Raising the Hands When Going Into Qunut: Understanding Hanafi Legal Methodology

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: I have read in a book that upon completing the recitation of the third cycles of witr the worshiper should “raise the hands as in the beginning of prayer (takbir al-ihram) before the qunut. However, this confused me as it seemed to contradict something I read in Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yususf’s brilliant book Fiqh al-Imam. He mentions several narrations in the chapter of the book arguing against raising the hands anywhere in prayer, except for the takbir al-hram. Could you please clarify if one does raise one’s hands for the qunut?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well and in the best of spirits.

In the Hanafi school, it is a sunna to raise one’s hand before the supplication of qunut as one would during the opening invocation (takbir al-tahrima).  [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

This is despite the narrations you cited from the excellent work, Fiqh al-Imam, stating that the hands should not be raised except in seven instances, of which the qunut supplication is not one. Even though the Hanafis use these narrations to strengthen their position that raising the hands when going into and rising from the bowing position (ruku`) is not legislated, there are many more considerations that need to be taken into account to fully understand the Hanafi reasoning behind raising the hands for the qunut despite the narratives you mention.

Among these considerations are:

(a) The position and practice of the Companions, particularly those who were recognized jurists such as `Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be well pleased with him). and their foremost students, such as `Alqama ibn Qays and Ibrahim al-Nakha`i. It is established from them that they specifically negated raising the hands when going into and rising from bowing (ruku`) while affirming raising the hands when initiating the supplication of qunut. [Ibn Abi Shayba; Musannaf; Tahawi, Sharh Ma`ani al-Athar; Zayla`i, Nasb al-Rayah; Ibn Humam, Fath al-Qadir]

(b) The inherited practice of the community, which the Hanafis took into strong consideration and adopted as part of their legal methodology. This inherited practice demonstrated the raising of the hands for the supplication of qunut.

Thus, in order to properly understand the reason why the Hanafi school adopted certain positions at the expense of others requires an understanding of not only prophetic narratives (hadith) but the larger context and juridical principles the Hanadi school employed to derive legal rulings. Though looking at hadith-proof for the positions of the Hanafi school is one approach to justifying the positions the school holds, such an approach is neither holistic nor accurate.

And Allah knows best

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani