Raising the Hands in Qunut; What is the proof?

Question:

Does one raise their hands for Qunut in Fajr and Witr? What is the proof for it if so?

Answer:

الحمد لله رب العالمين ، وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين، وبالله التوفيق

Imam An-Nawawi states in his Kitab At-Tahqiq,

يندب رفع يديه دون مسح وجهه في الأصح

“ِAnd it is recommended to raise one’s hands [in qunut] without wiping one’s face according to what is most correct.”

Ibn Naqib Al-Masri states in his ‘Umdat As-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller),

“While performing the dawn prayer it is Sunna to lift one’s hands and supplicate after straightening up from bowing in the second raka’ah. […] one does not stroke the face or chest with one’s hands after the supplication.”1

Before continuing to the actual question of raising the hands, we should clarify that it is the Sunnah of the Nabi (‘alayhis salam) to wipe his face after du’aa, however Imam An-Nawawi states that one is only to do it outside of Salah and not within it, as there is no evidence to conclude that the Prophet Muhammad (‘alayhis salam)  wiped his face within Salah. There is, however, a weaker view in our school that it is to be done. Such was held by Al-Qadi Abu Tayyib, Shaykh Abu Muhammad Al-Juwayni, Ibn As-Sabbagh, Al-Mutawalli, Shaykh Nasr in his Kitab, and the author of Al-Bayan.2 However, according to Imams An-Nawawi, Ar-Rafi’i and Al-Bayhaqi as well as others, it is not Sunnah and is disliked to do so within Salah – though outside of Salah is Sunnah. This topic was researched in depth in another article on Shafiifiqh.com titled, “Wiping the face after making du’aa”. Imam Al-Bayhaqi said in his Sunan Al-Kubra:

فأما مسح اليدين بالوجه عند الفراغ من الدعاء فلست أحفظه عن أحد من السلف في دعاء القنوت وإن كان يروي بعضهم في الدعاء خارج الصلاة

“As for wiping the face with the hands and the end of one’s du’aa, then this is not preserved  from anyone from amongst the salaf (righteous predecessors) in the Du’aa of the Qunut, and it is reported from some of them with regards to du’aa outside of Salah.”3

Let us return to the question regarding the raising of one’s hands for Qunut in Salah. There are many narrations of the Prophet Muhammad raising his hands in du’aa. Imam Muslim narrates in his Sahih that A’ishah reports that the Prophet Muhammad did so while making du’aa for the the dead in the graves at Baqi’.4 He also narrates from ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiya Allahu anhu) that the Nabi ‘alayhis salam also did so on the day of Badr.5 He did so at Khaybar as well as reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari6. There is in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim as well, the Nabi making du’aa with his hands raised for Abu ‘Amer and Abu Musa Al-Asha’ri.7 There are many more narrations that such was the Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah.

There is yet a misleading statement reported from Anas ibn Malik in Sahih Al-Bukhari that states,

كان النبي ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏لا يرفع يديه في شيء من دعائه إلا في ‏ ‏الاستسقاء وإنه يرفع حتى يرى بياض إبطيه ‏

“The Prophet Muhammad would not raise his hands in any of his Du’aa (supplications) except in Istisqa’8, and when doing it he would raise his hand so that the whites of his underarms could be seen!”9

To this hadith Hafith Ibn Hajr Al-’Asqalani says, “What is apparent from this narration is that the Nabi did not raise his hands in his du’aa except for Istisqa‘, and this contradicts the many hadiths that are established in which he did raise his hands.”10

He continues to mention the possible explanations for this narration of Anas ibn Malik. The first is that it may be true that Anas only witnessed him do so once, and so those that witnessed him do it more than once take precedence. The other explanation is that what was intended was the he (‘alayhis salam) would only raise his hands that high – meaning to show the whites of his underarms – for Salah Al-Istisqa’. In other words, the Nabi would only extend his arms in this manner in his du’aa at the time of istisqa’.

Imam Al-Bayhaqi (rahmatullah ‘alayh) reports the following narration:

أخبرنا أبو عبد الرحمن السلمي وأبو نصر بن قتادة قالا أنبأ أبو محمد يحيى بن منصور القاضي أنبأ أبو القاسم علي بن صقر بن نصر بن موسى السكري ببغداد في سويقة غالب من كتابه ثنا عفان بن مسلم ثنا سليمان بن المغيرة عن ثابت عن أنس بن مالك في قصة القراء وقتلهم قال فقال لي أنس لقد رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كلما صلى الغداة رفع يديه يدعو عليهم يعني على الذين قتلوهم

From Thabit who said, “Anas ibn Malik (radiya Allahu ‘anhu) said to me that he saw Rasulullah, in every morning prayer, raising his hands making du’aa against those people who had killed [the companions].” (Hadith 2964 Sunan Al-Kubra) Hafith Ibn Hajr also mentions this report in his Talkhis11.

Imam Al-Bayhaqi also reports the following from Imam Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiya Allahu ‘anhu),

أخبرنا أبو الحسين بن بشران أنبأ أبو جعفر محمد بن عمرو الرزاز ثنا حنبل بن إسحاق ثنا سفيان عن جعفر أبي علي يباع الأنماط قال سمعت أبا عثمان قال رأيت عمر رضى الله تعالى عنه يمد يديه في القنوت

From Ja’far Abi ‘Ali who said, “I heard Abu Uthman saying, ‘I saw ‘Umar [ibn Al-Khattab] radiya Allahu ‘anhu raising his hands in Qunut.”12

He also reports this from a different chain from Ja’far ibn Maymun from Abu ‘Uthman [An-Nahdi] who said that he prayed with Umar while he was leading the people in Salah, and he made his Qunut after ruku’ and he raised his hands.13

In another chain from Qatadah from Abu ‘Uthman he said:

صليت خلف عمر بن الخطاب رضى الله تعالى عنه فقرأ ثمانين آية من البقرة وقنت بعد الركوع ورفع يديه حتى رأيت بياض إبطيه ورفع صوته بالدعاء حتى سمع من وراء الحائط

“I prayed behind Umar ibn Al-Khattab … he made Qunut after Ruku’, he raised his hands until one could see the whiteness of his underarms, and he raised his voice while saying the du’aa, so much so that those behind him could hear him.”14

Through another chain from Abu Raf’i who said,

عن أبي رافع قال صليت خلف عمر بن الخطاب رضى الله تعالى عنه فقنت بعد الركوع ورفع يديه وجهر بالدعاء

“From Abu Rafi’ who said, I prayed behind Umar ibn Al-Khattab and he made Qunut after his Ruku’, he raised his hands, and he said the Du’aa aloud.”15

All of this shows that it was the practice of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions to raise their hands in Qunut within Salah.

And Allah Knows Best.

Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Dept.

  1. page 147-148, Reliance of the Traveler, trans. Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller []
  2. Al-Majmu’ Vol 3 pg 480 []
  3. See Sunan Al-Kubra, 2968 []
  4. Sahih Muslim 974 []
  5. 1763 []
  6. 2829, bugha’s edition []
  7. See #2498 Sahih Muslim []
  8. prayer for rain []
  9. Hadith 973 []
  10. See: http://hadith.al-islam.com/Display/Display.asp?hnum=973&doc=0&IMAGE=%DA%D1%D6+%C7%E1%CD%CF%ED%CB []
  11. page 715, published by Adwa’ As-Salaf. []
  12. 2966 []
  13. 2967 []
  14. 2968 []
  15. Ibid. []