The Al-Maghrib Institute teaches in this article in the Al-Maghrib Institute Forum that (for men) placing the hands below the navel in prayer is wrong. This explanation is peppered with explanations of evidence from Naseerudin Al-Albani (from the anti-madhabi so-called “Ahl-e-Hadeeth” anti-Sunni sect) and “Dr. Bilal Philips” (the notorious Jamaican-Canadian Wahhabi whose writings are filled with anti-Sunni gibberish). If he thinks the title “Dr.” is supposed to make us believe his explanations are spot on, then he is sadly mistaken.
It is a fact that the Hanafis and Hanbalis pray with their arms below the navel. Al-Maghrib Institute conveniently hides this from their students. Not only is this an attack on Hanafis and Hanbalis, and attributing ignorance to generations of their scholars and followers — who were part of the pious salaf us-salih — but also shows that Al-Maghrib Institute teachers promote teachings contrary to the Hanbali madhab. So much for the claim that Wahhabi/neo-Wahhabi fiqh is Hanbali. As one brother rightfully puts it: “Wahhabis are fake Hanbalis.” I say they are Hanbalis of convenience, just as they are Hanafis, Shafi’is, and Malikis of convenience. Therefore, learning jurisprudence from the Al-Maghrib Institute is to mix the wrong with the right based on a layperson methodology of the Islamic Sources that was never followed by Ahl al-Sunna wa’al Jama’ah today and throughout Islam’s history.
Al-Maghrib Institute’s teachers, though lacking any competency in ijtihad or in the understanding of the ijtihad of the mujtahideen who were capable of delving in it, nevertheless still feel comfortable in declaring their understanding of fiqh to be superior to Muslims of the Salaf who had higher knowledge. May Allah Protect us from laypeople who arrogantly play with fiqh without any `usool as a baby plays with his toys. Al-Maghrib Institute’s pseudo-scholars will be held accountable for teaching youngsters ignorance and a selective understanding of what our glorious `ulema taught and stood for.
EVIDENCE TO OPPOSE AL-MAGHRIB INSTITUTE’S POSITION AGAINST THE HANAFI AND HANBALI POSITIONS OF PLACING HANDS BELOW THE NAVEL
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani of Seekers Guidance (formerly of Sunnipath Academy) was asked the following question:
“I am referring you to an article written by a ‘salafi’ in response to Hasan as-Saqqaf’s refutation of al-albani. The issue discussed is that of the placing of the hands in prayer. Their argument is very convincing since they quote from scholars such as Ayni, the [Hanafi] commentator of al-Bukhari, which appears to show that hanafi salah is based on weak dalail. What have the scholars said in response to this?”
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani responds:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The early Muslims used to say: “This matter is your deen, so be careful where you take your deen from.”
Things to think about:
1. Are Salafis reliable transmitters of knowledge, or people of gross innovation?
2. Who is “Mubarakfooree,” whose work was quoted on that site? He was a major member of the Ahle-Hadis (Wahhabi) movement of India , with a gross anti-Hanafi bias, as his (otherwise often useful) works clearly show.
3. Imam Ahmad transmitted the hadiths of placing one’s hands on one’s chest in his Musnad and was certainly aware of the hadiths transmitted on this matter. However, his position (and the relied upon position of his school) [see: Kashshaf al-Qina` of al-Buhuti, and al-Mughni of Ibn Qudama] is the same as that of Imam Abu Hanifa and his students: the sunna, as Imam Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said, is to place one’s hands below the navel. Note that all these giants were absolute mujtahids, something Mubarakfooree and, even more so, Albani, are nowhere close to being.
4. Much of the article is mis-quotes, mixing and matching scholarly reasoning, and imbalanced argument.
5. The established Sunni position is that all four madhhabs are sound, and their positions valid to follow, because the fact is that they are inevitably based on sound proofs, when one considers the legal methodology of that particular school. One cannot superimpose one school’s legal methodology on another.
6. As an aside, Hasan Saqqaf is an innovator, whose innovations (especially in matters of aqida and methodology) are far worse than those of the Wahhabis. His most recent work is a negation of (the soundly established) beholding Allah in the Next Life.
The following is taken from Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf’s excellent work in English on the evidences of the Hanafi school, Fiqh al-Imam:
Evidence of the Hanafis:
1. Wa’il ibn Hujr narrates, “I saw Rasulullah placing his right hand upon the left one below his navel, in prayer.” [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, Athar al-Sunan 90]
This is the third version of Wa’il ibn Hujr’s narration which was mentioned at the beginning of the chapter containing the words, “below the navel.” Some Hanafi scholars have stated that this version cannot be used as conclusive evidence for their opinion, because the words “below his navel” are only to be found in some editions of Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, and not in them all. This is aside from the fact that, as we mentioned, it has an inconsistent text.
However, it is stated in Fath al-Mulhim that “Allama Qasim ibn Qutlubgah has judged this version to be of sound transmission.” Allama Muhammad Abu’l-Tayyibal-Madaniwrites in his commentary on Sunan al-Tirmidhi that this narration has a strong chain, and Shaykh ‘Abid Sindhi states, “Its narrators are trustworthy.” Also, a number of scholars have verified that the addition, “below the navel” is to be found in many manuscripts of Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, even if it is not found in the recently published editions. [See Athar al-sunan 148]
Therefore, despite the problematic nature Wa’il ibn Hujr’s narration, this version of it can not be rendered totally unacceptable, since there are many other more reliable reports that strengthen it.
2. ‘Ali states, “To place one palm over the other beneath the navel, is from the sunna of salat.” [Bayhaqi 312*, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:391]
It is a known fact that whenever a Companion utters the words “It is from the sunna” regarding any action, it means it is something acquired from Rasulullah himself. Hence, ‘Ali could have only reported this practice as sunna after observing Rasulullah do it. The problem with this narration is that it contains ‘Abdal-Rahman ibn Ishaq in its chain who has been classified as weak. The Hanafis have not fully relied on this narration as a basis f or their opinion, but since there are many other narrations which reinforce it, it could still stand as supplementary evidence.
3. Hajjaj ibn al-Hassan relates, “Either I heard Abu Mijlaz saying or I inquired from him, ‘How should one position his hands [during prayer]?’ He replied, “He should place the inner portion of his right hand upon the back of the left one beneath the navel.” [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:390]
The transmission of this hadith is sound [hasan], as ‘Allama Mardini states in his book al-Jawhar al-naqiyy.
4. Ibrahim al-Nakh’ay relates, “One should place his right hand upon the left one beneath the navel whilst in salat.” [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:390]
The transmission of this hadith is also sound [hasan].
5. Abu Hurayra narrates, “The placing of one hand over the other in salat should be beneath the navel.” [al-Jawharal-naqiyy 2:31*]
6. Anas reports that there are three aspects from the character of Nubuwwa [Prophethood]: to open fast early, to delay the suhur [pre-dawn meal], and to position the right hand over the left one beneath the navel while in salat. [al-Jawharal-naqiyy 2:31*]
Other reasons for the Hanafi opinion:
The scholars have provided various reasons why the hands are best placed beneath the navel and why this method has been classified as most preferable.
(a) Although most of the ahadith on this issue are weak in one way or another, the narrations presented by the Hanafis have been judged to be more sound than the rest.
(b) Ibn al-Humam states in his book Fath al-Qadir, “Due to the inconsistency and contradiction s found between the various narrations, it is best to resort to analogy and reasoning. Standing before the Lord demands a posture which expresses respect and reverence. Since positioning the hands beneath the navel is probably the most respectful way of standing, it will be considered most superior. On the other hand, the reason for women being instructed to position their hands on their chest, is so that greater concealment [and modesty] can be achieved by this.”
3. ‘Allama ‘Ayni states, “To position the hands beneath the navel holds great virtue. It is a posture which signifies great respect. It displays greater contrast to the postures of the disbelievers.” He also writes, “This is the same posture in which one stands before the rulers [of this world].” He further states, “Placing the hands on the chest creates a similarity with women, hence that cannot be classified as the sunna for men.” [‘Umdat al-qari 3:16*]
A knowledgeable analysis of the matter is also available in the Seeking `Ilm website over here.
May Allah Protect us from the misguidance of Al-Maghrib Institute and keep us on the Right Path as taught by the Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi’i, and Maliki schools of jurisprudence, whose superior understanding of Islam was rooted in the time of the pious salaf us-salih. Aaameen.