The Weakness of the Hadeeth about Placing the Hands below the Navel

Author: Imaam Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen al-Albaanee

Source: Irwaa' al-Ghaleel (353) and Ahkaam al-Janaa'iz ( p. 118)

Published: Sunday 2nd August, 2015

Abu Daawood (756), Daaraqutni (107), Baihaqi (2/310), Ahmad in his son ‘Abdullaah's Masaa'il (62/2) and also in Zawaa'id al-Musnad (1/110), and Ibn Abi Shaiba (1/156/1) transmitted:

‘an ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Ishaaq ‘an Ziyaad ibn Zaid as-Siwaa'i ‘an Abu Juhaifah ‘an ‘Ali (radi-Allaahu ‘anhu), who said,

"It is from the Sunnah during the prayer to place one palm on the other, below the navel."

This is a da‘eef (weak) sanad due to ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Ishaaq (al-Waasiti al-Koofi), who is weak (see below). On top of that, it has idtiraab (shakiness) in it, for he has narrated it:

  1. once ‘an Ziyad ‘an Abu Juhaifa ‘an ‘Ali (as above);
  2. once ‘an Nu‘man ibn Sa‘d‘an ‘Ali (transmitted by Daaraqutni and Baihaqi); and
  3. once ‘an Siyaas Abul Hakam ‘an Abu Waa'il, who said, "Abu Hurairah said: It is from the Sunnah ..." (transmitted by Abu Dawood [758] and Daaraqutni).

The Weakness of ‘Abd Ar-Rahmaan Ibn Ishaaq Al-Koofi in the Eyes of the Imaams of Hadeeth

  1. Abu Daawood said,

    "I heard Ahmad ibn Hanbal declaring ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Ishaaq al-Koofi da‘eef (weak)."

    [This is why Imaam Ahmad did not accept this hadeeth of his, for his son ‘Abdullaah said, "I saw that when praying, my father placed his hands, one on the other, above the navel."]

  2. Nawawi said in Majmoo‘ (3/313), and also in Sharh Saheeh Muslim and elsewhere,

    "They (the scholars of hadeeth) agree in declaring this hadeeth weak, because it is a narration of ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Ishaaq al-Waasiti, who is a da‘eef (weak) narrator, as agreed upon by the Imaams of Jarh and Ta‘deel (Authentication and Disparagement of reporters)."

  3. Zayla‘i said in Nasb ar-Raayah (1/314),

    "Baihaqi said in al-Ma‘rifah: ‘Its isnaad is not firm, for it is a unique narration of ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Ishaaq al-Waasiti, who is matrook (abandoned)'."

  4. Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Baari (2/186),

    "It is a weak hadeeth."

What further points to its weakness is that contrary to it has been narrated on the authority of ‘Ali with a better isnaad: the hadeeth of Ibn Jareer al-Dabbi ‘an his father, who said,

"I saw ‘Ali (radi-Allaahu ‘anhu) holding his left arm with his right on the wrist, above the navel"

This isnaad is a candidate for the rank of hasan; Baihaqi (1/301) firmly designated it to be hasan, and Bukhaari (1/301) designated it with certainty while giving it in an abridged, ta‘leeq form.

What is authentic from the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) with respect to the position of the hands is that they should be on the chest; there are many ahaadeeth about this, among them is one on the authority of Taawoos, who said,

"The Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) used to place his right arm on his left arm, and clasp them firmly on his chest during prayer" - transmitted by Abu Daawood (759) with a saheeh isnaad.

Although this is mursal, it is enough as proof for all scholars, with all their various opinions regarding the Mursal Hadeeth, since it is saheeh as a mursal isnaad and has also been related as mawsool in many narrations; hence, it is valid as proof for all. Some of the supporting narrations are as follows:

  1. From Waa'il ibn Hujr:

    "That he saw the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) put his right hand upon his left and placed them upon his chest."

    Reported by Ibn Khuzaimah in his Saheeh (Nasb ar-Raayah, 1/314) and reported by Baihaqi in his Sunan (2/30) with two chains of narration which support each other.

  2. From Qabeesah ibn Hulb, from his father who said:

    "I saw the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم), leave [after completing the Prayer] from his right and his left, and I saw him place this upon his chest - Yahyaa (Ibn Sa'eed) described the right (hand) upon the left above the joint."

    Reported by Ahmad (5/226) with a chain of narrators who are of the standard set by Muslim except for Qabeesah, but he is declared reliable by 'Ijli and Ibn Hibbaan; however, no one narrates from him except Simaak ibn Harb about whom Ibn al-Madeeni and Nasaa'i say: "Unknown" and Ibn Hajar says in Taqreeb: "He is ‘Maqbool' [i.e. acceptable only if supported]." The hadeeth of one such as him are hasan as supporting narrations, and therefore Tirmidhi said after quoting the part of this hadeeth concerning taking the left hand with the right, "It is a hasan hadeeth."

So these are three ahaadeeth which show that the Sunnah is to place the hands on the chest, and one who comes across them will not doubt that together they are sufficient to prove this.


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