Placing Hands in Prayer: Is the Hanafi Position a Reprehensible Innovation?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

I have been reading through Al Albanee’s attempt to discredit traditional Islamic scholarship regarding salaat (aka “The Prophet’s Prayer Described”). In his 158th footnote from the section “To Place the Hands on the Chest” under “Takbeer”, Albanee said the following: “As for the combination of holding and placing, which some of the later Hanafis hold to be good, then that is an innovation; its form as they state is to place the right hand on the left, holding the wrist with the little finger and the thumb, and laying flat the remaining three fingers, as described in Ibn ‘Aabideen’s Footnotes on Durr al- Mukhtaar (1/454); so do not be confused by what they say.” Is it possible to check the veracity of the reference that he made to Durr al Mukhtar and the translation? What is the reference to the correctness of the position described here? As far as I know, women in the Hanafi madhhab fold their right hands over their left hands and place them on their chests in prayer; but I haven’t known why to this date.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam,

This is simply a case of ignorance.

Ibn Abidin, like others, explained that the narrations from the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) mention placing the right hand on the left, and they mention holding the right hand with the left. On the basis of this, some scholars chose one way, and others the other. Yet others said that it is possible to act on both narrations by placing the right hand on the left, while holding the wrist with the little finger and the thumb, and laying flat the remaining three fingers. There is discussion on this, but Ibn Abidin and others concluded the mentioned is the optimal, because of the methodological principle that when there are two texts, it is best to act on both together when that is possible, as here.

As for women’s prayer, there was a detailed email last month on the Hanafi list about it. Search for “women prayer” using the search engine at

And Allah knows best,

Faraz Rabbani.