Shaykh Abul Hasan said:

The nuskha found in Tunis was that possessed by the later Hanafi Hafiz, Muhammad Murtada al-Zabidi (d. 1205 AH). This copy was scribed between the years 741 AH to 744 AH by a Hanbali known as Yusuf ibn Abdal Latif ibn Abdal Baqi ibn Mahmud al-Harrani. This nuskha has the handwriting of the Hanafi Imam Badrud-Din al-Ayni on its margins in some places.  It may also be the copy that was also utilized by al-Ayni’s younger contemporary Hanafi, al-Hafiz Qasim ibn Qutlubugha in Egypt.

There is yet another narration, not utilized by the Hanafi scholars of old or of late, but noted by Sidi Abul Hasan in his response to Shaykh Gibril Haddad on this issue. He said:

Looking at most of the printed editions of the Tamheed of Ibn Abdal Barr al-Maliki, one may see a narration from al-Athram — Abul Walid al-Tayalisi — Hammad ibn Salama — Asim al-Jahdari — Uqba ibn Suhban – who heard Imam Ali (ra) mention under the tafsir of Fasalli li-rabbika wanhar – that the hands should be placed beneath the navel. The narration in Arabic:

ذكر الأثرم قال حدثنا أبو الوليد الطيالسي قال حدثنا حماد بن سلمة عن عاصم الجحدري عن عقبة بن صهبان سمع عليا يقول في قول الله عز وجل < فصل لربك وانحر > قال وضع اليمنى على اليسرى تحت السرة

This sanad is at least Jayyid ((As indicated by the late Shaykh Hamid Ibrahim Ahmed of Egypt and Muhammad Hussain al-Uqbi in their editing to al-Muhadhdhab fi Ikhtisar al-Sunan al-Kabir by al-Dhahabi, 2/13, fn, 2) )) and it is a very good support to the weaker Athar of Imam Ali (ra) as in Sunan Abu Dawud and elsewhere via the route of Abdar Rahman ibn Ishaq al-Kufi.  This narration does not seem to have been mentioned by a single Hanafi or those from other Madhhabs in their tahqiq to where the hands should be placed.”

[end quote]

It is however interesting to note that the Hanafis have rejected this interpretation of this verse as is mentioned in Dirham As-Surrah. The point here, however, is that this hadith is authentic and can be utilized for proof.

You can download Shaykh Abul-Hasan’s responses to the Psuedo-salafi attacks by clicking here.

Another claim raised against the proofs utilized by the Hanafis and Hanbalis is that in the hadith of Imam ‘Ali ‘alayhis salam that states:

 

“It is from the Sunnah during the prayer to place one palm on the other, below the navel.”

In the chain is Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Ishaaq Al-Wasiti whom the scholars agree is weak. However, the one well studied in the sciences of hadith will notice the usage of the words in criticism (jarh). For example, it is true that some disparaged him, yet others did so lightly or even considered him Salih Al-Hadith as stated by Imam Al-Bazzar in his Musnad. Imam Al-’Ijli stated, “Weak, [his] hadith are permitted, record his narrations.” So his weakness wasn’t so much so that if supporting narrations were brought his hadith would still be rejected. Rather, they would be accepted as supporting proof with mutaba’at. This has been explained in further detail within the treatise Dirham As-Surrah that can be downloaded here.

 

The Hanbalis and Hanafis have sufficient evidence to support their stance, including many statements from the Tabi’in such as Abu Majliz and Ibrahim An-Nakha’i. For someone to come along many generations later and altogether claim that their opinions are completely null is a grave injustice and only shows their own ignorance of the law.

14 Responses to “The Hands Below the Navel in Salah Defended”

  1. Abul Layth says:

    If anyone is going to post in this topic, stick to the topic at hand, and do not waste our time with emotional garbage, or else your post will be deleted :)

    Thanks,
    Abul Layth

  2. Khattab says:

    How about the hadith in Saheeh Al Bukhari that states that the hands should be placed on the chest, inshaAllah when I return I will post the hadeeth.

  3. Abul Layth says:

    No such hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari.

  4. Waseem Ahmad says:

    عن ابى هريرة قال وضع الكف على الكف فى الصلوة تحت السرة

    Abu Hurayra narrates, The placing of one hand over the other in al-Salah should be beneath the navel. [al-Jawhar al-Naqie Volume 002: Page No. 32]

    عن انس قال ثلاث من اخلاق النبوة تعجيل الافطارو تاخير السحور ووضع اليداليمى على اليسرى فى الصلوة تحت السرة

    Anas reports that there are three aspects from the character of Prophethood: to open fast early, to delay the suhur [pre-dawn meal], and to position the right hand over the left one beneath the navel while in al-Salah. [al-Jawhar al-Naqie Volume 002: Page No. 32]

    عن على رضى الله عنه قال ان من السنة فى الصلوة وضع الا كف على الا كف تحت السرة

    Ali said that it is a Sunna’h to place one hand on the other in prayer below the navel. [Sunan Abu Dawud Volume 001, Page No. 338, Hadith Number 756]

  5. SunniPath > Answers > Guidance & Counsel > Methodology > Rules of Interpretation > Where to place hands in prayer, and where to take one’s religion from��

    Question ID:518

    Date Published: November 09, 2005
    Where to place hands in prayer, and where to take one’s religion from��

    Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
    Question:
    I am referring you to an article written by a ‘salafi’ in response to Hasan as-Saqqaf’s refutation of al-albani. The issue discussed is that of the placing of the hands in prayer. Their argument is very convincing since they quote from scholars such as Ayni, the [Hanafi] commentator of al-Bukhari, which appears to show that hanafi salah is based on weak dalail. What have the scholars said in response to this?
    Answer:
    In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

    Walaikum assalam,

    The early Muslims used to say: “This matter is your deen, so be careful where you take your deen from.”

    Things to think about:

    1. Are Salafis reliable transmitters of knowledge, or people of gross innovation

    2. Who is “Mubarakfooree,” whose work was quoted on that site? He was a major member of the Ahle-Hadis (Wahhabi) movement of India , with a gross anti-Hanafi bias, as his (otherwise often useful) works clearly show.

    3. Imam Ahmad transmitted the hadiths of placing one’s hands on one’s chest in his Musnad and was certainly aware of the hadiths transmitted on this matter. However, his position (and the relied upon position of his school) [see: Kashshaf al-Qina` of al-Buhuti, and al-Mughni of Ibn Qudama] is the same as that of Imam Abu Hanifa and his students: the sunna, as Imam Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said, is to place one’s hands below the navel. Note that all these giants were absolute mujtahids, something Mubarakfooree and, even more so, Albani, are nowhere close to being.

    4. Much of the article is mis-quotes, mixing and matching scholarly reasoning, and imbalanced argument.

    5. The established Sunni position is that all four madhhabs are sound, and their positions valid to follow, because the fact is that they are inevitably based on sound proofs, when one considers the legal methodology of that particular school. One cannot superimpose one school’s legal methodology on another.

    6. As an aside, Hasan Saqqaf is an innovator, whose innovations (especially in matters of aqida and methodology) are far worse than those of the Wahhabis. His most recent work is a negation of (the soundly established) beholding Allah in the Next Life.

    The following is taken from Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf’s excellent work in English on the evidences of the Hanafi school, Fiqh al-Imam:

    Evidence of the Hanafis

    1. Wa�il ibn Hujr narrates, �I saw Rasulullah placing his right hand upon the left one below his navel, in prayer.� [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, Athar al-Sunan 90]

    This is the third version of Wa�il ibn Hujr�s narration which was mentioned at the beginning of the chapter containing the words, �below the navel.� Some Hanafi scholars have stated that this version cannot be used as conclusive evidence for their opinion, because the words �below his navel� are only to be found in some editions of Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, and not in them all. This is aside from the fact that, as we mentioned, it has an inconsistent text.

    However, it is stated in Fath al-Mulhim that �Allama Qasim ibn Qutlubgah has judged this version to be of sound transmission. �Allama Muhammad Abu �l-Tayyibal-Madaniwrites in his commentary on Sunan al-Tirmidhi that this narration has a strong chain, and Shaykh �Abid Sindhi states, �Its narrators are trustworthy.� Also, a number of scholars have verified that the addition, �below the navel� is to be found in many manuscripts of Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, even if it is not found in the recently published editions. [See Athar al-sunan 148]

    Therefore, despite the problematic nature Wa�il ibn Hujr�s narration, this version of it can not be rendered totally unacceptable, since there are many other more reliable reports that strengthen it.

    2. � Ali states, �To place one palm over the other beneath the navel, is from the sunna of salat.�[Bayhaqi 312*, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:391]

    It is a known fact that whenever a Companion utters the words �It is from the sunna� regarding any action, it means it is something acquired from Rasulullah himself. Hence, � Ali could have only reported this practice as sunna after observing Rasulullah do it. The problem with this narration is that it contains �Abdal-Rahman ibn Ishaq in its chain who has been classified as weak. The Hanafis have not fully relied on this narration as a basis f or their opinion, but since there are many other narrations which reinforce it, it could still stand as supplementary evidence.

    3. Hajjaj ibn al-Hassan relates, �Either I heard Abu Mijlaz saying or I inquired from him, �How should one position his hands [during prayer]?� He replied, �He should place the inner portion of his right hand upon the back of the left one beneath the navel.� [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:390]

    The transmission of this hadith is sound [hasan], as �Allama Mardini states in his book al-Jawhar al-naqiyy.

    4. Ibrahim al-Nakh�ay relates, �One should place his right hand upon the left one beneath the navel whilst in salat.� [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:390]

    The transmission of this hadith is also sound [hasan].

    5. Abu Hurayra narrates, �The placing of one hand over the other in salat should be beneath the navel.� [al-Jawharal-naqiyy 2:31*]

    6. Anas reports that there are three aspects from the character of Nubuwwa [Prophethood]: to open fast early, to delay the suhur [pre-dawn meal], and to position the right hand over the left one beneath the navel while in salat. [al-Jawharal-naqiyy 2:31*]

    Other reasons for the Hanafi opinion

    The scholars have provided various reasons why the hands are best placed beneath the navel and why this method has been classified as most preferable.

    (a) Although most of the ahadith on this issue are weak in one way or another, the narrations presented by the Hanafis have been judged to be more sound than the rest.

    (b) Ibn al-Humam states in his book Fath al-Qadir, �Due to the inconsistency and contradiction s found between the various narrations, it is best to resort to analogy and reasoning. Standing before the Lord demands a posture which expresses respect and reverence. Since positioning the hands beneath the navel is probably the most respectful way of standing, it will be considered most superior. On the other hand, the reason for women being instructed to position their hands on their chest, is so that greater concealment [and modesty] can be achieved by this.�

    3. �Allama �Ayni states, �To position the hands beneath the navel holds great virtue. It is a posture which signifies great respect. It displays greater contrast to the postures of the disbelievers.� He also writes, �This is the same posture in which one stands before the rulers [of this world].� He further states, �Placing the hands on the chest creates a similarity with women, hence that cannot be classified as the sunna for men.� [�Umdat al-qari 3:16*]

    Walaikum assalam,
    Faraz Rabbani.

    MMVIII © Faraz Rabbani and SunniPath.
    All rights reserved

  6. Hasan says:

    Assalamu Alaikum

    The next part of this series should be a refutation of the hands on chest position of the pseudo-salafis. Most of the salafis I have met are convinced that the hadith which state that the Prophet put his hands on his chest are the strongest on the issue.

  7. Ibrahim AbdulTawwab says:

    Bismillah ir rahman ir raheem,
    As salamu ‘alikum wr wb.
    Blessings and Peace be upon the last and final messenger.

    The problem with showing the weakness in the claims of the Pseudo-salafis is that you indirectly attack a traditional position of ahl sunnah wal jammah.
    To attack the position of the hands on the chest would be an indirect attack on the shafi’i position. To attack the position of hands before the knees in sujuud is to attack the Maliki position. To attack their view that touching a woman does not nulify a person’s wudhu would be a simultaneous attack on the Hanafi and Maliki positions.

    One has to proceed with caution.
    However, they basically have three pieces of evidences.
    The Hadith of Hulb in Tirmidhi.
    The Hadith of Wail Ibn Hujr in ibn Khuzaima.
    The Mursal Hadith of Tawus in Abu Dawud.

    All the other hadith that state that one clasp one hand over the other can be used as supplementary evidence to support either clasping above the navel or below.

    However, it should be mentioned in closing that their idea of placing one hand over the other just under the chin close to the neck or one hand over the other high on the left forearm is something of a bid’a and a novelty.

    wallahu ‘alim wa bisawab.

  8. Hasan says:

    Assalamu Alaikum

    The Shafi’i position is NOT to place the hands on the chest; rather it is to place the hands above the navel but below the chest. As it states in Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller’s translation of Umdat as Saalik, “one places the hands between the chest and navel, grasping the left wrist with the right hand…” (Reliance of the Traveller, 130)

    Wallhu A’lam

  9. Abu Ammaarah says:

    Salam Brother Abu Layth ,
    i need all the downloads mentioned on this page the links dont work even after adding “ilm”
    Ps urgent,

  10. Abu Musab says:

    As salaamu alaikum.

    I am currently studying Shafi’i Fiqh and my Shaikh said the chest consists of the chest (as we know it in english) until the navel.

  11. Abu Layth says:

    Wa’alaykum Salam,

    What is his proof Abu Musab?

  12. Sajad Manzoor says:

    Any evidence or proof for placing hands above navel?
    i want to study that also, so that i myself can realize the truth.

    • Rafael says:

      There’s a tafsir narrated from Ali that Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi uses to defend placing the hands above the navel. Some commentators might also mention that narrations mentioning placing the hand “on the chest” to be fulfilled by placing them below the rib cage. above the navel, based on a definition of “chest” extending down to the navel. It is worth repeating that the Hanbalis traditionally preferred placing the hands below the navel because the hadiths supporting it are “more numerous and more authentic” — but to each his own, as one’s prayer is valid in either scenario.

  13. H. Seymour K. says:

    Salam Alaikum,

    With regards to the hadith of Wa’il… since it’s narrated with the same sanad in the Musnad of Ahmad without ‘under the navel,’ then how is it a ziyadat al-thiqa? Who made the ziyada? It can’t have been Waki’.

    It’s also in Sunan Daraqutni without ‘below the navel,’ and another narrator after Waki’. Where does the ziyada come from?

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