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Question : #402 Category: Salaat / Prayers
Subject: praying with open hands and closed hands
Question: why do the shia pray with their hands by their side and why do the sunnis pray with there hands on their belly's?
which one is right?
answer the question with the Quran and authentic hadis thank you.
Answer: In Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 664:
Narrated 'Aisha:
That she used to hate that one should keep his hands on his flanks while praying. She said that the Jew used to do so

This tradition shows that there were indeed people (who were either Sahaba or Tabaeen) in times of Aisha, who used to pray while putting their hands at sides (may be on flanks, or may be straight).

The easiest way to resolve such confusion would be to refer the matter back to Allah (swt) and his Prophet (s) as is stipulated in the Quran. In Surah Nisa verse 65

"But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction"

In light of this instruction consider the guidance of our Prophet (s):

"I am leaving amongst you two things, the Qur'an and my Ahlulbayt, if you follow them you will never go astray". Sahih Muslim, part 7, Kitab fada'il alSahabah, Chapter 4 (Fazail-e-Ali Ibne Abi Talib) [Maktabat wa Matba`at Muhammad `Ali Subayh wa Awladuhu: Cairo] pp. 122-123

In light of this Hadeeth it is clear that we need to learn the method of Salat from the Ahlul bayt (as).

One who offers Salat is like soldier of Allah (swt) and there is absolute consensus that Mehrab means the place of war, if an officer tells his soldier to stand to attentyion and he responds by folding his hands, what will his reaction be? If he folds his arms this will be an objectionable act. Similarly Allah (swt) says ‘Qeema Salat that means stand striaght for Salat.
If we were to restrict the discussion to the ordinance Qeema Salat from the Quran, The verse actually means stand straight, not being crooked, always remaining upright, and always being stable etc, this place one at a 90 degree angle.

Islam is the Deen of Fitrah, and Salat is accordingly a natural act. The opening of arms is a natural act. We come into this world in the natural state with our hands straight, and when we die, we also are laid in the grave with hands straight. When we come in this world we come with open hands, when we go back to His Majesty, we go with hands open, and that is how we stand when we are offering prayers, it is the natural state. Folding the arms is not a natural act.

Since Salat is the most superior of acts of worship, and most liked by the creator, an unnatural act connected to it will not be liked by Allah (swt). Allah (swt) declares in Surah Nur verse 041:

"Seest thou not that it is Allah Whose praises all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise. And Allah knows well all that they do." The verse proves that Salat is a natural act and is performed with the arms out stretched.

Condemnation of folding the arms from the Holy Quran is found in Surah Tawba verse 67
"The Hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other: They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are close with their hands. They have forgotten Allah; so He hath forgotten them. Verily the Hypocrites are rebellious and perverse."

This verse stipulates that closing the hands is the sign of a hypocrite and they are condemned in connection with this act. If the hypoctite hadnt closed his hands Allah (swt) would not have condemned him, hence such an act cannot be incoprprated into an act of worship. When Allah (swt) condemns the closing of hands, then he would not incoprpare this same act into the great act of worship, Salat. The verse is of general application, and is not restricted to a specific individual. At no other times have there been any orders to close the arms such as when conducting, Hajj, giving Zakat, participating in Jihad. This proves that the condemnation of folding the arms is common.

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