Proofs of placing the hands on Chest in the Prayer – Part 1

Taken From The Works of-:

  • Shaikh ul Allaamah Al-Haafidh Abu Taahir Zubayr Alee Za’ee (May Allah Preserve him)
  • Shaikh ul Allaamah Al-Haafidh Thanaullaah Zayaa (May Allah Prserve Him)
  • Shaikh ul Allaamah Al-Haafidh Badee ‘ud-Deen Shaah Raashidi as-Sindhee (May Allah have Mercy upon him)

We begin with the name of Allaah who is the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy. To proceed: 

Sahl ibn Sa’d, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported, “The people were ordered to place their right hand upon their left forearm.” (Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, 1/102)

We can understand from this hadeeth that one should fold ones hands whilst in Salaah. One of the way this hadeeth can be understood is that if the right hand were to be placed upon the left forearm as stated above then naturally, the hands would rest on the chest. 

The forearm here means from the finger region of the hand right up to the elbow. In another hadeeth it is reported that, “He (sallelaho alaihi wa alaihi wasalam ) placed his right hand upon his left hand, wrist and forearm.” (Sunan Nasaa’i with the footnotes of Allaamah Sindhee(1/141), AbuDawood(1/112), lbnKhuzairnah(1/243,480) and Ibn Hibbaan (p.485) have all authenticated this narration). 

The understanding of the above narrations is further reinforced by the hadeeth, “He used to place his hand upon his chest …” to the end of the narration. (Musnad Ahmad (5/226) with this wording also At-Tahqeeq of Ibn Hibbaan al-Jawzee (1/283) and( 1/338) in manuscript form). 

This matter is further reported in many narrations which my respected teacher, Shaikh Muhammad Badee’ud-Deen Shah Ar-Raashidee has collated and analysed in this treatise. 

Generally, according to the scholars of hadeeth, the narrations which are put forth by the Deobandi’s, Bareilwi’s and other branches of the Hanafi’s, according to the scholars of Hadeeth are all weak and rejected. One such narration possibly the one which is most frequently used, is of a report in Sunan Abee Dawood (p. 756). This narration includes ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Ishaaq al-Koofee, who is unanimously known amongst the scholars to be weak. 

One may refer to classical Hanafi texts such as Nasbur-Rayah of Zailee (1/314), Al-Banaaya Fee Sharh Hidaayah (2/208) and others. In actual fact, it is mentioned in the notes to the book Hidaayah al-Awlayn, (no. 17, 1/103) that this narration is, “… weak by consensus.” 

Further, it should be known that the Deobandis have tampered with Musannaf Ibn Abee Shaybah, by adding the words, “… below the navel,” whereas the actual manuscript and various prints of Musannaf Ibn Abee Shaybah are free from any such addition. 

Then a strange twist to this matter is the saying of the Hanafees that, “Men should place their hands below the navel and that women should place theirs upon there chest.” Subhaanallaah! There is no proof for this statement from any hadeeth – either authentic or weak – and nor is there any consensus upon such a distinction. In spite of this, all Hanafees are agreed upon this matter and practice it in their prayers. 

May Allaah make this treatise a means of guidance and Sadaqah Jaariyyah. 

Haafidh Zubair Alee 22/9/1999 

The Text 

We say the prayer is the principal way to worship Allaah, the Almighty, and when a person stands in prayer, then, “He secretly converses with his Lord. ” (Muslim (1/208). 

This is why no act should be performed within the Prayer which may conflict with good and suitable mannerisms. Rather, the Prayer should be offered with such humility that the fear of Allaah and taqwaa become apparent. Then it should be known that from man’s body, the heart is perceived as being of the greatest importance. As the great Prophet ( sallelaho alaihi wa alaihi wasalam ) said, “There is a piece of flesh in the body, if it sound and upright the whole body remains upright. If this part becomes corrupt then the whole body becomes corrupt. Verily this is the Heart.”(Mishkaat (2/241) 

Then the heart is in proximity to the chest and is the abode of taqwaa as is mentioned in a hadeeth, “The Prophet pointed towards his chest and said thrice, “Taqwaa and protection are here.”” (Muslim (2/317) with Nawawee) 

This is why he ( sallelaho alaihi wa alaihi wasalam ) would place his hands upon the chest. It is the way to show absolute humility. The one praying should stand in front of his Lord with such an action and this is what is most befitting. Allaamah Shaikh Sa’dee Sheyraazee has also mentioned similar reasoning in very eloquent poetry prose. 

There is no basis in hadeeth for the action of those people who are accustomed to placing their hands below the navel. In actual fact, such an action displays disrespect and, if one were to place ones hands upon the navel to welcome a respected person today, then he would be looked upon in a bad light. How then can one stand in such a position in front of the King of all kings? Rather a person should place his hands upon his chest with all humilty offering his heart to his Lord. This was also the practice and method of the Prophet of Allaah. 

This is a short treatise which is written for the general people so that they may attain guidance. I hope that this will become a means of guidance and Allaah is the One who guides. 

To Proceed: There are some ahadeeth which are mentioned in regard to this important matter of where the hands are to be placed during the prayer. 

Hadeeth No. 1 

Abu Haazim Sahl ibn Sa’d Saadee narrates that: All those people praying (Companions) were ordered to place their right hand upon the left forearm and elbow. Salmah ibn Deenaar mentioned that I understood this narration to be marfoo in reaching the Prophet. 

Authenticity of the Hadeeth 

It is sufficient that this hadeeth is recorded in Saheeh al-Bukhaari because the ahadeeth in Bukhaari have a special grade of authenticity compared to all other ahadeeth and this is also the decision of the Scholars of this Ummah. [Sharh Nukhbah p.224 and Tadreeb ar-Raawee of Suyootee p.25 and others). 

Further Imaam Ibn Hazm in Al-Muhalla (4/114) and Ibn Qayyim in A’laam al-Muwaqqi’een (2/6, Indian print) have declared this narration authentic. 


This hadeeth is marfoo as is stated by the narrator Abu Haazim and who other than the Prophet could have given such an order? This is why Haafidh Ibn Hajr has said in his Fathul-Baari (2/124, Salafia Print) and Allaamah Ainee in his Umdatul Qaari (5/278, Al-Muneeriyyah Print) that this narration is marfoo and that this hadeeth is proof to place the hands upon the chest because when the right hand is placed upon the left arm and elbow then the hands will not be able to drift below the chest. 

This method should be tried by the reader to see what happens and then the matter will become clear, if Allaah wills. 

Continue from Part 2


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