THE FIFTH MADH-HAB
It is authentically related that Sa’eed ibn Jubayr (rahmatullahi alayh), the famous student of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), while doing Tawaaf of the Ka’bah, saw a man praying with his hands on his chest. So abhorrent and unusual was the sight of this abnormal posture that it compelled Sa’eed ibn Jubayr to interrupt his Tawaaf, walk over to the man, smack him, and physically separate his hands, even while the man was in prayer.
The Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates the incident with an authentic sanad (chain) as follows:
حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، عَنْ عَبْيدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ الْعَيْزَارِ قَالَ: «كُنْتُ أَطُوفُ مَعَ سَعِيدِ بْنِ جُبَيْرٍ، فَرَأَى رَجُلًا يُصَلِّي وَاضِعًا إِحْدَى يَدَيْهِ عَلَى الْأُخْرَى، هَذِهِ عَلَى هَذِهِ، وَهَذِهِ عَلَى هَذِهِ، فَذَهَبَ فَفَرَّقَ بَيْنَهُمَا، ثُمَّ جَاءَ»
Yahya bin Sa’eed narrates from Ubaydullah ibn al-Ayzaar who said:
“I was performing Tawaaf with Sa’eed ibn Jubayr when he saw a man praying having placed his hand upon the other, this upon this, and this upon this (referring to the left hand upon the chest, and the right hand upon the left). So he went (to him) and separated them. Then he came (back).”
Dr. Bashar Awwaad, an expert in editing manuscripts, has clarified in his annotations of Ibn Abdul Barr’s Tamheed where this very same narration is cited, that “عبيد” (Ubayd) is the correct name of the individual narrating this incident. The name “عبد” (with the letter ‘ya’ missing) found in the manuscripts is a typographical error.
In the version of this incident narrated by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal to his student, Muhanna, the smacking is mentioned. Imam Ahmad also clarifies exactly why Sa’eed bin Jubayr took such stern measures:
قال مغلطاي في شرح سنن ابن ماجه (5/131):
وفي سؤالات مهنا: قلت لأحمد: ثنا خالد بن خداش، ثنا مهدي بن ميمون، عن عبيدالله بن العيزار، قال: (كنت أطوف مع سعيد بن جبير، وكان مهيبًا، فرأى رجلاً يصلي قد وضع إحدى يديه على الأخرى، فضرب يده)؟ فقال: (إنما رآه قد وضع إحدى يديه على الأخرى، وجعلهما عند صدره؛ لأن ذلك شبه التكفير).
Muhannā said: I asked Ahmad (about the narration)…: Ubaydullah ibn al-Ayzār said: “I was performing Tawaaf with Sa’eed bin Jubayr. He was awe-striking. He saw a man praying, having placed one of his hands over the other. So he (Sa’eed bin Jubayr) smacked his hand.”
So he (Imam Ahmad) said:
“(He did this because) he only saw that he had placed one hand over the other and placed them against his chest, since that resembles al-Takfeer.”
The above narration is recorded by Allamah Mughultai in his Sharh of Ibn Majah. Shaykh Dr. Abul Hasan has demonstrated in his treatise, “The Hanbali Position of Placing the Hands Below the Navel“, that the chain of this narration is authentic.
Al-Takfeer, also known as al-Taqlees, was the practice of the Christians and Jews placing their hands directly on the chest during their prayers. Neither did Imam Ahmad, nor anyone from the Salaf-us-Saaliheen, ever understand the Hadith narrations mentioning the word “Sadr” (chest) to be referring to placing the hands directly on the breast which was precisely the practice of the Jews and Christians. ALL of the Imams of the Salaf understood the word “Sadr”, in this context, to be referring to below the breast and above the navel. This will be demonstrated conclusively on this page insha-Allah.
Let us establish first the fact that placing the hands directly on the chest (i.e. on the breast or above, as opposed to below the breast) was the religious practice of the Jews and Christians.
In Kitaab ul-Ain of al-Khaleel ibn Ahmad (d. 170H), the oldest Arabic dictionary to have reached us from the era of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen, there is explicit proof that the practice of placing both hands on the chest was associated with the Christians:
كتاب العين للخليل بن أحمد الفراهيدي المتوفي ١٧٠
ﻭاﻟﺘﻘﻠﻴﺲ: ﻭﺿﻊ اﻟﻴﺪﻳﻦ ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺼﺪﺭ ﺧﻀﻮﻋﺎ ﻛﻔﻌﻞ اﻟﻨﺼﺮاﻧﻲ
“At-Taqlees: Placing the two hands upon the chest in humility like the practice of the Christians.”
Abu Ubayd al-Qaasim ibn as-Salaam (d. 224H), possibly the greatest and most famous of the early linguists, also defines this Kuffaar practice of al-Takfeer as:
تهذيب اللغة ابو منصور الهروي المتوفي ٣٧٥
ﻭﻗﺎﻝ ﺃﺑﻮﻋﺒﻴﺪ: اﻝﺗﻜﻔﻴﺮ: ﺃﻥ ﻳﻀﻊ اﻟﺮﺟﻞ ﻳﺪﻳﻪ ﻋﻠﻰ ﺻﺪﺭﻩ
“Al-Takfeer: That a man place his two hands upon his chest.”
The statement above is narrated in the early Arabic dictionaries such as Tahdheeb al-Lugah of Abū Mansoor al-Harawī (d. 375).
Ibn Qutaybah, another famous linguist and polymath from or close to the era of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen, also defines this act similarly, in his “al-Jaraatheem”:
الجراثيم لابن قتيبة المتوفي ٢٧٦:
اﻟﺘﻜﻔﻴﺮﺋ: ﺃﻥ ﻳﻀﻊ ﻳﺪﻳﻪ ﻋﻠﻰ ﺻﺪﺭﻩ
Al-Takfeer: That he places his two hands on his chest.
The later Arabic dictionaries simply reiterate the definitions cited above. For example, Ibn al-Jawzi, the famous Hanbali jurist, states in his Ghareeb al-Hadeeth:
غريب الحديث لابن الجوزي:
ﻭاﻟﺘﻘﻠﻴﺲ اﻟﺘﻜﻔﻴﺮ ﻭﻫﻮ ﻭﺿﻊ اﻟﻴﺪﻳﻦ ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺼﺪﺭ ﺧﻀﻮﻋﺎ
“Al-Taqlees is al-Takfeer – and this is placing the two hands upon the chest in humility.”
Both the words al-Taqlees and al-Takfeer carry many other meanings. However, the specific definitions cited above constitute a clear proof that the practice of placing one’s hands on the chest was known well enough to be a distinct practice of the Kuffaar such that specific words were coined for it, during or even prior to the era of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen.
The Salaf harboured the greatest degree of aversion for Tashabbuh bil Kuffaar (resemblance to the non-Muslims), in view of the numerous verses of the Qur’aan and authentic Hadiths condemning and prohibiting such resemblance. The prohibition of an act is of an even greater degree if it resembles the manner of worship of the Kuffaar.
It should also be borne in mind that while the Salaf were the most tolerant and broad-minded of people in regards to valid differences of opinions amongst themselves, they were also the most intolerant of people in regards to any differences which they deemed to be invalid and alien to Islam. Intolerance and “bigotry” towards Baatil (falsehood) was a salient feature of all the Salaf-us-Saaliheen. In contrast, tolerance of Baatil and intolerance of the Haqq are salient features of our current era, which is precisely why Allah Ta’ala has granted the very worst of people power over us, exactly in accordance with the Hadiths describing the consequences of such satanic tolerance.
Thus, it is of no surprise that a senior Tabi‘i such as Sa’eed ibn Jubayr felt compelled to interrupt his own ibaadah (worship) and interrupt the man’s salaah, and correct the abominable sight in the manner that he did. In all probability the poor man was a new convert to Islam who had carried over that particular habit from his previous religion.
In Imam Ahmad’s “Masaa-il” and collection of his Fatwas transmitted by his direct students is further confirmation of the reprehensibility of a man placing his hands on his chest during prayer.
Ibn ul-Qayyim, in his Badaaī’ al-Fawaaid cites al-Muzani, the student of Imam Ahmad, as follows:
ونقل المزني عنه…ويكره أن يجعلهما على الصدر، وذلك لما روي عن النبي -صلى اللَّه عليه وسلم- أنه نهى عن التكفير، وهو وضع اليد على الصدر
Imam Ahmad said:
“It is reprehensible for him to place both of them (hands) upon the chest. And that is because of what is related from the Prophet ﷺ that he prohibited al-Takfeer – and that is placing the hand upon the chest.”
The sanad of the particular Hadith referred to above by Imam Ahmad has not reached us. However, it is sufficient for us that Imam Ahmad regarded it as authentic enough to adduce as evidence. The authentication of a Mujtahid such as Imam Ahmad is infinitely more reliable than that of any of the glut of paper “Mujtahids” who have mushroomed during these worst of eras, and whose word is taken almost as holy writ. The phrase “authenticated by al-Albani”, for example, is often issued by scholars today, leave aside laymen, as an authoritative stamp on which confidence can be reposed, even though al-Albani was extremely unreliable and untrustworthy, as will become glaringly clear when we analyse the academic shenanigans he (and Zubayr Ali Zai) perpetrated while attempting to authenticate the Jewish practice of al-Takfeer.
As will be demonstrated when we discuss the Hadith of Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) in which he states that the Sunnah is to place the hands below the navel, which was the primary narrational Daleel (proof) used by the Hanbali and Hanafi Fuqaha (despite the weaknesses in its chain), there are numerous qaraa-in (indicators) which the Mujtahids such as Imam Ahmad would use in determining the authenticity of a Hadith. The sanad was only one factor out of many that were considered in such a process. Thus, in relation to the narration condemning al-Takfeer, Imam Ahmad’s word for it, or of any other Mujtahid from the Salaf, is sufficient authentication for us.
Imam Abu Dawud, the famous author of the Sunan (collection of Hadith) and student of Imam Ahmad, also narrates Imam Ahmad’s condemnation of al-Takfeer:
ﻭﺳﻤﻌﺘﻪ، ﻳﻘﻮﻝ: ” ﻳﻜﺮﻩ ﺃﻥ ﻳﻜﻮﻥ، ﻳﻌﻨﻲ: ﻭﺿﻊ اﻟﻴﺪﻳﻦ ﻋﻨﺪ اﻟﺼﺪﺭ «.
“I heard him say: ‘It is reprehensible (prohibitively disliked) to do that – meaning, placing the two hands on the chest.” (Masaa-il of Imam Ahmad)
Returning back to the narration of Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Imam Ahmad’s explanation for this senior Tabi’i’s stern action also provides the perfect, and perhaps only viable, interpretation for the following two narrations from two other major authorities from the Tabi’een era, Hasan al-Basri and Mujahid – both recorded in the Musannaf of Ibn Abī Shaybah:
حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ، عَنْ يُوسُفَ بْنِ مَيْمُونٍ، عَنِ الْحَسَنِ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «كَأَنِّي أَنْظُرُ إِلَى أَحْبَارِ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَاضِعِي أيْمَانهُمْ عَلَى شَمَائِلِهِمْ فِي الصَّلَاةِ»
Hasan (al-Basri) narrates that Rasulullah ﷺ said: “It is as if I am seeing the Priests of Banī Isrāeel placing their right hands over their left hands in prayer.”
Regarding Yusuf ibn Maymoon, the narrator from Hasan al-Basri, al-Haythami summarized the criticism of him as follows:
ﻳﻮﺳﻒ ﺑﻦ ﻣﻴﻤﻮﻥ اﻟﺼﺒﺎﻍ, ﺿﻌﻔﻪ ﺟﻤﺎﻋﺔ ﻭﻭﺛﻘﻪ اﺑﻦ ﺣﺒﺎﻥ ﻭﺃﺑﻮ ﺃﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻋﺪﻱ ﻭﻗﺎﻝ اﻟﺒﺰاﺭ: ﺻﺎﻟﺢ اﻟﺤﺪﻳﺚ
“A whole group have regarded him as weak, although Ibn Hibbaan and Abū Ahmad ibn Adī considered him trustworthy. Al-Bazzaar said: ‘Acceptable in Hadith.'”
And the narration from Mujahid:
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا حَفْصٌ، عَنْ لَيْثٍ، عَنْ مُجَاهِدٍ، أَنَّهُ كَانَ يَكْرَهُ أَنْ يَضَعَ الْيُمْنَى عَلَى الشِّمَالِ، يَقُولُ: «عَلَى كَفِّهِ، أَوْ عَلَى الرُّسْغِ»، وَيَقُولُ: «فَوْقَ ذَلِكَ» وَيَقُولُ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ: يَفْعَلُونَهُ
Mujahid regarded it reprehensible to place the right hand upon thd left. He said, “Upon its palm or upon the wrist.” And he said (or showed): “Above that”, saying, “The Ahl ul-Kitaab (Jews and Christians) do it.”
Al-Haythami said in assessment of Layth ibn Abi Sulaym, the narrator from Mujahid:
ﻟﻴﺚ ﺑﻦ ﺃﺑﻲ ﺳﻠﻴﻢ, ﻭﻗﺪ ﻭﺛﻖ ﻋﻠﻰ ﺿﻌﻒ ﻓﻴﻪ
“He has been considered trustworthy despite weakness in him.”
Despite the weaknesses in the chain of both narrations above, they are, nevertheless, suitable (according to the methodology of the Salaf) to use for the tremendous Fadhāil (virtue) of condemning the religious posture of the Jews which their brethren, agents and unwittingly witless puppets (e.g. Salafis and other modernists) have infiltrated into this Ummah during the past few centuries.
Hasan al-Basri and Mujahid were students of hundreds of Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) including those whose authentic narrations (e.g. Ibn Abbaas and Anas radhiyallahu anhuma) establish beyond any doubt the Sunnah status of placing the right hand over the left in prayer. It is therefore inconceivable that Hasan al-Basri and Mujahid would have dared to condemn as a practice of the Kuffaar, a practice that they would’ve witnessed from innumerable Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) and other Tabi’een, and one also adopted by the overwhelming majority of the Ummah. They could only have condemned the placement of hands at a particular place on the body, not the placement of hands per se.
As with the narration from Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Imam Ahmad’s explanation is the only reasonable one. This is bolstered further by the fact that al-Takfeer is confirmed by the ancient dictionaries to be the only posture involving the placement of hands, one over the other, which was associated with the priests of the Ahl ul-Kitaab.
We will cite one more narration from a major Tabi’i to emphasize further the abhorrent nature of this practice, specifically in respect to men. Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates with an authentic chain from the great Tabi’i, ‘Atā’ ibn Abī Rabah, the following statement:
تجمع المرأة يديها فى القيام ما استطاعت
“A woman gathers her hands in the standing position as much as she is able to.”
It is only possible to gather one’s hands together “as much as one is able to” high up on the body, around the area of the chest. ‘Atā’ ibn Abī Rabah witnessed and learnt his Deen from a large number of Sahabah, numbering in their hundreds. The position he states above has been the position of a major portion of this Ummah, including the Hanafi school, right from the era of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen.
Thus, for a man to place his hands on the chest will entail, in addition to Tashabbuh bil Jews, the added aggravating element of Tashabbuh bin Nisaa’ (resemblance to women). This is similar to how other practices such as clapping one’s hands in prayer or shaving one’s beard would also entail both, at the same time, Tashabbuh bil Kuffaar and Tashabbuh bin Nisaa’.
Although the testimonies of Imam Ahmad and the definitions cited above from the dictionaries authored during or close to the era of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen are more than sufficient as proof that the practice of men placing the hands on the chest is an exclusive practice of the Kuffaar, we will add here, as a bonus supplement, one of many citations that can be found in the scriptures of Ahl ul-Kitaab (Jews and Christians).
In an article found on the orthodox Jewish website, torah.org, specifically on hand positions during prayer, the following is cited from their scriptures:
“Before Shemoneh Esrei, Rava would put his hands on his chest, one resting on the other, like a slave in front of his master” (Shabbos 10a)…The Shulchan Aruch writes that one should place his right hand over his left.”
A brief search on Christian sources will also bear similar results.
WHEN DID THE “SAVED SECT” FIRST APPEAR?
Imam Ahmad’s condemnation of placing the hands on the chest is especially significant if we take into consideration the fact that he accepted all the various positions for placing one’s hands: below the navel, above the navel, or choosing freely between below and above the navel.
The other Imams also carefully avoided the “red zone” – the chest. These are the various positions authentically attributed to the Imams of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen:
1) Imam Abu Hanifah’s position, as reported by his student, Imam Muhammad ash-Shaybaani, in several of his books, was placing the hands below the navel.
2) Imam Ishaaq ibn Raahwayh also adopted the stance of placing the hands below the navel, as reported in his “Masaa-il” by his student.
3) Imam Sufyan ath-Thawri also adopted this stance as related by Imam al-Mundhiri and many other reliable authorities.
4) Imam Maalik held the stance that the hands should be placed above the navel and below the chest. His major students, Imam al-Mutarrif and Imam Ibn al-Maajishoon have transmitted this position in Kitaab ul-Waadiha. The other famous position of Imam Malik is leaving the hands to one’s sides as narrated by his student, Ibn al-Qaasim, in al-Mudawanna.
5) Imam Shafi’i’s direct student, al-Muzani, states “below the chest” in his al-Mukhtasar, which is the position attributed to Imam Shafi’i by all of the Shafi’i Fuqaha.
6) Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s stance is accurately portrayed by the citations to come below from Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn ul-Qayyim. While below the navel was his preferred position and the one held by the generality of the Hanbali Fuqaha, he also put into practice the placement of the hands above the navel and below the chest, whilst clearly condemning the placement of hands directly on the chest.
Note how all the Imams carefully avoided the position of a man placing his hands directly on the chest. Evidently then, Imam Ahmad and the rest of the Salaf were totally and blissfully unaware of even the remote existence of a so-called Firqat un-Naajiah (the saved sect) who were responsible for upholding or reviving such authentic “Sunnats” (of the Jews and Shiah Kuffaar) as placing the hands on the chest or a Bid’ah 8 raka’ts “Taraweeh”. (Refer to the article, “The Bid’ah of 8 Raka’ts ‘Taraweeh‘” for conclusive proof of the complete non-existence of this Bid’ah amongst the Salaf-us-Saaliheen.)
Let us now fast forward several centuries to the 7th and 8th century to try to determine whether or not this “Firqat un-Naajiah”, upholding the Sunnah of the Jews, had begun to rear its ugly head before that era.
Ibn taymiyyah, in his exposition of this issue in “Sharh ul-Umdah”, runs through the various positions in respect to the placement of hands in prayer. Observe how he accepts all the positions as valid except the Jewish practice of al-Takfeer:
كتاب صفة الصلاة من شرح العمدة لابن تيمية الحراني الحنبلي الدمشقي المتوفى: 728 هـ:
ويجعلهما تحت سرته, أو تحت صدره, من غير كراهةٍ لواحدٍ منهما, والأول أفضل في إحدى الروايات عنه…ولأن ذلك أبعد عن التكفير المكروه…وفي الأخرى: تحت الصدر أفضل…والرواية الثالثة: هما سواء…فأما وضعهما على الصدر، فيكره، نص عليه… وما روي من الآثار عن الوضع على الصدر فلعله محمول على مقاربته
And he places them below his navel, or below his chest, without any reprehensibility entailing in either one of them. The first is better according to one of the transmissions from him (Imam Ahmad)… and also because it is furthest from the detested al-Takfeer. In another (transmission), below the chest is better. And in the third (transmission), both are equal… And as for placing both (hands) on the chest, this is reprehensible. There is an explicit statement (from Imam Ahmad) on this…and what is transmitted of narrations on placing the hand on the chest is perhaps interpreted based on nearness to it.
Note also how Ibn Taymiyyah offers an explanation for the narrations which mention the word “chest”. He interprets the narrations in terms of the unanimous and mass-transmitted practice of the entire Ummah – not the other way round. Despite Ibn Taymiyyah’s unique propensity to go against Ijma’ (consensus), even he was not so audacious and stupid enough to assume that in such a simple and clearly visible matter of placement of hands in prayer, mass-transmitted from generation to generation from the time of Rasulullah ﷺ, the entire Ummah could have erred so drastically.
Ibn al-Qayyim, similarly, in Badaai al-Fawaa’id, accepts all the various positions transmitted from the Salaf as valid whilst at the same time condemning the practice of placing the hands on the chest:
بدائع الفوائد المؤلف: ابن قيم الجوزية المتوفى: 751هـ
ﻭاﺧﺘﻠﻒ ﻓﻲ ﻣﻮﺿﻊ اﻟﻮﺿﻊ ﻓﻌﻨﻪ ﻓﻮﻕ اﻟﺴﺮﺓ ﻭﻋﻨﻪ ﺗﺤﺘﻬﺎ ﻭﻋﻨﻪ ﺃﺑﻮ ﻃﺎﻟﺐ ﺳﺄﻟﺖ ﺃﺣﻤﺪ ﺃﻳﻦ ﻳﻀﻊ ﻳﺪﻩ ﺇﺫا ﻛﺎﻥ ﻳﺼﻠﻲ؟ ﻗﺎﻝ: “ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺴﺮﺓ ﺃﻭ ﺃﺳﻔﻞ ﻭﻛﻞ ﺫﻟﻚ ﻭاﺳﻊ ﻋﻨﺪﻩ ﺇﻥ ﻭﺿﻊ ﻓﻮﻕ اﻟﺴﺮﺓ ﺃﻭ ﻋﻠﻴﻬﺎ ﺃﻭ ﺗﺤﺘﻬﺎ…ﻗﺎﻝ ﻓﻲ ﺭﻭاﻳﺔ اﻟﻤﺰﻧﻲ: “ﺃﺳﻔﻞ اﻟﺴﺮﺓ ﺑﻘﻠﻴﻞ ﻭﻳﻜﺮﻩ ﺃﻥ ﻳﺠﻌﻠﻬﻤﺎ ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺼﺪﺭ ” ﻭﺫﻟﻚ ﻟﻤﺎ ﺭﻭﻯ ﻋﻦ اﻟﻨﺒﻲ ﺻﻠﻰ اﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ ﺃﻧﻪ ﻧﻬﻲ ﻋﻦ اﻟﺘﻜﻔﻴﺮ ﻭﻫﻮ ﻭﺿﻊ اﻟﻴﺪ ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺼﺪﺭ.
“He (Imam Ahmad) varied (in his stance) on the area of placement (of hands). Above the navel is narrated from him and below it is narrated from him. Abū Taalib narrated from him: ‘I asked Ahmad where should one place his hands when he prays?’ He said: ‘Upon the navel or below.’ All of these are permissible according to him if he places (his hands) above the navel or upon it or below it…He said in the transmission from al-Muzani: ‘Below the navel slightly. It is reprehensible for him to place them on the chest.’ That is because of what is narrated from the Prophet ﷺ that he forbade al-Takfeer, which is placing the hands upon the chest.”
From the above two citations, it is manifestly clear that the so-called saved sect responsible for upholding or reviving the Jewish Sunnah of Al-Takfeer, failed to make an appearance even during the 7th and 8th centuries.
Other than Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn ul-Qayyim, there are many more reliable Fuqaha we could have cited on this issue. We only cite these two scholars because most of those (Salafis and modernists) who are responsible for reviving this practice of the Jews and importing it into the Ummah, during the past few centuries, regard these two to be trustworthy and reliable authorities of Islam.
It appears that this Bid’ah started appearing in this Ummah some time during the 11th or 12th century (Hijri). The root-cause, as with all deviations that have cancerously infected the Ummah, was Ghair Muqallidism – the act of leaving one’s Madh-hab for a ruling which one deceives oneself to be “better”. One of the first proponents of unrestrained Ghair Muqallidism, along with the necessarily accompanying Bid’ah such as the Kuffaar practice of al-Takfeer, was an Aalim named Shaykh Hayaat Sindhi. He had begun to propagate the Jewish practice of placing one’s hands on the chest.
In response, another Aalim from Sindh, Allamah Hashim Sindhi penned a refutation of him. Several refutations and counter-refutations then ensued between the two. They have all been compiled into one book that can be downloaded here.
Allamah Hashim mentions at one place that one of the reasons given by the Hanafi Fuqaha (and some Hanbalis) for giving preference to placing the hands below the navel is that it is, “furthest from resemblance with the Ahl ul-Kitaab”. This is similar to Ibn Taymiyyah’s statement, already cited above, that:
ويجعلهما تحت سرته, أو تحت صدره, من غير كراهةٍ لواحدٍ منهما, والأول أفضل في إحدى الروايات عنه…ولأن ذلك أبعد عن التكفير المكروه
“The first (i.e. below the navel) is better…because it is furthest from the detested al-Takfeer…” (Sharh ul-Umdah)
Allamah Hashim goes onto relate his experience in attempting to find real-life corroboration for this particular reason given for preferring the position of placing the hands below the navel:
“This Faqeer (poor, lowly person – referring to himself) – may Allah Ta’ala rectify his condition – when he arrived at Bandar Adan…he found there a group from the Jews residing there. So he summoned them, asking about the place of placement of their hands in prayer. They said: “Upon the chest.” A group from them were in agreement on that, and (both) their leaders and the masses concurred on that.”
Orthodox Jews and Christians who still uphold this practice are extremely rare today. It is divine providence that Allah Ta’ala, in His infinite wisdom, has granted one of the most deviated of sects the “privilege” of bearing the torch of upholding this particular Sunnah of the Jews. In one of the most clearly visible aspects of one of the most fundamental pillars of the Deen, the Salafis have been made to stand apart from the Islamic luminaries of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen and resemble instead the Jews and Christians of that blessed era.
Allah Ta’ala has laid bare vividly for any sincere Muslim to appreciate the brazen fraud behind the claims of Salafis and other Ghair Muqallids of being true followers of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen. If they are able to miss the mark so widely on such basic Masaa-il (juristic matters of the Deen) as the placement of the hands in prayer, or the number of raka’ts in a prayer (Taraweeh) practiced by the Ummah, including the Salaf, for over 1400 years, then it can be firmly asserted, without any shadow of doubt, that such deviated groups will have inevitably missed the mark far more widely in more complex issues of the Deen. The sincere layman only needs to observe their deviation – so visibly discernible without much intellect required – and their satanic influence on innumerable Muslims who have adopted the Jewish or Shiah (8 rakats Bid’ah taraweeh) Sunnah, to appreciate how distant from the Salaf-us-Saaliheen they are in reality.
Much more to come insha-Allah…