Is it correct that many Sahabah did not practice Raf al-Yadayn (raising the hands) in Salah?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

Yes, it is correct that many Sahabah (May Allah Most High be pleased with them) did not practice Raf al-Yadayn (raising the hands) in Salah. Rather they would raise them at the beginning alone. Sayidina Ali was amongst these Sahabah.

حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ، عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ قِطَافٍ النَّهْشَلِيِّ، عَنْ عَاصِمِ بْنِ كُلَيْبٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، أَنَّ عَلِيًّا، كَانَ يَرْفَعُ يَدَيْهِ إِذَا افْتَتَحَ الصَّلَاةَ، ثُمَّ لَا يَعُودُ

Asim bin Kulayb narrated from his father that (Sayidina) Ali (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) used to raise his hands (Raf al-Yadayn) when beginning the prayer. Then he would not return to it. (Musanaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 2442, Hasan).

The position Sayidina Ali (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) took is in line with numerous authentic Hadith narrations (see the link below). Nor is Sayidina Ali alone in taking such a position. Rather numerous Sahabah agreed with the opinion that the hands should be raised (Raf al-Yadayn) at the beginning of the prayer alone, and not throughout the prayer.

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِي اللهُ عَنْهُ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: لَا تُرْفَعُ الْأَيْدِي إِلَّا فِي سَبْعِ مَوَاطِنَ حِينَ يَفْتَتِحُ الصَّلَاةَ وَحِينَ يَدْخُلُ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ فَيَنْظُرُ إِلَى الْبَيْتِ، وَحِينَ يَقُومُ عَلَى الصَّفَا، وَحِينَ يَقُومُ عَلَى الْمَرْوَةِ، وَحِينَ يَقِفُ مَعَ النَّاسِ عَشِيَّةَ عَرَفَةَ وبِجَمْعٍ، وَالْمَقامَيْنِ حِينَ يَرْمِي الْجَمْرَةَ

(Sayidina) Abdullah bin Abbas (May Allah Most High be pleased with them both) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘The hands are not raised except in seven places, when one begins the prayer, when one enters the sacred Masjid and looks at the house (Ka’bah), when one stands upon al-Safaa, when one stands upon al-Marwa, when one stands with the people in the afternoon of Arafah, when in congregation, at the two stations when pelting the pillars.’ (Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer 12072, Hasan).

The above narration is Hasan according to Imam al-Haytahmi (see Majma al-Zawaid, 5461). It is yet another Prophetic Hadith that supports the position taken by numerous Sahabah that Raf al-Yadayn should only be performed at the beginning of the Salah.

Despite the evidence provided above and in the links below, the Hanafi scholars respected the fact that there is a genuine, credible difference of opinion amongst the Sahabah on this issue. Therefore, the opinions establishing and negating Raf al-Yadayn (the raising of the hands) should both be respected.

فظهر بما رَوَيْنا من الطرفين: ثبوت كلٍ من الأمرَيْن عن النبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ثم اختلف أصحابه في بقائه وعدمه. فآثرنا قول ابن مسعود ومن وافقه. (فتح باب العناية بشرح النقاية)

Therefore, it is clear from what we have narrated from both sides that both (i.e. Raf al-Yadayn and refraining from it) are established from the Prophet ﷺ. Thereafter, his companions differed over it remaining or being discontinued. (Imam Ali al-Qari, Fath Bab al-Inayah).

Unfortunately, many people in our time do not respect the fact that there is a genuine difference of opinion when it comes to the issue of Raf al-Yadayn. Rather they accept one of the two opinions and consider the other to be misguidance. This is not only contrary to the methodology of Ahl al-Sunnah, which accepts valid differences, it is also an attack on leading Sahabah.

People who claim that Raf al-Yadayn is required and leaving it is misguidance. What would they say about the Sahabah who left it? Do they consider them to be astray? Equally those who consider practicing Raf al-Yadayn to be misguidance, what are they saying about leading Sahabah who practiced it?

Sadly, this is the extremism one is liable to fall into when deviating from the method of Ahl al-Sunnah. When Muslims exchange the methodology of classical scholars for a contemporary or recent group then they may fall into such absurdities.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (11.01.2023)

See also:
Respecting difference of opinion
Abdullah ibn Masood’s position on Raf al-Yadayn

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