Hand Placement During Salat (‘Qabd’ vs ‘Sadl’)?

Salam Waelekum, as Muslims we never stop learning and Islam is a religion in which we absorb new information everyday. I stumbled upon this topic and thought it was worth sharing. Today's topic is about the correct placement of our hands while we stand during Salat. It has long been a conflicting topic for a long time as I personally come across people that try to correct people, myself inclusive about the correct posture. There are two major postures viz: Qabd’ vs Sadl’.

1. ‘Qabd’

This refers to folding of the hands and keeping them on abdomen or chest etc. while standing during the prayer. However, there is a further split in opinions of various scholars of these views about correct placement of hands. Let us study each one of them.

    - Keeping the hands on chest

It was reported from Sulaiman bin Musa, from Tawus who said: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to place his right hand on his left hand, then grasp both of them on his chest while he was praying.

(Hadith No. 759, Book of Salat, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 1).


  - Keeping the hands on abdomen above the navel

Jarir Ad-Dabbi narrated: I saw Ali praying while grasping his left hand with his right hand, over the wrist joint, above the navel.

(Hadith No. 757, Book of Salat, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 1).

Ali (RA) was son-in-law of the Prophet (PBUH) and was taught the manners of Islam by the Prophet (PBUH) himself. Therefore, his manner of praying comes from the Prophet (PBUH).

This narration doesn’t talk about where above navel the hands are to be placed. But the followers of this posture, hold the view that it refers to keeping the hands on abdomen above the navel. There is no difference of opinion that this posture is according to Sunnah.

   - Keeping the hands on abdomen below the navel

Keeping hands folded below the navel is a posture adopted by some followers of Hanafi view. However, this posture is not authenticated by Sunnah. There is a narration on this posture related to Abu Hurairah (RA) reported by Imam Abu Dawud in his Sunan, but this narration is classified as ‘Daeef’ (i.e. weak); hence, it can’t be relied upon.

Thus we see that three different postures are found in ‘Qabd’, out of which two are authenticated by Sunnah while the third is not authenticated by Sunnah. So, the Muslims who prefer ‘Qabd’ posture should keep this in mind and may choose any of the two authenticated postures.

I wish to quote one more narration to highlight one basic requirement:

Abu Uthman An-Nahdi narrated from Ibn Masood (RA) that he prayed with his left hand over his right, and the Prophet (PBUH) saw him, so he placed his right hand over his left.

(Hadith No. 755, Book of Salat, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 1).

The narration of Sulaiman bin Musa of this discussion as well as the above mentioned hadith show that in the posture of ‘Qabd’, right hand should be placed on the top of left hand, it can’t be otherwise.

2. ‘Sadl’

This refers to leaving the hands loose (hanging free) by the side of the body while standing during the prayer. This posture is attributed to the people of Madinah where the Prophet (PBUH) spent later part of his life. Imam Malik used to pray in the posture of ‘Sadl’. However, some people state that Imam Malik used to pray like that because he had received many tortures on his hands from the enemies and his hands were not in condition of being raised and be placed on abdomen or chest. The people of strong Maliki view deny this and quote the following narration in support of ‘Sadl’:

Muhammad bin Amr bin Ata said: While he was among ten of the companions of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) including Abu Qatadah: I heard Abu Humaid As-Sa’idi say, “I am the most knowledgeable of you concerning the prayer of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH).” They said, “Why? By Allah, you did not follow him more than we did, and you did not accompany him for longer.” He said, “Yes, I am.” They said, “Show us.” He said, “When Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) stood for prayer, he would say the Takbir then he would raise his hands parallel to his shoulders, and every part of his body would settle in place. Then he would recite, then he would raise his hands parallel to his shoulders and bow, placing his palms on his knees and supporting his weight on them. He neither lowered his head, nor raised it up, it was evenly balanced. Then he would say: Sami Allahu liman hamidah; and he would raise his hands parallel with his shoulders, until every bone returned to its place. Then he would prostrate himself on the ground, keeping his arms away from his sides. Then he would raise his head and tuck his left foot under him and sit on it, and he would spread his toes when he prostrated. Then he would prostrate, then say the Takbir and sit on his left foot, until every bone returned to its place. Then he would stand up and do the same in the next raka’at. Then when he stood up after two raka’ats, he would raise his hands level with his shoulders as he did at the beginning of the prayer. Then he would offer the rest of his prayer in like manner until when he did the prostration after which Taslim comes, he would push one of his feet back and sit with his weight on his left side Mutawarrikan (i.e. the posture of Tawarruk).” They said, “You have spoken the truth; this is how Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to perform the prayer.”

(Hadith No. 1061, Chapters of Establishing the Prayers and Sunnah regarding them, Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 2).

Supporters of ‘Sadl’ posture highlight that this narration does not talk about keeping the hands on chest or abdomen (i.e. ‘Qabd’) at all. On the other hand they also highlight the statements, ‘every part of his body would settle in place’ after the first Takbir, and ‘every bone returned to its place’ after getting straight from bowing (i.e. Ruku), in support of their view. According to Maliki view, every part of body and every bone will be in its place while standing only in the position of leaving the hands loose by side of the body; that is the natural position of hands as well as the whole body. Therefore, based on this narration and understanding, ‘Sadl’ is also considered to be authenticated by Sunnah.

Concluding remarks

  • Keeping the hands on chest while standing during the prayer is authenticated by Sunnah.
  • Keeping hands on abdomen above the navel while standing during the prayer is authenticated by Sunnah.
  • Keeping hands below the navel while standing during the prayer is not authenticated by Sunnah.
  • Leaving the hands loose/free by side of the body while standing during the prayer is authenticated by Sunnah.
  • Whatever postures of ‘Qabd’ and/or ‘Sadl’ are authenticated by Sunnah, can be adopted by either of the genders (male or female). There is no such restriction that some postures are for males and some for females.

It is prevalent among the Muslims that they adopt the posture of hands while standing during Salat based on the teachings of their preferred school of thoughts. People of one school of thoughts condemn the postures of people of other school of thoughts, thereby leading to rift among the Ummah. The method of prayer should be based on the Sunnah; Muslims should not be divided on this aspect. As long as the posture is authenticated by Sunnah, we should not oppose it; rather, we should not even be hesitant to adopt it, even if it means we pray with different postures at different times. The only condition is that it should be according to Sunnah. And whichever posture is not authenticated by Sunnah, should be rejected without any arguments.

Let us get united on this front too please.

And Allah knows best.

May Allah forgive me if I am wrong and guide us to the right path. Ameen.

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