Will you give information about placing the right hand over the left while performing prayers? Did the Prophet perform prayers by holding his hands at his sides? Are prayers performed holding hands at sides according to the Maliki madhhab?

Details of the Question
I read the hadiths about folding the hands in prayers. However, there were not any hadiths about how and where to fold hands. Will you send me the hadiths showing where and how hands are held in prayers?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is sunnah to placethe right hand over the left while performing prayers. Therefore, performing a prayer by holding the hands at the sides is valid.

According to Hanafi, Shafii and Hanbali madhhabs of Ahl as-Sunnah madhhabs, it is sunnah to fold hands in prayers. According to Maliki madhhab, it is sunnah to hold the hands straight at the sides. According to Jafaris, prayers are performed by holding the hands straight at the sides.

According to the majority except Malikis, it is sunnah for a person toplace his right hand over his left hand and wrist. For, According to what is reported from Wail b. Hujr, he saw the Prophet (pbuh) utter takbir by raising his hands, wrap himself in his garment and place his right hand on his left hand, wrist and arm. (1)

Qabisa b. Hulb stated the following reporting from his father:

"When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) led the prayer, he would hold his left hand with  his right hand."(2)

Sahl b. Saad stated the following:

"People were ordered to put their right hands on their left hands when they performed prayers." (3)

The following was reported from Ibn Mas'ud:

"Hz. Prophet stopped by somebody and saw him performing a prayer; his left hand was over his right hand. The Prophet (pbuh) placed his right hand over his left hand."(4)

According to Hanbalis and Shafiis, the hands are folded as follows: The right hand is placed on the left wrist or a place close to it. The evidence for it is the hadith of Ibn Hajar mentioned before. We know that the wrist is the joint adjacent to the thumb. However, according to Hanafis, the palm of the right hand is put on the left hand. The thumb of the right hand forms a ring with the little finger on the wrist. As for women, they put their hands on their breasts without forming a ring. For, this is in harmony with tasattur.

According to Hanafis and Hanbalis, a person who performs prayers put his hands under his navel. For, Hz. Ali (r.a.) stated the following according to a narration:

"It is sunnah to put the right hand on the left hand just below the navel." (5)

What is meant by sunnah is the sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).

What is mustahab in Shafii madhab is to place the hands with on the breasts for women and on the navel for men with a little inclination to the left. For, the heart of man is on the left. Thus, the hands are put on the most honorable organ. It is based on the hadith reported by Wail b. Hujr:"I saw the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) put one of his hands on the other while performing prayers." This is also strengthened by another hadith reported by Ibn Huzayma.

According to Malikis, it is mandub to release the hands solemnly. It is not mandub to release them harshly. The hands are not released at the front. For, it is against the peace in prayer. It is permissible to fold the hands on the chest and hold them there in supererogatory prayers. For, it is permissible to lean on something in those prayers. However, it is makruh in fard prayers. For, it is like leaning on something. If a person does it because it is sunnah not because he wants to lean on something, it is not makruh. It is not makruh if he does it without having any intention.  

In my opinion, the correct view is the view of the majority, which is placing the right hand over the left hand. It also fits the decree determined by Maliki madhhab to fight things that are not sunnah, which is leaning on something. Or, it is contrary to the issue determined in order to fight a wrong belief, which is the thought of some people that it is wajib.   


1. The hadith was narrated by Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Nasai; the quote is from Nasai.
2. The hadith was narrated by Tirmidhi; he said it was hasan.  
3. The hadith was narrated by Bukhari.
4. The hadith was narrated by Abu Dawud.
5. The hadith was narrated by Ahmad andAbu Dawud.

(see Wahbae Zuhayli, İslam Fıkhı)

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