Years ago I was told by some pseudo-Salafis that it was a bida’ah to wipe one’s face with hands after du’aa. For years I wondered, looked over, and pondered this issue. On Islam-qa’s website, they state regarding this act:
Their translation: “It is not prescribed to place the hands over the face after finishing prayer or after finishing du’aa’. The best of guidance is the guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). When he said the salaam (at the end of prayer) he would pray for forgiveness three times, but he did not wipe his face with his hands after saying the salaam or after saying du’aa’.”
There are many fatawaa from the pseudo-salafis/Wahhaabis of our times condemning this act. Muhammad Al-Albaani in his Irwaa Al-Ghaleel declares the ahadeeth mentioning this act “dha’if…This hadeeth cannot be strengthened by the two routes of narration together due to the severity in weakness of the first one, which you have seen.” Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Wiping the face has only one or two hadith which are weak and cannot be used as proof for this matter.”((Fatawa 22/519 ))
The Deobandis disagree with this conclusion. See their fatwaa by clicking here. Al-Haafith Ibn Hajr (rahimahullah), the Shafi’i mujtahid, as you will come to see also disagrees with this conclusion, as well as many of the Hanafi Jurists of the past as mentioned by Sidi Faraz Rabbani here. There are many other ‘Ulamaa’ that disagree as well.
There are a few narrations used as proof for this act. They are:
First: The narration of ‘Umar ibn Al Khattab in Sunan At-Tirmidhi
Musaa Muhammad ibn Al-Muthannaa and Ibraahim ibn Ya’qub and more than one stating that Hammaad ibn ‘Eesaa Al-Juhani narrated to us from Hanthalah ibn Abi Sufyaan Al-Jumahiy from Saalim ibn Abdullah from his father (Abdullah ibn Umar) from Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radhiya Allahu ‘Anhu) who said that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when raising his hands in du’aa, would not put them down until he had wiped his face with them.
At-Tirmithi continues, “This hadith is Sahih ghareeb ((meaning narrated by one person – as is the nomenclature of the scholars of hadith )), we do not know it save from the hadith of Hammad ibn ‘Eesaa, and he alone narrates this [from Hanthala]. He has few hadith and the people reported from him. And Hanthalah ibn Abi Sufyaan al-Jumahiy is thiqah (highly trustworthy), and he was declared thiqah by Yahyaa ibn Sa’id Al-Qattaan.”
The attack on this chain, according to Al-Albaani in his Irwaa’, is that Hammad ibn ‘Eesaa Al-Juhani is dha’if (weak). He writes,
“However, this reporter is weak, as in Taqreeb of Ibn Hajr, who says about him in Tahdheeb:
Ibn Ma`een said, “A good shaikh” Abu Haatim said, “Weak in Hadeeth”; Abu Daawood said, “Weak, he reports munkar ahaadeeth”; Haakim and Naqqaash said, “He reports fabricated ahaadeeth from Ibn Juraij and Ja`far as-Saadiq.” He is declared to be weak by Daaraqutni. Ibn Hibbaan said, “He reports things which are the wrong way round on the authority of Ibn Juraij and `Abdul `Azeez ibn `Umar ibn `Abdul `Azeez, such that it seems to those whose field this is that it is deliberate; it is not permissible to use him as proof.” Ibn Maakoolaa said, “They declare his ahaadeeth to be weak.”
Hence, the like of this reporter is very weak, so his ahaadeeth cannot be raised to the level of hasan, let alone saheeh!” ((Note that this is the translation of the salafis themselves here: http://abdurrahman.org/innovation/wipingFace.html ))
The exact words of Al Albaani are:
قلت : فمثله ضعيف جدا ، فلا يحسن حديثه فضلا عنه أن يصحح !
The obvious question is: How is this reporter ” Dha’if Jiddan – Very weak”? The Imaam of Ahlus Sunnah, Yahyaa ibn Ma’een labeled this man, “A Saalih Shaykh!” ((Tahtheeb at-Tahtheeb )). Furthermore, Imaam At-Tirmidhi clearly states, “And the people reported from him”. An-Naas or the people is in reference to the scholars of hadeeth. That means that this narrator was NOT abandoned by the scholars. Not only does he say the scholars did not abandon him, but he grades the hadith Authentic (sahih)! Adh-Dhahabi mentions in Al-Meezaan,
ضَعَّفَهُ أَبُو دَاوُدَ وَأَبُو حَاتِمٍ والدَّارَقُطْنِيُّ وَلَمْ يَتْرُكْهُ
“He was weakened by Abu Daawud, Abu Haatim, and Ad-Daaraqutni, but he was not Abandoned [by them].”
This proves that the scholars did not consider him “very weak” as claimed. Rather, they were cautious and sought supporting narrations. For if he were VERY weak, the scholars would have abandoned his narrations altogether. This is further attested too by the verdict of Ibn Hajr in his Taqrib declaring him “Dha’if”, while not declaring him “very weak” or “abandoned” etc. Thus, the claim that he is “very weak” is an exaggeration. If the pseudo-salafis argue that Haakim and Naqqaash declared that he reported fabrications, we say either of two things:
1) The scholars obviously did not accept this standard or else you would have seen them labeling him Kath-thaab (liar) or matrook (abandoned). Rather, there is nearly a unanimous decision that he is only “dha’if” and not a fabricator!
2) He is not reporting from these men and they were specific in their criticism. Rather he is reporting from Hanthalah ibn Abi Sufyaan.
It is interesting that Al-Albaani and the pseudo-salafis use Al-Haafith Ibn Hajr Al-’Asqalaani’s grading of “Dha’if” against Hammad ibn ‘Eesaa. Al-Haafith (rahimahullah) states in Bulugh Al-Maraam after mentioning this specific narration,
“Reported by Tirmithi. It has shawaahid (supporting narrations) such as the hadith Ibn ‘Abbaas that is reported by Abu Daawud and elsewhere. These narrations, collectively, warrant the hadith to be considered Hasan!”
Even though he declared him weak, he did not abandon his reports, rather he used them as support with other narrations.
The editor, Shaykh Haazim Al-Qaadhi, declares this hadith to be “Hasan li-ghayrih” in his gloss of Subul-As-Salaam of Imaam As-Sana’ani. Imaam As-Sana’ani himself states after this hadith, “In this narration is daleel (proof) that it is legislated to wipe the face after finishing one’s du’aa”. ((Vol. 4 page 1543 Dar Al-Fikr Edition ))
Second Hadith: The Narration of As-Saa’ib Ibn Yazeed from His Father Yazeed ibn Sa’id
The second report comes from Abu Daawud in his Sunan and Imaam Ahmad in his Musnad;
Qutaybah ibn Sa’id narrated to us from Ibn Lahee’ah from Hafs ibn Haashim ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abi Waqqaas from As-Saa’ib ibn Yazeed from his father that the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when making du’aa would raise his hands and then would wipe his face with his hands.
There are two defects in this chain: Abdullah ibn Lahee’ah. There is severe disagreement regarding him. The majority say that he wa mistaken after his books were burnt. There is praise from major scholars, such as Ibn Wahb who called him a Saadiq (truthful) righteous man. Ibn Hajr labeled him, “Saduq, he mingled [hadith] after his books burnt…”. ((Taqrib #3563 )) Haafith Shu’ayb Al-Arnaa’ut disagrees and states, “Dha’if (weak), his reports must be followed up, and his hadith are Sahih if reporting from him are the ‘Abaadilah: i.e. Ibn al Mubaarak, Ibn Wahb, Ibn Yazeed Al-Muqri’, Ibn Maslamah Al-Qa’nabi, for they followed his principles and transcribed what he said…”
Regarding this hadith, an important point must be made. Qutaybah ibn Sa’id is reporting from him. Qutaybah reported from Ibn Lahi’ah prior to his books being burnt as stated by Shaykh Shu’ayb Al-Arnaa’ut in his Tahreer. This lends strength to a stronger period in Ibn Lahi’ah’s career as a Muhaddith. However, he is weak, as Ibn Ma’in stated he was weak prior to his burning of his books. He is not severely weak however, as even Al-Albaani attested too in his Radd Al-Mufhim and elsewhere.
The second weakness is that the one Ibn Lahi’ah is reporting from, Hafs ibn Haashim, is majhul (unknown) as stated by Ibn Hajr and the rest of the Muhadditheen. However, Ibn Lahee’ah follows up this chain, as mentioned by Imaam Ibn Hajr in his Tahthib at-Tahthib with another reporter in his place, Yahyaa ibn Is-haaq As-Seelaheeni. Ibn Sa’ad said about him, “thiqah and a master of hadeeth.” He was declared thiqah by Ahmad and others as well. Due to this thiqah follow-up narrator, it is not severely weak, and clearly can be used as a supportive narration.
Third Hadith: The narration of Ibn ‘Abbaas (radhiya Allahu ‘anhu)
This is the narration alluded to by Al-Haafith Ibn Hajr in his Bulugh Al-Maraam. Abu Dawud records it in his Sunan thus:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do not cover the walls. He who sees the letter of his brother without his permission, sees Hell-fire. Supplicate Allah with the palms of your hands; do not supplicate Him with their backs upwards. When you finish supplication, wipe your faces with them.”
Abu Daawud says, “This hadith is is reported from other directions (of narration) from Muhammad ibn Ka’ab, all of them containing weakness (waahiyah), and this path (tareeq) is an example of that. It is Dha’if (weak) as well.”
The weakness in this hadith, as mentioned by Al-Albaani in his Irwaa are two things:
A) Abdul Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad – who is Majhul according to Ibn Hajr in his Taqreeb. Haafith Shu’ayb Al-Arnaa’ut disagrees and states, “Majhul-Al-Haal” because two trustworthy reporters report from him. However, his hadeeth are acceptable according to the conditions of An-Nawawi and Ibn As-Salaah because his status is “Majhul-Al-Haal” as two or more trustworthy narrators narrate from him and there is no criticism against his status.
B) ‘Abdullah ibn Ya’qub ibn Is-haaq – who is also Majhul Al-Haal.
To be Majhul-Al-Haal/Mastur is not an extreme weakness, and according to some, is not a weakness at all. Please read the following article so as to clarify the valid acceptance of the Mastur’s reports: http://seekingilm.com/archives/99
There are other weak chains that support this narration. They are as follows;
This is the same hadeeth regarding the wiping of the face. It is the chain of Ibn Maajah in his Sunan. It is weak due to Saalih ibn Hassaan being within it. He is abandoned by most of the Muhadditheen. In fact Al-Bukhaari states regarding him, “Munkar Al-Hadeeth”. Adh-Dhahabi reports that Al-Bukhaari stated that when he deemed someon “munkar al hadeeth”, he is to be abandoned.
As Al-Albaani mentions in his Irwaa’, Ibn Nasr reports this hadeeth without Saalih ibn Hassaan. Instead in his place is another weak narrator by the name of ‘Eesaa ibn Maymoon Al-Madani. There is disagreement as to how severe his weakness is. Ibn Hajr concludes that he is “Dha’eef”, while Haafith Shu’ayb Arnaa’ut deems him abandoned (matrook) in his tahreer. ((#5335 of the Tahreer )) Imaam Adh-Dhahabi states in his Kaashif, “He is weakened (dha’afahu).” ((entry 4403 of Al-Kaashif )) Meaning Adh-Dhahabi agreed to his status being dha’eef, but not abandoned.
If it is as Haafith Ibn Hajr and Imaam Adh-Dhahabi stated, then this second narration is a valid follow up and supportive chain for the first.
After all of this, one can see the validity in Al-Haafith Ibn Hajr’s declaration of “Hasan” upon these narrations. His ruling is justifiable in the shari’ah and, in the view of many of the Muhadditheen, is the correct ruling.
Lastly, Al-Albaani states in his Irwaa’ the following about the Madh-hab of Imaamunaa Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah) regarding wiping the face with the hands after du’aa:
He quotes ibn Nasr as saying, “And I saw Is-haaq declaring good the action of these narrations. Regarding Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal then Abu Daawud narrated to me saying, ‘I heard Ahmad and he was being asked regarding the man who wiped his face with his hands after beseeching Allah in Salatul-Witr. He said, “I have not heard anything at all regarding it.”
The response to this quote:
Firstly: This is specific to Salatul-Witr, not du’aa outside of the Salaah. There is nothing reported regarding wiping one’s face in the Salaah itself.
Secondly: The Hanaabilah have infact established wiping the face after du’aa. Some of them considered it Makrooh in Salaatul-Witr. Others deemed it jaa’iz to recommended outside of it.
Ibn Qudaamah in his Al-Kaafi fi fiqh Al-Imaam Ahmad states regarding Qunut in Witr,
Imaam Al-Hajjaawi, a master of the Hanbali madh-hab, writes in his Zaad Al-Mustaqni’ in his section on Salatul-Witr after the Qunut,
Imaam Al-Bahuti, the Imaam of the Hanaabilah in his time, writes in explanation withi his Rawdh Al-Murabbi’,
Imaam Mar’i ibn Yusuf Al-Karmi in his Daleel At-Taalib states,
Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir ibn ‘Umar Ash-Shaybaani Al-Hanbali states in his gloss of Daleel At-Taalib, Nayl Al-Maa’rib Sharh Daleel At-Taalib,
So according to these five masters of the Hanbali Madh-hab, this is an established, recommended act, encouraged for every Hanbali in his Salaah. Compare this to the statement of Al-Albaani who said,
فهو بدعة بلا شك
“It is a bida’ah, without a doubt!”
Compare the statements of Ibn Qudaamah, Al-Hajjaawi, Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir ibn ‘Umar Ash-Shaybaani Al-Hanbali, Imaam Mar’i ibn Yusuf Al-Karmi, Imaam Al-Bahuti and many others of the Hanaabilah to this irresponsible statement of Al-Albaani. Let us not forget this is the official stance of the Hanafis and many Shaafi’is as well, including Ibn Hajr, Imaam As-Suyuti (who deemed the narrations Hasan), and Hujjatul-Islaam Al-Ghazzaali, Imaam Ash-Shawkaani in his Tuhfat-Adh-Dhaakireen, Imaam Al-Jazari in his al-Hisn ((page 65 beneath the chapter “Wiping the face with the hands in Du’aa” published by Daar Al-Arqam 1998 CE )). So see with your own eyes the exaggerations of Al-Albaani and the Albaanite hizb.
**Edited on July 11 ’07**
The following I decided to translate and include in this article for the benefit of the Tullaab:
Imaam Ibn Muflih states in his Al-Mubda’ Sharh Al-Muqni’, the gloss of the simple treatise “Al-Muqni’” of Ibn Qudaamah Al-Maqdisi after the following words of Ibn Qudaamah,
I ask Allah to guide us, make our feet firm upon his deen, draw us near to his infinite mercy. Oh Allah bless our beloved Sayyidunaa Muhammad, his family, companions, and those following him until the end.