بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Ustadh Abdus Shakur Brooks is starting a class in classical Arabic covering the famous text Al-Ajurrumiyyah written by an 8th century scholar, by the name of Ibn Ajurrum. This text is pretty much used universally as a primary study of Arabic grammar. It covers the necessary elements of the language one needs to know in order to understand Arabic sentence structures which is the key to sound comprehension for other religious sciences.

In this class, only the Arabic text will be used along with a verbal translation and explanation in English with some Arabic. Focus will be given to understanding technical terms as they are understood in Arabic, rather than using English terms as equivalents, which hinders the student from comprehending the full spectrum of the terms exactly how the Arabic Grammarians did.

All of the live classes will be recorded and downloadable for students. As well, students will have access to an e-studentroom which will consist of a Q&A blog and other features which allow them direct contact with the teacher.Also a pdf. file of the text will be provided for all students.

To benefit from this class a person should at least be able to read Arabic language and have some exposure to the basic elements of Arabic grammar, such as recognizing the difference between a basic verb “f’il” and a noun “ism” for example. Also one should have some ability in writing Arabic as well.

The aim of the class is to provide the students with the tools to help them understand classical Arabic texts comprehensively.

Each session will consist of two 30-40 minute lessons with a 10 minute break in between.

Registration open until : Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Starting Date                       : Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Duration                                : 3 months (approx.)

Class timings                       : 1:00 PM (US/Canada EST), 10:00 AM (US/Canada PST), 6:00 PM (UK time)

Fee                                             : $120 US $95 US (until January 17th )

Spots are limited.


Click on the picture below to register or for more info [or here if you're having difficulty in clicking the picture which is unlikely].

Matn al-Ajjurumiyyah Online


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

It is narrated in the two books of prophetic traditions (Sahïh Muslim and Sahïh Bukhãri) that Qatãda related a prophetic saying reported by Anas bin Mãlik in which God’s Messengergave permission to ‘Abdu-Rahmãn bin ‘Awf and al-Zubair bin al’Awwãm to wear silken garments because of a severe skin irritation they suffered from body lice, and he granted them permission to wear shirts made of silk.

Wearing silk for men deals with two basic aspects: (1) The first is canonical (fiqh); and (2) the second is medical. As for the canonical aspect, it is clearly understood by all Muslims that wearing silk garments is permissible for women and not for men except for dire need, such as in the case of extreme cold weather and have nothing else to clothe oneself with, or for a medical reason where one may wear a silken garment to control severe skin irritation caused by itch, body lice, mange, or scabies. Such treatment is also recognized both by Imam Ahmad and Imam Shãfi’i, who agree on the lawfulness in treating oneself for medical reasons with what is unlawful, although in this case Imam Mãlik forbade its use, substantiating that not all permissions extend beyond the particular medical cases dealt with by God’s Messenger. In that regard, it is also reported in the correct traditions (sahïh) that when someone asked God’s Messengerabout wine, he replied: “Wine is not medicine.”

As for the medical aspect: silk is a fiber which is produced by silkworms (a caterpillar of the Bombycidae family) to form their cocoons. A silken thread is then extracted from cultivated cocoons to make a fabric which is used for clothing. Silk is a noble fiber and has many medical benefits: (1) it strengthens the heart; (2) it is classified as a stimulant; (3) it is considered a treatment for melancholia; (4) it is considered a treatment for the intemperament of the black bile and their complications; and (5) it strengthen one’s sight when used as kohl for the eyes. Silk is hot and dry in the first degree, although some hakïms classify it as hot and moist. As for its long term harm, it is suggested by researchers that when silk is worn by men for an extended period of time, it produces a chemical reaction or a steric hindrance in males, besides other physiological disorders that affect the changing of spermatid into spermatozoon in males’ semen.

The same prohibition applies to wearing gold or using it for men except for medicinal purposes. God is evenly balanced. It also strengthens the heart; it contains a delicate heat; and is a carminative. Therefore, the prohibition against wearing silk and gold for men has much to do with the negative chemical reaction and steric hindrance they produce in males, and subsequently, their harm is greater than their benefits. Hence, at a time when the prophetic wisdom is misunderstood because of lack of knowledge and familiarity, for one to benefit from its guidance, one must unconditionally subscribe to it and not contest it until such time as human knowledge advances, and God Almighty permits access to His infinite wisdom and reveals some of the countless wonders of His creation.


Classification of Dress Categories

Imam al-Rãzi explains that “silk [Arb. harïr; ibrïsam] is warmer than linen and cooler than cotton.” According to him, “wearing silk promotes a healthy skin, while wearing a coarse garment dries out the skin, causes loss of flesh and weight, and vice-versa.” As for Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, he classifies clothing in three categories: (1) a garment that warms up the body and generates heat; (2) a garment that warms up the body but does not generate heat; and (3) a garment that neither warms up the body nor generates heat. There is no such fabric that produces heat but does not warm up the body. Garments made of wool, hair and fur (Arb. wabar), warm up the body and generate heat, while garments made of linen and cotton warm up the body but do not generate heat, and silk is softer and cooler than cotton. Silk does not generate heat as does cotton; instead, it is a temperature material and is less effective in dissolving matters the body needs to purge under heat. Any garment with smooth, soft, and glossy texture and which provides coolness is more suitable for hot climates. Silk embodies no coarse texture and hence allows for the healing of itch, for such skin irritation is aggravated with heat and dryness. Hence, God’s Messengergranted ‘Abdu-Rahman bin ‘Awf and al-Zubair bin al-‘Awwam permission to wear shirts made of silk to allow for such recovery. Furthermore, the material nature of silk creates an environment which is opposite to that of body lice, and therefore can help in their elimination.

On this subject, it is reported in the sahih that Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, God be pleased with him, narrated that God’s Messengersaid: “Allah forbade the men among my followers to wear silk or gold and permitted that for women.” In another narration reported in sahih Bukhari, God’s Messengerforbade wearing silk, brocade or gold or to sit on them, and added: “This is for them in this world, and for you in the next.”

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Introduction to Islamic Medicine book


This is the first systematic study of Islamic Medicine by a practising Hakim to be published in the English language and is, with minor revisions, the second edition of the book, which was originally published in 1986. The discipline of Islamic Medicine is based on the four-element paradigm which offers a completely consistent cosmology, physics, physiology, psychology, and diagnostic and therapeutic science. Although it is startlingly unfamiliar to the modern Cartesian-Newtonian mind, it yields indisputable therapeutic results, often in areas where contemporary physicians must scratch their heads and submit to their limitations. The name for this discipline is Ḥikmah or Wisdom, in that it is devoted more to the wisdom needed to live in the best condition of health physically and spiritually, rather than merely dealing with the ill effects of our contemporary lifestyle as modern medicine must do. This work benefits both from Hakim Salim’s deep educational background and his wide clinical experience.


Hakim Salim Khan was born in the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan and studied in England and Pakistan. He has practised Islamic Medicine since 1978 and is widely acknowledged as a Ḥakim – a medical practitioner who has mastered the science of Ṭibb – medicine. Hakim Salim Khan practices at the Mohsin Institute, an Islamic Medicinal clinic and teaching institution in Leicester, England, which he founded and where he now works with his three sons. Having trained as a traditional Islamic Medical Practitioner and also having studied Iridology, Osteopathy, Western Phytotherapy and Homeopathy, he lectures and teaches at least three of these other disciplines, bringing a unique perspective to Medical Practice.


InshaAllah you can purchase the book here. Also there is a series of podcasts on Islamic Medicine on iTunes which you might find extremely interesting and beneficial.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Shaykhs from whom He Transmitted

It is known that Imam Malik grew up in Madina al-Munawwara and that those who sought knowledge traveled there from all the regions of Islam because Madina had an unrivalled number of ‘ulama’ compared with the rest of the Muslim world. In Madina Malik met all the great men who had a major part in the transmission of hadith and the sayings of the Companions and the great Tabi’un. He found such a wealth of knowledge there that he did not need to travel anywhere else. He related from 900 shaykhs or more and with his own hand wrote down a hundred thousand hadith. His book, the Muwatta’, which we are discussing, contains 84 men of the Tabi’un, all of whom were people of Madina except for six. These six were Abu’z-Zubayr from Makka, Hamid at-Tawil and Ayyub as-Sakhtiyani from Basra, ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Muslim from Khorasan, ‘Abd al-Karim al-Jazari from Jazira (Mesopotamia) in northern Iraq, and Ibrahim ibn Abi ‘Abla from Syria. Malik is famous for the fact that he did not transmit from a number of ‘ulama’ whom he met, even though they were people of deen and correct action, because he thought that they did not transmit properly.

Al-Ghafiqi said that the number of his shaykhs whom he named (i.e. in the Muwatta’) was ninety-five.

The Transmitters who Transmitted from Him

In the introduction to Tanwir al-Hawalik, as-Suyuti says that so many people related from him that no other Imam is known to have had a transmission like his. He says that Abu Bakr al-Khatib al-Baghdadi devoted a book to those who transmitted from Malik and it included 993 men. Qadi ‘Iyad mentioned that he wrote a book on those who transmitted from Malik in which he enumerated over 1300 men. As-Suyuti said that he had enumerated the names of all of them in his Great Commentary. The transmitters of al-Muwatta’ alone are of a number which it is difficult to count.

Qadi ‘Iyad mentioned that the number of transmissions which he read or came across in the transmissions of his shaykhs reached twenty, and some of them mention thirty. Another thing that indicates the great number of the transmitters of the Muwatta’ is that Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, “I head the Muwatta’ from about then of the companions of Malik who had mentioned it but I revised it with ash-Shafi’i because I found him to be the most correct of them.” Shaykh Muhammad Habibullah ibn Mayabi as-Shanqiti said in Ida’a al-Halik that Ibn Nasir ad-din ad-Dimishqi wrote a book about the transmitters of the Muwatta’ and he mentioned that there were seventy-nine. Among those who transmitted the Muwatta’ from Malik were his son, Yahya, and his daughter, Fatima.

The Position of the Muwatta’ and People’s Concern for It

In the introduction to Tanwir al-Hawalik, as-Suyuti said that ash-Shafi’i said, “After the Book of Allah, there is no book on the face of the earth sounder than the book of Malik.” In another statement he said, “No book has been placed on the earth closer to the Qur’an than the book of Malik.” In a third he said, “After the Book of Allah, there is no book more useful than the Muwatta’.” ‘Ala’ ad-din Maghlatay al-Hanafi said, “The first person to write in the Sahih was Malik.”

Ibn Hajar said, “The book of Malik is sound by all the criteria that are demanded as proofs in the mursal, munqati’ and other types of transmission.” Then as-Suyuti followed what Ibn Hajar said here and said, “The mursal hadith in it are a proof with him (ash-Shafi’i) as well because the mursal is a proof with us when it is properly supported. Every mursal in the Muwatta’ has one or more supports as will be made clear in this commentary (i.e. the Tanwir al-Hawalik). It is absolutely correct to say that the Muwatta’ is sound (sahih) without exception.”

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr collected together all the mursal, munqati’ and mu’addil hadiths in the Muwatta’ and said that the total number of hadiths in the Muwatta’ which do not have an isnad are sixty-one. He stated that he found the isnads of all of them in other sources with the exception of four hadiths. The erudite scholar of hadith, Shaykh Muhammad Habibullah ibn Mayabi ash-Shanqiti says in Ida’a al-Halik that he had found witnesses for these four hadith and he then mentioned these witnesses. He said, “Some of the people of knowledge made these isnads complete.” He mentioned from Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr that there was no munkar hadith in the Muwatta’ nor anything fundamentally refuted. In Dalil as-Salik in the margin of Ida’a al-Halik he mentioned that Ibn Hajar retracted what he had previously said which was what had been followed by as-Suyuti. From this it is clear that everything in the Muwatta’ has an isnad. The people of knowledge rely on the hadith in it and transmit and record them in their books, including al-Bukhari and Muslim who transmitted most of its hadith and included them in their Sahih collections. The rest of the authors of the six books did the same as did the Imam of the hadith scholars, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and others.

It should be pointed out that the hadith of Malik are not confined to those he included in the Muwatta’. This is clearly shown by the hadiths we find transmitted from Malik in the two Sahih volumes which are not found in the Muwatta’. There is a hadith which al-Bukhari relates in the chapter on the description of the Garden: “The people there look at the people of the chambers from above them.” There is a second hadith related by Malik commentating on Surat al-Mutaffafin (83) where the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The Day when people stand before the Lord of the Worlds’ until one of them disappears immersed in his sweat up to his ears.” There is a third hadith related by Muslim in the chapter forbidding sadaqa to the family of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, which he related from ‘Abdullah b. Muhammad b. Asma’ ad-Duba’I from his uncle, Juwayriya ibn Asma’, from Malik.

There are two areas which particularly interest people regarding the Muwatta’. One of them is its transmission and the other is its commentary and the discussion about its transmitters and the different expressions they use and so forth. As for interest in its transmitters, we have already shown how the seekers of knowledge in Malik’s time came from East, West, South, and North out of the desire to sit in his circle and take from him. Many of this group related the Muwatta’ from him and preserved it in their hearts or in writing. The men of the generation after their generation were also concerned with it.

We have enough evidence for what we say in the fact that Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal related it first from ten men and then finally from Imam ash-Shafi’i. Similarly ash-Shafi’i first learned it in Makka and then went to Madina to Malik and took it directly from him. That is also what Yahya ibn Yahya al-Andalusi did – he first learned it in his own country from Ziyad b. ‘Abdullah Shabtun and then traveled from Andalusia to Madina and read it directly with Malik in the year in which Imam Malik died, may Allah have mercy on him.

As for interest in its commentary, discussion about its transmitters and whether the different versions are shorter or longer, and commentary on what is gharib in it and that sort of thing, people evince more interest in writing about these matters in the case of the Muwatta’ than they do for any other book of hadith. A great number of people have written about these things and some of them have composed several books. For instance, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr wrote three books – at-Tamhid, al-Istidkhar and at-Tajrid which is also called “at-Taqassi”. Qadi Abu’l-Walid al-Baji wrote three commentaries called al-Istifa’, al-Muntaqa, and al-Ima’. He wrote a fourth book on the different versions of the Muwatta’. Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti wrote two commentaries on it. One of them, called Kashf al-Mughatti, is voluminous, and the other is a summary called Tanwir al-Hawalik. He wrote a third book called Is’af al-Mubatta’ bi-rijal al-Muwatta’.

The most famous transmission of the Muwatta’ is that of Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi al-Andalusi so that when the name the Muwatta’ is used, it is this transmission that is referred to. There are about a hundred commentaries on it. This is what Shaykh Muhammad Habibullah ibn Mayabi ash-Shanqiti was indicating in the Dalil as-Salik when he said:

The most famous Muwatta’

If the truth be known

Is that of Imam Yahya al-Laythi.

Who else’s can be compared with his?

He also said:

It is the one which the critics comment and in

Whose luster the slaves find benefit.

There are about a hundred commentaries on it,

All of them about what it contains.

Another version of the Muwatta’ worthy of mention is that of Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani which has great distinction. It includes the transmission of many traditions intended to support his madhhab and the madhhab of his Imam, Abu Hanifa. Sometimes he mentions that Abu Hanifa agrees with Malik regarding the matter under discussion.

It appears that the Andalusians had a great deal of interest in the Muwatta’ as anyone will know who has studied the names of the ‘ulama’ who made commentaries on it or spoke about the people in it and its different versions or wrote on its gharib hadith.

It should also be noted that those who were interested in the Muwatta’ were not only Malikis or people from one particular region. They were from different groups and schools and from all parts of the Muslim world.

The Clarification of the Meaning of “Muwatta’”, Its Excellent Layout and Good Style

Muwatta’” is a passive participle from the verb “tawti’a”. one says that the thing is smoothed (watta’a) and “I prepared the thing for you”. Ibn Mandhur said in al-Lisan, “In the hadith: ‘Shall I tell you of the one among you I love the most and who will sit closest to me on the Day of Rising? – Those who are easy-going (Muwatta’l-aknaf) who are friendly and bring people together’.” Ibn al-Athir said, “This comes from tawti’a which means to smooth and make lower. Thus Muwatta’ means the clear book which smoothes the way and is not difficult for the seeker of knowledge to grasp. It is also related that Malik gave his book this title because he read it to a group of the people of knowledge and they agreed with him about it (waata’a). In this case the name would be derived from muwata’a which means agreement. However, the first meaning is more likely because it is supported by the rules of derivation although both of them apply since the way is prepared and smoothed by it and people agree about it and admire it.

If you look at the Muwatta’ in an unbiased way, you will find that it prepares and smoothes the way and is easy to grasp, even though it is one of the oldest books now in our possession. No earlier book from the people of knowledge is known. Its author made it an example to be imitated, particularly in the way in which it is arranged.

We find that Malik begins with the chapters on acts of worship which are the pillars of Islam. He put the prayer first, it is being the greatest of the pillars. Since the prayer only becomes obligatory when its time comes, he began by talking about the times of prayer. Then he spoke about purity in all its forms because purification is obligatory after the time for prayer has come. Then he spoke about what it is obligatory to do in the prayer and what is not obligatory and things that can happen to people in the prayer. Then he spoke about zakat and so on until he had covered all the acts of worship. Then he spoke about the rest of the matters of fiqh and divided each chapter into small section so as to make it easier to grasp. He finished the book with a chapter called “General Matters” which contains various things which did not fit under the other headings, and since it was not possible to devote a whole chapter to each of them and he did not want to go on at length, he combined them and called it “General Matters”. As Ibn al-‘Arabi says, other authors found in this arrangement a new way of organizing their material.

What he did in the book as a whole he also did in certain chapters. For instance, at the end of the chapter on prayer, he has a section entitled “Prayer in General”. He also has a section on “Funerals in General”, “Fasting in General”, “General Chapter on what is not permitted of marriage”, and “General chapter on sales”, etc. This shows the excellence of the way he arranged the book and the precision of the system he used. This is so much the case that if one of us today, in this age of systems, wanted to organize it, it would be very difficult to come up with a better arrangement than the one it already has.

If the reader looks at the Muwatta’ with respect to its language, he will find that its language shows that the author was a pure Arab. His language has both force and simplicity. Its terms are neither odd nor hackneyed. His style is free of oversimplification, unnecessary complexity or triteness. Despite its length, the book does not contain any linguistic or grammatical errors nor any of the faults about which the scholars of rhetoric warn.

Consequently we do not find that any of those who have made commentaries on it or spoken about it, despite their great number and their different times, laces and backgrounds, directed any criticism at it on these grounds, neither in respect of what the Imam wrote himself nor in respect of the transmissions of Prophetic hadith and other traditions ascribed to the Companions and the Tabi’un. By that we mean that there is no criticism at all which cannot easily be answered. It is always possible for criticism to be made by people whose understanding is inadequate and who lack sufficient knowledge. “How many there are who find fault with a sound statement while their trouble is faulty understanding.”

The noble reader should also be aware of the fact that Imam Malik has other works than the Muwatta’ even though they are not as famous.

These works are:

  1. A letter on Qadar and refutation of the Qadariyya. He wrote it to ‘Abdullah ibn Wahb, one of his eminent students.
  2. A book on the stars and reckoning the passage of time and the stages of the moon.
  3. A letter on judgments which he wrote to some judges.
  4. A letter on fatwa which was addressed to Abu Ghassan Muhammad b. Mutarrif al-Laythi, one of his great students.
  5. A letter on the ijma’ of the people of Madina which he sent to Imam al-Layth ibn Sa’d.
  6. A book on the tafsir of rare words in the Qur’an.
  7. A letter on adab and admonitions which he sent to Harun ar-Rashid which is not acknowledged by a group of notable Malikis.
  8. A book called Kitab as-Sirr.

This introduction is only a drop in the ocean. It has not covered everything by any means but it has I hope mentioned a few salient points.

Allah is the One we ask for help and on Him we rely. May Allah bless our mater Muhammad and his family and Companions and grant them peace abundantly.

Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al Mubarak
Head of the Shari’a Court
United Arab Emirates

Taken from Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas – The First Formulation of Islamic Law, translated by Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

People’s Praise of Him and Their Testimony that He was the Greatest of the Imams in Knowledge

The notable ‘ulama’ at the time of Malik and those who came after him all agree about his pre-eminent worth and consider him to be a pillar of knowledge and one of its firm bulwarks, celebrated for his taqwa, his retentive memory, his reliability in transmission, and his ability in making fatwas. He was well-known for his turning towards true knowledge and away from what did not concern him, and for cutting himself off from the khalifs and amirs who would liberally bestow money on those men of knowledge who attached themselves to them. He had overwhelming respect for the hadith of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and this was considered enough by the notable men of hadith and fuqaha’ who related from him and used his transmission as a proof, putting it ahead of the transmission of many of his peers. They followed him in declaring different transmitters reliable or unreliable.

There is no disagreement on the fact that al-Layth, al-Awza’i, the two Sufyans, Ibn al-Mubarak, Shu’ba ibn al-Hajjaj, ‘Abd ar-Razzaq and other great ‘ulama’ like them transmitted from Malik. Imam ash-Shafi’i was one of his most prominent pupils as was Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani, the companion of Abu Hanifa. Qadi Abu Yusuf, who met and spoke with im, also related from him via an intermediary. It is also true that Abu Hanifa related from him as did a group of his shaykhs, including Muhammad ibn Shihab az-Zuhri, Rabi’a ibn Abi ‘Abd ar-Rahman, Abu’l-Aswad Muhammad ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman known as the ‘Orphan of ‘Urwa’, Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Ansari, Ayyub as-Sakhtiyani and others. There were none in their time greater than these men. Some of them were fuqaha’ and others were hadith relators. Most of them were both.

Those who came after them all related from Malik except for those who were prevented from doing so by circumstances. Why indeed should they not relate from him? Was not the Imam someone who combined justice, precision, examination, and criticism in his evaluation of men and avoided transmission from the weak? There is only one man he related from who is considered weak. He was ‘Abd al-Karim ibn Abi’l-Makhariq al-Basri and this only happened because he was not one of the people of Malik’s own land and Malik was deceived by his scrupulousness and the way he performed hajj.

If you have any doubts about what we have said, then look in any of the books of hadith and you will find the name of Malik constantly repeated by the tongues and pens of the transmitters. Enough for us is the frequent repetition of his name in the Sahih volumes of al-Bukhari and Muslim. The Kitab al-Umm, of Imam ash-Shafi’i, and his kitab ar-Risala both begin with the words, “Malik reported to us.” When the Musnad of ash-Shafi’i was compiled, it also began with the same words.

We find that Hafiz Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi began his great Sunan with the hadith “Its water is pure” which is from the transmission of ash-Shafi’i from Malik and from the transmission of Abu Da’ud from Malik. He mentioned that ash-Shafi’i said, “There is someone in the isnad whom I do not know.” Then al-Bayhaqi said at the end of it, “However, that which establishes the soundness of its isnad was the reliability Malik gave it in the Muwatta’.” These words indicate the position of Malik and that the people of his time and those after them, who were not partisan, acknowledged his pre-eminence in the preservation of hadith, in his ability to distinguish the sound from the weak, and in his knowledge of the science of men and their states, whether they were reliable or unreliable.

Those early Imams were not satisfied to remain silent about him, but spoke out using their tongues and their pens, clearly stating his eminence and the extent of his fame. In Is’af al-mubatta bi-rijal al-muwatta’, Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti said that Bishr ibn ‘Umar az-Zahrani said that he asked Malik about a man and he said, “Do you see him in my books?” He replied, “No.” Malik said, “If he had been reliable, you would have seen him in my books.” Ibn al-Madini said, “I never knew Malik to reject a man unless there was something wrong about his hadith.” Ibn al-Madini also said, “When Malik brings you a hadith from someone from Sa’id al-Musayyib, I prefer that to Sufyan from someone from Ibrahim. Malik only relates from people who are reliable.” Yahya ibn Mu’in said, “All of those from whom Malik ibn Anas relates are reliable except for ‘Abd al-Karim al-Basri Abu Umayya.”

Ahmad ibn Salih said, “I do not know of anyone who was more careful in his selection of men and ‘ulama’ than Malik. I do not know of anyone who has related anything wrong about anyone among those he chose. He related from people none of whom are rejected.” An-Nasa’i said, “The trustees of Allah over the knowledge of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, were Shu’ba ibn al-Hajjaj, Malik ibn Anas and Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Qattan.” He said, “Ath-Thawri was an Imam, but he related from weak men. It was the same with Ibn al-Mubarak.” Then he indicated the pre-eminence of Malik over Shu’ba and Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Qattan. He said, “There are none among the Tabi’un trusted in the hadith more than these three, and none who had less weak transmissions.”

Isma’il ibn Abi Uways said, “I heard my uncle, Malik, say, “This knowledge is the deen, so look to those from whom you take your deen. I met seventy men who said, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said by these pillars…” and I did not take anything from them. Yet if any of them was to be trusted with the treasury, he would have been trustworthy. This is because they were not men of this business. But when Ibn Shihab came to us, we crowded at his door.” Yahya ibn Mu’in said from Sufyan ibn ‘Uyayna, “Who are we in comparison to Malik? We merely follow in the tracks of Malik. We looked to see if Malik took from a shaykh. If not we left him.””

Ash-hab said that Malik was asked, “Should one take from someone who does not memorize, but is reliable and accurate in writing? Can hadith be taken from such a man?” Malik replied, “I fear that he might add to his books at night.” Al-Athrim said, “I asked Ahmad ibn hanbal about ‘Amr ibn Abi ‘Amr, the client of al-Muttalib and he said, ‘His transmission is excellent in my opinion. Malik related from him’” Abu Sa’id b. al-A’rabi said, “If Malik related from a man, Yahya ibn Mu’in declared him reliable.” More than one person was asked and said, “He is reliable. Malik related from him.”

Qurad Abu Nuh said, “Malik mentioned something and was asked, ‘Who related it to you?’ He said, ‘We do not sit with fools’.” ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, “I heard my father mentioning this and he said, ‘There is no statement in the world more noble than this regarding the virtues of the ‘ulama’ – Malik ibn Anas mentioned that he did not sit with fools. This statement is not valid from anyone else except Malik.’”

In the Tadhkira al-Huffaz, adh-Dhahabi mentioned some of people’s praise of him, including the famous statement of ash-Shafi’i, “When the ‘ulama’ are mentioned, Malik is the star.” Ahmad ibn al-Khalil said that he heard Is-haq ibn Ibrahim (i.e. Ibn Rahawayh) said, “When ath-Thawri, Malik and al-Awza’i agree on a matter, it is sunna, even if there is no text on it.”

After mentioning much of the praise of the people of knowledge for him, adh-Dhahabi said, “I put Malik’s biography on its own in a section in my Ta’rikh al-Kabir. It is agreed that Malik had virtues which are not known to have been combined in anyone else. The first of them was the length of his life and extent of his transmission. The second was his piercing mind. The third was the agreement of the Imams that he is a proof, sound in transmission. The fourth is that they agree on his deen, justice and following of the sunna. The fifth is his pre-eminence in fiqh, fatwa and the soundness of his foundations.”

In Taqrib at-Tahdhib, Ibn Hajar says, “Malik ibn Abas ibn Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir al-Asbahi, Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Madini, the faqih, the Imam of the Abode of the Hijar, the chief of those who have taqwa and the greatest of those who are confirmed, of whom al-Bukhari said, ‘The soundest isnads of all are those of Malik from Nafi’ from Ibn ‘Umar’.”

This is just a brief collection of a few of the things that have been said about him by ‘ulama’ who do not follow the school of Malik. Their words in no way disagree with anything that has been written by the Maliki ‘ulama’ who follow him. The reader will be able to find a lot of what they have said in the books of Abu ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, the Tartib al-Mudarik of Qadi Abu’-l-Fadl ‘Iyad, and ad-Dibaj al-Madh-hab by Burhan ad-Din ibn Farhun, and other books of earlier and later writers.

Among the Malikis and others Imam Malik is known as the Imam of the Imams. It is easy to see why this is so. We know that those Imams whose schools, fatwas and transmissions are followed were his students, either directly or via an intermediary. Imam as-Shafi’i was one of Imam Malik’s most famous students and Imam Ahmad was one of the most famous students of as-Shafi’i. Muhammad ibn a-Hasan was one of the transmitters of the Muwatta’. Abu Yusuf also related it from Malik via an intermediary. One of the ‘ulama’ confirmed that Imam Abu Hanifa also related from him, and no objection was made to him for stating that. Some shaykhs like Ibn Shihab and Rabi’a related from Malik as we have already mentioned. We also mentioned that al-Layth, al-Awza’I, the two Sufyans and Ibn al-Mubarak related from him, and there is no disagreement about that. The ‘ulama’ of hadith who are famous for writing in that field, or from whom others have transmitted, transmitted from him. We say that today there is no scholar of the Islamic Shari’a who is not a student of Malik. That is because, first of all, it is not valid to count someone as a scholar of the Shari’a if he is ignorant of the Muwatta’, the Six Books, the Musnad of Ahmad and the rest of the books which are consulted in hadith. All of those who relate these books or some of them must relate from Malik. Therefore they must respect this Imam from whom they relate and acknowledge his position and ask for mercy on him.

One of the extraordinary things about the people who came to Malik for transmission is that there was not a single small region subject to the rule of Islam in his time but that a group of their noble sons set out to visit him. The number of those whose name was Muhammad who related from him was more than a hundred. The number of those called ‘Abdullah was about sixty, of those called Yahya about forty, and of those called Sa’id more than twenty. If you were to imagine his circle of study, you would find Andalusians, Khorasanis, Syrians, Moroccans, Egyptians, Iraqis, Yemenis, and others all siting in a circle around him with their different languages, colors, and clothing. It must have been an amazing sight. We do not believe that such a group has ever been gathered together at the feet of a scholar before or after him, in Madina or elsewhere.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Lineage of Imam Malik, His Family, His Birth and Autobiography

His full name is Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir al-Asbahi and he was related to Dhu Asbah, a sub-tribe of Himyar, one of the Qahtani tribes who held sway over an immense kingdom during the period of the Jahiliyya. Their kingdow was known as the Tatabi’a (pl. of Tubba’). Tubba’ is mentioned in two places in the Noble Qur’an.

His father’s grandfather, Abu ‘Amir, is considered by some to have been one of the Companions and it is mentioned that he want on all the raids with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, except Badr. However, Ibn Hajar mentioned in the Isaba from adh-Dhahabi that he did not find anyone who mentioned him as being one of the Companions, although he was certainly alive in the time of the Prophet. As for Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir, the grandfather of the Imam, he was one of the great ‘ulama’ of the Tabi’un. He was one of those who assisted in the writing out of the noble Mus-haf at the time of the Amir al-Mu’minin, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, may Allah be pleased with him.

He had four children: Anas, the father of the Imam, Abu Suhayl whose name was Nafi’, ar-Rabi’, and Uways the grandfather of Isma’il ibn Abi Uways and his brother, ‘Abd al-Hamid. These two (Isma’il and ‘Abd al-Hamid) were among the students of Malik and among the transmitters of the Sahih. The four brothers (i.e. Anas, Malik’s father, and his brothers) transmitted from their father, Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir, and others, in turn, transmitted from them. The most famous of them in knowledge and transmission was Abu Suhayl. Imam Malik related from him as did the compilers of the Sahih collections. Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others transmitted a lot from Malik b. Abi ‘Amir and from his son, Abu Suhayl.

From this it is evident that the Imam was a branch from a good tree whose men were famous for transmitting and serving knowledge. Part of the excellence of this family lies in the fact that it gave birth to Imam Malik. It is said that this took place in 90 A.H. although there are other opinions. He died when he was 87 according to the soundest report although it is also said that he was 90. He, may Allah have mercy on him, was tall and slightly corpulent. He was bald, with a large head and well-shaped eyes, a fine nose and a full beard. Mus’ab az-Zubayri said, “Malik was one of the most handsome people in his face and the sweetest of them in eye, the purest of them in whiteness and the most perfect of them in height and the most excellent in body.” Another said, “Malik was of medium height.” The first is better known.

His Quest for Knowledge

At the time when Malik grew up, and during the time immediately preceding him, Madina al-Munawarra was flourishing with the great ‘ulama’ who were the direct inheritors of the knowledge of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them. They included “the seven fuqaha’” of Madina (or the ten) and their companions who took from them. Malik himself was always eager for knowledge and devoted himself to the assemblies of eminent men of knowledge. He drank and drank again from the sweet, quenching springs of knowledge.

He was instructed in the learning and recitation of the Noble Qur’an from Imam Nafi’ ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abi Nu’aym, the Imam of the reciters of Madina and one of the “seven reciters”. Abu ‘Amr ad-Dani who included the biography of Imam Malik in his book Tabaqat al-Qurra’ considered him to be one of the reciters. He mentioned that Imam al-Awza’I related the Qur’an from Malik, he being concerned with the meaning of its commentary. In the Muwatta’, you will find some of his commentaries on certain ayats.

He occupied himself with those who knew hadith, both in transmission and knowledge and was a master in fiqh, knowing how to derive judgments and join statements together and how to weigh one proof against another. Part of his good fortune was that two of his shaykhs, Muhammad b. Shihab az-Zuhri and ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Amr ibn Hazm al-Ansari, were instrumental in the beginning of the process of recording the hadith.

Imam Malik met an extraordinary number of men of knowledge who related from the Companions or from the great Tabi’un. He did not attend the circle of everyone who sat teaching in the mosque of the Prophet or leaned against one of its pillars relating hadith to the people from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, but used to take only from those men that he saw had taqwa, scrupulousness, good memory, knowledge and understanding, and who clearly knew that they would be accountable for what they said on the Day of Rising. Shu’ba ibn al-Hajjaj, who was one of the great scholars of hadith, said that Malik was most discriminating, saying about him that: “He did not write down from everyone.”

Knowing, as we do, that Imam Malik came from a family of learning and grew up in Madina al-Munawarra which was the capital of knowledge at that time, especially the knowledge of hadith, and also knowing the strength of Malik’s predisposition for retention, understanding and taqwa and his perseverance and steadfastness in the face of all the obstacles he met in the path of knowledge, it is hardly surprising to discover that he graduated at a very young age. Reliable transmitters relate that he sat to give fatwa when he was seventeen years old. This was not from the impetuosity of youth or because of love of appearance but only after seventy Imams had testified that he was worthy to give fatwa and teach. Such people would only testify when it was absolutely correct to do so. Indeed, the testimony of any two of them would have been sufficient.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Questions have been asked about what appears to be a novel practice amongst Western Muslims of people praying with their hands at their sides instead of folding them over their chests as has been reported in sound traditions about the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. It is common knowledge to Muslims everywhere that this was a practice of the virtuous Imam and erudite, Malik ibn Anas, may Allah have mercy on him.

What has also become commonplace is to hear a rather unsupportable explanation of why he did it. That explanation is that Imam Malik only prayed with his arms at his sides because he was tortured and therefore unable to fold his arms on his chest.

This claim, after being unsupported by fact, history, or logic, is clearly contravened by the explicit statement of the Imam himself. And, we challenge such a claim to be verified by and in any of the traditionally relied upon books of Islamic history. One will find oneself hard-pressed to find any evidence substantiating this argument.

Then, logically speaking, it would seem to be quite unreasonable to surmise that Imam Malik didn’t have the strength to place one of his hands over the other on his chest while praying, but have enough strength to support his own body weight when pushing himself up from the position of prostration to the standing position, since it was his view that when rising from prostration one should lift his/her knees before the hands.

What this paper will prove is that Malik, may Allah have mercy on him, only prayed that way, because it is what he saw there to be stronger evidence for, in addition to it being supported by sound traditions related about the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

It will also be shown that Malik was not alone in this regard, and that many of the well-known scholars from the Taabi’in (Students of the Prophet’s Companions) also prayed that way. Then, we will bring out in the end that such a prayer is legally valid in all of the schools of Sunni law, and that ones prayer is not invalidated if one were to do so.

What people must understand about evidence is that it is not restricted to Qur’an and Sunnah, nor has it ever been restricted to them. Consensus (Al-Ijmaa’) is also proof. Legal Analogy (Al-Qiyaas) is another proof. There are also things like the Pre-Qur’anic sacred legislation that hasn’t been abrogated (Shar’u man qublanaa), and the statements and actions of the Sahaabah (qawl wa’amal as-Sahabah). There are also others that we chose not to mention, since this is not the place for such a discussion.

Were we to limit evidence to merely the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet, may Allah bless and grant him peace, a great many things that we deem to be forbidden or permissible today would not be able to be supported or justified.

The reason for writing this paper is so that the author or others will no longer have to go into great detail repeatedly in explaining and justifying this issue. The aim of this explanation is not to appease or convince those opposed to this practice. Rather, it is to console and put at ease those who do it. This way, if one desires to know the facts, it would be as simple as taking recourse to the current paper, and those like it wherever they exist. We ask Allah to benefit all by it. Ameen.

I. The Position of Malik, may Allah be pleased with him

Ibnul-Qaasim[1] says in al-Mudauwanah[2]:

(“…Malik said about placing the right hand over the left during Salat. He said: (“I don’t know (of) that in the obligatory (prayer).” And he used to dislike it. “However, in voluntary prayers (nawaafil), when the standing is extended, there is no harm in that (for one who doesn’t) support himself by it.”…).[3]

Malik’s statement, “I don’t know of that in the obligatory prayer”, seems to point to a clear reality to anyone who is acquainted with his method of deducing legal rulings. That reality is that, his statement indicates that he doesn’t know of any conclusive evidence that would be strong enough to consider placing the right hand over the left on the chest a Sunnah act of the obligatory prayer.

The statement also indicates that the main reason that he disliked it was that people folded their hands on their chests as a means of holding themselves up in prayer. That wouldn’t be necessary, since it is disliked for Imams to make the standings too lengthy during obligatory prayers. As for the voluntary prayers, he didn’t dislike it then, due to the fact that much of what is not permissible in obligatory prayers is permissible in voluntary prayers.

Now, where does the argument of the claimant stand in light of this decisive evidence?

II. Evidence from Hadith

As for the hadiths that indicate this, let us first start with the hadith of Abu Hamid as-Saa’idi, because of its complete soundness and clear unequivocal indication of the Prophet praying with his hands by his sides.

Ibn Hajar says in Fathul-Baari:

Bukhaari, Abu Daawud, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and Ibn Khuzaimah reported it.”

And, the version of Abu Daawud contains the following addition that is a clear indication of the hands being released at the sides. Its wording is:

“Ahmad related to us – Abu ‘Aasim Ad-Dahhaak ibn Makhlad related to us (transfer); Musaddad related to us – Yahya related to us.”

And the chain of Ahmad reads:

Abdul-Hamid informed us – that is, Ibn Ja’far – (he said) Muhammad ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Ataa informed me. He said,

“I heard Abu Hamid As-Saa’idi say while in the company of ten of the companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless and grant him peace: “I am the most knowledgeable of you of the prayer of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.”
They said, “How (so)? For by Allah, you were neither the one who spent the most time with him, nor the eldest of us to him in companionship.” He said, “True indeed.” They said, “Show (us).” He said, “Whenever the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless and grant him peace, would stand up to pray he would raise his hands until they were parallel with his shoulders, then say ‘Allahu Akbar‘ until each bone became settled in its place straightly. Then, he would recite…”[4]

And the natural place of the hands/arms of a person is at his/her sides. And it cannot be said that a person’s arms are straight if they are folded on his/her chest.

Sheikh Muhktaar Ad-Daudi[5] says,

“And if the Prophet, may Allah bless and grant him peace, used to pray while placing the right over the left hand the ten companions would have rebuked him (i.e. Abu Hamid) for omitting it when he said: “…until each bone became settled in its place…” since peoples’ egos are disposed to a severe eagerness to point out the mistake of one’s challenger when competing. And amongst the ten companions was Sahl ibn Sa’d, may Allah be pleased with him, who said (in another hadith): “The people were ordered to place the right hand on the left forearm during Salat.” So, it becomes clear that the order in the hadith of Sahl, may Allah be pleased with him, came from one other than the Prophet, may Allah bless and grant him peace, and Sahl’s acknowledgement, may Allah be pleased with him, of the description of the prayer which the clasping of the hands (qabd) has been omitted from is proof that the order in the aforementioned hadith is not from the Prophet, may Allah bless and grant him peace.”

As for the hadiths that mention the Prophet praying with his hands folded on his chest or under his navel, they refer to the voluntary prayers.

Nauwawi says:

“…And about Malik is also (the report mentioning) the favorableness of placing (the hands on the chest) in the voluntary (prayers), and the (favorableness) of leaving (them by the sides) during the obligatory (prayers). And this is what his followers from Basra gave more weight to…”[6]

Muhammad al-Khadr ash-Shinqeeti[7] said,

“And of the hadiths indicating the release (of the hands at the sides) is every hadith in which the prayer of the Prophet, may Allah bless and grant him peace, is described wherein he covered (i.e. in the hadith) the mention of the recommended acts (mustahabbaat) of prayer without mentioning the clasping (of the hand).[8] That’s because leaving (the hands hanging) is the original position as is not a secret. And clasping (the hands) is an added description. So, when it is not mentioned, the situation is to remain according to the original state, which is the release of the hands (irsaal). Also because silence about the description (of something) at the time clarification is required is indicative of limitation (to what is without the addition)…”[9]

So, with to regard to hadith evidence, there is more that can be mentioned, although what has already passed should be sufficient enough evidence to establish that the Prophet did in fact pray while leaving his arms at his sides.

III. Evidence from the Traditions of the Sahaabah and Tabi’un

In the Musannaf[10] of Ibn Abi Shaibah, the following can be found:

  1. Abu Bakr (ibn Abi Shaibah) declared: Hushaym declared to us about Hasan (al-Basari) – about Yunus (who declared) about Ibrahim (an-Nakha’i) that they (Hasan and Ibrahim) used to release their hands (at their sides) during prayer.
  2. ‘Affaan declared to us: Yazid ibn Ibrahim declared to us. He said: “I heard ‘Amr ibn Dinar say: “(Abdullah) Ibnuz-Zubayr (the grandson of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq), whenever he prayed, he used to release his hands (at his sides).”
  3. Ibn ‘Ulayyah declared to us: On the authority of Ibn ‘Aun about Ibn Seereen that he was asked about the man who holds his right hand with his left. He said: “That was merely done because of the Romans’ (influence).”
  4. ‘Umar ibn Harun declared to us: On the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn Yazid. He said: “I never saw (Sa’id) Ibn Al-Musayyib (the most knowledgeable of the Taabi’in) clasping his right hand in the prayer. He used to release them (at his sides).”
  5. Yayhaa Ibn Sa’id declared to us: On the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn Al-‘Eezaar. He said: “I used to accompany Sa’id ibn Jubair. So, he saw a man praying while placing one of his hands on the other. This one on this one and this one on this one. So, he went, separated them, and then returned (to me).”

And Imam An-Nauwawi said in his Majmoo’:[11]

“Laith ibn Sa’d (said about the person who prays): “He releases them (i.e. the hands). Then, if that (i.e. the prayer) is too long for him, he should place the right over the left.” And Awzaa’i said: “(One has) a choice between clasping and releasing (the hands).”

Sheikh al-Khadr said,

“I say (that) the statement of al-Laith is unequivocal in indicating that clasping (the hands) is not in his view from the Sunnah. However, it falls under the category of support (of one’s body weight). And this is exactly the reason that Malik expressly considered it to be disliked, since it is a form of supporting (oneself). And Ibn Abi Shaibah reported Ibn Seereen as saying when he was asked about the man who holds by his right hand his left hand: “That was merely because of the Romans.””[12]

Then Abu Daawood relates that Muhammad ibn Jahaadah said about the matter of releasing the arms at ones sides:

“Then, I mentioned that to Hasan ibn Abi al-Hasan, and he said: “It is the prayer of Allah’s messenger, may Allah bless and grant him peace. Whoever does it does it. And whoever abandons it abandons it.”[13]

Al-Khadr says,

“And the ‘ulamaa have said that Ibn az-Zubair took the description of prayer from Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. Al-Khatib reports in Taarikh al-Baghdaad that Ahmad ibn Hanbal – may Allah be pleased with him – said: “‘Abdur-Razzaq related to me.” He said: “Verily, the people of Makkah say: “Ibn Juraij took the description of prayer from ‘Ataa. And ‘Ataa took it from Ibn al-Zubayr. And Ibn az-Zubayr took it from Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. And Abu Bakr took it from the Prophet, may Allah bless and grant him peace.” And this indicates that Abu Bakr used to release (his hands) in his prayer, because, Ibn az-Zubayr took the description of prayer from him.

And Ibn ‘Abbaas (The Prophet’s cousin) testified that the Salat of Ibn az-Zubayr is the Salat of the Prophet – may Allah bless and grant him peace – in what Abu Daawud relates about Maimoon al-Makki that he saw ‘Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr while leading them in prayer. He said afterwards, “Then, I went to Ibn ‘Abbaas and said: “Verily, I have seen Ibn az-Zubayr prays a prayer that I have never seen anyone pray.” Then I described to him this gesture, and he said: “If you’d like to look at the prayer of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless and grant him peace, then copy the prayer of ‘Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr.”

Al-Khadr says,

“And what is confirmed by scholars is that Ibn az-Zubayr used to release (his hands) in his Salat. So, it is known by the testimony of Ibn ‘Abbaas that his prayer is the prayer of the Prophet, may Allah bless and grant him peace, and that he used to release (his hands) in Salat…”[14]

And in the Musannaf[15] of Abdur-Razzaq as-San’aani he says,

“I saw Ibn Juraij praying while releasing his hands. And Awzaa’i said: “Whoso pleases does it. And whoso pleases leaves it.” And it is the view of ‘Ataa.”[16]

IV. The Position of the Majority of Scholars

Most scholars hold the view that the normative, if not permanent, practice of the Prophet, may Allah have peace upon him, was folding his arms while praying. This is the position taken by the other three schools, and is the opinion considered by many Malikis to be the position having more evidence in support of it. However, the basis for this position is that it has been related about 18 Sahaabah and 2 of the Taabi’un that the Prophet prayed with his hands clasped. However, there exists contention regarding the chain of transmission of each one of these narrations. It has been related about them, which is a clear indication of weakness and indecisiveness.

Hadith scholars know it as “the wording indicative of sickness” (seegat at-tamreed). As for the one or two sound narrations, which are found in the collections of Bukhaari and Muslim, they are not clear in their indications that the Prophet prayed with his hands clasped. For that reason, it is not possible to unequivocally conclude that he, may Allah grant him peace, prayed with his hands clasped. Rather, it is equally plausible, if not more reasonable, to conclude the opposite.

Ad-Daudi says,

“As for ascribing the (position of) clasping the hands (qabd) to the majority (of scholars), if the intended (ascription) is (an ascription to) the majority of the Sahaabah, then this ascription is not true by any means, since it (i.e. clasping the hands) has not been found to be soundly established about the Prophet, may Allah grant him peace, nor one of his Rightly-Guided Successors. So, how could attributing it to the majority of the Sahaabah and Taabi’un be true?

As for what Tirmidhi relates from Samaak ibn Harb from Qabeesah ibn Hulb from his father who said: “The Messenger of Allah used to lead us, and take his left with his right.” and declared it to be Hasan (of fair grading), then said, “Action is in accordance with this among the companions of the Prophet – may Allah grant him peace, the successors (taabi’in), and those after them”; There is no doubt that he (Tirmidhi) depended upon the hadith of Hulb in attributing this action, since there is a distance (in time) between him, and between the Sahaabah and Taabi’un. Also because, he didn’t mention any support for that other than the hadith of Hulb. And if it (the hadith) had been Saheeh (sound), it would have resolved the dispute.

However, it is one of the narrations of Samaak and Qabisah. And it has already preceded that Samaak is weak and Qabisah is unknown (majhul). And only Samaak narrates on his authority. And Tirmidhi’s choosing of this chain from (all) the different chains going back to the Prophet in this chapter is a proof that all chains of transmission fall in the center of ignominy.

Just as it has already preceded about the Imams of the Taabi’un (Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab, Sa’id ibn Jubair, and Mujaahid) what points to the contrary of what Tirmidhi attributed to the Sahaabah and Taabi’un, while knowing that these know better the doings of the Sahaabah in the matter than Tirmidhi and all from his generation.

And if what is intended by “the majority is the majority of those lesser than the Successors of the Successors (Taabi’u at-taabi’in), the ascription to them is true. The statement of Nauwawi in Sharh Muslim (4/114) indicates it. “The proof of the majority (of scholars after the Salaf) regarding the favorableness of placing the right on the left is the aforementioned hadith of Waa’il, and the hadith of Abu Haazim on the authority of Sahl.”

So, this gives the feeling that the Sahaabah and Taabi’un are outside of this majority, since they don’t present the aforementioned hadith of Sahl as evidence, because the one giving the order is unknown. And if he had not been unknown, the Imams of the Salaf would not have differed regarding its ruling. (They also differed) because the hadith of Waa’il is weakened (ma’lul) due to a break in its chain, and the weakness of one of its narrators. So, the Salaf didn’t present it as evidence…”[17]

V. The Statements of other Scholars

Ibn Rushd[18] says,

“Scholars have differed regarding placing the hands, one of them on the other during Salat. Malik considered that makruh (disliked) during the obligatory prayer, and permitted it during the voluntary prayers.

Others considered this action to be from the one of the Sunnahs (recommended acts) of Salat. They are the majority (of those after the Salaf).

The reason for their difference is that some established traditions (of the companions and successors) have come. The description of the Prophet’s prayer, may Allah grant him peace, has been related in them. And nowhere in them was it related that he placed his right over his left.

It also has been confirmed that the people were commanded to do that (i.e. clasp their hands).

That has also been mentioned as part of the description of his prayer – may Allah bless and grant him peace – in the hadith of Abu Hamid.

And some people saw that the reports that have been confirmed necessitated an addition upon the reports not containing this addition, and that the addition must be followed.

Others saw that the more worthy obligation was to follow the reports that don’t contain the addition, because they are more numerous, and since this (i.e. clasping of the hands) doesn’t befit the actions of prayer. Rather, they fall under the category of seeking support (in remaining still and standing). Therefore, Malik permitted it in voluntary prayers, and did not permit it in the obligatory…”[19]

Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr[20] says,

“…And placing the right of them over the left or releasing them (at the sides), all of that is a Sunnah in Salat…”[21]

VI. Summary and Conclusion

We know the validity of praying with our hands at our sides from the following:

  1. It was the position held by our Imam Malik, and most of his disciples and Malikis historically.
  2. The hadiths of the Prophet indicate that he prayed that way.
  3. It was the opinion taken by the Taabi’un, the most knowledgeable of them being by unanimous consensus Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab.
  4. It was the position of ‘Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr who learned from his grandfather, Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq who learned from the Prophet himself. In addition, it hasn’t been confirmed in any sound reports that any of the other Sahaabah prayed while clasping their hands.
  5. None of the Imams of the other madhhabs (legal schools) hold it to be an obligation to pray while clasping ones hands. They only consider it to be a Sunnah. As for Malik, it is permitted without dislike during voluntary prayers when the standing is long. As for the obligatory prayers, he disliked it, although dislike does not mean that something is prohibited according the scholars.
  6. Some Imams hold both folding the hands as well as leaving them at ones sides to be Sunnahs that have been both related about the Prophet, may Allah grant him peace.

In the end, I’d like to say that it would be much more beneficial for those seeking to sow discord through this matter to address some of our more pressing issues like the divorce rate in the Muslim community, or things like, trying to help solve the problems of Muslims suffering from substance abuse and alcohol problems. Instead of policing peoples’ prayer when they’re not doing anything wrong, they should go looking for things, which are truly haram and try to find the proper Islamic solutions for them.

[1] He was one of the most famous and greatest of Malik’s students.

[2] Al-Mudawwanah al-Kubraa. It is one of the main source books for Maliki fiqh.

[3] Al-Mudawwanah. 1/111. Daar al-Fikr: 1998.

[4] The remainder of the hadith is,

“…Then, he would recite. Then, he’d say ‘Allahu Akbar’, and raise his hands until they were parallel with his shoulders. Then, he’d bow placing his palms upon his knees. Then, he’d straighten out (while bowing) without lowering his head or inclining. Then, he’d raise his head, and say: “Allah hears he who praises Him.” Then, he’d raise his hands until they were evenly parallel with his shoulders. Then, he’d say: “Allahu Akbar.” Then, he’d fall to the ground, and extend his arms away from his sides. Then, he’d raise his head, fold his left leg, and sit on it while spreading the toes of his feet when he fell prostrate, then he’d prostrate, and say: “Allahu Akbar.” Then, he’d sit up, bend his left leg, and sit on it until every bone returned to its place. Then, he’d do in the other units (rak’at) the like of that. And when he stood from the two rak’ats he said: “Allahu Akbar”, raised his hands until he made them parallel with his shoulders just as he gave the takbir at the beginning of the prayer. Then, he’d do that in the rest of his Salat, until the prostration containing (i.e. before) the taslim (i.e. the final Salaam) left out his left leg, and sat leaning to one side on his left (buttock).” They said: “You have spoken the truth. That is how he used to pray, may Allah bless and grant him peace.”

[5] He is one of the scholars of Mauritania, author of Mashroo’iyat as-Sadl fis-Salaat (The Legitimacy of Laying the Hands in Salaat).

[6] Sahih Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawwawi. 4/96. Hadith 401. Daar al-Fikr. 1995.

[7] He is Muhammad al-Khadr Ibn al-Sheikh ‘Abd Allah ibn Mayaabi al-Jakani al-Shinqeeti. He was one of the most remarkable and outstanding scholars of Mauritania who appeared in the first half of the fourteenth century of the Hijrah. He died in the 1405 a.h.

[8] These hadiths are many. Unfortunately, we won’t bother to mention them here in an attempt to avoid prolixity. What we will do instead is mention where they can be found. Those narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar can be found in Muwatta, Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim. As for those from Abu Hurayrah, check the six renowned collections with the exception of Ibn Majah. From ‘Ali, you can look in Ahmad’s Musnad, Abu Daawud, Tirmidhi, Nasaai, and Ibn Maajah. As for Abu Qalaabah, refer to Bukhaari and Muslim. And refer to Abu Daawud for those found on the authority of Salim al-Barrad.

[9] Ibram al-naqd fima qila min arjahiyyat al-qabd. Daar al-Bashair al-Islamiyyah. 1996.

[10] The Musannaf is one of the earliest hadith canons in Islamic history.

[11] This is one of the major source books on Shaafi’i fiqh.

[12] Ibram al-naqd. P.57.

[13] Abu Dawud.

[14] Ibram al-naqd. P.63.

[15] This Musannaf is also one of the earliest hadith canons in Islamic history.

[16] Al-Musannaf. 2/276.

[17] Mashroo’iyat al-sadl. P. 69.

[18] Ibn Rush was a famous Muslim philosopher, magistrate, and jurist from Islamic Spain who died in the year 595 after the emigration (Hijrah) from Mecca to Medina.

[19] Bidaayat al-Mujtahid. Pp. 192-193.

[20] Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr was a great Maliki jurist and hadith scholar known as “The Great Hadith Retainer of the West” (Haafiz al-Maghrib). He died in the year 468 after the Hijrah, the same year that his counterpart al-Khatib al-Baghdaadi, “The Great Hadith Retainer of the East” (Haafiz al-Mashriq) passed away.

[21] Al-Kaafi. P.43.

By. Ustadh Abdullah ibn Hamid Ali


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