The Prayer of the Prophet (saw)

Why Maliki Muslims Do Not Pray With Their Hands Folded On The Chest.

Bismillah ir rahman ir raheem,
As salamu ‘alikum wr wb (May the Peace, Mercy of Allah and Blessings be upon you).
Why Maliki Muslims Do Not Pray With Their Hands Folded On The Chest.
This blog entry is about a very troubling trend I see among Muslims. Namely those who follow the post modern Salafi movement or ‘Ahl Hadeeths’. This also addresses the Muhamadiyyah movement in South East Asia, and others.
This troubling trend that I am talking about is taking the left hand with the right hand and folding it upon the chest in the prayer. Some times the hands are pressed very tightly upon the chest and the posture of the prayer looks quite arrogant!
I am calling upon all Muslims who love Allah and his Messenger (saw) to stop this disturbing practice. Nasiruddin al-Albani and his views on the matter are simply wrong! Absolutely wrong. May Allah bless him for the good that he brought and forgive him for this gross misunderstanding of the Sunnah of our beloved Messenger (saw).
Bismillah ir rahman ir raheem, All praise be to Allah and blessings and peace be upon the last messenger Muhammed (saw) his family and companions and all the righteous until the blowing of the trumpet. Amin~!
I wrote this article to simply show that placing the hands upon the chest is not as strong as what many have come to believe.
Many times people may wonder, why are the Malikis being so stubborn and arrogant? Don’t they realize there are literally hundreds of hadith that mention the prophet Muhammed (saw) praying with his hands folded upon his chest?
I think what those people fail to realize is that when ever there is such a hadith a very good question would be to ask oneself who was the hadith addressed too? If Muhammed(saw) placed one hand over the other on the chest and that was so common that everyone knew about it than why the need to convince people of it?
What I am saying is why the need for the hadith in the first place? Sounds to me that the hadiths that mention about him doing it was to addressed to people who were skeptical about it’s practice to begin with.
The Shi’a the Kwarij, the Ibaadi and the Amal of the people of Madinah(Original Sunni Muslims Maliki) is that the arms were draped to the sides. This is a very interesting point because the Shi’a and Kwarij where bitter enemies who differed politically not on theological points.
Seems to me that everyone in the beginning prayed with their arms to the side but some times people did pray with the hands tied and maybe objection was being raised to it and thus it was necessary to establish proofs that the prophet did it as such.
But now it’s been switched around so we have become the odd balls and people think that the Malikis are doing bid’ah by our continued practice of Sadl.
Those who claim to be following the original method of praying as taught by Muhammed (saw) and eschew bid’ah have some very difficult questions to answer.
Their unsightly method of praying with arms fully extending, and legs stretched out sometimes blocking another musali from praying, and many times pressing their hands close to their necks not to mention the upper chest deserve some comments. Not only that but I have seen no evidence for placing the right hand on the upper left shoulder in prayer as have seen many of those do who claim that their prayer is the ‘right way’ or the ‘only right way’.
The people who seem to be crying, ‘daleel’ (evidence) ‘daleel’ (evidence) are in serious lack of evidences for many of their positions.
The people who seem to be crying, ‘Quran and Hadeeth!’ or seem to cry out ‘Got Any Sahih Hadeeth’ seem to be standing on very shaky grounds on the most important Ibadah: namely the Salaah.
After examination and close consideration you will find that their evidences are basically only two Ahadith and one Mursal Hadith. Interestingly enough the ‘evidence for placing the hands on the chest’ are not contained in either Sahih Bukhari or Sahih Muslim.
That is a challenge! I challenge anyone on the entire planet earth to show me any Hadith from Bukhari or Muslim that tells you were the hands are to be placed! Please do not be shy!
I have often wondered would it not be embarrassing that of the tens of thousands of hadeeth that Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim have in their respective collections there is not one example of the prophet Muhammed (saw) praying with his hands upon the chest much less tightly pressed to be found in their respective works?
Now the only thing you will find is a statement in Bukhari that says the following
The Hadith of Sahl,
“Abdullah ibn Maslama related to us from Malik from Abu Hazim from Sahl ibn Sa’d He said: “The people were ordered that a person is to place their right hand over their left forearm during Salat.” Abu Hazim said, “I know only that he attributes that (yanmi dhalika) to the Prophet.” Isma’il said” (I only know that) That is attributed (yunma dhalika).” And he didn’t say: “He attributes” (yanmi).
This hadith -in spite of being in the Muwatta of Imam Malik and the Sahih of Imam Bukhari is not definite proof that the Prophet’s sunnah was to pray while holding his left with his right hand. What weakens such an assumption made from this hadith are the following.
#1) It is not an explicit report or statement or action of the Prophet (saw).
#2) The statement, “That the people were ordered that a person is to place their right hand over their left forearm during Salat” is the statement of the Companion, Sahl. And he doesn’t say that the Prophet (saw) gave this order. So there is a possibility that another could have given this order.
#3) The statement, “I know only that he attributes that (yanmi dhalika) to the Prophet” is not the statement of Sahl. Rather it is the statement of the Tab’i Abu Hazim. So there is no certainty that Sahl actually attributed this to the Prophet since Abu Hazim is merely conjecturing about what he remembers.
#4) The statement of Isma’il that ( I only know that) That is attributed (yunma dhalika).” And he didn’t say, “He attributes (yanmi)”. further emphasizes the belief that Abu Hazim didn’t actually hear Sahl attribute the order to the Prophet.
#5) Notice that many Muslims pray with their arms below their navel or up midway above the navel or high up on the chest. So obviously that hadith above (which has been shown not to be firmly established from the Prophet) doesn’t help us to know where to place the hands. You could even do takbir and than put your hands behind your back taking the left forearm with the right!
What does this show? It shows that the vast majority of the Muslim world has been doing a prayer they believe Muhammed (saw) did on very flimsy footing.
Let’s look at the other so called evidences.
They use the following as earth shattering evidence.
1) The Hadeeth of Wa’il Ibn Hujr.
2) The Hadeeth of Halb At-Taa’ee
3) The Mursal report of Tawus
Let’s proceed to see how sound the evidence really is
Following is an analysis of the ahadeeth often quoted for placing the hands upon the chest.
NO.1 Sayyiduna Wail bin Hujr (ra) says, ‘I prayed with the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and he placed his right hand over his left on his chest. (Ibn Khuzaimah, 479)
This hadeeth has been reported by Muammal bin Ismaeel from Sufyan al Thawri from Aasim bin Kulaib from Wail bin Hujr (ra) -However it is only Muammal who reports these additional words from Sufyan al Thawri.
Sufyan’ al Thawri’s other student, Abdullah bin al Waleed who also narrates this hadeeth from him does not include these words in his narration as recorded in Imam Ahmad’s Musnad. (Ahmad 18392)
Ibn al Qayyim al Jawziyyah also says in I’laam al Muwaqqieen, ‘No one has said upon the chest apart from Muammal bin Ismaeel.’ (I’ilaam al Muwaqqieen 2/361)
It is an accepted principle of hadeeth that if a certain authentic and reliable narrator contradicts other equally authentic or more reliable ‘narrators in his wording of a hadeeth then his narration will be declared shaadh and will not be accepted.
Study the following observations of the scholars of Jarh and T’adeel about Muammal bin Ismaeel:
Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani has made it clear in his Fath al Bari that there is daif (weakness) in Muammal bin Ismaeel’s narrations from Sufyan (Fath al Bari, 9/297). The above hadeeth has this very chain of narration.
Imam Bukhari mentions that Muammal ibn Ismaeel is among the munkarul Hadith (denounced hadith). (Aathar Us-Sunan Pg. 65, Chapter: Placing the hand on the chest).
(People who view Imam Bukhari as the ultimate authority in matters of Hadeeth should note his following statement: ‘It is not permissible to narrate from anyone whom I have labeled munkar al hadeeth [Mizan al I’itidal. 1/119]
Shaikh ibn al-Hammaam said in ‘at-Tahreer’, ‘when al-Bukhaaree says about someone, “there is a problem in him” then his hadeeth are not depended upon or used for support, or given any consideration.’
Observe the following list of narrators who have all reported the same hadeeth from Aasim bin Kulaib but none of then have included the additional words ‘upon the chest’ reported by Muammal bin Ismaeel
• Sh’ubah, Abdul Wahid, and Zubair bin Muawiyah as in Imam Ahmad’s Musnad. (Ahmad 18398, 18371 & 18397)
• Zaidah as in Imam Ahmad’s Musnad, Darimi, Abu Dawood. Nasai and Baihaqi (Ahmad 18391, Darimi 1357, Abu Dawood 726, Nasai 889 and Baihaqi 2325)
• Bishr bin al Mufaddhal as in Ibn Majah, Abu Dawood and Nasai (Ibn Majah 810, Abu Dawood 726 & 957, and Nasai 1265)
• Abdullah bin Idrees as in Ibn Majah (Ibn Majah 810)
• Salam bin Saleem as in Abu Dawood Tayalisi’s Musnad (Abu Dawood Tayalisi 1020)
So before I would be inclined to accept such a description of the prayer just to satisfy my heart and mind.
1) Is it possible to have the quote from Sufyan Al Thawri where he said the prophet prayed with his hands upon his chest? I just want to make sure that I am following the Salaaf and not someone’s simple mistake by making an added addition.
2) Why did Imam Bukhari denounce Muhammal ibn Ismaeel and why does he not use him in his narrations?
3) Why did Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani declare Muhammal’s narrations from Sufyan At Thawri as weak?
4) Why accept Wail Ibn Hujr’s narration above on placing hands but not the following narration. Narrated Wa’il ibn Hujr: I saw that the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) placed his knees (on the ground) before placing his hands when he prostrated himself. And when he stood up, he raised his hands before his knees. (Kitab Al-Salat): Details of Commencing Prayer’ of Sunan Abu-Dawud. 0837
The hadeeth of Halb at-Taa’ee/Hulb Al-Ta’i reported by Imaam Ahmad in his ‘Musnad’/Tirmidhi/Ibn Majah, and Daraqutni,
“That Yahya bin Sa’eed narrated to us from Sufyaan At Thawri , from Samaak bin Harb from Qabeesa bin Halb from his father that, ‘I saw the Messenger of Allaah (SAW) turn from his left to right, and place these on his chest, and Yahya al-Yamanee depicted this by placing the right hand upon the left (on the chest) above the level of the elbows.’
The above hadeeth contains the words ‘upon his chest’. This extra wording is not firmly established or confirmed, because of all the narrators who report this hadeeth from Simak, only one reports this extra wording.
Observe the following narrations of the same hadeeth without the extra wording of ‘upon his chest’.
• Abu al Ahwas reports from Simak bin Harb from Qabeesah bin Hulb from his father that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) would lead us in prayer and would clasp his left hand with his right.293
• Shareek reports from Simak from Qabeesah bin Hulb from his father who says (towards the end of a longer hadeeth), ‘I saw him place one of his hands on the other and I also saw him turn once towards his right and once towards his left.’294
Wakee reports from Sufyan from Simak bin Harb from Qabeesah bin Hulb from his father who says, ‘I saw the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) place his right hand upon his left in prayer and I also saw him turn away from both his right and left.’295
• Daruqutni narrates from Abdul Rahman bin Mahdi and Wakee’, from Sufyan from Simak bin Harb from Qabeesah bin Hulb from his father who says, ‘I saw the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) place his right hand upon his left in prayer.’ (Daruqutni 1087)
The above narrations all clearly show that the wording ‘upon his chest’ is an unreliable addition on the part of one of the reporters and therefore this particular narration is shaadh.
Weakness of the Hadith.
Weakness #1: Qabisa ibn Hulb has been classified as weak and unknown.
Shawkani said in Nayl Al-Awtar [2/200]: “In the chain of this hadith is Qabisa ibn Hulb. Sammak is the only one to narrate from him. Al-‘Ijli considered him to be reliable. And Ibn Al-Madini and nasa’i said: “(He is) Unknown.”
Weakness #2: Sammak ibn Harb has been classified as weak.
Dhahabi said about him in Al-Mizan [2/422 &423]: “Sufyan At Thawri, Shu’ba, and others declared him to be weak. And Imam Ahmad said: “He is) Unstable (mudtarib) in hadith.” And Nasa’i said: “He used to be dictated to. And he would learn (from those dictated notes.).”
So there is a weak transmitter on the authority of one who is unknown in the chain. So no attention is to be shown to it.
As for what Tirmidhi relates from Samaak ibn Harb from Qabeesah ibn Hulb from his father who said: “The Messenger of Allah used to lead us, and take his left with his right.” and declared it to be Hasan (of fair grading), then said, “Action is in accordance with this among the companions of the Prophet-may Allah grant him peace, the successors (taabi’een, and those after them”; There is no doubt that he (Tirmidhi) depending upon the hadith of Hulb in attributing this action, since there is a distance (in time) between him, and between the Sahaabah and Taabioon. Also because, he didn’t mention any support for that other than the hadith of Hulb.
If it (the hadith) had been Saheeh (sound), it would have passed as evidence. However, it is one of the narrations of Samaak and Qabeesah. And it has already preceded that Samaak is weak… and Qabeesah is unknown (majhool). And only Samaak narrates on his authority. And Tirmidhi’s choosing of this chain from (all) the different chains going back to the Prophet in this chapter is a proof that all chains of transmission fall in the center of ignominy!!!
1) Again why isn’t such a Hadith in Bukhari or Muslim?
2) Why did Tirmidhi choose this chain from all the different ones going back to the prophet? (This alone shows the weakness of such a position)
3) Why did Imam Ahmad declare him (Sammak ibn Harb) to be unstable in hadith?
4) Why did Imam Nasa’i declare Qabisa ibn Hulb as unknown?
And from the ahaadeeth these people depend upon is the hadeeth of Tawus
[Abu Dawood 759]
Reported by Abu Dawood in ‘al-Maraaseel’ who said, ‘Abu Tawba narrated to us from al-Haytham (ibn Humaid) from Thawr bin Yazeed from Sulaiman bin Musa from Tawoos who said, ‘The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) placed his right hand upon his left and than hold them tight on his chest while in prayer.’’
Weakness #1:
This report is incompletely transmitted, since there are undisclosed Companion and/ or even-non-Companion intermediaries between these Tabi’in.
So the Hadeeth of Tawus is Musral, because Tawus is a Taabi’ee (so he could not have seen the Messenger.) (saw)
However the mursal hadeeth is considered a proof with Imam Abu Hanifa and the Hanafi’s have their response to this.
It is a proof with Imam Maalik when it confirms the Amal of Madinah. This does not confirm the Amal of Madinah from a Maliki point of view because the Salaah with Malik is that the hands are laid to the sides.
Unless the report describes the nawaafil or sunnah prayers.
It’s a proof with Imam Ahmad in general, and we all know the best position of Imam Ahmad (r) is the hands are below the navel.
And according to Imam Shaafi’ee the mursal hadith are not acceptable unless there is another chain with a complete isnaad that backs it up.
Weakness #2:The first narrator of this tradition is Abu Tawba, whose full name is Ahmed bin Salem. Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani; said of him, “he is famous for tailoring fake traditions.”
Meizan ul E’tidaal, volume 1, page 100.
Weakness #3:The second narrator is Haytham, whose full name is Haytham bin Hameed al-Damishqi; Abu Dawood himself has called Haytham a follower of Qadri religion, Abu Mus-har Ghasani has called him a Qadri and unreliable.
Al Mizan ul E’tidaal volume 4, page 319, series 9289
Surely the condition of a narrator is that they are sound in creed.
Ibn Hajar writes in Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb that he was unreliable and an extreme liar. He used to make changes in the traditions and steal traditions,he could never find a person more of a liar than him. Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb, volume 2, page 69.
Weakness #4:
This hadith is mursal and its isnad contains Sulaiman bin Musa who has been classified as weak by some scholars.
Bukhari claims that he has munkar narrations. (Aathar Us-Sunan Pg. 65, Chapter: Placing the hand on the chest
Dhahabi said about him in Al-Mizan volume 2, page 225, Nasa’i says that he is a weak narrator of hadith.
Hafiz says in al Taqreeb, “He is a sadooq and faqeeh; however there is some (leen) “weakness” in his hadeeth.”
Weakness #5:
The third narrator is Thawr bin Yazeed; he too followed Qadri faith .
Mizan ul E’tidaal, volume 1, page 373.
1) Why isn’t such a report in Bukhari , or Muslim?
2) Why is such a description of the prayer such as ‘pressing one hands to the chest tightly’ only a Musral Hadith?
3) Isn’t it possible that since there is a break in this chain (in the sanaad) the prophet may not have even done it at all?
4) Since Abu Dawud mentions many ahadeeth about praying with one’s hands below the navel, on the chest and even hands to the sides what was Abu Dawud’s position on the matter; did he pray with hands below the navel, at the sides, just above the navel or pressed tight to the chest?
Conclusion: This article is not written to suggest other peoples method of salaah is wrong. It was written to show that the evidence for placing the hands on the chest is not as sound as one may think. All other narrations either say the Prophet (saw) placed one hand over the other (not indicating where he placed them, (for example behind his back?) and thus not convincing evidence); or state that he placed his hands below his navel as is the position with the Hanafi and Hambali madhabs. Those who attack the Maliki’ school’s position on the salaah namely graduates from Madinah University and the super ignorant followers of the so called ‘Salafi Manhaj’ need to face the facts.
The fact that Sa’id ibn Al Musayyib, Sa’id ibn Jubayr, Al Hasan Al Basari, Ibrahim Al Nakha’i, Muhammad ibn Sirin, Layth ibn Sa’d, Jafar al-Sadiq and the Companion ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr all prayed with their arms draped to the side is convincing enough. I would also rather take the Sunnah of the Amal of Madinah as related by Imam Malik raheemullah a great Mujtahid Imam than to take the views advanced by amateurs who spent a few years in Madinah University.
So for those who prance about the Ummah saying, “The Prophet (saw) said, “Pray as you see me pray” and than pass you Nasir Al Abani’s book ‘The Prophet’s Prayer as though you seen it” really need to slow down.

Here is the way the people of Madinah used to do the prayers brothers and sisters. Do not be fooled by the hype!

You want to know why the misunderstanding Because Prophet Muhammed (saw) said I leave you two things the Qur’an and my SUNNAH. He NEVER said I leave you the Qur’an and my Hadith. That is a flat lie and I also challenge anyone on the entire planet Earth to produce where he said that. These people will lie to you and tell you that Sunnah and Hadith are the same thing. They are not. This is very important in Islamic legal theory not to conflate the two.

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