Should men place the hands on the chest in Salah?

This is a  section from al-I’lam bi-takbir al-musalli bi makan wad’il yadayn ba’d takbiratul ihram by the Saudi based writer known as  Khalid al-Shaya  – [a student of the late Saudi Mufti – Abdal Aziz ibn Baz (d. 1999 CE) and the late Yemeni writer – Muqbil ibn Hadi (d. 2001)].  Al-Shaya has demonstrated that all the known narrations for placing the hands on the chest are weak (da’eef) in some way, and so can not be acted upon, or proven to be the actual Sunna of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Indeed, Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (d. 241 AH) said it is makruh (disliked) to place the hands on the chest in Salah, and he also said there is no harm in placing the hands beneath the navel (see Masa’il al-Imam Ahmed – riwaya of Imam Abu Dawud al-Sijistani below).

This article is an indirect and useful reply to the claims of the late Nasir al-Albani (d. 1999), Bin Baz (d. 1999), Ibn Uthaymin (d. 2001), Badiud Din al-Sindi (d. 1996) of Pakistan and his students like the late Zubair Ali Za’i (d. 2013), and their inconsequential imitators from the English translators based in the West who have been advocating the placing of the hands upon the chest in Salah.  Khalid al-Shaya is from the same sect as those named in this paragraph.

Note also, not one of the famous 4 Imams of Islamic jurisprudence (via means of an authentic ascription to them) – Abu Hanifa (d. 150 AH), Malik (d. 179 AH), al-Shafi’i (d. 204 AH) and Ahmed ibn Hanbal (d. 241 AH) is known to have advocated the placing of the hands on the chest in Salah.

To illustrate the claim made above, let us look at an authentic report emanating from the legal rulings of the great Hadith Master, Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (d. 241 AH), as reported by his disciple, the Imam of Hadith and author of the Sunan, Abu Dawud al-Sijistani (d. 275 AH), as reported in the latters recension of the Masa’il al-Imam Ahmed (pp. 47-48), as follows:

قُلْتُ لِأَحْمَدَ ” وَضْعُ الْيَمِينِ عَلَى الشِّمَالِ فِي الصَّلَاةِ تَخْتَارُهُ؟ قَالَ : نَعَمْ “.وَسَمِعْتُهُ ” سُئِلَ عَنْ وَضْعِهِ، فَقَالَ : فَوْقَ السُّرَّةِ قَلِيلًا، وَإِنْ كَانَ تَحْتَ السُّرَّةِ فَلَا بَأْسَ“.وَسَمِعْتُهُ يَقُولُ : ” يَكْرَهُ أَنْ يَكُونَ، يَعْنِي : وَضْعَ الْيَدَيْنِ عِنْدَ الصَّدْرِ


I said to Ahmed, ‘Is your chosen position to place the right hand over the left in prayer?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ And I heard that he was asked about placing it and he said, ‘slightly above the navel. If it is below the navel then there is no harm in it.’ I also heard him saying, ‘It is disliked to be like that’, that is: Placing the hands upon the chest (indas-sadr).

Indeed, another famous Imam of hadith known as Ishaq ibn Rahawayh (d. 238 AH) who was not only a contemporary to Imam Ahmed, but also a teacher of Imam al-Bukhari’s (d. 256 AH), has also declared that placing the hands beneath the navel is the strongest position from the perspective of Hadith, as reported by Shaykh Ishaq ibn Mansur al-Kawsaj (d. 251 AH) in his recension of the Masa’il al-Imam Ahmed wa Ishaq ibn Rahawayh.

More details are to follow in our forthcoming book in English on this matter.  To keep updated on this issue please enter your email in the RSS subscription feed on this website.

Peace and blessings be upon our Master Muhammad

Abul Hasan Hussain Ahmed

January 2014/Rabiul Awwal 1435 AH

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