There are some who claim that placing the hands below the navel whilst performing the prescribed prayers is either of a weaker opinion than that of placing the hands upon the chest or has no evidence. This chapter will address this issue in the light of the Sunnah and prove that this false claim has absolutely no foundation.
According to Imam Abu Hanifah (Allah be well pleased with him), it is part of the Sunnah for a man performing the ritual prayer, Salaah, to place his hands beneath the navel. Many companions of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), and their students (Tabi’een) performed their Salaah in this manner.
Imam Tirmidhi writes that it is Sunnah to place one hand over the other but there are different opinions amongst the companions and their students regarding the actual positioning of the hands.
(Tirmidhi Chapter Watalya’meen alashimal).
Qadhi Shawkani writes that there existed different opinions amongst the scholars regarding the positioning of the hands during Salaah. The following consider it correct to place the hands beneath the navel; Imam Abu Hanifah, Sufiyan Thawri, Is-haaq-bin Rahwia and Abu Is-haaq.
(Nal-ul-Awatar, Chapter: WazalyAmin alashimal).
The aforementioned scholars were outstanding in the field of Hadith sciences and clearly knew the differences between authentic, acceptable, weak and fabricated narrations. Furthermore, if the Ahadith stating that the hands should be placed beneath the navel were fabricated then why would Imam Ahmed, Yahya bin Mo’een, the teacher of both Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim practice these narrations?
Evidence about the validity of placing the hands below the navel during the prayer
Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal writes:
Ali said that it is a sunnah to place one hand over the other and beneath the navel.
(Musnad Ahmed bin Hanbal also Dar Qutni, Abu Dawud, Chapter: Watul-YAmin Alashimal).
Imam Ibn Abi Shayba writes :
Alqamah reported from his Father that the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), would place his right hand over his left and beneath the navel. Imam Ibrahim says that Ali said it is a sunnah to place your hands beneath the navel during the Salaah.
(Musannaf Ibn abi Shaeba, chapter ‘Ashimal bin-YAmin’).
Alama Ibn Hazm writes that the hands should be placed beneath the navel and Anas reported that there are three things which are Sunnah :
1. Not to delay the opening of the fast (during Ramadhan)
2. To close the fast at the very last minute
3. To place the hands beneath the navel during the prayer.
(Muhalla, chapter ‘Wat-ul-YAmin’ Ibn Hazm).
The aforementioned narrations prove that it is an established Sunnah to place the hands beneath the navel. These Ahadith are neither weak nor fabricated as Ibn Hazm would have declared them as being such because Imam Dar Qutni was in strong opposition to the Hanafi School of thought.
Evidence about the validity of placing the hands upon the chest during the prayer
Wyle says I saw that the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) was performing his prayers with his hands placed upon his chest.
(Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, chapter on Salaah).
We respond to the above narration with the observation that it is neither present in Muslim nor Bukhari. It is amazing how people who rigorously promote Bukhari and Muslim, as the only book to follow for Sunnah will quickly use a Hadith that doesn’t appear in either, just as long as they feel it will win them an argument! A close examination of the Hadith in question will show who is following a Sahih Hadith and who is blindly following the mistakes of their scholars - who have the audacity to criticise scholars of the orthodox four schools of fiqh but don’t see their own glaring mistakes.
Secondly, the main narrator of this Hadith; Muammal-bin-Isma’il has been criticised by the scholars of Hadith (muhadtheen).
Imam Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar Asqalani write that Imam Bukhari said that Muammal-bin-Isma’il was amongst the Mukirul Hadith (deniers of Hadith).
Imam Abu Khatim, Imam Abu Zhara, Imam Saje, Imam Ibn Sa’ad, Hafidhh Marwaze and Dar Qutni all consider Muammal-bin-Isma’il as having a weak memory. When informing others of Hadith Muhammad bin Isma’il would make many mistakes . He has known to have burnt his books and hence made errors in transmitting his Hadith from memory. He also made erroneous claims by stating that he heard many of his narrations from the great scholars, whereas he had not done so. Only some scholars, such as Ibn Habban and Ibn Khuzayma claim that he was a knowledgeable scholar.
(Mezan-ul-Itidal Tahzeeb-ul-Tahzeeb, biography of Muammal-bin-Isma’il by Imam Dhahabi and Hafidhh Ibn Hajar Asqalani).
Alama Ghulam Rasool Sa’eedi writes that Imam Bayhaqi wrote another two Ahadith in his book, Sunan, regarding the placement of the hands upon the chest during the Salaah. However, neither of these Ahadith are authentic as their narrators have been criticised by the scholars of Hadith. We will look at each one in turn.
One of the narrators of the Hadith is Muhammad bin Hujjar, whom Imam Dhahabi writes as having been criticised. Notably, he did not fit the criterion that Imam Bukhari has for accepting Hadith from someone. Imam Bukhari says that it is impermissible to accept any Hadith narrated by him because he narrates doubtful Ahadith from his uncle.
The other narrator of that Hadith is Umm -Jabbar, she is unknown. Imam Bayhaqi wrote himself that this Hadith is weak.
The second narrator is known as Ibn Abbas while the main narrator is Ruh bin Musayyib. Imam Ibn Addi says that Ruh bin Musayyib has been criticised by the scholars of Hadith. Imam Ibn Habbaan says that Ruh narrates fabricated Hadith and therefore it is impermissible to accept his narrations. Also Imam Fikri considers Ruh as transmitting unknown Hadith which should not be accepted.
(Sharh, Sahih Muslim, Chapter on Wujube Qira’at by Alama Saedi).
We close this chapter by stating that there exists no single authentic Hadith proving the permissibility of placing the hands upon the chest during the Salaah.