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What is the significance of placing the right hand on one's head after the prayer?

Is it a manner of praying/supplication?

If so, how is it different from the usual raising of the palms and having them faced upwards towards the sky?

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    It is an innovation bidah. As there is no authentic evidence for it. – Mohammed Ali Dec 15 '14 at 16:55
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Firstly we should know that Imam Mahdi (a.s.) is alive but is at occultation. He sees us but we do not see him. One hadith says:

Mahdi at his occultation is like sun behind cloud, people do not see him but use its light.

Standing up and placing hand over the head and saying "O Allah! Hasten his reappearance and make easy his revolution" is recommended when the name of Imam Mahdi (12th Imam) is heard and it is a symbol to show his occultation is very hard for Muslims and has made many problems and difficulties for Muslims. It is an Arab custom to put hand on head when having very hard problems.

It is narrated that Imam Ali al-Ridha a.s. (the 8th infallible Imam) when heard the name of Imam Mahdi a.d. placed his hand on his head and said

O Allah! Hasten his reappearance and make easy his revolution

(Reference of this hadith is the hadith book Mustadrak Safihen, vol. 8 page 629)

This action was usual at time of Imam Sadiq a.s. and one of Muslims asked him: why we should stand up when hear the name "Qaem" (the title for Imam Mahdi (a.s.) meaning who rise up and makes revolution against corruption)? Imam Sadiq (a.s.) replied: Sahib al Amr (another title of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) meaning the owner of command) will have a very long occultation and he has an extreme love and mercy for those who love him and so when one call him by the name of Qaem that reminds his global Islamic state and his occultation, he makes a special merciful look at him. So because when a Muslim is looked and noticed by it suitable to stands up for respecting and Adam and ask God hasten his arrivals.

If so, how is it different from the usual raising of the palms and having them faced upwards towards the sky?

Usual raising of the palms and having them faced upwards towards the sky is a different matter and is for Dua (asking from God) and is based on this verse:

And in the sky is your provision and whatever you are promised. http://tanzil.net/#51:22


Reference:

What is the philosophy of placing hand on head while reciting Salam (Durood) to Imam Mahdi a.s.?

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    With all due respect to you, is this answer from a Shia point of view? – Ahmed Feb 27 '18 at 5:36
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There is a prayer you make 3 times while placing your right hand on forehead, after every obligatory (firdh) prayer. It has been answered here and the dua is mentioned as well.

www.sunniforum.com

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